A Guy Thing.

I was scouring the depths of YouTube looking for the cut from the movie Zulu that I used last year.  Of course, it wasn’t there this year, so I had to find a different one and re-work the timing of the bits I want to use in class. And I hunted up another film, just to be sure that it had not been removed when YouTube cleaned out all the documentary material about the NSDAP last year. (Thank you, twits, for nothing.)

As always, there’s something in the last 15 minutes of Zulu that makes me shake my head in awe – at both sides of the fight. The Zulu were hard core, serious, and darn good at what they were doing (just ask the British at Isandlwana!). The Brits had guts, discipline, and a refusal to quit. And rifles. But it was the discipline and guts that are the focus of the movie, and of that last scene. You get the feeling, once everything ended, that in another time and place, Zulu and Brits would have happily hoisted a few rounds—especially if someone else paid—in each other’s honor, and groused about the d-mn Boers being a pain in the arse.

It’s a guy thing. Guys can be enemies, go after each other in a fair fight, and then respect the other one for his efforts and what he accomplished. Kipling’s poem “Fuzzy-Wuzzy” catches that perfectly, as does “The Ballad of East and West.” You fought me, I fought you, honors are equally divided, we both had lousy food, and aren’t lowest-bidder weapons a nightmare?

It doesn’t always happen. Resentment, cultural divides too great to cross, atrocities that cannot be forgiven, there are things that will be remembered, grudges nursed, and revenge brewed. But in general, men are more willing to fight, forgive, and come out with mutual respect. Sometimes even friendship if the fight wasn’t personal.

The Ballad of East and West. Rudyard Kipling. (Link goes to full poem).

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

There are times I wish more girls were like that, but then we wouldn’t be girls. Women fight for different reasons, and have different internal imperatives. We fight to survive, and to make darn certain that our rivals are defeated and stay that way and know it. I’d rather deal with a boy fight than with girls waging psychological warfare.

Fussy-Wuzzy Rudyard Kipling.

We’ve fought with many men acrost the seas,
An’ some of ’em was brave an’ some was not:
The Paythan an’ the Zulu an’ Burmese;
But the Fuzzy was the finest o’ the lot.
We never got a ha’porth’s change of ‘im:
‘E squatted in the scrub an’ ‘ocked our ‘orses,
‘E cut our sentries up at Sua~kim~,
An’ ‘e played the cat an’ banjo with our forces.
So ‘ere’s ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan;
You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
We gives you your certificate, an’ if you want it signed
We’ll come an’ ‘ave a romp with you whenever you’re inclined.

We took our chanst among the Khyber ‘ills,
The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
An’ a Zulu ~impi~ dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
We ‘eld our bloomin’ own, the papers say,
But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us ‘oller.
Then ‘ere’s ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ the missis and the kid;
Our orders was to break you, an’ of course we went an’ did.
We sloshed you with Martinis, an’ it wasn’t ‘ardly fair;
But for all the odds agin’ you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square.

‘E ‘asn’t got no papers of ‘is own,
‘E ‘asn’t got no medals nor rewards,
So we must certify the skill ‘e’s shown
In usin’ of ‘is long two-‘anded swords:
When ‘e’s ‘oppin’ in an’ out among the bush
With ‘is coffin-‘eaded shield an’ shovel-spear,
An ‘appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
Will last an ‘ealthy Tommy for a year.
So ‘ere’s ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ your friends which are no more,
If we ‘adn’t lost some messmates we would ‘elp you to deplore;
But give an’ take’s the gospel, an’ we’ll call the bargain fair,
For if you ‘ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

‘E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
An’, before we know, ‘e’s ‘ackin’ at our ‘ead;
‘E’s all ‘ot sand an’ ginger when alive,
An’ ‘e’s generally shammin’ when ‘e’s dead.
‘E’s a daisy, ‘e’s a ducky, ‘e’s a lamb!
‘E’s a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
‘E’s the on’y thing that doesn’t give a damn
For a Regiment o’ British Infantree!
So ‘ere’s ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan;
You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
An’ ‘ere’s ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your ‘ayrick ‘ead of ‘air —
You big black boundin’ beggar — for you broke a British square!

22 thoughts on “A Guy Thing.

