The weirdest thing about gender identity is it still arbitrarily labels things/feelings/behaviors as masculine or feminine. What even is masculinity and femininity? What’s considered masculine and feminine differs across cultures, it’s socially constructed. Why is it necessary to label yourself in reference to a masculinity-femininity scale when that scale is completely socially constructed and changes depending on culture? I understand it can be really helpful for gender-nonconforming individuals to feel like they belong and to not feel like something is wrong with them, but isn’t it even more helpful to just get to the root of the problem, which is the idea of masculinity and femininity in the first place? It just seems redundant and counter-productive.
“Not only do companies sell more through gendering their products, but in addition items labeled “for her” tend to be higher in price than those “for men.” Essentially women are paying higher prices to purchase items that are more “womanly” but function exactly the same as the equivalent male product. Women and men are unconsciously on autopilot; our society has programmed us to automatically walk into a store and head directly to the “normal” section for our gender. However, there is nothing wrong with women using products “for him” if they serve the same function. Ignore the packaging and the direction in which the store tells you to go, if “men’s” products are cheaper you might as well use them. Similarly, just how women have been trained by society to use products “for her,” men are typically embarrassed to use “feminine” products and feel they must use “manly” products in order to preserve their masculinity. But really, in the end will using “mansize” tissues truly make someone more of a man?”
I think my biggest “huh” moment with respect to gender roles is when it was pointed out to me that your typical “geek” is just as hypermasculine as your typical “jock” when you look at it from the right angle.
As male geeks, a great deal of our identity is built on the notion that male geeks are, in some sense, gender-nonconformant, insofar as we’re unwilling or unable to live up to certain physical ideals about what a man “should” be. Indeed, many of us take pride in how putatively unmanly we are.
Viewed from an historical perspective, however, the virtues of the ideal geek are essentially those of the ideal aristocrat: a cultured polymath with expertise in a vast array of subjects; rarefied or eccentric taste in food, clothing, music, etc.; identity politics that revolve around one’s hobbies or pastimes; open disdain for physical labour and those who perform it; a sense of natural entitlement to positions of authority (“you should be flipping my burgers!”); and so forth.
And the thing about that aristocratic ideal? It’s intensely masculine. It may seem more welcoming to women on the surface, but - as recent events will readily illustrate - this is a facade: we pretend to be egalitarian because it suits our refined self-image, but that affectation falls away in a heartbeat when challenged.
Basically, the whole “geeks versus jocks” thing that gets drilled into us by media and the educational system isn’t about degrees of masculinity at all. It’s just two different flavours of the same toxic bullshit: the ideal geek is the alpha-male-as-philosopher-king, as opposed to the ideal jock’s alpha-male-as-warrior-king. It’s still a big dick-measuring contest - we’re just using different rulers.
What men reply:Ew nevermind you're not pretty anymore
What the reply really means:I can't handle it when a woman knows her own worth and isn't an object for me to project my faux validation onto. You're hurting my masculine savior complex and making me uncomfortable with your confidence stop making me realize that my "generous nice guy" opinion is unneeded you're oppressing me :(
Men who are afraid to feel must keep women around to do their feeling for them while dismissing us for the same supposedly “inferior” capacity to feel deeply. But in this way also, men deny themselves their own essential humanity, becoming trapped in dependency and fear.
In Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, and mixed martial arts, there is a rule that you never hit “below the belt.” The area of biggest concern is the testicles. As the Ultimate Fighting Championship rules specify, “groin attacks of any kind” are a foul. This is probably because groin attacks might make for short fights or ones where everyone just goes around protecting their balls. In any case, the skills being tested are of a different kind. But, even aside from that, this seems like a good idea and very civilized. I do not advocate for testicle kicking, not groin attacks of any kind, for what it’s worth.
I do think it’s somewhat odd, though, that men who fight each other outside of controlled conditions—men in street fights, bar brawls, and parking lot scuffles—also usually avoid hitting below the belt. These fights aren’t about training or skill, like those between professional athletes, they’re real attempts to do some damage out of anger or defensiveness. So, why no hits to the balls?
The question was posed by a woman on Yahoo! Answers: “If you dislike each other enough to want them to get hurt,” she asked, “why not do the worst?”
