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March 07, 2006

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badteeth

---I want to offer them alternatives to the straitjacket of traditional masculinity, based as it is on thinly disguised violence, chronic inarticulateness, and profound disrespect for women."


So if you don't cry on your buddy's shoulder and "dialogue together" then you're an ineptly-sneaky violent, mute, misogynist?

Noumena

My philosophical constitution is such that I intensely dislike any kind of argument-from-psychoanalysis: 'Kant thinks A, B, and C because his personality is like X, Y, and Z' is almost always little more than speculative hand-waving in my book. But with a quotation like the one from Mr. Bad, it's hard not to think his opposition to feminism is really driven by something buried down beneath all the reasons and arguments.

I do want to say something more substantive, about why I think teaching young men a broader, healthier notion of masculinity is a feminist project, but I'm afraid I don't have time now.

Hugo

No, pro-feminism doesn't demand any sort of particular behavior. But unlike traditional masculinity, we don't decry any behaviors as inherently UNmasculine. Profeminism invites men to experience a range of emotions and behaviors, but it neither prescribes or proscribes.

breadfish

Badteeth, I'll re-post exactly what I said to mrbad in the other thread here for you, since you seem to have missed it:

Mr bad - Nobody here at least is telling you that you can't like sports, hunting, fishing and all those other "boy" things. If you like that stuff, great. Enjoy it. Feminism at it's core is mostly just people who don't want you and other men throwing your weight around at them and other people. There's nothing wrong with liking sports etc or being assertive--the most UNattractive trait in a human being of any sex is a refusal to stand up for oneself--the main problem most feminists (and Hugo I suspect) have with traditional masculinity is the constant attempts (sometimes successful, sometimes not) to exercize control over and "lord over" other people. Also, most feminists don't think it's necessary or good for men and women to drive themselves crazy trying to fit into some designated role if they do not truly fit. You can't get a square peg into a round hole, but the square pegs do not need a bunch of bullyish round pegs trying to grind them down to make them fit and telling them they're disgusting freaks for being square.

badteeth

---But unlike traditional masculinity, we don't decry any behaviors as inherently UNmasculine.

Well is decrying something as being a dumb, violent, misogynist strait-jacket really all that flattering either?

---Profeminism invites men to experience a range of emotions and behaviors, but it neither prescribes or proscribes.

Didn't this whole thread start because you were saying how traditional male friendships were worthless and that they should be more like the way you thought they should be?

Arwen

It also seems to me like the definition of maleness (and also, femaleness) keeps being moved. When I was a kid in a poorer area, slurs on masculinity happened to those who chose reading over monster truck rallies.Conversely, many of my peers in university wouldn't be caught dead at a monster truck rally.

My father-in-law was a (marine?) (SEAL?) who studied martial arts for many years at Okinawa. He had a pretty strong response to the "male children can't follow rules or be mannerly" discussion that happened regarding boys in schools.

I had a boyfriend of the upper class who'd been taught that to be a man you needed to dance, know wine, carve meat, and pleasure a woman.

My uncle's definition of manhood is very gentlemanly. His masculinity is informed by his rural upbringing and his urban adulthood - he knows dogs and makes knives, writes poetry and paints, knows food and the pursuit of romance; he's a bon vivant. His masculinity would be very erudite and urbane.

I have two friends who would probably be in Hugo's intended audience, and both of them would have different standards of "maleness". They don't talk about their emotions to each other all that much, but they do engage in open physical displays of affection. Both are Don Juans and are all about the seduction and the emotive expression with women. One of them said that it was easier to have many partners because he could be emotionally vulnerable in little tiny pieces. No one has a full picture of him. This strikes me as sad for him: I'm not sure he'd say it's inherently his manhood though.

badteeth

---Badteeth, I'll re-post exactly what I said to mrbad in the other thread here for you, since you seem to have missed it:

Breadfish, the problem is that I believe feminism to be just as guilty of throwing its weight around and trying to fit round pegs into square holes.

Arwen

Didn't this whole thread start because you were saying how traditional male friendships were worthless and that they should be more like the way you thought they should be?

What I read was this: If you're the sort of guy that discusses the "important stuff" with your wife but not your guy friends, Hugo would encourage you to let the men in your life into those discussions.

If you have no "important stuff" to discuss, then go ahead and be buddies and friends in whatever way you see fit. I don't see anywhere where Hugo suggests "traditional male friendships" (whatever those are) are worthless. Only that those men who DO talk emotively with women could maybe do themselves a favour and share that with the male friends in their lives.

badteeth

--- I don't see anywhere where Hugo suggests "traditional male friendships" (whatever those are) are worthless.

