Mark Simpson’s “pit bull”? Sheesh…can’t you take a compliment?
someone else said it was *almost* flattering. apparently Richard Dawkins gets called ‘Darwin’s Pitbull’ but i hate Dawkins.
Pit bull is inaccurate. You are much more like a dachshund – you just head right down a hole after a badger and don’t see why you shouldn’t. I am thinking specifially about posting an article at the Spearhead. God there were some lunkheads in that thread!
I’ll take dachshund!
That really made me laugh – not just a pit bull, but someone’s pit bull.
it is a funny image!
Hey hey, supposedly Thomas H. Huxley, a.k.a. Darwin’s bulldog, did some good in the advocacy of the theory of evolution. (That’s where the Dawkins nickname came from). I’d say it’s a good thing, in that it alludes to your fighting vigorously for a truth.
Anyway–even though Huff Post and NYT and the New Yorker still basically participate in the marginalization of ideas born of thinking TOO free, by putting them in a box… At least they publish it.
We’ll never see the day of “The O’Reilley Fagtor.”
–Um, not that str8bro meant it to be good. But you know.
That’s great info thanks Michael!
Yes I guess gay voices are better than no gay voices!
It is weird how gay men wind up being ‘other’d no matter which side of the political fence you’re standing on.
Are you actually serious about this?
Men are still required to live up to gender-based expectations; serious ones with actual consequences, not petty ones that anyone with a backbone can circumvent, like the one’s women “suffer.”
That’s why they fear emasculation, because emasculation relegates men to third-class status in society. Why on earth would you expect them to gladly accept that status?
I’ll tell you what, help create a world were men aren’t expected to protect and provide for women, and men will, as a happy indirect bonus, fag-up without any goading whatsoever.
I tell you what a-jay, I am helping to create that world. I advocate for men as human beings all the time.
And what is ’emasculation’ except for how people talk about and to men? Men are not emasculated if they resist that role of ‘the emasculated’. I am saying that to ‘fag up’ is to resist emasculation, which is part of machismo.
How are you helping straight men by telling them they should perceive their actions as being gay?
And are you saying resisting emasculation is a part of machismo or that emasculation itself is a part of machismo? Because if you mean the former, that doesn’t gel with your stated goal to campaign against machismo. If you mean the latter, then you are using terms in a very unusual way.
machismo requires emasculation. Imagine a world in which emasculation didn’t exist. Could machismo exist?
Yes a-jay I agree with typhon – emasculation is a part of machismo.
Men who are macho often project their sense of ’emasculation’ onto others but it just bounces back onto them as a sign of their insecurity. See str8bro who I quoted here and his whole blog for ‘bros’. He is a homosexual man trying to latch onto ‘macho straight’ men, and their ‘authentic’ masculinity and it just makes him look like a big queen!
That’s a trivial insight. All traits require some concept of their absence or opposite. The very act of naming (delineation) something presupposes that it is mutually exclusive with something else, creating its opposite simultaneously.
Beauty requires ugliness.
Good requires evil.
And so on.
Machismo is performative masculinity. It requires a sense that masculinity can be failed at in order for it to exist.
A man who believes that masculinity is something as robust as femininity (thus doesn’t have to be preformed nor can it be taken away) is well… a man who believes that masculinity is as robust as femininity.
There may be a sense that *we’re* judging men who don’t feel that femininity is as robust as masculinity as a gender identity however we’re stating that there are those men who do judge other men’s (and their own) masculinity by a standard and those that do not.
Guys who have a performative view of masculinity essentially see manhood as a drag performance that’s put on for the benefit of an audience.
It’s probably a lot more psychologically challenging, in the long run, for a man to see his masculinity as something that does not need to be performed nor is it something someone else has control over (can take away from him.)
Also, this is all just a massive shit test, anyway. Western culture is now just a multi-tiered labyrinth that good-natured men are tossed into with the hope that the forces of evolution produce some sort of icy-hearted, super-misogynist.
The concept of the “shit-test” really is the most illuminating discovery concerning social dynamics. It seems somehow fitting that PUAs and Game aficionados are absolutely trampling people with sociology degrees when it comes to explaining human behavior.
I have not yet been ‘trampled’ by a PUA but it sounds a bit kinky so bring it on.
“See str8bro who I quoted here and his whole blog for ‘bros’. He is a homosexual man trying to latch onto ‘macho straight’ men, and their ‘authentic’ masculinity and it just makes him look like a big queen!”
Let’s take this statement of yours apart, piece by piece, and see where that leads.
If you’re arguing that he “looks like a big queen” because he isn’t convincingly masculine, then you’re contradicting your original point by assuming that one can’t be authentically masculine while appearing like a queen.
Really, let’s examine this idea down to the molecules. It will be good for everyone. Let me ask:
Does straightbro appear macho to you?
What defines macho and what are the differences between macho and authentic masculinity?
Concerning those differences, why do you choose to label “macho” traits that make men appear like queens, ie not masculine, when macho is supposed to refer to traits that are extremely masculine>
If macho behaviors make men appear less masculine, or queeny, does that mean that macho behaviors are more female type of bhaviors?
HI ajay thanks for the deconstruction.
But I put’authentic’ masculinity in ‘ ‘ s because I don’t believe it is real.