The answers, admittedly unscientific, were interesting. One of the common responses involved the idea that not hitting below the belt was “an unspoken rule.” Maybe it’s the Golden Rule—do onto others as you would have them do unto you—and some men mentioned that, but others suggested that it was a rule specific to manhood. It’s a “cheap shot,” said one. A “low blow,” said another.
But why? Why do men agree not to kick each other in the balls? Why is that part of the code?
I think it’s because it serves to protect men’s egos as well as men’s balls.
What would street fights between guys look like—or professional fights for that matter—if onecould go below the belt? For one, there’d be a lot more collapsing. Two, a lot more writhing in pain. Three, a lot less getting up. All in all, it would add up to less time looking powerful and more time looking pitiful. And it would send a clear message that men’s bodies are vulnerable.
Chris Tuchscherer not having been just hit in the balls:
Chris Tuchscherer having been just hit in the balls:
Not hitting below the belt, then, protects the idea that men’s bodies are fighting machines. It protects masculinity, the very idea that men are big and strong, pain- and impact-resistant, impenetrable like an edifice. So not hitting below the belt doesn’t just protect individual men from pain, it protects our ideas about masculinity.
When a man hits below the belt, he is revealing to everyone present that masculinity is a fiction. That’s why one guy said: “For ‘alpha male’ fights, nut shots are just wrong.” Alpha male fights are about figuring out which male is alpha, while preserving the idea that the alpha male is a thing that matters.
This is why men are quick to criticize other men who break the code. One of the best ways to control men is to threaten to kick them out of the man club. “If a guy kicks another guy in the balls on purpose during a fight,” one replied to the question on Yahoo, “he will forever be banished from manhood.” Another said: “Winning like this means that you cannot beat up the other guy by ‘real’ fighting.” It’s a matter of one’s own reputation: “A man who kicks another man in the balls,” said a third, “immediately loses all manliness and respect.”
So, men generally agree to pretend that the balls just aren’t there. The effect is that we tend to forget just how vulnerable men are to the right attack and continue to think of women as naturally more fragile.
I still don’t want anyone to get kicked in the balls, though, just to be clear.
“In one survey, women and men were asked what they were most afraid of. Women responded that they were most afraid of being raped and murdered. Men responded that they were most afraid of being laughed at.”
Michael Kimmel, “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence, in the Construction of Gender Identity,” Toward a New Psychology of Gender
Vancouver-based photographer and self-proclaimed “gender terrorist” S.D. Holman gives us an answer with BUTCH: Not like the other girls, a photography project that delves into female masculinity and demonstrates that the “butch” identity is very much alive and well in 2014.
“There is only one emotion that patriarchy values when expressed by men; that emotion is anger. Real men get mad. And their mad-ness, no matter how violent or violating, is deemed natural—a positive expression of patriarchal masculinity. Anger is the best hiding place for anybody seeking to conceal pain or anguish of spirit”
Bell Hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love p. 7
Last week, grisly details emerged in the case of an 18-year-old in the United Kingdom who stabbed three women last summer in what he called “an act of revenge because of the life they gave me.” The case is terrifying because the teen, Portsmouth, Hampshire, resident Ben Moynihan, did not know any of the women and was simply seeking blind revenge for his continued virginity.
Moynihan left a plethora of evidence detailing the motive for his attacks: basically, rejection and misogyny. “I think every girl is a type of slut,” he said in a video recorded on his laptop. “They are fussy with men nowadays, they do not give boys like us a chance.”
Raffi is a schoolboy who doesn’t like rough and rowdy play. He likes calm and quiet; he dresses a bit differently than the other boys; he feels different. Like most kids, Raffi isn’t sure what that means, but then he finds his passion when a teacher teaches him how to knit. Raffi suddenly realizes the struggle—and importance—of what it means to be himself.
Made by Raffi, written by Craig Pomranz and illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain, is a children’s book that tackles the issue of gender stereotypes. The struggle for Raffi is a common one many school age kids, specifically boys, deal with every day. Our children are being bombarded with images and messages of what it “means” to be a boy or girl.
In a brilliant project done by SheKnows and Common Sense Media, boys were asked what it meant to be manly. The answers ranged from comparing manly to being emotionless to manly being the opposite of being girly; the boys understood that both meanings carried negative connotations, yet still defined the word the way they commonly hear it described.