How about dangerous?

---What I am rejecting is something very dangerous about traditional American masculinity: the collective difficulty that so many men have with opening up to other men about their doubts, insecurities, and fears.

Seriously, am I the only one who can spot a value judgment?

Hugo

Badteeth, I'm critcizing an aspect of certain kinds of male relationships, where fear and inarticulateness holds men back from connecting with each other. That's dangerous -- but that doesn't mean the relationships themselves are utterly without merit.

Mr. Bad

Hugo, I'm somewhat flattered that you chose a comment of mine upon which to base an entire thread, but agast that you took the rhetorical device so literally and out of context.

I mean really, come on - "plumbed like a man but acts like a girl" is such an obvious oversimplification that I find it hard to believe that you placed so much stock in it. Of course you're not "plumbed" in any way, shape or form (unless you have high-quality copper for a urethra), and similarly you probably don't "act like a girl" much of the time; taken in the context of the thread the "act like a girl" reference referred to the way that you tend to communicate (which I believe is more "feminine" than "masculine"). I was hoping that the contextual element would be clear but alas, the fodder provided by my provocative rhetoric apparently was too enticing to resist. Oh well. So, on to this thread.

You said: "...traditional masculinity, based as it is on thinly disguised violence, chronic inarticulateness, and profound disrespect for women."

Are you serious? Do you really believe that traditional masculinity is based on "thinly disguised violence, chronic inarticulateness, and profound disrespect for women?" If so, then you have even less understanding of traditional masculinity than I've been giving you credit for, and perhaps this explains why you are so completely off-base with much of your commentary on the topic. Granted, you go on to say: "That is not to say that there aren't virtues to be found within traditional sex roles: courage and honesty and determination are seen as classically male virtues" throwing in the obligatory "though of course women can manifest them just as well." (intersting that you don't throw in a feminine qualifier, i.e., "thinly disguised violence, chronic inarticulateness, and profound disrespect for [men]" when you make your slur against masculinity, but hey, true equal treatment is probably too much to expect), but you make it clear that you consider the former to be more predominant than the latter. Thus, to me you show a strong contempt for traditional masculinity, and this is why I regularly question your bona fides - as well as guys like Kimmel, Katz, Flood et al. - vis-a-vis understanding the topic.

You guys truly 'just don't get it.'

You continue: "The subtext of Mr. Bad's message is: "Hugo is not a real man. Thus if you -- a young man -- start thinking like Hugo or other pro-feminist men, you also are not a real man."

I don't think that you're not a real man, just an ignorant and predjudiced one vis-a-vis what it is like to be a 'traditionally masculine' man. Thus, I would most definitely advise young men not to look to you or your ilk as mentors; you folks pathologize healthy, normal masculinity in favor of femininity, and worse, you fail to critically examine femininity vis-a-vis the negative attributes. And in that sense, you fail spectacularly at leading a life of honest self-reflection and evaluation. You see my critiques of your philosophy that the feminine way is the better way as attacks on your manhood, but I only raise these objections when you pathologize traditional, normal, healthy masculinity and hail femininity as the enlightened and preferred model to live by. And as you continue to do so, I will continue to challenge you.

Perhaps you and I are destined to dance this dance idefinitely - if so, see you on the parcade.

The Gonzman

Hugo, I'm going to take exception to only one thing here, and as usual, it is inconsistancy - you had, in that same thread, sophonisba referring to me as feminine and pmsing - and not "boo" was said. I got news, Hugo - we classic and traditional males have feelings too, and they are masculine, and not feminine, and maybe we'd open up with them a little more if femophiles didn't keep trying to pin little pink medals on every time one was expressed like it was some sort of compliment. Jeebus H., man. Ya'll are the first to protest how you don't want to put labels on people or put them in boxes, and you're the first ones to break out the labels and boxes.

Your problem isn't in being feminine, it's in being an extrovert (You seem to place a lot more faith in the Meyers/Briggs type tests than I do - I've tested INFJ so many times it isn't funny, if that helps you.) and having the primary, absolutely aggravating to the point of wanting to throttle you trait of most extroverts - namely, you seem to regard introversion as some weakness or character flaw which needs curing. Nothing personal - and I say this with the greatest of love - but on behalf of all us "I" types, one of these days ya'll are going to hug us one too many times, and we're going to cut off your arms. We don't need to be cured. We're not broke, stop trying to fix us.

