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March 07, 2006

Comments

The Gonzman

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

I'll tackle that one, Heather.

Hugo and (Fill in other feminist blogger - Amadagon, Ampersand, et al) both say they want dialogue and a meeting of the minds.

Hugo means it. I still disagree with him profoundly, but he is honest enough to hang his head and say "Okay, ya got me there" when I nail him on something - hence, I extend the same respect to him

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.

Well, that's good blaming him for being male. I suppose it does take all the responsibility off of you to analyze your part in the dynamic by putting it all on him.

Yeah - that was rude. Look at my example above though, and think about it.

breadfish

And Gonz, my father was constantly exhasperated by both his and my mother's attempts to make me more "feminine". My grandmother had absolute fits as well. I hated dresses no matter how many they bought me and how much they told me I was pretty, I hated dolls no matter how many they gave me, I fought with the other children, especially the "girly" girls, no matter how many they tried to make me play with. All the estrogen in the world hasn't turned me into a so-called "feminine" being. I can attest that my "plumbing" is totally normal and functioning too, so don't get any ideas about physical pathologies. I'm a totally normal woman, physiologically, yet I am not what people in this country see as "feminine" psychologically or behaviorally. I'm not especially "masculine" either, but that's beside the point.

Nobody here is saying that there's no "nature" at all but that certain behaviors that are attributed to "nature" are in fact not. Like that whole "men are natural rapists" crap that people try to justify with data about testosterone and aggression. If you want to try to apply biology to all the stereotypes, you're going to have to take the ones that paint men negatively as well as the ones that paint the women.

The crossroads of nature and nurture is difficult to pry apart, but I don't think biology is the airtight undeniable destiny that some of you seem to think.

Heather

Gonzman - Do you mean the example about your daughter? 'Cause I guess I don't get the connection with that one.

So, you read Hugo because he asks for dialogue? I'm guessing that isn't your only reason or motivation. I tend to think that you're pissed off about something or toward someone and find the feminist perspective tends to look at women as victims and men as perpetrators and you don't think that's fair. The general feeling I get is that you all were hurt by a woman who was particularly cruel and you're sick and tired of getting blamed and want some recognition. Sorry if that's a little pop-psych.

And just because in this particular post I don't mention my responsibility in the relationship doesn't mean I don't analyze or recognize it.

The Gonzman

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.

Okay - my first objection here - if I have to fight, argue, and dictate to someone to have a relationship, it just isn't worth it to me.

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.

And my usual objection here - somehow, it always seems to be me who is the one who is broken and has to fix myself. I have no desire to change - I am not broken - there is nothing wrong with me - and it is easier to seek out the company of introverts than to have to housebreak an extrovert emotionally. (Note to other lurkers: Yes, I am describing you extroverts as broken and in need of fixing - how's that shoe fit forced on YOU?)

I'm a good actor, and I can ape the E*** types of behavior if I want, which I do for business. It's a tool, and it is relatively easy to do with people who you do not associate with except in the (superficial) professional sense; I doubt I could maintain long term scrutiny, but I don't have to with someone who I might talk to for a few minutes a half-dozen times a month, tops.

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?

Or I can just be in sufficient control of myself and my life to not be in that position. Problem solved.

The Gonzman

No, Heather - I mean the example with me and my ex-wife.

Toni

Hi Hugo. Delurking to say that y'all might find this article from Stumptuous.com interesting - it has a nice analysis of the current masculine/feminine froth: http://www.stumptuous.com/cms/displayarticle.php?aid=143
Sorry for the lack of HTML skills.

The Gonzman

Breadish, I could alter your behavior and personality by slipping you trace chemicals, or changing your diet. I could kill your sex drive, or all manner of things. If I really wanted to use the strong psychotropics - who knows.

And trace amounts.

That just tells me right there that chemical balances (Hormones) can have profound effects. The wash of testosterone in the womb produces the classic male brain in normal fetal development, with all the attendant differences in operation as has been demonstrated by MRIs.

