Saturday, December 16, 2006

So You Think Men Are Feminized Now?

We were watching The Sinister Urge last night, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, and the disk came with an educational short which has so far delivered three times the entertainment of the actual film.

It's called "Keeping Clean and Neat," produced by Encyclopedia Brittanica. And oh, boy, do those emasculating bitches at the Britannica do a number on one of the short's subjects, an eighth-grade boy named "Don."

Don's told to make sure he cleans his ears and between his toes in the shower. He is advised to keep a nail brush in the shower to scrub under his fingernails. Although instructed to shampoo only once a week, he's to lather twice so his hair will be "perfectly clean." Once out of the shower, he's to clean his brush and comb first so they won't dirty his clean hair. Don has to make sure the towels are all hung up neatly, the cap's back on the shampoo, and the shower, tub, and sink have all been wiped clean of any stray Don hairs. Eww, Don hairs.

You see Don earnestly shining his dress shoes, hanging up his clothes, and organizing his closet. Yes! Organizing his closet. And you hear the male narrator extolling the virtues of being "clean and neat" for what seems like forever. When we were watching it last night, the boyfriend made the crack that "by now, unfortunately, he's missed school," about 15 seconds before one of the dorky robots made a similar joke.

Don goes to a LOT of trouble to be clean and neat. No trucker hat over unwashed hair for Don, oh, no. No leaving the clothes and dirty towels scattered all over the floor for Mom to pick up. No jeans with holes in 'em, no baggy slacks. Don's so clean and neat it's almost prissy.

(The film depicts the clean-and-neatening of an eighth-grade girl, too, but that's another post. Ladies! Be sure to shampoo in the afternoon or evening, so you'll have time to put your hair up.)

Thing is, none of this was really news to me. I've seen my dad's elementary school pictures from the late 40s/early 50s. My father wore dress shirts and ties to school. Public school--PS 189, if that rings any bells for New Yorkers. My dad can't remember whether it was a city-wide mandate, or just something his principal did; but in that school, in that era, every boy wore a shirt and tie, every day. Forget Casual Fridays.

So! Tell me again about how neat, tidy men who take pains to dress well are signs of a culture increasingly hostile to masculinity, and all because of feminism? You can explain it to me after you put a high shine on them shoes, mister. I want to see lots of elbow grease.

7 comments:

Alcuin Bramerton said...

Shiny shoes suggest insecurity; too much surface in one place; slavish reflection rather than autonomous luminosity.

John said...

alcuin, I reference you to the great R.A. Heinlein:

"Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as "empty," "meaningless," or "dishonest," and scorn to use them. No matter how "pure" their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best."

Not to mention that that most masculine of professions, the Military, has a compulsion about neatness in dress and grooming. Shiny shoes are waterproof shoes - they last longer and prevent trench rot, in addition to the attention to detail that such requirements foster. You forgot to shine your shoes. Forgot to clean your M-16, too?

And outside the military there is an evolutionary social reason for fastidiousness, both in signaling your seriousness as an adult member of society, and in signaling your hygiene to potential mates.

There's a reason that Ilyka didn't pile on the internet's favorite picky libertarian. This is it.

ilyka said...

Alcuin is a little . . . uh, you know [rotates index finger near temple, rolls eyes, mouths "cuckoo"]

John said...

Ahh, I see. Is he your version of Ron Hardin over at Big Arm Woman? I've long suspected that Ron and Spurwing Plover are the same "person". I generally don't go to Ace's site unless you are making fun of him, but I rememebr being directed to this a while back in his comments section:

"Dude, I think you're a dick and all, but in good faith I feel I should point out that you're arguing with Spurwing Plover, who is either a random text generator or 8 years old. We haven't figured out which yet, and he's never gonna answer."

I actually took this comment seiously becuase of the tremendous response of vitriol to this piece. The response from alleged professors of sociology was enough to put me off higher education forever.

Lesley said...

Ha! My boyfriend and I watched that very same PSA a couple of weeks ago on a Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD we bought. I remember thinking exactly the same thing about the segement with the little boy.

Then came the part with the little girl, and I thought "Shit, the little boy got off easy." (Well, that's the nice version of what I thought). I hope you write that post some day, because whatever you'd have to say about it would be far funnier than what I'd have to say about it.

belledame222 said...

Yes, that is the problem with U.S. culture today: there is not enough chest-thumping macho or whatever it's supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

I found it interestig that she also didn't like hippies, grungies or Joe Dirts either. I guess I loose all around. Damm I'm depressed.

I come by it honestly. My father and grandfather were/are dapper men. None of us pay any attention to football; we'd rather take in a matinee on Sunday, yet somehow we've managed to find women that love us. Weird, I know.