Fox News Spent 2013 Worrying About "Wussification"

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What Women Really Think
Dec. 26 2013 10:46 AM

Fox News Spent 2013 Worrying About "Wussification"

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Fighting the forces of wussification through costumery.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

As 2013 comes to a close, DoubleX is looking back on the year that was—the stories we covered and missed that captivated, puzzled, enraged, and delighted us. Review with us. 

XX Factor year In Review

Conservatives live in constant fear of "wussification": That is the lesson one would learn from watching Fox News in 2013. Media Matters compiled a hilarious list of the top 10 times the word wussification—usually attached to the phrase of America—cropped up on Fox News this past year. The metaphorical testicles of America were lost to a myriad of causes, including the move to change the name of the Washington, D.C., NFL team and the push to end unpaid internships. Unmentioned as a symptom of wussification, interestingly enough, was the use of the term wussification in place of the grittier street alternative that starts with a p. Considering that Fox worried that suspending a cop for cursing at a bunch of children leads to wussification, you would think they would summon the testicular fortitude to use the word that they really mean. 

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Lest you think this is simply Fox News employees overcompensating for working within a stone's throw of so many Broadway musicals, rest assured that this nonstop conservative anxiety about keeping things manly is hardly limited to Fox. For their last great push of freaking out over nothing this year, the culture warriors all over the right-wing media threw a major fit because an ad for Obamacare online pictured a man wearing eyeglasses and pajamas. Real men sleep in cargo pants and forsake being able to read rather than admit to needing the assistant of an optometrist, which is a word that nearly rhymes with gynecologist, after all.

Indeed, the recent kerfuffle over the suspension of the star of Duck Dynasty for racist and homophobic remarks has revealed the extent to which conservative Americans must sacrifice comfort, safety, and dignity in order to fend off the forces of wussification. In covering the story, many liberal outlets revealed the ugly truth about the Robertson family at the center of the show, which is that, in their natural form, they appear to be a bunch of golf-playing polo-shirt fans whose facial hair preferences range from clean-shaven to the dreaded goatee. So great was the need of Duck Dynasty fans for a charade of manliness that the Robertsons had to debase themselves by growing out those massive crumb-catchers and clothing themselves, in front of the cameras at least, in head-to-toe camo. 

Of course there is a paradox afoot, as nothing speaks less of a cool, masculine confidence than constantly worrying that every little corner of society is out to steal your manhood away. Except, perhaps, donning ridiculous costumes to ward off fears of emasculation. Not that our friends on the right will ever really grasp how silly all this looks to outsiders. After all, only wussies understand irony. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

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