Put down that latte and stroke my pistol

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, March 4, 2010 16:43 EDT
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Anne at Balloon Juice posted on what initially seems like the stupidest “protest” of all time—men parading around Starbucks showing off their guns to protest…..nothing, really. Starbucks lets them do it, it turns out, though now the gun wavers have provoked gun control advocates to respond in anger and fear, which is the wrong thing to do, which I’ll return to in a moment. But first I want to talk about how Anne isn’t being a very sympathetic person towards the gun-wavers.

Starbucks? This is your bold, patriotic idea of a dangerous venue in which to flaunt your precious Second Amendment pacifiers? Because laptop-wielding hipsters are soooo freaking terrifying? Because the baristers are armed with… scalding hot milk foam?

Anne, anxious masculinity is a real problem that many men struggle with, and we should sympathize with them. Perhaps you don’t know many men suffering from anxious masculinity. Perhaps the men in your life are secure in themselves and their manhood, and so are capable of doing things like reading books, listening to women, watching movies with dialogue, and perhaps even reminiscing about their wedding in ways that imply they remember it. Maybe most of the men she knows feel like their balls aren’t going to shrivel up and fall off the second they look in a mirror to see if they look good, admit they know the difference between bar soap and shampoo, or drive a car that gets over 20 mpg. The men she knows don’t know what it’s like to be one of these pathetic wingnuts, plagued night and day by the secret suspicion that you’re not a real man. It’s hard to say what causes it—statistically, it seems unlikely they all have tiny penises, though perhaps they think they do because they watch too much porn—but there it is. A whole bunch of men living in a whole bunch of fear that they’re not real men.

Do you know what hell that is, feeling like you have to constantly prove like you’re a man, because you think other people have their doubts like you do? You have to wear the stupidest looking clothes: ugly shirts, ill-fitting jeans, and facial hair that’s at least 15 years out of fashion. Because having any inclination towards aesthetics is so feminine, and we can’t have that! Do you think it’s fun to have your entertainment limited to events where men toss a ball around—and that even then, some ball-throwing events can’t be enjoyed, because they’re too Euro-weenie, like soccer! It get so boring after awhile. And having a case of the anxious masculinity is not only boring, stupid, and ugly. It’s also bad for your health. These poor sufferers can’t eat healthy diets, for god’s sake. That will turn them into walking vaginas immediately. Yes, the condition of anxious masculinity has a high fatality rate, because years of shoveling meat and shunning vegetables not covered in gravy to prove your manhood leads many men to the realm of clogged arteries and heart attacks. Sad, really.

For profound sufferers, life is a living hell. They bust their asses day and night to scrub any threatening femininity from their lives, and then suddenly! A Starbucks opens up down the street. Starbucks! With its girlie mermaid logo and its silly, foamy drinks with faux Italian names. To make it worse, coffee used to be a safe drink for sufferers of anxious masculinity. It was a simple syllogism to know when you were safe drinking what you were drinking: male/female, beer/wine, coffee/tea. Coffee was the drink of diners and truck stops, and ideally it tastes like shit to prove you don’t care about frou-frou girl shit like comfort and taste. But now Starbucks is redefining coffee in middle America as some girly shit that’s supposed to taste good and be served by “baristas”. Masculinity itself, always fragile, is under direct attack. The anxiously male are on red alert, which is where you have to fight off the impending femininity by whipping out your cock and waving it off directly with phallic power.

But the problem with that, of course, is that flashing a bunch of soccer moms at the Starbucks is definitely illegal, and anyway, showing your real penis can backfire, since they’re not all that impressive soft. They have no choice but to parade around with their guns. If they don’t, they fear the venti lattes will dissolve their testicles. You laugh, because it’s impossible, but imagine how scary that would be if you really believed it.

As much as the sufferers of anxious masculinity deserve our pity, though, I understand that they are a public menace. You may accept that rats are feeling creatures, but you don’t want them in your Starbucks, which everyone can understand. So, how do you get rid of the gun wavers?

Being afraid and complaining isn’t really the way to go about it. Remember, these men are in constant need of reassurance that they aren’t women (because they were raised to believe that was the worst thing you could possibly be), and so by sending signals that you find them alarming or scary is rewarding the behavior. The behavior needs to be linked to undesirable outcomes for them. Laughing and pointing at gun wielders could work—because it makes them feel the gun is the source of their emasculation—but is dangerous for those who do it, because the targets do have guns. Making fun of them on the internet or on “The Colbert Report” helps, but it’s limited because of the anxious masculinity ban on reading anything but right wing tirades online or watching anything that’s not sports or Glenn Beck. Perhaps a sign in Starbucks that says “The Bigger The Gun, The Smaller The Cock”? Sure, some parents might complain about the wording, but it’s better than having a bunch of men who clearly feel they have something to prove running around with guns, isn’t it?

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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