Saturday, 22 October 2011

Gender Bending...no girlie men allowed!

I've often described myself as a little gender-queer. Though I very definitely identify as a woman, I'm a masculine one, for sure, and those masculine qualities are part of both my social "uniform"--boy's haircut, little to no make-up, serviceable shoes, jeans and wife-beaters, zero jewelry, trimmed fingernails--and my ability to relate to the male viewpoint on many issues. I have a preference for male company, not because I dislike women, but because they often behave in ways that lie outside my scope of internal experience. I frequently find myself quietly bemused among them, unable to find common ground.

And I can get away with this, enjoy the respect of my male and female coworkers and bosses, and I have never had any trouble finding heterosexual sex partners. The same cannot be said for men.

For men, gender is much more severely enforced. It is enforced by women, in their choice of sexual partners (though I know there is a small subset of women who are attracted to emo-boys and androgynes, and "fag-hags" have existed since long before Oscar Wilde). It is also rigidly and often brutally enforced by other men, as Bill Burr so beautifully and succinctly explores in this bit of stand-up.

Displays of weakness are either ridiculed by friends looking to hold their buddies to a standard of masculinity, or exploited by enemies looking to prove their own masculinity by kicking your ass. And the indoctrination as to what is manly starts in the cradle. I've read some material (though I don't have the studies to hand) that demonstrate that, although boy babies are more likely to be fussy, parents are more quick to console or attend to a girl baby. So men's socialization with respect to becoming physically self-sufficient, emotionally self-contained, and sturdy enough to "tough it out" on their own begins in infancy. Moreover, the socialization that begins through peer groups after infancy steers boys toward risk-taking behaviors, pain-tolerance, competition, projection of strength, and a serious reluctance to ask for help.

Over the last year, I developed an online friendship with a fellow Canadian who's been living and working abroad. We bonded over our bisexuality and our openness to new sexual experiences, and the emotional fall-out that can happen when what was billed as a casual, no-strings-attached encounter becomes complicated by unexpected emotion, manipulation or dishonesty. He's hoping that when he returns to Canada, we'll be able to hang out a little. According to him, I am the only person here to whom he feels comfortable speaking about his sexual adventures and experiences abroad, and he's told me more than once that his friends--"dudes" one and all--would NOT understand any of the things he's felt or done over the last few years. He lives in fear that they'll discover it, or sense it somehow, and punish him accordingly.

And while I find his fears saddening, I know they're justifiable. He told me once it would be easier if he were gay--that if that were the case, there would be a clear line that would distinguish what he is as an issue of sexual orientation rather than one of gender. We still live in a predominantly monosexual, either/or culture, especially with respect to men. While me dallying with the occasional woman does not make me any less of a woman, him experimenting with male/male sexuality--even in the context of three-way sex involving a woman--calls his status as a man into question. It may be acceptable for a man to go with men, but such activity renders him entirely unworthy of playing the man to a woman in the eyes of society.

It's the same way with displays of weakness and emotionality, needing help, being victims, crying, or anything else commonly associated as "female". As much as feminists and "new-age" women insist they'd like men to do more of these things, what they say they want from men, and what leads them to choose a sexual partner (whether long term or for a one-off) are often two completely different things. I can't even imagine the level of frustration involved in being repeatedly "friend-zoned" for embodying all the politically correct attributes that women have been saying, for the last god knows how long, that they desire in a man.

Which brings me to the "why" behind all of this--behind my freedom (both socially and sexually) to express my slightly bent gender orientation and not be penalized for it by being considered "not a woman", while men who do the same are considered "not men".

Most of the feminists I've come across have concluded that this penalization of "girlie men" originates in the relative positions of men and women, and societal views of "maleness" as intrinsically superior or preferable to "femaleness". That women have always been considered "less than" men.

But you know what? I actually believe it's the exact opposite.

I mean, let's look at society as an employer. The employer wants all its employees to be useful and valuable, otherwise, there's no point in paying them. And what does our employer need in order to perpetuate itself and grow? It needs strong backs to do the work of making things happen, and it needs people whose job it is to provide more strong backs to replace the ones that wear out or retire.