  1. I wonder whether that “guy thing” is related to the notion of sportsmanship. And also to play-fighting and developing fighting skills. And of course to re-forming a gang, band, or tribe after a fight to determine the alpha.

    • I think it predates sportsmanship. (IE games of sport).

      Men are competitive but also have to work as a group to complete an important task (such as hunting animals to feed the tribe).

      The guy you are fighting with now is somebody you have to work with later in the hunt and may be the person who save your life when the bison fight back.

      While women can be competitive (nod to Foxfier), in primitive societies they rarely worked as a team where lives were directly at stake. So when they fought, they were less likely than men to care what happens after the fight. (Note, this involves fighting among women but can apply to defending children & themselves against outsider men.)

      • Poking at it, I think the “under stress” thing is exactly what this spectrum rests on; gals get most vicious when they feel insecure– roughly, no good leadership (in her judgement). And leadership isn’t going to be “dude in head of tribe,” it’s going to be “whose lead to I follow,” and it can rather famously be a fellow who died a few thousand years back. 😉 But they have to have the impression that things are secure, or they’re going to get into conflict; that stress is a threat, and threats die.

        While guys are more likely to do guy-fights when things aren’t dire– no re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but they might very well grab anybody around and sprint for the life boat.

        For a group to function long-term, you’re going to need both, because human judgement isn’t perfect. The group might die, but only to reform.

        • Foxfier, maybe that’s why so many females are anti-gun. They’re highly stressed and use every weapon in their arsenal already. They can’t imagine the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can take out permanently anything tangible smaller than natural disasters that threatens your self and family, and they’re sure that to have force is to use force.

          Huh. Hadn’t thought of that before. Maybe have to reference that cougar shot while snatching toddler more often when talking to them.

          • You know, that makes a lot of sense.

            I’ve got a solid family, so I was able to grow up with a much lower level of “I have no protector” stress than is normal for my generation. I was taught the protect-the-weaker, so when I grew up and got guns– it’s just another tool. An effective tool, which means that I’m able to be stronger and thus protect the weaker. (even if their weakness is only situational)

  2. There’s a reason that “girls don’t fight” is a social norm.
    It increases the cost to start up.

    Of course, guys will fight about stuff that normal girls (that is, not under stress- trying to take control when stressed is a girl thing) won’t.

    • I am reminded of a bit from a “joke book” that was ancient when I saw it, and the stuff in it likely ancient when the book hit the press:

      “Hey! You shouldn’t beat on someone when he’s down!”
      “What do you think we took him down for?!”

      And, once again, patience is NOT acquiescence for the longest of fuses go to the largest of charges. And the REALLY LARGE charges result in stuff with both intense, and also long-lasting effects. Sure, exponential decay… but that means it lasts “forever.” There is a HUGE hysteresis: It’s rather difficult to get on the…. “fecal roster”… but it’s dang near impossible to get OFF of it. Possible, but oh the effort is non-trivial.

      Ox have precious few on fecal roster. But ain’t none even TRIED to expend the effort to change status. Sure, at least one SAID they had changed… as they proceeded to demonstrate recidivism. Repeatedly. Injuring is one thing. Ox can forgive that, somewhat. Harm ox friends? Fecal roster.

      • > Injuring [ox] is one thing…

        {NOTE: Do NOT abuse mundane oxen. They are NOT forgiving and they do NOT forget injury. A ‘goad’ ASKS/SUGGESTS actions. It is NOT a whip, etc.}

    • Indeed – girls do fight, and they fight dirty and all-out. It was axiomatic when I was in middle and HS – guys took it behind the gym, and walked away. Girls – an ambulance for one or both of them.

  3. The fight is part psychology, and you have to have psychological answers ahead of time to act the way you ought when the action starts. Play fighting, roughhousing, can be a safe way for men and boys to get and share those answers.

    What if, hypothetically speaking, one is a man who grew from boyhood in an environment of psychological warfare waged in the feminine style?

    Might the answers diverge from those of previous cohorts in who grew up in different situations?

    Purely hypothetically, asking for a friend, all of those other distancing statements that really mean, ‘I am asking for personal reasons, and this is not at all hypothetical’.