Whether this can be overcome in situations is another topic. And wheter this can be modified in behavior in all situtations is yet a third.

badteeth

---The general feeling I get is that you all were hurt by a woman who was particularly cruel and you're sick and tired of getting blamed and want some recognition.

Mommy took my rubber ducky away when I was fwee.

The Gonzman

Well, Toni, oncve I got past the snottiness of the opening of the article, I'm just dismayed that she had it in her hand - and still doesn't get it.

Toni

I suppose the opening could be defined as snotty - although, I'd describe it as snarky - but with people writing articles such as "The Pussification of the Western Male" a little snark is justified.

Mr. Bad

breadfish said: "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"."

Breadfish, I'm not upset nor am I backpeddling. I said it and I already stated that I meant it so cut the passive/aggressive BS re. the shaming language (e.g., "bakcpeddling," "crying," etc.) - it won't work. The fact is, Hugo is the one who seems upset at what IMO was a pretty obvious rhetorical remark and I'm trying to get him to see it in the way it was meant, in the context of the communication thread.

I can't tell you exactly what "real masculinity" is, but like the famous judge on the SCOTUS (who I can't remember his name) said about porn, "I know it when I see it." However, what I can do is tell you what it is NOT: (Hugo) "thinly disguised violence, chronic inarticulateness, and profound disrespect for women,"; (you) "a very specific set of behaviors and emotions - anger, repression, controlling nature etc."and"chestbeating"; and other negatives that you feminists like to use to label traditional masculinity. In the other thread Hugo was making the case that the traits that Gonz attributes to introverts are more 'masculine' and that we men need to learn to be more 'extrovert' because it's better from a feminine/feminist perspective. On the other hand, I specifically stated that neither form was better than the other, instead that they're just different - who's making judgement calls, then and now? I tend to agree with Hugo re. the masculine --> introvert, feminine --> extrovert tendencies, however, he and other feminists seem to be the ones who are making the value judgements. Gonz, badteeth, I and others are simply arguing that there's nothing wrong with us 'trad dudes,' thankyouverymuch, so stop trying to fix us. The notion that the extrovert/feminine way is better than the introvert/masculine way is classic female chauvanism. If you're so opposed to these labels, definitions and value judgements, how come you're only challenging the likes of Gonz and I and not Hugo et al.?

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

Except that the thread that touched-off this firestorm was titled "Men and sharing" and was a treatise on the differences between how men and women share their thoughts and experiences. Were you to get Hugo to scrap the models completely and talk about behaviors this wouldn't be an issue. Problem solved. However, feminists have this pesky habit if seeing lots - if not most - things as "gendered," so good luck on that score.

As for the rest, like Gonz and badteeth said.

touchstone

Hm...it seems there are a few regulars who like to debate Hugo on every post. All men. What's up with that? It's curious.

Generally, I think Hugo is spot on.

Let's face it, men have fewer options than women for just about everything: jobs, fashion, behavior, past-times. You name it. Women can show us that it's okay to break out of stereotypes and not lose our identities.

Example: A female fighfighter can still be a woman, but why does a male beutician have to be "effeminate", i.e., a non-male?

Why are men so hung up on keeping the cultural attributes of masculinity intact? Why can women wear jeans but men can't wear dresses?

A couple days ago, Hugo posted about homosocial relationships and how they reinforce traditional male thought and behavior. That explains it. Men are so worried about breaking from the norm because they don't want to be rejected by their peers.

Makes sense to me.

And if guys weren't so obsessed with other guys, why do we watch football instead of beauty pagents?

Breadfish

Breadish, I could alter your behavior and personality by slipping you trace chemicals, or changing your diet. I could kill your sex drive, or all manner of things. If I really wanted to use the strong psychotropics - who knows.