Women provide those strong backs by bearing children. This is their primary role, because it's an important one and who the hell else is going to do it? Because this role is so important, and because women's ability to effectively do this job requires safety, support and assistance, women are often pigeonholed into a position where those needs can be efficiently and consistently met. They are "warehoused" in safe little cubicles, and not permitted to engage in work that could put them at serious risk of not being able to perform their primary function. Instead, they are relegated to safe, relatively easy tasks in between their periodic larger, more important projects.

The attributes that are most valuable in a female employee are a willingness to take direction, an ability to make their individual needs known so they can be met, and the physical characteristics considered most helpful in performing that primary function many times over.

What role does that leave for men? It leaves them the job of being the strong backs. They do the heavy lifting, they tinker with the high voltage wiring that services the office complex, they go out into the dangerous world and return with provisions and office supplies.

While men are necessary as project contributors to assist in the primary function of the female employees, when it comes to this particular contribution, one man can do the work of many, if need be. Since there are always going to be men employed by the company, those men vary in their capacity to be useful to the company, and men pass on their attributes to the new strong backs they help to provide, it is in the company's best interest that only the most valuable men perform this particular function. It is of no value to the company if a man who is a slacker or otherwise unfit is allowed to contribute in this way, since the new backs he helps provide will not be as strong as others. And it is in the women's best interest, to be selective in choosing their project partners, since women's value to the company improves if the new strong backs they provide are exceptionally strong.

Can women fill those primary "male" jobs? Of course they can. And they have, at points all through history, where and when it's been necessary. While performing these tasks may put them at risk (which is to be avoided, if possible), and often puts a double burden on them in that they may be expected to do the work of two people, it's entirely possible for them to do it and still be of value to the company.

A woman can provide more strong backs while doing some of the heavy lifting and some of the more risky jobs, when that is required. And a woman can also fill her primary female job just by lying around doing not much at all. Even if she does next to nothing else, if she is performing, or potentially can perform, that function for her employer, she has value. She likely won't be paid that much if she's not being productive in other ways, but she's still entitled to a salary if she does her primary duty, or a retainer if she has the potential to do so. If she can't perform this primary duty, there are other tasks she can perform that have value, either in the male department or in the female one, and there's still the off chance of her managing to provide at least one future strong back. That primary function is SO important, that the company has policies in place to provide pensions for its female hirees, even if they've been unproductive in any way.

Can a man fill that single, primarily "female" job? Well, no. No he can't. Like not at all. His entire value to the company is in his ability to perform the more difficult, risky, strenuous jobs so that women can enjoy light duty while they contribute in more important ways. To perform these jobs, he requires certain attributes--physical strength, sanguinity in the face of danger, a willingness to take risks, a sense of putting others before himself, and a drive to perform. The more of these attributes he has, the more valuable he is to the company. The fewer he has, the more likely he is to get fired. He won't be placed on retainer or earn a pension if it looks like the company can't use him for anything, because if the company does that, he'll only be a burden on their payroll.

Men have to earn their value to the company. They can't earn their value through being good at secondary female tasks--there are tons of females in the company, and they can perform those secondary tasks while also performing their primary one. He's not going to get hired to do half a job, and he's not qualified to do the entire thing. The only role he can fill, while retaining enough individual value to the company to remain on the payroll, is the male role.

So in my opinion, men suffer more strict enforcement of their gender roles not because they are considered more valuable than, or preferable to, women, or because women are considered less than men. It is because women are and always have been more valuable, on an individual and inherent basis, to the company than men are. A woman retained that inherent value no matter how useful she was, because women as a group were considered so valuable that it was in the company's interest to keep the entire group on the payroll. A woman who could step outside her assigned duties and perform other ones when need be--that is, a woman who sometimes behaved like a man--was, to a point, more valuable to the company for her ability to do so. She was Woman Plus. She could do her job that only she could do, and then some. Conversely, she was Man Plus. She could do a man's job, and then some. She can be the strong back and the provider of strong backs, the most versatile and valuable employee there is.

Men, on the other hand, had to provide value in order to maintain their employment. Their value to the company lay in performing specific tasks so that females wouldn't have to, and in being valued project contributors who had to earn their entitlement to work with females in this way. Men who did not act "like men" were Less Than Men. Likewise, they were Less Than Women. They were incapable of doing a complete job either way, so there was no added value in them demonstrating female characteristics without having a womb to go along with it.

