Author Topic: The High Cost of Manliness  (Read 19849 times)

Debra

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The High Cost of Manliness
« on: September 08, 2006, 07:42:58 AM »
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It's hard to be a man; hard to live up to the demands that come with the dominant conception of masculinity, of the tough guy.

So, guys, I have an idea -- maybe it's time we stop trying. Maybe this masculinity thing is a bad deal, not just for women but for us.

We need to get rid of the whole idea of masculinity. It's time to abandon the claim that there are certain psychological or social traits that inherently come with being biologically male. If we can get past that, we have a chance to create a better world for men and women.

That dominant conception of masculinity in U.S. culture is easily summarized: Men are assumed to be naturally competitive and aggressive, and being a real man is therefore marked by the struggle for control, conquest and domination. A man looks at the world, sees what he wants and takes it. Men who don't measure up are wimps, sissies, fags, girls. The worst insult one man can hurl at another -- whether it's boys on the playground or CEOs in the boardroom -- is the accusation that a man is like a woman. Although the culture acknowledges that men can in some situations have traits traditionally associated with women (caring, compassion, tenderness), in the end it is men's strength-expressed-as-toughness that defines us and must trump any female-like softness. Those aspects of masculinity must prevail for a man to be a "real man."


http://www.alternet.org/sex/41356/
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steffie

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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2006, 08:04:17 AM »
I have a hard time with a male writer trying to express how his fellow men need to become less masculine, and more like "human beings".  Women have fought for centuries to be allowed to behave "like men"- i.e. perform in areas that value merit, be the breadwinner, compete with men for jobs.  And for this guy to say that all this competition is "toxic"?  Well, it just doesn't wash with me. (P.S. women have known that the violence and agression are unhealthy for a LONG time.)

Of course, he says, we'll have to do away with "feminism" too.  This statement gets my spidey senses a-tingling.
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fern hill

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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2006, 08:17:19 AM »
I'm with steffie on this. Spidey sense indeed. This is the guy's bio line at the end:

Quote
Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of, most recently, The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights Books).


Looks like the guy makes a living 'confronting' huge obvious things from the point of view of the 'privileged'. Puir wee man. . .

(I didn't read the whole article, just skimmed. Life is too short.)

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« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2006, 08:52:59 AM »
Overall, it's not a bad article. But steffie makes an important point. This guy ought to be giving credit to feminists for his theories. His ideas are certainly not new, and surely as a professor who writes about gender and makes strong statements about femininity, he must have known how feminists have felt about masculinity for eons.

It might be nice one day if we could say we didn't need feminism because everything will be equal, 50-50, fair, just, etc. and neither men nore women will never have to fight for rights denied to them based on gender. Unfortunately, that ain't gonna happen. We will always need feminism to protect ourselves because things could always get worse. The States is a prime example right now where women are losing more and more rights each day. Nah-uh, we ain't gonna start dismantling feminist ideals till we can be assured that no male left standing is sexist. Nice how the professor slipped that in toward the end. Maybe he thinks it's a good ploy to win men over and make them rethink their 'masculinity'. Shrug. But, in the meantime, it is a slap in the face to feminists.

skdadl

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The High Cost of Manliness
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2006, 09:01:15 AM »
Well, it is "femininity" that he says we have to do away with, not feminism. I don't agree with him, but there is certainly a difference.

Otherwise, I agree with everything you say, eph (f) -- good summary.

The doing away with femininity part: that bothers me. It is true that the "feminine" has been fetishized in many ways that a lot of us either roll our eyes at or still feel oppressed by. But there are other aspects of femininity that are either important or just plain fun. I would insist on keeping some of mine. I enjoy being a gril.  On and off.  :wink:

Herr Magoo

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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2006, 09:15:41 AM »
I'd be a little nervous about a dude urging me to throw off the chains of my own manly oppression, too.  This kind of reminds me of the trend, a few decades ago, of men trying to be "sensitive men", only to discover too late that women don't really find a crying guy all that appealing.
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2006, 09:19:19 AM »
Well, I don't insist that a man should be a manly man, and I don't find crying anybody unattractive or revolting. I can be annoyed if somebody is whiny and dependent all the time. But sensitive guys are all right.

skdadl

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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2006, 09:22:17 AM »
Maybe we should say what we do find appealing about men.

