If you’re a guy reading this, take a moment to think about the expectations society has placed upon you throughout your life. These expectations may not be the same for every individual, but as a whole there are general social rules associated with being a man and men as a whole are expected to follow them. These rules dictate appropriate activities, occupations, jobs, skills, hobbies, and interests for men. As a kid, you’re expected to like blue, not pink, to play with toys labeled “for boys” rather than those labeled “for girls”, and to express an interest in sports. You’re taught to be tough and endure pain, to be resilient and protective of girls. And of course it’s drilled into youngsters that Boys. Don’t. Cry. Boys can be emotive. They can be happy. They can be angry. They can be sad. But by god, don’t you cry!
You get older, and people look at you and treat you automatically as heterosexual (hell, that starts when you’re young-sometimes when you’re a newborn) and act as if you’re supposed to think about girls and sex all the time. You’re to continue being a tough guy, whether by playing sports in high school or working out or both. In adulthood, you’re supposed to go to college, graduate, and make something of yourself so that you can settle down with a woman, raise a family, and be a provider. Which means you’re expected to have a career that pays well (think more doctor or judge, less painter or photographer) And you’re supposed to want to get married bc marriage is the natural path all men are supposed to follow. Oh, and you’ve gotta have kids (and boys, specifically).
If you don’t want to do any of those things, if your predilections run counter to the acceptable social norms for men, or if you deviate from the rigid rules of masculinity, you will quickly be criticized. Your membership in the Man Tribe will be threatened bc those rules are there for a reason, by golly. They are there to tell you how you are supposed to behave and live your life (never mind that you were never consulted on these rules that are to govern your life). If you think you can just show emotion like crying without facing the social consequences, you quickly find out how wrong you are when people call you a girl. If your sexuality isn’t part of the dominant (read: acceptable) group-heterosexuals-your manhood will be called into question by calling you a ‘faggot’ (a slur intended to emasculate a man and make him feel less like a man and more like a woman). Don’t like sports or cars? You’re a pansy and there’s something wrong with you. Do you refuse to eat meat? Turn in your man card. Do you enjoy wearing clothes that are comfortable, regardless of the gender they were created for? You’re a sissy. Don’t go around fucking every woman you can? Want to have long rather than short hair? Don’t like fighting? Oh man, you’re the biggest pussy on the planet. Social opprobrium will almost always be brought to bear against you if you think about trying to exist as a male without conforming to societal expectations of masculinity.
And I have a problem with that.
I have a problem with that because when society dictates how masculinity is defined and what traits, skills, and characteristics define a man, then those that do not conform are ostracized. They are made to suffer. They are often discriminated against. They are prevented from maximizing their potential, bc they are told that there are limits on how they can exist. Think about gay and bisexual teenage boys who come out to their families hoping for love and acceptance and instead get condemnation, rejection, and, all too often, eviction. Think about the young boy who wants to be a fashion designer only to be told that fashion is a girly endeavor. Just picked the image of a young boy who’s dreams have been crushed. Consider the 13-year-old boy with long hair who is interested in poetry, dislikes sports, isn’t aggressive, and shows little to no interest in girls and is bullied so much that he attempts suicide. Recall the mid-30s guy in your office who is not married, has no kids, and is still a virgin. Remember all the times he’s been the butt of jokes, and been treated like utter shit bc he’s following a different script on how to exist as a man. At every turn in our society when men do not perform masculinity in the approved manner, they are vilified for it. They are told to toe the line. To “act like a man”. To “man up”.
Manhood and masculinity should not be tied to any particular set of activities or specific behaviors, skills, occupations, or hobbies. What it means to be masculine and what it means to be a man should not be determined by society. If you identify as a man, you should be the one who gets to decide what it means for you to be a man. If you’re looking for an ideology that seeks to dismantle gender roles, look no further than feminism.
She was a passionate suffragist.
She created a nursing home for African-Americans.
At one point, the reward for her capture reached $40,000.
She earned $20/month in pension following the end of the Civil War.
She was often behind enemy lines, operating as a scout for the Union.
She is credited with aiding in the liberation of over 3,000 enslaved Africans.
She was an ardent anti-slavery advocate who dedicated her life to the abolition of the “peculiar institution”.
And she’ll be the first woman to be featured on a United States banknote in more than a century.
If you guessed Harriet Tubman, then you win $20!
When you lie on the beach
‘neath the warm summer sky,
do you only wear sunscreen
that’s made for a guy?
When your masculinity is so fragile that you can't use regular sunscreen pic.twitter.com/QnToangPSw
— Kennedy Knight (@kennedyknight1) June 8, 2015
When the smell of your home
is like a rancid trash can,
will the scented candles you buy
be made just for a man?
— AtomOannes (@JacobAtom) September 23, 2015
When you finish your meal
and you’re craving sweet food,
will you only eat chocolate
that’s made for a dude?
Today in Fragile masculinity pic.twitter.com/fVxg2GIBTC
— Go follow @yumiaiba (@yumiaiba1) September 12, 2015
When cleaning your ears
do you without fail,
refuse to buy Q-tips
not made for a male?
because masculinity is just /that/ fragile that they need "men's" qtips pic.twitter.com/GQAglaYWEF
— lucius malfoy (@elvinbarbosa) May 29, 2015
When the drip from your nose
never seems spent,
will you only buy tissue
made for a gent?
— Matthias → AMAZE (@IcarusTyler) April 8, 2016
When playing a game
(no, this isn’t a joke),
do you fret and you whine
cuz you can’t play a bloke?