And at that point, the company, for the sake of its own solvency, would either vigorously "retrain" them, or give them their pink slips. It is not that maleness is "better than" femaleness. It is that maleness has always been extremely limited in its useful and productive permutations, while femaleness is simply less so. The essential feminine can only be added to and gain value, while the essential masculine can only be subtracted from and lose it.

Many women have been able to completely abandon their essential feminine--their primary function--and still retain status as whole human beings with value to society, but men simply cannot do the same. When they abandon masculinity, they throw away all that makes their lives worthwhile to anyone but themselves.

Is it possible to change this? Perhaps. The same social, biological and economic progress that has allowed women to set aside their essential feminine and still retain some value to our evolving society should certainly work the same way for men. There are more roles available to everyone--meaningful ones--now that the old "primary" roles are becoming less important to the "corporation", and men are a part of that "everyone". But as long as women are not willing to fully embody these new roles, they're going to want to hold men to their old ones. And the dynamic, all through history, has been about men putting women--their safety, provision and comfort--before themselves. Because of this, the ride to true liberation for men from their gender roles is gonna be a hell of a lot more bumpy than the one for women has been.

30 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. -"I've read some material (though I don't have the studies to hand) that demonstrate that, although boy babies are more likely to be fussy, parents are more quick to console or attend to a girl baby."

    I believe that tendency has been fairly well documented in the realms of clinical and family psychology, and would add that, among other things, there’s also been research showing that boys find themselves on the receiving end of corporal punishment far more often than girls, even for the same offense, and that corporal punishment of boys tends to be more severe despite additional research showing markedly lower efficacy for boys relative to girls. Although I'm not presently aware of any relevant research, it seems painfully obvious to me that this double standard with regards to punishment, what I personally refer to as the “punishments gap” is present with regards to all forms of rule violations (eventually manifesting itself in the form of a host of well documented and statistically verifiable gender-based disparities in the criminal justice system e.g. the “sentencing gap.”) including the rules that govern gender appropriate behavior.

    When someone deviates from the behavioral norms that are supposed to constitute the male gender role, men respond the way they’ve been conditioned to respond when someone “breaks the rules”…ruthlessly…
    at least in comparison to the way women have been conditioned to respond .

    Why don’t men as a group respond just as ruthlessly to women who violate gender-role norms? The answer to this question has two parts. The first part is that the female gender role has broadened to the extent that most deviations seem relatively benign by comparison. And the second part I’ve already stated, a blatant double standard that men have been socialized to accept(chivalry).

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  3. Most of the feminists I've come across have concluded that this penalization of "girlie men" originates in the relative positions of men and women, and societal views of "maleness" as intrinsically superior or preferable to "femaleness". That women have always been considered "less than" men.
    True. Its almost like they are starting with the conclusion that "maleness" is valued over "femaleness" and then try to find evidence (and suppress evidence that counters their claims) that supports it. As you so nicely explain the system is not in place to keep men in power over women or women over men, black over white, or any of that. The select few that control the system are interested in one thing and one thing only, and that is keeping power for themselves.

    Thankfully I think some feminists are catching on to it finally (although it tends to come out in the form of the dreaded lip servicing catchphrase, "patriarchy hurts men too").

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  4. One word of caution: all that "boo, why are men not allowed to express emotions" stuff is OK as long as there is no confusion between "allowed" and "required". Apart from everything the society imposes on us, there are innate differences too. Men just plainly *are* less open emotionally, and that MUST be respected.

    I am writing this from personal experience as a man stranded between two types of (sub)cultures, one of which disallows me any emotional expression (mainstream culture included here), and the other that wants to spread my soul's legs and drill a vagina there (everything under the "alternative" and "gender-schmender" umbrella). FUCK BOTH, and I hate feminism because feminism IS both.

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  5. Hi, Aaron.

    I actually think the reason women's roles have been allowed to deviate is because deviation ADDS value (to a point). A woman who can do some man things is Woman Plus, because she can still do the ultimate "job" of a woman while doing the man things. A man deviating loses value, because he can't do the ultimate job of a woman. Men's "jobs" were always to enable women to do theirs. Until recently, there was no meaningful way for men to take on female roles in a way that helped women do that.

