Posts tagged sexism hurts men too.
— crunk feminist collective (via southerntellect)
…He has the body and looks that epitomise what men (and women) have come to perceive as the pinnacle of masculine attractiveness. Part of the allure is that this Adonis-like beauty is seen as somehow attainable through hard work and a sensible diet. While female models are criticised for fuelling the rise in eating disorders by looking underweight, their male counterparts have largely escaped such adverse scrutiny. By and large, we have collectively assumed that those rippling abs represent the result of the kind of gym-dedication and healthy living that can only be admired. Behind the abs, though, is a far from wholesome reality…
So there’s this article in Time titled “Masculinity, a Delicate Flower,” which is all about how men are obliged to establish, assert, and constantly maintain their masculinity throughout their lives. It’s a very basic article, so superficial in its examination of the concepts of gender construction and performance, and so imprecise in drawing any distinction between socialized gender expectations and gender essentialism, that it would hardly be worth mentioning to this crowd were it not for its concluding paragraph:
The authors said this research also begins to illuminate the negative effects of gender on men — depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and violence. And, at the very least, it may persuade ladies to cut their guys a little slack. “When I was younger I felt annoyed by my male friends who would refuse to hold a pocketbook or say whether they thought another man was attractive. I thought it was a personal shortcoming that they were so anxious about their manhood. Now I feel much more sympathy for men,” [psychologist and researcher Jennifer K. Bosson] said in a statement.*insert the sound of record scratching here*
Whoa whoa whoa there, partner. First of all, “depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and violence” are not “the negative effects of gender.” They are the negative effects of the Patriarchy, and conformity thereto. That’s not a matter of semantics; that’s the whole fucking point.
It isn’t being male, nor being a man, that is a problem, but believing that to be male, or to be a man, is to have to project a very specific and rigid definition of masculinity—which defines itself in contradistinction to the feminine, thus forcing men to conceal and deny any part of themselves that anyone could call feminine; which limits men’s emotional spectrum to anger; which forces men to exist in a permanent state of insecurity, constantly monitoring the boundaries of their masculinity and engaging in displays of bravado to prove their self-worth; which considers sheer brawn and physical toughness the only acceptable kind of strength, while the kind of strength which informs one’s character, what might be described as emotional strength, the kind of strength that means walking away from a fight, or being patient, or showing empathy, isn’t allowed to play much of a role at all in the definition of masculinity—which leaves men, whose physical attributes of masculine strength will wane with time and age, keenly aware that their masculinity is ever threatened by their own mortality, because they haven’t been encouraged to cultivate a compassion and resiliency that can’t be measured in kilos or KOs.
That’s not about being a man. That’s about being a man in a Patriarchy, who’s never been offered an alternative paradigm. Continue Reading