Erasmus Schröter, Contest — Andreas Höll, A Crisis of Masculinity? The Gradual Liquefaction of Identities

[Fall 2019]

By Andreas Höll

Our image of the world has always been very fragile, and it has severely jolted on several occasions. Sigmund Freud, for example, cited the three insults to humanity that overturned our view of the world: Copernicus expected us to believe that we weren’t at the centre of the universe; Darwin proved we were descended from apes and warned us not to assume we were the pinnacle of creation; and Freud himself revealed that, following the discovery of the unconscious, we were no longer master even in our own house.

In the twenty-first century, these three insults seem to have been joined by a fourth, at least to some part of humanity: men no longer personify the so-called stronger sex that determines the course of the world, despite having been accepted unquestioningly as such for several millennia. If we are to believe the wealth of studies and statistics, a crisis of masculinity can be seen everywhere in the Western world. Men are significantly more likely than women to be unemployed or commit suicide; moreover, men seem to be inferior in almost every other way. Last, but not least, as the German neuroscientist Gerald Hüther discovered, men are at a genetic disadvantage because, unlike women, they have only one X chromosome, which means that from birth they lack self-confidence, warmth, and the ability to communicate.

That men are a victim of nature and themselves is one proposition. Its counterpart is the image of the perpetrator and aggressor, condensed in the battle cry of the old white man. Deadly serious and imbued with morality in equal measure, he wanders through the discourse of militant political correctness, its champions failing to realize that they themselves are guilty of disparaging individual sections of the population (something they are normally highly critical of) in three ways at once: with sexism, racism, and ageism…
Translated from German by Chris Abbey

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