    There was no such thing as a stay-at-home dad and breadwinning mom before the Pill and baby formula. Switching roles like that [absurd example for illustration] meant a man at home unable to nurse the baby, while the woman toiled away in a coal mine while heavily pregnant. And because women were at the mercy of their fertility and tied at the breast to their babies, they *absolutely depended* on the man fulfilling the protector/provider role. If we stopped enforcing that role, women would still fulfill theirs whether they wanted to or not because they couldn't control their fertility--they'd just be stuck doing it without any help from a man.

    @Danny: What I'd really like feminists to realize is not so much that patriarchy hurts men too (which is a pretty pathetic assessment when they're throwing around words like subjugation, oppression and enslavement wrt women). I'd like them to acknowledge that (a great deal of) feminism has harmed men, is continuing to harm them, and needs to stop harming them. Baby steps, I guess.


    I totally agree, Basta!

    I'm a masculine woman. My daughter is a girlie-girl, despite the fact that her primary female role model has always been more comfortable operating a table saw than a hair dryer, and despite the fact that she's never once seen me in pink or purple, and only four times in something other than pants, in all her sixteen years.

    It really is about being allowed to be yourself. The whole idea is about eliminating enforced roles, not imposing others that are just as burdened with expectation. And I'm not foolish enough to believe that if all those enforced roles went away, women wouldn't still be more likely to do and think and feel in more female ways, or men in more male ways. THAT kind of change would take generations of complete abandonment of traditional mate selection habits to happen. And sexual freedom works *against* that end--if women are sexually attracted to "manly men", and free to act on those attractions, then we're only going to see more manly males born, not less. And as with most things, gendered traits (IMO) are a combination of hardware and software. Each factor--nature and nurture--imposes limitations on the other.

    Thanks for the comments, guys. :)

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  6. I agree with the article, but I personally take exception to the term"gender roles". Nuture does factor no doubt, but its been established by the medical and scientific field that men and women are quite simply wired differently. We are not interchangable and the enforeced limitations on the genders isnt so much mental but biological. Women will never be able to in consistent and mass quantity replicate male physical attributes which is why certain professsions will always be more optimal for male employees. We will always think and behave differently by the basis of our gender, and sure this isnt to say we have to act out in a certian fashion but if left to our own devices its quite evident that men and women will still by large proportions act like men and women. Society needs to embrace these differences instead of villifying it, we need for it to be acceptable that men and women can act however they like and if 90% of the time its in"tradional"roles then so be it, let people have the choice to be who they want to be instead of telling them what they need to break away from or what they should be....this is another reason feminism needs to go.

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  7. "And the dynamic, all through history, has been about men putting women--their safety, provision and comfort--before themselves. Because of this, the ride to true liberation for men from their gender roles is gonna be a hell of a lot more bumpy than the one for women has been."

    I've been wondering if the misogyny and hostility towards women that one sees on some MRA sites might serve a constructive purpose. Men may need to cultivate this animosity towards women in order to stop themselves from instinctively putting women's needs before their own. At a minimum men need to put aside the pedestalization of women that is so deeply ingrained in our culture if they are to attend to their own position in society

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  8. I'm male, but kind of ride the line of "roles" so to speak. I enjoy so-called "girly" movies, but also like standard comedies, and on occasion enjoy action movies but less frequently. I like to partake in beverages that taste good, regardless of whether they are "guy drinks" or whatnot- I'll drink a Raspberries and Cream at my local casino without a minute's hesitation, no matter the fact that the drink is pink. I do watch sports, I do enjoy poker, but I also like to cook and hate yard work. I don't see any of this as a "problem" or as being "less than" anything or anyone. I see it as me being me.

    The problem, as you've so eloquently pointed out, is that society doesn't necessarily agree with that. If I admit to most males, especially those my own age, that I make quite the bruschetta, I am called gay. Same as if I admit I have a subscription to my local theater, and see between 5 and 10 plays/musicals/operas/etc a year. The only thing that defines my sexuality with regard to preference is who I am attracted to. The answer to that is as it always has been: I am 100% straight, but see no problem with those who hold a different preference. For example, I went to a typically straight bar with two gay friends- naturally again I was called gay...

    I don't think that one's preferences in activities or in gender roles should open the book to those who want to classify that person as one thing or another, especially if that classification is in error.

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  9. Somebody who understands female privilege! How awesome is this?

    Thank you. Just thank you.

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  10. "It's the same way with displays of weakness and emotionality, needing help, being victims, crying, or anything else commonly associated as 'female'. As much as feminists and 'new-age' women insist they'd like men to do more of these things, what they say they want from men, and what leads them to choose a sexual partner (whether long term or for a one-off) are often two completely different things."