I mean, my favourite men actually are sensitive, although not in an icky, Dan Hillish kind of way. Every once in a while I meet a man who seems to really like women, likes talking to women, not flirting but just talking. That is powerfully attractive, imho.

Boom Boom

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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2006, 09:24:18 AM »
If you wanna go the other way, there's always Mafia Boot Camp... :spy:

Debra

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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2006, 09:58:55 AM »
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Of course, if we are going to jettison masculinity, we have to scrap femininity along with it. We have to stop trying to define what men and women are going to be in the world based on extrapolations from physical sex differences. That doesn't mean we ignore those differences when they matter, but we have to stop assuming they matter everywhere.

I don't think the planet can long survive if the current conception of masculinity endures. We face political and ecological challenges that can't be met with this old model of what it means to be a man. At the more intimate level, the stakes are just as high. For those of us who are biologically male, we have a simple choice: We men can settle for being men, or we can strive to be human beings.


This summary of the article caught my attention the most.

I never took feminism to be about being able to be a man. I hoped feminism was a step toward a more eqalatarian society, a more socialist society, a society which didn't expect you to compartmentalize your life.

A workplace which understood that family is just as important as work. That occasionally there will be days when you have to stay home to look after kids, or a partner or a parent or even yourself.

I do think that pink blue interpretations of feminity and masculinty need to be scrapped and the sooner the better. And I think he is right with the striving to be human I would add women and men, less emphasis on gender more emphasis on inclusivity.
“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” —  Josephine Hart

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« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2006, 10:27:37 PM »
In the interest of avoiding thread proliferation, i thought I'd post this here.

There've been some complaints about guys who feel compelled to s-p-r-a-w-l across a bus seat, with their legs open, taking up the space of three people.

That ain't my bag, and I don't do it, ... but it seems to be some sort of "territorial" thing, (that i don't think is instinctive, or natural, but learned).

So, I'm coming home from the pool, and there's two guys coming down the sidewalk towards me, and i discover that one of them is on a bike.

In case you haven't heard, I'm actually pretty puny stature wise, and i'm getting on in years.  These guys were in their 20s and had the whole "gangsta" look happening.

And the guy on the bike showed no intention of going behind his friend to give me some space to get by them.  I walked as close to the edge of the sidewalk as I could without stepping onto the road.  I decided that I didn't feel like stepping on to the road.  The guy waits till he's just past me and then says "Am I supposed to squeeze ..." and I guess it was just stupid posturing because if he really wanted to communicate, he could've said it to my face, ... and I guess he didn't have the wind in his lungs to finish the sentence either.  So I didn't bother responding.

But I thought why didn't I just concede the stupid space and get on the road if the guy was going to be a stupid asshole?  I thought; well, I just don't feel like conceding everything.  And then I thought that my behaviour might be classified as "stupid, male posturing, territorialitiy" etc., ... and then I thought that that judgement would come from women, who are always forced to concede, and give of themselves to men, families, work, society, etc.,  .... that the worldview that would condemn this useless standing of my ground, is itself informed by a conditioned tendency to always concede.

So, in retrospect, I think that I was right in the way I acted in that stupid encounter.  And that little incidents like that one are all part and parcel of standing up for bigger things.

I'm willing to concede that I could be entirely wrong, but i'd like to discuss it first.

Gigi

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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2006, 11:13:53 PM »
Don't get me started on the whole subject of bicycles on the sidewalk.

Mandos

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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2006, 11:49:48 PM »
I take the space of three people on the bus but that is usually because I am carrying about that much.

Herr Magoo

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« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2006, 12:46:09 AM »
I wear my "Have you been saved by Jesus Christ?" t-shirt, and people give me three seats on the bus.
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sparqui

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« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2006, 01:04:53 AM »
I find men who cry and laugh easily very endearing.
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

 

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