Mr. Bad

Gonz said: "We don't need to be cured. We're not broke, stop trying to fix us."

Amen brother!

The Gonzman

And my compliments to Mathilda, but she need never worry about me going squirrel hunting. I always eat what I kill, and only kill what I eat, and I would never for love or money let tree rat pass my lips. Just so long as her cousins stay out of my house (FIELD mice. Field. Outside.) and we'll get along famously.

This may be why I like cats.

badteeth

---Ya'll are the first to protest how you don't want to put labels on people or put them in boxes, and you're the first ones to break out the labels and boxes.


YESYESYESYES. I've been knocking my head against the monitor for about twenty minutes rewriting stuff about babies and bath water and motes and beams and socialist utopians who claim to never prescribe or proscribe but that pretty much sums it up very nicely.

I think when Hugo talks about "taditional masculinity" he's envisioning some sort of taliban with beer and hunting rifles, while I think of watching ESPN and sitting in a recliner. And not crying while I'm wacthing it. Unless its about Reggie White's posthumous induction into the Football Hall of Fame. I still get a little misty.

breadfish

I don't know about that Gonz, I've tested INTP on every last one of those stupid personality test things and I've yet to want to throttle Hugo for his comments.

Mrbad -As for being upset on Hugo calling you on your statement - there's no use backpeddling. You said it. If you didn't mean it, you shouldn't have said it. Crying "I didn't mean it" now isn't going to fool anyone - you meant what you said, or you wouldn't have spent the time to write it and hit "post".

The funny thing is that you all accuse Hugo et al. of not "getting it" but in all your yammering on this blog you've yet to outline exactly what you believe "real masculinity" is, besides the whole hunting-fishing-chestbeating sort of culture. Do you really "get it" either? And what makes your idea of a "real man" inherently better than the examples Arwen stated, or for that matter Hugo's and his pals'?

And for that matter, do you know what "real femininity" is? Are you in any better position to say jack squat about what is feminine and what isn't than Hugo is to say jack squat about masculinity? Can you even genuinely compare the two?

The problem with the terms "feminine" and "masculine" themselves is that they don't really mean anything outside of a specific cultural context. One man's "masculine" is another's "feminine" and so on. The Navy Seal's concept of masculinity doesn't look anything the Boyfriend's or the Uncle's. They're totally different interpretations of the word.

I say let the boys choose their own role models. If they're more comfortable with someone like Mrbad and Gonz, fine. If they're more comfortable with someone like Hugo, let them go in that direction.

I think the major source of the misunderstanding here is that Hugo is using the word "masculinity" to denote a very specific set of behaviors and emotions - anger, repression, controlling nature etc - that are often passed from one generation to the next in males and that he would like to see changed. But the MRAs here are using the word "masculinity" to denote something completely different that they have been highly reticent to come out and define.

So there you have it. You aren't even talking about the same damn thing. I suggest scrapping the terms "masculine" and "feminine" altogether and simply talking about the behaviors and emotions in question specifically so everyone's actually on the same page, or at least letting everyone write out their specific definition of the two words so we actually know what the hell we're discussing.

The Gonzman

What I read was this: If you're the sort of guy that discusses the "important stuff" with your wife but not your guy friends, Hugo would encourage you to let the men in your life into those discussions.

If you have no "important stuff" to discuss, then go ahead and be buddies and friends in whatever way you see fit. I don't see anywhere where Hugo suggests "traditional male friendships" (whatever those are) are worthless. Only that those men who DO talk emotively with women could maybe do themselves a favour and share that with the male friends in their lives.

And a classic extrovert statement.

Were I incline to use language here to cast judgements, I would use the term "emotional incontinence." And while I will not try to hang this about your neck, Arwen, I will invoke it as an example of how us more reserved people tend to view such things.

You Extroverts have this habiit of viewing anything but total sharing as not sharing at all. When we share, we share a particular facet or facets of ourselves with different people. There is some overlap. But -there is also some things that are just plain none of your business. There are things I share with both my children, things I share with neither, and things I only share with one or the other.

Being private people, such things as we share with an individual are private and personal, and is why we (perversely)tend to shut you extroverts out more than we do our introvert bretheren. I will illustrate: I had an ex-wife who was an extrovert. I wrote her a poem one time, a classic sonnet. This was from me to her, for her and I to share with each other. I did not write this for her mother, her sister, her friend Gina, the hens circle at work, etc. etc. It was for her, from me, between the two of us - ours.