    This is what an addiction to deconstruction and a socially enforced ignorance of evolutionary psychology has done to our culture. And here's the result:

    "I can't even imagine the level of frustration involved in being repeatedly 'friend-zoned' for embodying all the politically correct attributes that women have been saying, for the last god knows how long, that they desire in a man."

    Because politically correct women don't know what they really want. The "nice guy" syndrome perpetuates itself, and with mutual frustration eventually comes mutual hostility.

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  11. "Is it possible to change this? Perhaps. The same social, biological and economic progress that has allowed women to set aside their essential feminine and still retain some value to our evolving society should certainly work the same way for men. There are more roles available to everyone--meaningful ones--now that the old 'primary' roles are becoming less important to the 'corporation', and men are a part of that 'everyone'. But as long as women are not willing to fully embody these new roles, they're going to want to hold men to their old ones. And the dynamic, all through history, has been about men putting women--their safety, provision and comfort--before themselves. Because of this, the ride to true liberation for men from their gender roles is gonna be a hell of a lot more bumpy than the one for women has been."

    Best description of chivalry ever!

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  12. Girlwriteswhat!! I love your posts! and your videos! Your observations of male sexuality are spot on. I am a gay man (although in a perfect world I would be bisexual) who has been out of the closet at work for years. I came out before PC (which I disdain because it stifles free speech) policies at the corporation I work for inspired protected classes of people.

    It might be my unique experience, but I was well liked and I pull my own weight at work (mechanic) so when I came out I had very little trouble with my work-a-day buds giving me shit. To make a long story short and get to the point, these guys have enough problems in their everyday family and social lives to bother with harassing me. Those few who did give me shit were fodder for a sharp tongue. It does take courage to come out yet I was surprised by how little harassment I got.

    I, like you, love the company of men. I really like women too but for me, there is a deep mistrust (I own this) of women that prevents me from being fully open with them.

    That said, over the years the guys at work have come to trust me enough, and I consider this to be an honor that they do; to tell me about their sex lives that they would tell no one else. Every single one of the alpha men have told me in confidence that they have had sexual relations with other men. Some still have active same sex lives. Others too tell me that I am the only one they have told about their carefully guarded secret. As I said, I tell no one what I have heard and I don't broadcast this in my outside social life either. To do so would be to betray their confidence in me and would make me a very small man.

    But here, the point I need to make concurs with your own. Men are anything but sexually liberated. Men are really sexual slaves to women, to religion and to society. The idea that a man can be a caring, loving husband and father and also have legitimate sexual relations with anyone else is absolutely forbidden. It is part of our draconian two faced sex culture. Look but don't touch...NO....don't even look!

    But we are encouraged to watch a cacophony of sex drenched women (aka: Lady Gaga) ritually seduce their audience with every performance. It is the show, not the music, that makes the day. But I lament the absence of clear, strong voices and the artistry of women like Judy Collins "Take Off Your Dusty Boots" and Joani Mitchel "Shades of Scarlet Conquering". Perhaps their music will one day return. -Dennis

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  13. I have just one disagreement with you.

    Women will never be able to "do" what we men do nearly half as well as we do. A woman who tries is not "Woman Plus". She's "Makeshift Man", especially since women who try to be men lose some capacity to fulfill their own duties as women. (Ever wonder why populations start trending downward after a majority of its women enter the workforce?)

    But yes, masculinity is a standard one cannot add to, but only subtract. It is by design, and will likely always remain so. But we don't complain about our standards.

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  14. Brilliant write. Thank you for giving voice to thoughts I've had, incomplete yet bubbling around in my mind since college back in the 80s. I couldn't agree more. As you imply, though, exactly what to do about this state of affairs in a postmodern, data-driven age...that's a bit less clear. Nevertheless, to find it all summed-up so clearly is most refreshing indeed. Thanks again.

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  15. Just discovered your blog. I'd just like to give a big thank you for having the balls to publish this stuff along with your face. Seeing a woman write these things somehow validates my own thoughts - when I read and post on other forums and see women left and right shoot down these points as "misognystic" or whatever, I almost start doubting that they have any legitimacy to them.