You could temporarily alter my perceptions with things like LSD, yes. And hormones like testosterone can make someone feel more aggressive or estrogen make someone feel more moody but at the end of the day if you're an asshole to someone else, it's NOT becuase your hormones made you do it, it's because you chose to be an asshole. Same goes for the sex drive thing - plenty of people practice abstinance successfully despite having a sex drive. Having a sex drive doesn't make someone a rapist, a choice to rape does. People are not just little bags of mindless chemicals. We're not animals, we are sentient which means being aware of oneself. And what you are aware of, you can usually alter, modify or deny. Yes there are some extreme conditions like schizophrenia that can't be controlled, but in a healthy human being, control is quite possible. Do you really think that nobody has any control over their own personality? I knew kids in high school who tried on a different "mask" every other week. One day they're a friendly happy prep, the next month they're dressing head to toe in black and whinging about how much the world sucks and sneering at the rest of the school. People can convince themselves of quite a lot of things. Especially since leaving high school, over the past four years many of my friends' personalities have changed drastically due to their experiences outside of their parents' homes. Some not necessarily for the better.

And you know why I was such an unrepentant "tomboy" and not feminine as a child? Because I have a brother who's about a year and a half older. He liked legos, I liked legos. He liked ninja turtles, I liked ninja turtles. He hated barbies, I hated barbies. It is because I aped my brother's behavior as a child that my parents' attempts to make me feminine fell flat on their face, not becuase of chemicals in my blood or lack thereof.

mrbad and gonz - I'm not telling you that you need to change yourself or who you are as a person, and I'm not saying you're 'broken' for being introverted because frankly if you're broken then I am just as broken and I don't believe that. That's not true and it isn't what I said in the first place. I'm simply saying that if you want to deal with certain types of people you have to adapt. If you don't want to deal with them, that's fine too, but you'll miss out on pontentially rewarding relationships. Yes, some relationships take more work than others. If you can't be arsed, fine, but that doesn't mean that they can't ever work, fullstop. It's up to you to decide how much work to put into life, but I will say that how much you get out of life is directly proportional to how much you put in. If you're happy only being friends with a certain type of other person, fine then. More power to you. But when you have disagreements with people like Hugo where neither of you can understand each other, it's because you are neither willing to explain in terms they can understand nor willing to try to learn their language. At any rate, if you hate people like Hugo, then you probably shouldn't waste time reading his blog and trying to converse with him because it will only be an ongoing lesson in futility. Would you walk into a foriegn country where nobody speaks English and start making demands in English while not bother to learn their language? That's basically what you're doing here.

As for feminists seeing things as gendered - it's a problem that needs to be fixed and something that bothers me as well, I will admit. It's counterproductive and drives a wedge between the sexes rather than bringing them both up to a same higher level, which is what the ultimate goal of first-wave feminism originally was (though in some circles, sadly, it's transmogrified into a few other things). I think all involved here, Hugo included, ought to be more specific. "(Men,Women) who do X should stop doing X" instead of "All those silly (women,men) need to stop doing X". Single out the problem you have instead of blanketing half the species with one brush. That goes for all of you, MRAs and Feminists alike.

After all, despite what you two seem to think, not all feminists are alike either, in their personality, biology or beliefs. I'd be quite happy in a world where gender was simply a non-issue detail and people were just people.

badteeth

---Hm...it seems there are a few regulars who like to debate Hugo on every post. All men. What's up with that? It's curious?

This was explained already. Heather psychoanalyzed us all a few posts up. It had something to do with rubber duckies if I remember right.

Either that or its the male hormones making us aggressive.

Anthony Argyriou

Hugo -

you've missed possibility 4: "Pro-feminist" men don't understand that most men actually aren't as badly off as they're painted by "pro-feminists", and are perfectly capable of relating to both men and women in reasonably egalitarian ways, and that the critics are tired of being steretyped as neanderthals.

I don't think you're any less of a man because you're a "pro-feminist" (what the hell does that actually mean? You're not being paid to be a feminist. Well, yes, you are, based on what you've said about the courses you teach, but presumably one can be a "pro-feminist" without being on the payroll?), but I do think that your advice to men, as you're presenting it on your blog, is not applicable to most adult men, beacuse it misdiagnoses the problems. Perhaps teenage boys need a counterbalance to the "ghetto" version of masculinity propagated by popular culture these days, but those of us who grew up when musical culture wasn't so misogynist don't need what you're offering.