— Mizz Chips (@cumsquirrel) April 7, 2016
If you answered yes to any of the above rhyming questions (of my creation), then congrats, your masculinity may be fragile. The above Tweets are part of the #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag, which originated as a way for feminists and their allies to mock and criticize the toxic attitudes and beliefs our society associates with masculinity. From beliefs about the type of alcoholic beverages a “real man” drinks, to the type of careers men are supposed to lean towards, to the perception that displays of affection between men are “unmanly”, to discriminatory and marginalizing views about LGBT people, #MasculinitySoFragile is part of an ongoing effort to criticize rigid and ultimately destructive ideas of how masculinity is defined. To the surprise of few, the hashtag evoked outrage from men who crawled out of the woodwork to complain that it was an attack on men in general, rather than a criticism of toxic masculinity. Amusingly, many of those who claimed the hashtag was demeaning towards men proved through their responses that masculinity really is a fragile concept. The frailty of masculinity was demonstrated once again in the responses to a recent mockumentary-No Men Beyond This Point.
(Yes, I know it is Tuesday, but I was indisposed much of yesterday and unable to finish this post)
Men are simple creatures with few needs, wants, and desires. It shouldn’t be hard for a woman to make a man happy.
Women, on the other hand are complex creatures who have a plethora of needs, wants, and desires. It is hard to make a woman happy because keeping track of everything they want, need, or desire is incredibly time-consuming.
Men- Simple. Easy to deal with.
Women- Complicated. Endlessly needy.
That’s what I’m getting from the above meme, which I stumbled across on Facebook. It reminds me of the 1992 book Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by author and relationship counselor John Gray. In the book, Gray postulates that there are fundamental psychological differences between the sexes; differences so grand that men and women need instructions on how to understand and communicate with one another (apparently, those in the relationship should have an honest conversation about what they need and want is not sufficient advice; either that or it would be a one page book). And it just so happens that Gray has instructions. You just have to read his book, and you’ll find out all the secrets of the universe. Of course you also have BUY the book, so don’t think this guidance comes free of charge. Just be aware that the advice offered treats men and women as if they’re little more than walking stereotypes and erases the individuality of humanity. Needless to say, the book has faced quite a bit of criticism:
Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may remember the Buffybot from ‘Intervention’ (B:TvS S5E18). The lifelike robotic creation of the misogynist Warren, the Buffybot was created for Spike because he…I wouldn’t say he loved Buffy (though he thought he did at the time)…perhaps ‘infatuated’ is the right term? ‘Lusted’, even. That’s probably more accurate, because for Spike, the Buffybot was a fuck machine. And that’s one big reason the robot was creepy to me. The idea of a man creating a robotic facsimile of a woman he desires takes objectification to a new level. From street harassment to sexual assault to sex trafficking, women around the world are accustomed to men viewing them as objects. Not as human beings, but as objects to be bought. Objects to be sold. Objects to be traded. Objects to own. But at least building an artificial creation that resembles an actual living human woman is something that only exists in fiction, right? Not any longer.
Dear readers-close your eyes for a moment. I want you to imagine yourself as someone different. Imagine for a second (ok, a little longer than a second), that you are a 24-year-old man. A 24-year-old heterosexual man. A 24-year-old heterosexual man named Colin Kingston who works at GNC and aspires to be a businessman. You (well, you-as-Colin) have been dating a young woman (Kelsey Annese) for the last three years. Recently however, Kelsey broke up with you. Now, after three years, you-Colin Kingston-have obviously invested a lot in this relationship, so this breakup is devastating to you. You feel lost. You don’t know what to do. You need options. What options do you have?
- learn to crochet
- drown your sorrows in alcohol (since you won’t be drinking responsibly, get a buddy or call a cab)
- go skydiving
- take off work for a weekend, buy a gallon of ice cream and chocolate and binge eat while watching the favorite rom-coms you and your ex used to watch together
- cry yourself to sleep for a week listening to Celine Dion’s ‘My heart will go on’
- join a gym
- delete her phone number, lose her address, and throw away all pictures of the two of you
- buy an 8-ball and spend the weekend cleaning your house
- tell your co-workers that they can take the week off and that you’ll work the next 66 hours by yourself, figuring that if you throw yourself into work, you can take your mind off her
- take a vacation
- go to Vegas
- climb a mountain
- run for public office (unless your idol is Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or, really, any of the Republican shitheads vying for the nomination)
- decide to move on and hit the club with your buddies
Now, this is the point where you can open your eyes (although I guess you wouldn’t have been able to read all of the above with your eyes closed). Why? Because while YOU, dear reader, might have chosen any of the above (or something else completely), the real Colin Kingston did not make any of those choices. No, the real Colin Kingston decided to be a murderous shithead.
Ok, there’s no reason to spend a lot of time on this ridiculous meme, bc as with most of the shit tumbling forth from the “men’s rights activists” at AVfM, this isn’t based in reality. Here’s quick rundown of just what is wrong with the image:
- The Affordable Care Act
- queer people
- Common Core
- Happy Holidays
- black people
- President Obama
- “entitlement culture”
- “PC” culture
- anti-discrimination laws
- mainstream media
- environmental regulations
- people who fail to demonstrate proper obedience to authority figures
- gun control
- evidence-based sex ed
- Planned Parenthood
- (who needs a free space with all the shit conservatives get pissy over) minimum wage increases
Unfortunately, I’m out of room on my bingo card, and there’s a brand-spanking new addition to the list of subjects that conservatives blow their tops over: Joss Whedon.