    I especially like that you're pointing out the selection that a lot of "average" girls do with their choice in sex partners. I have been a "softer" guy for as long as I can remember (since kindergarten, at least), but have started changing it up in the last years because it just _doesn't work_ with regards to finding a partner. It kills me that it's impossible to live as the person I was born as (at least without committing to lifelong celibacy, which is not an option). So I guess I'll just stand here on my hilltop preaching about how it would be awesome if straight guys with less classically masculine traits could just be themselves...while in fact consciously doing the exact opposite.

    But yeah, again. Thanks for having the gonads to post this stuff. I appreciate these points ten times more coming from a woman. Sorry if that seems sexist and all ;)

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  16. "retrain" them, or "give them their pink slips"....Personally, i've never had an occassion where i thought i'd look good (as a man ) in a pink slip ( just not my color!) I wondered, why on earth would a company chastise me for being queer, and then turn around and award me with my very own pink slip...but after all, Most would think of it as a very thoughtful and careing sentiment of concern and practicality... dont you think?

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  17. Men have an X chromosome..so wouldn't that make it impossible for any man to not have a few feminine characteristics? However, women do not have the Y chromosome, with the rare exceptions of people with additional chromosomes. I have to wonder if that has anything to do with why there's far more "male feminists" than the opposite...the lure (IMO, it's just lip service) of male femininity being acceptable.

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  18. Also, Dan Savage touched on this, though not in the depth that you did:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TUg3XHPlzk

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  19. GWW, you are the most astute feminine voice for masculinity -- actually, for simple humanity -- that I have ever encountered. Thank you for being a live. What a pleasant surprise.

    Good sense is hard to come by. It's something that everyone has, but the system does its damnedest to bury it under a mountain of Opposite Day rhetoric. It's mind-blowing, some of the things society takes for granted that are completely, odiously anti-truth. I've met brilliant people that cannot see any of it -- much like a fish can't see water, because there is nothing that is not-water to distinguish from water and thus delineate its very existence.

    I especially like your broad view of culture -- taking it back to prehistoric times, and looking at contemporary society in its proper context, i.e., in the context of where the hell it is on the timeline of history, i.e., not then, but now.

    Keep up the positive work, and as a man, I thank you.

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  20. I'm the same age as you and ever since high school the majority of gender-policing that I've experienced was at the hands of women, girlfriends especially. (Before that it was my male childhood friends).

    15 year-old girls did it in 1987 and 40 year-old women did it in 2011. They all played the "are you sure you're not gay?" card when they wanted to control my behavior, how I dressed, what music I liked, or even press for more frequent sex. They all thought it was hilarious. In fact, I can only think of a couple of girlfriends who did do this, and we had much more adventurous and intimate sex as a (partial) result.

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    1. Correction: "In fact, I can only think of a couple of girlfriends who did NOT do this"

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  21. GWW, you had me up until "But you know what? ... " and if "It really is about being allowed to be yourself. The whole idea is about eliminating enforced roles, not imposing others that are just as burdened with expectation.", then do not categorize yourself as a masculine woman. You are simply a woman who happens to be expressing her natural self.

    Though some of your choices might not fit into what you interpret as society's definition of what is acceptable and enforced for women, if the appearance and actions you display are your's and you are a woman, then logically they are women's appearance and actions. You do women and men both a great dis-service by continuing the practice of labeling certain appearance and actions as MASCULINE and others as FEMININE, which by definition perpetuates the gender essentialism you seem to want to push against.

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    1. 'Masculine' and 'feminine' are simply adjectives to describe qualities; imo, short hair and trimmed, polish-less nails are 'masculine' because the thought is function before beauty, whereas the idea behind long hair and colored nails is, basically, beauty before functionality.

      By definition, asserting that every female quality must be "feminine" is perpetuating gender essentialism, as you have done in your post, Bunny.

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    2. I firmly believe there are such things as masculine and feminine traits, and I really don't see how anyone can study much in child psychology and not see this, nor do I see how anyone can look at anthropology and not conclude the same thing. Boys and girls are different from birth--indeed, well before birth.

      The problem for me does not come with assigning certain things as having "masculine" and "feminine." In fact, while I don't want to sound too "new agey," I think we should celebrate the masculine and the feminine in all of us, because we all have at least a little of both in us. If steel-trap logic is a masculine trait (and I believe it is), it doesn't mean there are no women capable of steel-trap logic or that all men possess that trait. If being sensitive to the feelings of others is a feminine trait (and I believe it is), this doesn't mean there are no men who are good at that and no women who suck at it.

