Call it cowardice, call it passivity, call it the New Normal, call it whatever you like.
When another Canadian director, James Cameron, filmed Titanic, what most titillated him were the alleged betrayals of convention. It’s supposed to be “women and children first”, but he was obsessed with toffs cutting in line, cowardly men elbowing the womenfolk out of the way and scrambling for the lifeboats, etc. In fact, all the historical evidence is that the evacuation was very orderly. In reality, First Officer William Murdoch threw deckchairs to passengers drowning in the water to give them something to cling to, and then he went down with the ship – the dull, decent thing, all very British, with no fuss. In Cameron’s movie, Murdoch is seen to take a bribe and murder a third-class passenger. (The director subsequently apologized to the First Officer’s home town in Scotland and offered £5,000 toward a memorial. Gee, thanks.) Pace Cameron, the male passengers gave their lives for the women, and would never have considered doing otherwise. “An alien landed” on the deck of a luxury liner – and men had barely an hour to kiss their wives goodbye, watch them clamber into the lifeboats and sail off without them. The social norm of “women and children first” held up under pressure.
And then there’s Ben Guggenheim:
Millionaire ‘wouldn’t leave mixed-race valet who would have been denied place on lifeboat’
It was one of the most haunting tales to emerge from the Titanic disaster.
While others rushed to the lifeboats as the ship sank, millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim stoically sat sipping brandy with his personal secretary Victor Giglio, declaring they were ‘prepared to go down like gentlemen’.
‘No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward,’ he told a survivor.
Now THERE was a man worth admiring, behavior worth emulating, and a standard worth aspiring to. Today’s mewling, slope-shouldered, steer-cotted Pajama Boys…eh, not so much. Back to Steyn.
At the École Polytechnique, there was no social norm. And in practical terms it’s easier for a Hollywood opportunist like Cameron to trash the memory of William Murdoch than for a Quebec filmmaker to impose redeeming qualities on a plot where none exist. In Polytechnique, all but one of the “men” walk out of that classroom and out of the story. Only Jean-François acts, after a fashion. He hears the shots…
…and rushes back to save the girl he’s sweet on?
No, he does the responsible Canadian thing: He runs down nine miles of windowless corridor to the security man on duty and tells him all hell’s broken loose.
So the security guard rushes back to tackle the nut?
No, he too does the responsible Canadian thing: He calls the police. More passivity. Polytechnique’s aesthetic is strangely oppressive – not just a “male lead” who can’t lead, but a short film with huge amounts of gunfire yet no adrenaline.
Whenever I write about this issue, I get a lot of emails from guys scoffing, “Oh, right, Steyn. Like you’d be taking a bullet. You’d be pissing your little girlie panties,” etc. Well, maybe I would. But as my compatriot Kathy Shaidle put it:
When we say ‘we don’t know what we’d do under the same circumstances’, we make cowardice the default position.
I prefer the word passivity – a terrible, corrosive, enervating passivity. Even if I’m wetting my panties, it’s better to have the social norm of the Titanic and fail to live up to it than to have the social norm of the Polytechnique and sink with it.
The New Progressivist Man ain’t much of one, if you ask me. I shudder at the very thought of my daughter ever ending up with one of these twee, degenerate little pantywaists.
But the devolution of men, real men, into feeble, whimpering little milksops is yet another one of those things that was neither accident nor coincidence. It was done to us on purpose, with malice aforethought: the howling denigration of all things manly, the shrieks of “toxic masculinity” we hear so much of nowadays, didn’t begin yesterday. It all started as a quiet but steady drumbeat, just background noise at first, and built to the current crescendo over decades.
Pajama Boy, after all, makes a much more malleable and complacent little Ward O’ The Almighty State, you know, and is unlikely in the extreme to ever offer the slightest resistance to its encroachment. In fact, he’s way more likely to demand it instead; to him, the prospect of the Big Nanny superstate isn’t disturbing but comforting.