The Null Device

2020/9/10

Things that have recently happened in the US:

  • Wildfires blazed across the West Coast, burning several million acres and setting the sky a hellish orange; it emerged that one of the fires was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device intended for a gender reveal party.
  • Supporters of US President Donald Trump held a boat rally in his honour on a lake in Texas. Ostensibly, it was meant to be a flotilla of boats with pro-Trump/Blue Lives Matter/Qanon/related flags sailing in formation as a show of strength and support. For some reason, though, several boats started cranking up their motors and racing, swamping others in their wakes, and continued doing this as first responders arrived to rescue the occupants of sinking boats. The final toll was 13 vessels swamped or sunk and at least one person in intensive care with a broken back. Some commentators have since christened the rally “Dumbkirk”.
  • In August, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a 10-day festival of biker culture, ran in South Dakota, with more than 400,000 participants packing into bars to watch bands like Smash Mouth; CCTV footage showed few participants wearing masks or maintaining social distancing. Now, a week after the first COVID-19 death, a study has confirmed that the rally was a superspreader event, linking it to more than 250,000 COVID-19 cases. The public health cost of cases linked to it has been estimated at $12.2 billion.

I can't help but think that there is a pattern that connects these three events: all three appear to be examples of the hubris of a hypermasculine, domination-oriented worldview exceeding, as it so often does, the limits of its competence.

The last two are fairly obvious: it's quite likely that many of those inclined to go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally would have bought into a construct of tough-guy masculinity which, in its current climate, would hold that masks are for pussies, and Real Men are not afraid of a teeny tiny virus. Some would undoubtedly have had qualms, though the peer pressure to not be seen masking up like a soy-drinking cuck would have been strong, and the alcohol and camaraderie would have filled the gaps.

As for the Trump boat rally, that pretty much stands on its own: the complex of right-wing populism that Trump serves as the figurehead of is, in part, all about the right to not be civil, to assert dominance where one is capable of it. So it's hardly surprising that a boat parade organised in the name of the Trump movement would have wilfully disregarded boating etiquette as something also for cucks and beta-males. Real Men dominate, the reasoning goes, they sometimes come to blows, and if your boat sinks because my boat's wake swamped you, too fucking bad. You should have been tougher.

The gender reveal wildfires are slightly less directly an example of this, but it's in the nature of gender reveal parties themselves; these are not an ancient American/Christian/Republican/homeowner/heterosexual tradition, but rather a recent backlash against the acceptance of nontraditional gender roles and sexual identities; to hold one for an as yet unborn child is to plant one's flag in the culture wars, asserting that there are only two genders and that which genitalia a person has at birth determines which roles they may play in life. If your foetus has a penis, he is going to grow up to play football and like trucks, never cry in public, and eventually ogle bikini babes in Sports Illustrated; if not, she will like the color pink and looking pretty, and her play will be spent pretending to be a fairy princess ballerina and never. say, an astronaut or fire engine driver. Needless to say, the sorts of people who need to assert such a statement generally are compelled to do so forcefully, hence the use of explosives.

Of course, as we have seen, the sorts of people whose politics are about domination tend not to be the most subtle thinkers, and are more likely to barge in and wreck things. (See also: too many politicians, past and present, to name.) But from their point of view, that's OK, because only beta cucks care about things like externalities; eventually, someone else will be around to clean up.

culture war dominance gender masculinity usa 0