      I think we have problems when people are perceived as TOO MUCH like the opposite gender. Although I think if you look at history and at anthropology, there has never been ANY society which does not have roles, customs, and dress codes that differentiate men from women. It appears to be an almost universal human trait that everyone doesn't just recognize this, but most people are comfortable with it and prefer it that way. Why can't we just say that?

      What sucks at the moment is that we do seem to be in a time where it is harder to be a "girly" man than to be a "tomboy" chick. I think part of this may even be a backlash against feminism as well as the gay movement, as straight men, confused, really don't know how to distinguish themselves in an acceptable manner that seems manly while not seeming like an asshole. That is kind of sad.

      I mean, when did it become declared that musical theater was the province of women and gay men? I mean, OK, sure, more women and gays probably liked it all along, but no one laughed at straight guys who loved that stuff. But now suddenly it gets you laughed at and your sexuality questioned.

      And by the way, big thumbs-up to "Jeff with one 'f&#39" up there: I have routinely found that the most ruthless enforcers of what men are supposed to act like versus not act like are quite often women. And since men usually instinctively do whatever women ask them to do, they find themselves mighty confused these days a lot of the time...

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  22. I have a rather radical thought I've wanted to share with you:

    You've noticed that we tend to laugh more at men in drag than we do at women who cross-dress. We also tend to laugh more at men who act in stereotypically feminine ways. Patriarchy theory holds that this is true because a man is making less of himself somehow by emulating a woman, and you rightly, I think, take issue with that. But as a sidenote, or supplement, to that, which sets the standard logic on its head:

    One thing that's been noticeable forever is that a good way to make fun of someone is to dress them up as something greater than they are, or perceived to be. Dress up a little boy as an Army General, for example: oh isn't that funny and cute and adorable? Our little general!

    Dress up a kitten or a puppy like a cop or a lawyer: laugh laugh laugh.

    Put a business suit on a chimpanzee: laugh laugh laugh.

    What do these have in common? Dressing up a lesser thing as a greater thing is FUNNY. Right?

    If you look carefully at the history of racism in America, you start to notice that there were a couple of ways to make fun of black people. One was to dress them up in tattered rags and show them as black hillbilly bumpkins. But there was another way of doing it:

    Give them a grandiose-sounding, pompous name and dress them up in finery that was quite clearly above their station. Usually you would add over-the-top extremes to the upper-class finery so it looked doubly absurd.

    And what's funnier, a man in typical women's street clothes (let's say a business suit with a skirt and shoulder pads), or a man in a very big fancy frilly fruffly dress and hat and flowers like an Old South coquette? Yeah. You know which gets the bigger laugh.

    So when it comes to men in drag, are we really laughing because they've demeaned themselves? Or are we laughing because they're dressing ABOVE THEIR STATION?

    I don't think it's quite that cut and dried, but stop and think about it for a minute. Low-status people being dressed up in exaggerated finery well above their station has been a comedy staple forever, hasn't it?

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  23. Jonathan wolfe wrote:

    Women will never be able to "do" what we men do nearly half as well as we do. A woman who tries is not "Woman Plus". She's "Makeshift Man", especially since women who try to be men lose some capacity to fulfill their own duties as women. (Ever wonder why populations start trending downward after a majority of its women enter the workforce?)

    Completely agree with that, also saying women can fill a male primary role, sorry that is a nonsense, maybe in a few rare cases but in general absolutely not, especially with western women.

    When I see women down mines, on oil rigs, building sites (without a clip board in their hand but a shovel)etc I might buy it a bit more. When it comes to "sense of self entitlement" western women, no chance of that.

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  24. GWW; you've never had trouble finding a male sex partner? So you've never been rejected by a man? Back in the day you must have been quite the manslayer. Were most of them boyfriends or just FWB's?

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  25. My own observation (having been attracted to gay men myself) is that women think gay men are hot, but men aren't attracted to Ellen DeGeneres types. I think it's more of an issue of personality than orientation. For example, butch women might find effeminate men attractive but feminine women won't, and vice versa. It's the same dynamic in same-sex relationships where one partner is the "girl" and the other the "guy."

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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete

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