Marco Rubio and the Masculinity Police

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio recently mocked a Washington Post story that recounted a brief encounter with law enforcement that Rubio had when he was eighteen. Rubio was caught hanging out in a park after hours, a misdemeanor.

Rubio hit back with a fake ad revealing his other crimes—coloring outside the lines, double-dipping potato chips. The episode was a seemingly small political blip, but it inadvertently points to another problem: We need to stop trying to prevent our boys and men from being boys and men. We need to let them feel passion and lust and adventurousness and act on it. We need to let them get in trouble, drive fast cars, and chase girls. The dark and dangerous part of them—us—that does these things is also the place that can call forth great leadership.

The Rubio “story” in the Post reveals how our culture has become uncomfortable with male behavior. On one hand there are the liberals who seem to celebrate any kind of sexual expression except heterosexual manhood, which they aim to deride and ultimately destroy. On the right are religious conservatives that grow uncomfortable when a man shows his darker side by having too much to drink or talking about female sexuality. There are also the “lad” conservatives who fetishize body humor and the female body without any wit or poetry.

Both left and right attempt to do the same thing: stamp out the shadow. The shadow is an idea from Jungian psychology. It represents the subconscious, as well as the darker aspects of our personalities. The shadow can be our lust, violence, depression, and anger. But it is also the seat of creativity. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” He added, “In spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity.” For some, “the dark side of his being, his sinister shadow . . . represents the true spirit of life as against the arid scholar.”

The shadow is crucial to psychic health, and particularly powerful in leaders (both male and female). Think of the classic Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk was literally divided into two people, one good and one evil. While the evil Kirk roamed the Enterprise forcing himself on women and getting into fights, the good Kirk grew more and more weak and vacillating. In order to function, Kirk needed both sides of his personality.

I’m not talking about illiterate, boorish behavior or crudity and sexism. Men who celebrate pornography or pick fights for no reason are burdened with too much shadow; they are all dark Captain Kirk. Nor would we want men who have given up on being men. We flock to James Bond films to see a protagonist who is both cultured and also deeply in touch with his shadow. We love athletes who go on the field, down in the mud, going head to head in a game of brute force. Comic books with characters like Batman and Daredevil allow us to explore the darkness that is increasingly banished from both public and private life.

In our age of supposedly liberal enlightenment and third (or is it fourth?) wave feminism, the male shadow is not acceptable. Liberals won’t tolerate it and conservatives aren’t quite sure how to handle it. And so Marco Rubio finds himself making news because he was once in a park after hours when he was eighteen. Rubio’s satirical response was fine, but it would have been better if he had embraced his shadow, freely admitting that as a young man he felt lust, the thirst for danger, anger, and even depression. Many of our greatest leaders, from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy, revealed their shadow sides. Today, we have political candidates trading insults about each other’s shoes.

Yes, in earlier eras we were less healthy, less sensitive, and tolerated some awful behavior. But we were also a stronger and more self-assured people.


  • notthatGreg

    This was an interesting topic, but I’m not sure using Rubio’s “crime” of hanging out in a park that was closed is necessarily the best example of the shadow concept. Maybe there’s some small thrill in hanging around a public park late at night, but if that’s the best example of “shadow” we can find in today’s man we’re in sorry shape indeed.

    • m a

      Rubio’s crime is actually being a republican. Hence, any minor incident will be seized on for the news cycle.
      Meanwhile, we have an SoS who ran a private email server, refused to comply with FOIA demands, their email system was used to transmit information classified at the highest levels, they apparently directed their staff to transmit classified material via unsecure channels simply stripping the markings. I wish the SoS had been a republican, justice would be far quicker.
      But Rubio’s hanging out in a park at 18 is a far more important story.

  • Having witnessed the transition from a masculine society to a feminine one, I lament the loss. Strength was replaced with vacillation, wars are no longer fought with the objective to win, merely to end (resulting in no lasting peace and great waste of national treasure), and we find ourselves in a society where there is no right or wrong and many types of questionable behaviors are “celebrated.”
    The popular image of the Modern American Man is a bad caricature of masculinity. Men are portrayed as clueless dopes in a state of perpetual arousal who can’t do anything on their own. This falsehood abounds in media with no positive role models for young men. Thankfully, I personally know no such men.
    Most painfully, we’ve lost the ability to say “No.” Anything goes, whether it has value or not.

