Masculinity Crisis: The End of Male

Traditional manhood aside, today’s real masculinity crisis is biological—environmental endocrine disruptors common in plastics and fertilizers may be contributing to rapidly declining fertility.


| May/June 2013



Masculinity Crisis

As a gay man, I welcome the growing irrelevance of old-school masculinity. But a creeping masculinity crisis, one that’s biological, affects me just as much as any frat boy or military officer.

Photo By Eugenia Loli

On a Thursday in August, I walk into a budget health clinic in downtown Los Angeles. At the end of a maze of pistachio-colored hallways, I find a room marked LabCorp—it’s essentially a storage closet full of folded cardboard boxes, a jumble of plastic tubs, a bin marked “Dry Ice,” and a few desks and chairs. It’s reminiscent of where the janitors at elementary school would hang out, only with microscopes. I’ve paid $129 to have a test done: “Semen Analysis, Basic.”   

There is no waiting room. I stand in the doorway until Maria—a lab-tech with a sweet-looking face, long black hair, and a pink shirt sprinkled with fine black polka dots under a white coat—acknowledges me. She hands over some forms and a plastic cup.

“You have to ejaculate everything inside, and when you’re finished put it in here,” Maria says, pointing at a box next to me crowded with plastic cups in baggies. “The bathroom’s out the door, a quick left.”

I enter the handicap-accessible bathroom. The walls are a chalky shade of blue. A knot of toilet paper drifts around the toilet bowl. An overworked plunger sits in the corner. I can hear someone unfurling a roll of duct tape beyond the door. There is no porn. There is no chair. I do my thing. I return to the office and put the cup into the box. I avoid Maria.

In my rush to leave, I forget to hand in my paperwork. When I revisit Maria, she tells me they’ll measure volume and concentration here on the spot. Then the sperm will travel south, to another lab in San Diego, where a technician will analyze their shape and size, and how well they swim. I’ll get the results—a password-protected PDF—a few days later.

I signed up for a fertility test not because I’m trying to have a kid (please) but as a barometer of my maleness, in its most medieval, distilled sense. Admittedly, it was a ridiculous thing to do. But I was curious. As you may have heard, male anxiety is on the rise in 21st-century America. Employers no longer value our strength to lift or make things (we sent those jobs overseas). Society is sick of our risk-taking bravado (that’s what crashed the economy). Women don’t need our financial support (matriarchy is the new patriarchy). Every week there’s a new think piece or cover story ripping holes in the trappings of traditional manhood.

peter
3/8/2016 6:39:41 PM

There is no crisis of masculinity. We just need to stop using feminism as a template for talking about male issues. More here: http://moflomojo.blogspot.com/2016/03/are-beards-are-feminist-issue.html


robert abramson
4/25/2013 1:25:58 AM

In America , science means nothing to a number of major church groups. It also means nothing to congressmen or senators who love campaign contributions more than people. However, in both small and large countries around the world they have taken action to stop the use of chemicals that are known to affect your endocrin glands and increase the risk of cancer. Since the planet is becoming over populated , I think, the chemical companies feel it is beneficial to give people cancer and other medical problems as their contribution to slowing down over population while at the same time making hugh sums of money.