Hugo

Anthony, you mean back in those glory days of egalitarianism when the Stones sang "Under My Thumb" and "Brown Sugar"? And don't tell me those were all understood as tongue-in-cheek, because first time I heard 'em, I took 'em very seriously.

Medium Dave

Mr Bad does not merit a response, Hugo. He's a bully, and like most online bullies he's going to keep escalating until you're forced to ban him. Why not save yourself, and the rest of your readers, a great deal of trouble and get it over with now?

Noumena

"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?"

Or I can just be in sufficient control of myself and my life to not be in that position. Problem solved.

Gonzman, do you really think you can be in sufficient control of yourself and your situation to such a degree that you will never, ever need help from people who relate differently than you do?

Paul Wright

Sorry for the rather gratuitous response, but I can't help diving in when I see a nice argument.
Hugo said he feels OK in his own skin. I think if he has anything to offer to his youth, it's that. It's not the fact that he's comfortable sharing emotions, it's the process by which he became comfortable.
I bet some of Hugo's boys don't connect with his adult style, so he'll need to reach out a bit, like Gonz with his daughter. I think it's reasonable to expect boys to find it harder to communicate their feelings than girls. I'm still learning at age 32.
All the rest of the crap about nature vs nurture, introverts vs extroverts, male vs female is a diversion. They are all false binaries that have been dealt with long ago. What matters are the particulars.
However, I get the impression that Gonz, badteeth et al. want to resist growing. Not fixing, growing. You sound about my age: aren't you ready to accept the odd venture outside the trad male box? I don't think Hugo's asking for much more than that.

Paul Wright

BTW kudos to Arwen for more multifaceted maleness vignette.
The only male advice my dad ever gave me was, "What kind of a man doesn't know how to fold his own trousers properly?"

badteeth

---However, I get the impression that Gonz, badteeth et al. want to resist growing. Not fixing, growing.

Personally, I'm resistant to you or anyone else determining or defining what growing is for me. Or telling me that I would grow more if I did things your way instead of my way. Its a bit presumptuous.

---aren't you ready to accept the odd venture outside the trad male box?

What exactly is it about the word "traditional" that is so anathema to you? I mean do you go to Native American reservations and say to the people there, "isn't it time you gave up on these traditional things?"
What is it about tradition that you loathe so much?

John

I think that the most constructive comment here is Arwen's excursion into changing definitions of masculinity depending on the context.

I'm a pro-feminist guy, and I have been working with a definition of masculinity that, among other things, values forceful leadership, physical prowess, the sexual pursuit of women, and avoids verbal expression (except for rational argumentation) and emotional vulnerability.

Now that I think about it, perhaps this definition is highly personal, informed by a mix of pop culture, my peers, my religious socialization, and my dad and my Japanese grandfather (my two primary role-models). I've only recently discovered Hugo's blog, so I suspect he's written on this topic, but what does he consider to be "classically masculine and feminine attributes?" Is it possible to arrive at a loose consensus of what is masculine or feminine for mainstream American society, and to work off of those definitions?

Uzzah

Hm...it seems there are a few regulars who like to debate Hugo on every post. All men. What's up with that? It's curious.

I can't help myself. Its that Indiana Jones thing..

Antigone

Can't speak for the rest of the women who read this and don't frequently comment, but for MYSELF, it's because I have enough of this "discussion" in my real-life: I go to the blogsphere to find safe spaces, aka feminist blogs.

This isn't really a "women's space". This is a feminist space, but it's mostly for the boys.

Just what I think.

Antigone

I'm also confused where "extrovert" equals "feminine" and "introvert" equals "masculine".

When I grew up, it was women that were "overly" self-reflected, busy in their own heads, quiet and guys were the ones who were loud, encouraged to express emotions (especially anger and pride), and busy being outgoing.

Or am I missing meaning of some word here?

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