In doing so, I made the classic error of introverts when dealing with extroverts - I assumed she had the same sense of boundaries and privacy I did. I don't think it's a leap in intuitive thought, given the foreshadowing, to see what happened next. She showed it off to all and sundry. Then I had these wome where she worked - some of whome I didn't even know their full name, having a view into me that they were not entitled to have. That poem was no longer "ours" it had become "hers." Worse yet, it had now become everyone else's too.

YES< I AM GIVING A ONE SIDED VIEW HERE. By intention. I'm not interested in debating or discussing it, or having anyone say "but Gonz..." or anything - I'm letting you in on how the introverted mind views things as private. We can actually be more open to a fellow intovert because we trust them to understand and respect those boundaries, and that privacy, and to respect that the glimpse they get into our psyche's and souls are personal, for them, and not to be passed on. We're much more reserved by contrast than you extroerts to begin with, but we are even more so when we deal with ya'll because when you do go "showing our poem off to everyone" we regard it as a betrayal, and lose trust in you.

When we are sharing something with our wives, and not our friends - and the reverse - it is because those things aren't (a) germaine to the relationship, or (b) ours to share. When my daughter talks to me about wrestling with her inner demons, they are not mine to share with my son. If hunting bores to tears a woman I am seeing (as so often happens) I'm not likely to share the latest joys of the hunt with her, she won't appreciate the thrill.

And you all just don't seem to get it.

badteeth

---"I think the major source of the misunderstanding here is that Hugo is using the word "masculinity" to denote a very specific set of behaviors and emotions - anger, repression, controlling nature etc - that are often passed from one generation to the next in males and that he would like to see changed."

Yeah. I think you're onto someting there.

Are you getting the part yet why some of us might find that irksome?

The Gonzman

I don't think there's any value in that, Breadfish, nor do I think that it is a challenge which can be met. If I gave descriptors which described every woman in the word save one, you would argue that one exception invalidated the whole model.

Heather

Why do Mr. Bad, Gonz and their ilk read your column? I'm curious.

And, I wish the man in my life would burden me more with his emotions. In general I think the problem is that traditional male thinking is that emotions are a sign of weakness. And because women are more "emotional" (or so the thinking goes) they are less than.

breadfish

You know Gonz - if you'd told Ex-Mrs. that the poem was meant for the two of you alone when you gave it to her, she might have kept a lid on it instead of broadcasting it to the universe.

In my experience of being an introvert and having to deal with a world of extroverts - you HAVE to be clear, to the point of being blunt or plain rude sometimes, what your boundaries are. You HAVE to communicate with them if you want them to understand your terms. They simply don't do subtle. Take Hugo's advice and learn their language. You don't have to use it with your fellow introverts (this is the one point where Hugo does get it wrong), but when dealing with the rest of the world it helps if you're not speaking a foriegn language.

That's the real trick of these different "communication styles" (call them "extrovert" and "introvert", "feminine" and "masculine", or "Fred" and "George" for all I care) - you should be able to use both at need. If you need help and the only convenient people around around the extrovert feminine freds, wouldn't it be nice to be able to get help?

breadfish

I don't think there's any value in that, Breadfish, nor do I think that it is a challenge which can be met. If I gave descriptors which described every woman in the word save one, you would argue that one exception invalidated the whole model.

So take the other route I mentioned and scrap the models completely. Talk about behaviors, not "masculinity/femininity". Problem solved.

breadfish

"Are you getting the part yet why some of us might find that irksome?"

Yes but I think it's uncalled for. If the behaviors/traits he's referring to don't include you, there's no reason to get defensive about it as he's not talking about you to begin with.

The Gonzman

Are you getting the part yet why some of us might find that irksome?

I'll second that. I raised a son and a daughter in their adolescence and through their teens as a single father - my method of teaching my son to deal with problems and such worked for him. It did not work for my daughter. I had to work hard, and take enough classes to get a handle on rasing girls that I would up with an associate's degree in psychology before I was able to reach her. He thrived in the classic male bonding rituals - she damn near withered on the vine. And things that work on her do not work on him.

If it were all nurture and no nature...

badteeth

---"Are you getting the part yet why some of us might find that irksome?"
Yes but I think it's uncalled for. If the behaviors/traits he's referring to don't include you, there's no reason to get defensive about it as he's not talking about you to begin with.----

On a blog? That might be the politer thing to do, but the main reason I post on a blog in the first place is I don't mind arguing. (Okay I like it actually.)

Second, so does that mean all stereotypes should go unchallenged?

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