11 April, 2006

Death of Macho Man

Masculinity has been in favour for a long time now, not surprising since early civilisations survived on physical strength and masculine strength was key to survival. Then civilisations became more advanced, governments were created by people, cities were created by governments, and cities unified to make the first states. With states came armies and with armies came the death of macho man. Glorified as the hunk of brute strength, virility and low mental capacity has been through fiction, it is the wise man who has flourished. Strength and stupidity make for a good soldier, but intelligence is needed to be a military leader. In war, the soldiers do not gain much from success, and lose everything to failure but the winning leader gains fame, reputation, wealth and power.
Lu Bu has been characterised as the quintesential macho man. From his brute strength, to his ignorance of anything remotely intellectual to his winning the gorgeous girl - he exuded manliness in his fictional portrayal. Cao Cao, in comparison, was no macho man - the adopted son of a eunuch, capable of wielding a sword but no duelist and brilliantly skilled in strategy. Cao Cao's strategy beat Lu Bu and so died macho man and Cao Cao flourished with wealth and power until his sons destroyed the family's claim to the imperial throne.
Yet, the portrayal of masculinity continues to be worshipped. Short, bald Napoleon was brilliant and successful until his fall, yet ordered himself to be portrayed as tall, long-haired and manly in portraits. Media bows to the macho man, from the movie superhero, to the dashing novel knight who saves damsels in distress and yet all this worship is no more than the worship of a ghost, long dead since we moved past our cave man roots. Society has always been ruled by non-masculine smart people, the macho men were always mere pawns to be used to fulfil the hopes and dreams of the intelligent, though I fear the legend will always be with us.

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