  • GinaRD

    I support Rubio and I’m all in favor of masculinity, but really, how adventurous is it to hang out in a park? In this case, I much prefer Rubio’s joking way of handling the issue to his trying to blow it up into some big bad masculine adventure that it just wasn’t.

  • On a guided safari in Kenya, my wife and I came across a small group of native men outside their village. Our guide translated their discussion about a small group of boys who had been caught the previous day with a goat they’d stolen from another village.

    The owners had come over for a raucous exchange, demanding the goat back and compensation of some sort. The boys were trotted out, ordered to return the goat, and verbally chastened by their village’s elders. Then the goat’s owners had a go at them.

    Eventually, the conflagration devolved into the sharing of (tobacco) snuff and plans to exchange some of the next season’s crops between villages, and everyone went home.

    What struck me most about this was how the natives told the story while smiling and laughing. Our guide later explained that stealing from another village was just one of many coming-of-age rites for teenage boys in the bush. The elders’ consternation was simply for show: deep down, they were proud of their boys’ daring. And the episode would be repeated in future years among the villages’ young, as it had probably taken place for centuries.

  • JBluen

    What is meant by “feeling lust” and “chasing girls”? Humping a series of someone else’s daughters and destroying everyone’s ability to pair bond with an eventual mate, thereby perpetuating a divorce culture and a corrupt judicial system that enslaves men financially, separates them from their children, and perpetuates the welfare state?

    Thanks but no thanks, Boomers. We’ve had enough of that garbage, and it has precisely nothing to do with actual manhood.

  • Martin Knight

    The “Crime Spree” ad is not bad. But using people with signs showing support for other Republicans was a missed opportunity. I would have targeted the media instead.

  • FrancisChalk

    “On one hand there are the liberals who seem to celebrate any kind of sexual expression except heterosexual manhood, which they aim to deride and ultimately destroy.” Absolutely true and ubiquitous in movies, commercials, schools (from Pre-K to PhD), media, government, speech, the courts, etc. . . total cultural emersion.

    “On the right are religious conservatives that grow uncomfortable when a man shows his darker side by having too much to drink or talking about female sexuality.”
    Such sentiments are confined to an small sliver of the greater society and only those in that sliver know anything about such sentiments. It’s literally a rare church preaching point with only the most minute societal exposure or cultural impact.

    But, by all means, demonstrate how “balanced” and “objective” you are by presenting both sides. Your article in the perfect example of just how absurdly dominant the “liberal” side of your point is. You try to make a point about how little our society values manly virtues by writing an article that “colors between the lines” the fem-centric culture allows. Cowardice is not a manly virtue.

  • Paul A’Barge

    There are ways men can right the culture and take it away from the feminist monsters. Let’s just say it involves doggy style.

  • Ken Snyder

    Try not to get your man bun in a twist there Sparky.

  • d griffin

    Has Rubio addressed the rumors about his early gay-porn appearances?

  • NoDonkey

    Hillary wouldn’t be the first female President since one if serving right now.

  • Pingback: Chasing Folks Feeling Lust and Passion Fast-Driving Club: No Gurlz Allowed - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • TheFool37

    Jungian shadows? Really? lol

    Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of conservative men?

  • TheFool37

    I hate to break it to you Judge but when y’all became drug warriors and the enablers of fundamentalist idiocy you lost any right to lust, passion, adventure, or brown baggin’ it in the park. You can’t be sanctimonious about virtue 364 days of the year and then take pride in being sinners on the last day. In for a dime, in for a dollar, dude.

  • The Japanese have a proverb: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”

    I’m unconvinced that male vs. female is really the issue, with the culture. I think it’s mroe that our culture has gotten more overt about wanting everyone to be a marionette, which means the puppet masters are “supposed” to be covert, not overt.

    In this case, the article about Rubio sounds more like a basic propaganda attempt, seeking to spin that minor thing as something dirty. (It’s always easier to spin something as a negative if there is something negative attached, but anything can get spun as a negative.)

    That fake ad is hilarious. ^_^