Written for Operation Werewolf by Op. 413
The world wants you weak.
In advertisements, on talk shows, in classrooms and online, the message is the same—be a victim. You’re fine the way you are. Your problems are all someone else’s fault. Embrace weakness.
This isn’t meant as just a moral or emotional commandment but a physical one. In recent years, the media has shrilly denounced physical strength as a problem. Gyms are bastions of “toxic masculinity.” Testosterone makes you stupid and irrational. We’ll have a better, more empathetic society if we can reduce it. Working out gives you problematic political views. Masculinity, we are told, is bad for men, and the only possible solution is to deconstruct it entirely. That’s what some of the top universities in the country are offering classes in right now and that’s what so-called “men’s magazines” want their readers to believe.
The undercurrent of all of this is that masculinity, and testosterone, the hormone that drives it, are both problems to be managed. Journalists, priests of the cult of weakness, further the campaign against masculinity by attacking men in two ways. First, we are told that men are “obsolete”; after all, “the future is female.” You don’t have a purpose anymore, in fact, we’d all be better off if you weren’t around.
Yet if you object to this, you are hit from another direction. Rebelling against this message shows that you are “insecure,” “outdated,” “weak,” or “compensating.” After all, women want “beta males,” at least that’s what the magazine covers will tell you. What, are you “afraid of strong women?” Do you only want to be around guys or something, like some kind of homo? You don’t think strength, power, and masculinity are bad? Well, that’s just because you are weak, and scared, and sexually undesirable.
Of course, if you fall for this trick and sit in the classes or read the articles the media wants you to, they’ll tell you that being weak, scared, and undesirable is good.
The truth is that there is a war on men, and it’s not just a mental war. It’s a physical war. Even mainstream publications know something strange is going on. Since the 1980’s, testosterone levels have been declining by about 1 percent per year. It’s likely been going on for even longer, with one Danish study showing men born in the 1960’s have almost 15 percent less testosterone on average than men born in the 1920’s. On average, an 65 year old man in 1987 had about 17 percent more testosterone than his counterpart in 2004. This decline in testosterone naturally affects physical strength. A 2016 study of grip strength in North Carolina found 20-34 year old men had far less grip strength than did men from 1980. “Today’s men are weaker than their dads,” as The Washington Post put it.
Sperm counts are also in a decline. Studies show a wide variety of factors are responsible. Anti-androgens, found in medicines or pesticide, are entering the water system and blocking testosterone. BPA, found in packaging, plastics, and canned food containers, work like estrogen and block testosterone, though scientists disagree on its impact for the general population. A more recent study suggested chemicals known as PFC’s, found on non-stick frying pans, not only shrink testosterone but shrink the penis if men are exposed to them in the womb. Men exposed to endocrine disrupters in the womb even have the very shape of their bodies mutilated.
One study may disagree with another on the magnitude of exactly what is happening. You will drive yourself insane trying to avoid every kind of chemical exposure. However, with our water, food, packaging, air, soil, and everything else, men are being subjected to the largest chemical experiment in history. Our bodies are bombarded with materials changing our very makeup. It may take a century to fully understand what is happening, but we live with the results today. Even something that we are told to take for granted, like declining testosterone as we age, is not natural. Worse, even though you may read the headlines about one study or another, you sound like a crazy person if you suggest this is something men need to be concerned about.
It’s easy to fall into conspiracy theory and think this is all part of a conscious plan by shadowy elites who want to destroy men. In the West, that’s certainly what media coverage would suggest. However, the more horrifying possibility is that this isn’t happening by design but is simply an outgrowth of modern life. Consider the case of Japan. “Social Justice Warriors” and “soyboy” journalists are not exactly prominent in Japan, the country is not plagued with the kind of self-hatred seen in the West, and there is no journalist or academic class dedicated to deconstructing the country running the major institutions. Yet the problems facing men in Japan are objectively far worse than those in the West.
The hikikomori subculture of young men who embrace pornography or video games instead of sex continues to grow in the country, as the Japanese population is likely to suffer a steep decline in the next century. A relatively recent survey found that over 60 percent of men and about half of women from ages 18-34 were not a relationship, with a third under 30 never having dated. Almost half of women and more than a quarter of men in 2013 said they were uninterested in sex. Almost a third of people from 18 to 34 were virgins. A number of Japanese men (sometimes called “herbivore” or “grass eating men”) confessed to journalists they find women “scary” and fear rejection. Far better to stay in their rooms and look at pornography. Yet even porn may be too much for some Japanese men—”20 percent of men between 25 and 29 expressed little interest in sex at all.” (It’s worth noting that a Vice article urged Japan to “nut up” and bring in migrants to replace its people rather than trying to solve the problem—yet another example of appealing to masculine stereotypes to frame weakness as strength.)
Part of this may come from a cultural explanation, though Japan isn’t facing the same kind of media “war on masculinity” that Westerners are. It’s likely some of this simply comes from biology, diet, and environment. One study found that Japanese men had higher levels of a testosterone-binding hormone, which led to less free testosterone. At the same time, the study found that Asian men that moved to the United States had testosterone levels close to Europeans, likely meaning that diet has an important influence. (Of course, those levels themselves are lower than what was taken for granted in the West a century ago). It’s certainly not the case that Japan or the Japanese are inherently “low T” or un-masculine—from the samurai to the fearsome troops of the War in the Pacific, Nippon has always had a strong warrior tradition. It’s something inherent to modern life itself, with both biological and cultural factors destroying men.