    Historically, women have moved male behavior a touch more towards civilized, by being worth knowing, and by approving and disapproving of various things.

    There are still a fair number of women who are worth knowing, who behave in the older style. Is the number of women who are not worth knowing a larger fraction than it was, do they try to use unearned ‘worth knowing’ as a way to influence male behavior? What impact might that have on male behavior?

    As close the sympathy I may hold for MGTOW, I am not of MGTOW. Is the value of my behavior enough for the regard of a woman worth knowing? That is not something the internet can answer. That is not something I could take answers for from the internet. Answer any of these paragraphs but that one.

    • I think the problem is of the morality used–if you’re doing warfare against kids, you’re already in trouble.

      *gives many of her teachers and no few relatives a stink-eye*

      • And this touches on an aspect where I’ve behaved very badly in the past.

        Are we talking warfare within a society, directed against children? Or warfare between societies of different cultures, that encompasses children because the cultures are too mutually alien to maintain the practice that children are out of bounds?

        I suspect that some of my weirdness on the latter is an artifact of taking in too much of the female style of conflict. Perhaps as a result of the former.

  4. Something I’ve heard repeatedly, first hand from young men, is a need to find better young women, or put caps on their behavior. Most of this is college age, some is HS. They’re learning to civilize the Harpies by booting them out or calling the police. Interesting behavior changes, after.Daddy get the real word on His Little Problem.

    Western cultures seemed to thrive with men in charge and women to advise and support them. More cooperation and building. With situations reversed, things didn’t go as well.

    Present company is DEFINITELY excepted.

    Fuzzy-Wuzzy is not a poem to bring up around the 42nd or its successor Regiment. Still considered ‘bad form’.

  5. Concur with the other commenters, and PK beat me to the 42nd… LOL And yes, there IS one Russian sub CO I’d love to sit down over a beer with…

  6. Between the title of the post and the Kipling references, I find it difficult to believe that no one has brought up “The Female of the Species” yet!
    And then look at today’s political behavior and tell me that “masculinity” is the problem:
    “Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights,
    Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites,
    Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
    And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!”

  7. Ran across an interesting comment by the MIG ace Aleksandr Pavlovich Smorchkov about his Korean-war American opponents:

    “Our attitude towards the American pilots was complicated. During the Second World War, we had been allies against Hitler. Therefore, in Korea, we did not view the Americans as enemies, but only as opponents. Our motto in the air was ‘Competition – with whomever.’ … My opinions about the relative abilities of Soviet and American aircraft and pilots were as follows: I thought the American pilots were very good. This opinion was shared by other Soviet pilots including my friends Vladimir Voistinnych and Piotr Chourkin.”

    I expect this attitude might have changed had the US been bombing Russia itself, though.

  8. Consider the culture that enjoys fighting with other cultures and picks fights fairly often. Compare that with a culture that prefers to build and live, and still has the resources to field effective fighters. Such a society may have the “I don’t start fights; I finish them” mentality. Or, like the 16th to 18th century European powers, it may have the resources to pick and win fights (almost) anywhere, though not everywhere at once. There is a pattern of war-loving hill tribes and agrarian lowland tribes, and even the Viet Nam war may be said to have derived from this pattern, which H.G.Wells used in =The Land Ironclads=. The discipline of the hoplite and the schiltron and the square against the raiding band, the short-term disadvantage of agriculture versus the long-term advantage of being able to devote more effort to preparing to fight …. There are archtypes here, but they all seem to embody the notion that more developed countries fight like cornered females, or not at all. In =Carnage and Culture= (also published as =The Western Way of War=), Victor Davis Hanson writes of the things that make nations in the Western tradition such deadly warfighters, and wars between those nations so especially terrible. One could argue that, post-colonization, these nations fight like the female of the species, not for honor or fun, but for existential keeps.

    If these thoughts were better organized, I’d have posted them sooner.

    • Hanson’s book builds on an older title, The American Way of War. Hanson has some excellent points, and I agree with a lot of his analyses. It will be interesting to see if he’s still right in the future, or if Martin van Creveld and others are correct about Fifth Wave warfare and the return (in part) to what I think of as “Queen Victoria’s Little Wars.”

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