The Rise of the Paleo-MaleJuly 10, 2015
Recently it was made known to the public that Bruce Jenner no longer wanted to be known as Bruce, but as Caitlyn. Apparently this is a widespread phenomenon – individuals being born in the wrong body. The Swedish artist, Lars Anders Johansson, has in a song pointed out a harder solved problem, namely an illness he suffers from. In the song he sings about being born in the right body, but in the wrong time. The fight for old values is a life long struggle. I know how he feels. If Bruce, or Caitlyn, or any other ‘genderqueer’ person feels offended, they have no idea how I, and my fellow paleo-males, feel. To be omitted from the 50+ gender identities available to choose between on Facebook is a punch in our face.
Paleo comes from the Latin version of the Greek palaios. This means ‘old’ or ‘ancient’ or even ‘prehistoric.’ In this sense, the paleo-male is old-fashioned. He prefers the old to the new, and would rather sit at home and read a good book instead of watch TV or read the news, for they are both almost exclusively boring or indecent or both. He prefers vintage wine to modern made-up drinks like ‘sex on the beach’ in cheap bars. When he smokes, if he smokes, he smokes the pipe, a cigar or unfiltered cigarettes and not the so called ‘slims.’ When he listens to music it is usually Opera, Classical music, folk music or something from the roaring twenties. If he listens to modern technological music, it will surely be the first time he has ever heard the ‘song.’ He prefers art that depicts something real and beautiful, rather than the fake and vulgar. He prefers to confide his problems to a priest, rather than to a psychoanalyst. As for ‘sexual preferences’ he prefers not to discuss it, since he sees it as a personal matter that has gone far too off the rails in the public sphere.
Being a paleo-male is a lifestyle. But as scholars of gender issues will tell us, there is more to a gender than just the lifestyle. It is something intrinsic, something waiting, nay urging, to be expressed. The paleo-male therefore feels the need to dress appropriately according to occasion, and tries as best as he can to follow gentlemanly etiquette. He is, perhaps, not always successful. As ‘The English Gentleman’ by Douglas Sutherland (Debrett, 1978) points out: ‘A Gentleman’s relationship with his fellow beings i[s] an extremely complex matter which outsiders often find difficult to understand. The result is that he gives offence when he is trying to be polite and, when he is being intentionally rude, it often passes over his victim’s head.’ The paleo-male aspires to be a noble man, but the term has been much abused. To be a noble man is a constant fight, and for the paleo-male to find comfort in his identity he must fight the temptations of the world. José Ortega y Gasset points out that:
‘It is annoying to see the degeneration suffered in ordinary speech by a word so inspiring as “nobility.” For, by coming to mean for many people hereditary “noble blood,” it is changed into something similar to common rights, into a static, passive quality which is received and transmitted like something inert. But the strict sense, the etymon of the word nobility is essentially dynamic. Noble means the “well known,” that is, known by everyone, famous, he who has made himself known by excelling the anonymous mass. It implies an unusual effort as the cause of his fame. Noble, then, is equivalent to effortful, excellent. The nobility or fame of the son is pure benefit. The son is known because the father made himself famous.’
The gender expression is further found in the way he tries to emulate the characteristics of past men, usually his own forefathers. But he cannot inherit this identity. It is an identity fought for by every consecutive generation. He is confident in his manliness, but the norms of society, or perhaps lack of such, make him feel unsecure in an ever-changing world. He therefore withdraws from the world and prefers to be in the company of other paleo-males and his family. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP captured the paleo-male attitude quite well when he was accused of being a ‘17th century man’ and retorted ‘I’m surprised to hear I’m so modern!’ Another person who has captured this attitude is the late Alan Clark MP when he wrote ‘we don’t want any f***ing new ideas!’ in his diaries.
The Paleo-male can also be described as a Dandy, or a Fogey or perhaps even as a ‘tweed crusader.’ These do, however, not reach all the way, as they describe characteristics of a male, but not his gender identity. What differs the paleo-male from ‘cis-males’ or far worse, neo-males (!), is the fact that he identifies more with the men of the past than with his fellow males of the modern world. In the political spectrum the paleo-male cane be found anywhere, but due to his attraction to the old rather than the new he is most likely a conservative. It has been pointed out that conservatives rather live in peace than discuss or debate. In some cases he is a Tory anarchist, due to his relaxed nature and longing to the days of aristocratic rule or maybe even the Divine Right of Kings. He dislikes all politicians alike, because he does not trust them. However, he does not trust people enough to think it better to get rid of politicians completely. In the words of Orwell when describing Swift: ‘He is a Tory anarchist, despising authority while disbelieving in liberty, and preserving the aristocratic outlook while seeing clearly that the existing aristocracy is degenerate and contemptible.’ He also believes in the need for religion, even if he himself may not be a fervent believer. Yes it can be lonely to be a paleo-male at times, but as Gordon Gekko, the Wall Street film villain reminds us: ‘if you need a friend, get a dog.’
It is a tough lifestyle, and society is not helping the paleo-males of the world feel comfortable in their gender identity. In a world run by self-service counters in the ‘local’ Sainsbury’s, banks which require cards, pins and various other forms of unnavigable technology, mobile phones that no longer necessarily need to be used for phone calls and where School/University work has to be handed in through a labyrinth in newspeak called a ‘website,’ rather than directly to the teacher, the paleo-male is feeling increasingly alienated. This is a plea for help. We demand acceptance and formal recognition by society. We might be in the position of defending a lost cause. But we are not ashamed of who we are.
You can #CallMeKarl.
Karl Gustel Wärnberg, Juli 2015.