Society’s Problems: Performative Strength

Welcome to part two of whatever the hell this is. I’ve spotted some poisons and I’m going to highlight them for anyone who cares. What I don’t know is how to cure them. How to remove them from society as we know it. All I know is that the thing is firkin toxic and should be both recognised and avoided. In an ideal world, it should be frowned on, but the problem with this one is the cultural aura surrounding it in a veneer of goodness. At least, goodness according to some. So let’s begin with a definition.

Performative Strength is the veneer of appearing strong despite things being obviously not that way. Current society correlates youth with strength, so the veneer of strength comes with a veneer of youth and fitness. Even when the person applying said veneer is neither young nor fit. It can run to ludicrous extensions of illogic, like Very Pale People applying buckets of Very Black hair dye with no gloss or gleam. The end result is less Snow White and more her mummy in a wig in a Faerie Tales Gone Bad situation.

Another good example is a very popular man in a position of power lying about his height so that he would not register as officially obese. Or painting himself with an artificial tan for that fake glow of health with no blending on the borders. Or a very obvious combover concealing male pattern baldness with increasing ineffectiveness. They’re blatant falsehoods and everyone knows it, but they’re essential to appear strong and thereby gain admiration and support of the masses.

It only gets worse from there. Performing strength means being “tough on crime” which in turn means punishing people who were already in dire straits for being there in the first place. Connected with Prosperity Doctrine, it means that all those in a position of weakness deserve to be punished just because they are weak. They should be eliminated from the Earth. Survival of the Fittest, blah blah blah, science that was debunked literally a century ago, but it fits their world view so they’re going to keep it up.

It’s poison. Here’s why.

That kind of “strength” can only escalate, and by escalating harm those who strive for it. We already have a disproportionate amount of suicides in the male population. Most of that is due to the “fact” that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Men have been told that they’re the strong ones, and any sign of weakness is punished by the greater throng. They’re tough, so they can tough it out.

Capitalism has reached the point where most of Humanity is one bad week away from losing everything, and the larger Body Corporate is celebrating the news that their employee field is dying before retirement age. They’re strong though. They deserve to think like that. They earned it by being strong and punishing all those freeloaders. Freeloaders like their employees… who aren’t paid enough to have a place to live and food. Sometimes, they aren’t even paid enough to have a place to live.

But forget about that. Please. If you call them out, you must be against freedom. Like the freedom to get arrested or killed in Florida because a cop thinks you might be a protestor.

If you can’t tell, I’m bitter about this narrative.

I can understand not wanting to look old. What I can’t understand is how people equate age with weakness. There’s some tough-as-nuts octogenarians out there. Older than that. They’ve survived a lot of shit and have experience under their belts. Only some older people are “set in their ways” aka “dedicated to not learning things.” You gotta find the ones willing to fix the way things are rather than wanting them to go back to the way things used to be.

In order to gain leader-type power in a democracy, you have to have a career of doing things within a democracy[with one notable exception]. That takes time. You can start as strong and virile and a go-getter, but by the time you’re in the running for leadership… that’s no longer the case. Politics is a sedentary occupation. If you want to be fit, you have to work at it, and paperwork takes up oodles of time.

In order to be liked in politics as it stands, you have to be a go-getter, a family person, have your finger on the pulse, understand the common worker, and simultaneously able to hoover campaign funds out of those who have funding to spare. It’s impossible to be all of those at once. Worse, the correlation of strength with virility also leads to political leaders carrying on with people they really should not be carrying on with.

It’s not just US politics here. There’s a lot of shenanigans in a lot of democracies, and it’s all linked to expectations of male strength. Female strength is very rarely favoured because public idiocy decrees that a woman with grown-arse children who also happens to be in politics will endlessly cop the Babysitting Question.

You know the one. “Who’s looking after the kids while you’re campaigning.” Just. Dude. Shut up. Her kids are clearly firkin adults. Shut. Up.

Women got sick of the Rabbit Food Question. It’s high time they got sick of the Babysitting Question.

Nobody asks the multitude of male politicians if/when they’ve been naughty with their staff-members. Nobody should ask a lady politicians who’s looking after her kids. She’s rich enough to hire a staff. She should be rich enough to have someone to help care for the kids. Stop. Firkin. Asking.

Anyway. Pretending to be strong and acting like you’re strong is not true strength. True strength is deeper than the veneer. It’s the power to stand for what’s right. It’s the ability to learn from any mistakes. It’s the courage to apologise when you are wrong. It’s the fortitude to keep moving towards a better tomorrow, and put your money, time, and effort where your mouth is.

Encouraging politics to actually go that way is the mountain we have to conquer.

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