The Five Stages of Masculinity Personality Inventory: One Year In
The Five Stages of Masculinity Personality Inventory has now been online for one year. The point of the inventory is two-fold. First, to serve as a thinking tool by providing an indication—although by no means a definitive answer—as to which stage respondents are working at. Second, to gather data that can paint an evidence-based picture of The Five Stages of Masculinity. Apart from—literally—one or two snipes about the intentions of the inventory, all the feedback has been positive.
In this first year, hundreds of people have completed the inventory. I’d like to see that progress to thousands by the end of year two. So here’s the call to action. If you have not yet completed the inventory, please go and do so: it’s free and doesn’t take very long. If you have already completed the inventory, please tell some other people about it: such personal recommendations are very valuable.
I strongly believe that The Five Stages of Masculinity has a lot of potential to get people thinking differently about masculinity. It is not necessarily the answer to all our problems, but it’s certainly a good step forward that could catalyze massive social change. But seeding a new idea in the public domain is hard, and creating momentum takes time. One of the characteristics of an idea with exponential growth is that it is initially deceptive. The beginning of the exponential curve looks almost flat for some time, and then all of a sudden it takes off, making people think it came out of nowhere. But of course, the idea did not come out of nowhere: there was a substantial period when even a doubling of awareness had little impact … until that continued doubling goes off the charts.
The time is right for change: let’s make it happen together.
May has been all about Macron, starting with his Presidential win and finishing with taking on Trump’s Stage 2 masculinity with the now-famous white-knuckled handshake. The media have lapped this up claiming that Macron “appears to win latest handshake battle” with an implicit logic that putting Trump and his toxic masculinity in his place is good, and therefore Macron is good and in some way counter-toxic masculinity. In reality, Macron is doing his own form of Stage 2 masculinity.
It’s worth looking at how Macron is perceived in France to get a better understanding of this, and some good insights can be found in the Netflix documentary Emmanuel Macron: Behind the Rise. First, there is his age: even some of his high-profile supporters believe him to be too young (in other words, not sufficiently manly). Then there is the much-discussed older wife, which in the public consciousness relegates him to being mothered. Then there is his apparent discomfort with shaking hands with blue-collar men that Marine Le Pen put to her advantage on the campaign trail. Then there are the rumors of his gay affair, which were reignited when the gay magazine Garçon put a bare-chested Macron on its cover.
When we consider these “attacks” on Macron’s masculinity it starts to make more sense why he chose to be driven up the Champs-Élysées to his inauguration in a military vehicle rather than the traditional civilian limousine followed by a visit to a military hospital. In his first week in office Macron visited troops in Mali, demonstrating “he is not just the new president of France, he is also the commander-in-chief of an army that’s currently fighting an insurgency across northern Mali and the Sahel.”
This is the backstory to Macron’s squaring up to Trump. The power-play with Trump was not a critique of Trump’s toxic masculinity handshakes, rather an attempt to beat Trump at his own game—thus proving his own masculinity—which can only ever be a perpetuation of Stage 2 masculinity.
I suspect if the media had been reporting on a white-knuckled handshake between Trump and Putin, both men would be painted as toxic. However, this highlights something of a blind spot in Stage 3 media, where pretty and/or young leaders are perceived as “good” and therefore given a free pass—or at least the benefit of the doubt—when it comes to their masculine performances. Indeed, Stage 3 media ideally likes advocates that are hot dudes (Trudeau, McGorry, Gosling, and the like) which is somewhat ironic as a focus on hotness is exactly the dynamic it critiques in its coverage of Stage 2.