There is a subtle interplay between these physical and mental factors. The modern world has stolen purpose from men, so they are more given to depression and suicide. It’s not surprising that suicide rates have increased in recent years. Journalists tell us males are committing suicide because they aren’t feminine enough. Yet it seems the opposite is the truth. Not only have males been robbed of purpose, they are physically under siege, as low testosterone leads to an increase in depression. So too does sitting around and growing obese. The rise in depression, the decline in testosterone, and the sedentary effects of cheap food and the modern lifestyle all reinforce each other in a murderous feedback loop. The results of it can be read in the obituaries every day. Whether the war on men is deliberate, accidental, or a bit of both doesn’t matter. The war is real and so are the casualties.
Of course, arguably, this is just the culmination of a trend that has been going on for millennia. Human beings are far weaker than they were before the development of agriculture. Yet its intensity in recent decades suggests something far deeper is at work. It’s as if men are being unmade, turned into some new kind of species or third gender. Walk down the streets of Austin, San Francisco, Portland, or Washington D.C. A universal non-culture is being created, producing legions of twisted post-men each one of which is ostensibly unique but is really interchangeable.
We even have words for it. “Soyboy,” for the noodle-armed postmodern men that denigrate masculinity while writing on their MacBooks at Starbucks. “Bugmen,” for those with an identity defined by pop culture franchises, morality determined by clickbait and phony outrage, and relationships governed by social media. “Snowflakes,” for those who physically disintegrate upon confronting ideas they disagree with and who use media sympathy to create a world like a giant university campus.
Yet there is a word that is more accurate than all of this, and which describes the kind of culture the war on masculinity is creating. It’s not an original word, it’s a common word, but it’s the one that is most precise. That word is simply consumer. Deliberately or not, we are being transformed from men into consumers.
A consumer qua consumer has no identity, ethnicity, or even a gender. He/She/It is universal, the ultimate product of universalism and non-discrimination. A consumer is defined solely by being part of a system where nothing is sacred, everything is for sale, and pleasure and convenience determine value. Words such as heroism, tradition, identity, ritual, and sacrifice have no place in a consumerist order. Nor is there a real culture, as a culture implies certain institutions and values that are beyond money and that exclude non-members.
Nor is there any need for violence or conflict—in a world of consumerism, some may have more money than others, but it is simply a matter of adopting a more “rational” policy. There are no countries or peoples, just different units of social organization that compete to create the most efficient economic policies. Even cries against inequality or calls for “revolution” are no real threat to this model—after all, resources can simply be redistributed if there is sufficient unrest. Afterward, the system will go on operating, its essential values still in place. The consumerist system is something deeper than mere politics.
Consciously or not, this model of global consumerism is what the world is moving towards. Masculinity is a threat to this system. For masculinity, at its heart, is not just about strength, conflict, or even conquest. It’s about an endless quest to satisfy one’s own sense of worth. Being told you are “equal” or just as interchangeable to other consumerist units is an insult, not a comfort. Being told that struggle is no longer necessary is spiritually poisonous.
Consumerism’s logical conclusion, a life spent hooked up to machines pumping you full of endorphins, is no real life at all for a man. Men know this inherently, that struggle, conflict, and even defeat are preferable to stagnation. As Dr. Johnson observed centuries ago, “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a solider, or not having been at sea.” Yet today it is worse, yet the wars fought today are not for victory or glory, but simply to solidify that vision of global consumerism, to further the day when the whole world is a shopping mall. The end for which the soldiers of the West fight is not worthy of the soldiers themselves. The real war, the deeper war, is not to be found abroad but at home. It is not directed against governments or rulers but against the poisons, physical and spiritual, to be found within ourselves.
A world full of weak, submissive, unaggressive post-men enslaved to pleasure, defined by products, and contemptuous of heroism makes the system run smoothly. For that reason, those who try to build something outside this consumerist system, to promote different values, will find themselves hated by the systems’ propogandists. To be a man is to be a threat. To pursue physical strength, to try to increase one’s testosterone, and to practice a diet and lifestyle that will further those ends is to revolt against the modern world in the most literal sense.
Building a tribe, creating taboos, increasing your mental and physical power, discovering and worshipping your gods—all of these are ways of declaring your rebellion against a non-culture of global consumerism. It is to declare that you are more than a product and that your value is something more than consumerism. It is about becoming a man that your ancestors would recognize.
We may not be as physically strong as our ancestors, but we face obstacles they would not have recognized. The very food we eat and water we drink are poisoning us. Rather than being honored, those who seek glory and heroism are met with the scorn and hatred of the genderless creatures loping though the consumerist wastelands of the cities.
New cults and tribes must be forged, new rituals, and new traditions. Men who want to be men and not consumers must reconnect to eternal truths in new forms. Unlike every other generation in history, we have no institution that we can fall back upon, to tell us who we are and provide a sense of mission. We must create it for ourselves. At a time of disintegration, we must overcome the entire world simply to survive. How great then to be alive at this moment in history, and to have this opportunity!
A time is coming of gods, heroes, outlaws, and kings.
It’s a time for those of great spirit to rise above the ruins.
It’s a time for men.