The authentic masculinity that str8bro craves is a dream, a mirage!
‘Machismo’ is all about chasing that dream, and what it does to your sense of self.
I have no idea how you’re defining masculinity, then. Could you give me your definition?
I don’t define masculinity. Everyone else does! I merely see, as freud did, ‘masculnity’ and ‘femininity’ as concepts used to reinforce and ‘explain’ differences, most often between men and women, but also between say, ‘straight acting’ gays and ‘queens’ or ‘butch’ lesbians and ‘femmes’. It’s a construct but one that is very very dear to our hearts and minds.
Very well put typhon!
“Machismo is performative masculinity. It requires a sense that masculinity can be failed at in order for it to exist.”
My Olympic athlete analogy applies here as well. There’s a baseline of physical ability that we expect of people, below which, we consider them disabled. To be considered having Olympic caliber athletic prowess, one must train constantly to perform athletically in such a way that cannot be considered innate, natural, or conventional. Masculinity (or machismo) is the training of statistically male traits (specifically ones that are considered ideal) to extreme effect. There may be a performative aspect, but it’s all rooted in something distributively disproportionally male.
“There may be a sense that *we’re* judging men who don’t feel that femininity is as robust as masculinity as a gender identity however we’re stating that there are those men who do judge other men’s (and their own) masculinity by a standard and those that do not.”
I need clarification. Give me a description of robust masculinity. Explain how robust masculinity and robust femininity differ.
“Give me a description of robust masculinity. Explain how robust masculinity and robust femininity differ.”
I don’t know. I haven’t spent a lot of time around many men who have as fundamental sense of their sexual identity as women do.
Most men see their sexual identity as something they can lose unless they preform correctly.
The men that don’t are… difficult to describe simply because their masculinity is not made out of external measures.
“The men that don’t are… difficult to describe simply because their masculinity is not made out of external measures.”
If you want to be able to convince people something exists, or is intelligible conceptually, you have to be able to describe it. How do you know these men actually fall under the term “robust masculinity” if one, there are no external measures, and, two, you can’t even explain what “robust masculinity” is?
“How do you know these men actually fall under the term “robust masculinity” if one, there are no external measures, and, two, you can’t even explain what “robust masculinity” is?”
Because they present so vastly differently then regular men.
How do you describe the sky to someone who has never seen it?
“Because they present so vastly differently then regular men.
How do you describe the sky to someone who has never seen it?”
Through metaphor usually. I have a hard time accepting these excuses from people who claim certain concepts are important, and yet have absolutely no ability to explain them. Are you saying I’ve never encountered men with “robust masculinity”? Imagine that I have experienced all the men you’ve experienced, only I don’t compartmentalize them the same way you do. Define to me, using the same words you’d define it to yourself, they type of man whose masculinity cannot be taken away from him.
“Define to me, using the same words you’d define it to yourself, they type of man whose masculinity cannot be taken away from him.”
He’s the type of man whose masculinity cannot be taken away from him.
There is no more definition to it because such a man is pretty much unquantifiable. By definition he does and is what he wants to be because no action or behavior can take his masculinity away from him.
Let me use an example.
I could say ‘a man who cannot have his masculinity taken away from him wears purple on labor day.’ But what if he didn’t? By definition he cannot have his masculinity taken away from him by not wearing purple on labor day. Therefore I cannot say ‘a man who cannot have his masculinity taken away from him wears purple on labor day.’ Or any .
This suffers the exact same problem that theological noncognitivists have with believers in god; it tries to define something with secondary or tertiary qualities, or negatively.
It’s like trying to define god as the thing that is all-powerful or a cat as not a dog.
Your definition is literally meaningless.
“Your definition is literally meaningless.”
Yep. And so is any other definition that tries to define ‘man’ into existence.
Um, definitions that refer to things that people can knowingly experience are not meaningless.
Men are people with more masculine traits than feminine traits. Masculine traits are one that statistically are more exhibited in people that induce pregnancy than people who become pregnant.
Hi tu quoque, for me “the type of man whose masculinity cannot be taken away from him” is the man who is aware he never had it in the first place (and no one else did either). The only definition of “masculinity” that has any coherence for me might be something like “possesses a penis.” I happen to have one so … big deal, nothing to prove. Everything beyond that is pure concept, nothing even tangible. Somebody’s expectations / requirements, or that of a culture or subculture. Honestly, that word has no meaning for me.
Sorry, but this just doesn’t fly. If you don’t accept “masculine” as a term, that’s fine. Don’t use it, and don’t involve yourself in discussion where people do have a definite and tangible definition.
I don’t mean to be rude, but if you don’t have a sense of what masculinity is, why do you care if other people do?
tu quoque, the fact that I almost never use the word “masculinity” hardly disqualifies me from participating in discussions of it. The use (and misuse) of language is one of the most important things there could be to discuss, right? One aspect of this involves the analysis of individual terms and how they function in our culture, very much including the ideological investments they participate in.
Certain dualities have become as rigid and unquestionable as they have for a reason: because they touch, very closely, a level of our experience that make us uncertain, uncomfortable. Gender identity is exceptionally important to most people because it bolsters the core social ideology of all. Without either a “masculine” or “feminine” “identity,” most people would not know how to function in a great many situations in the world. That’s why there is so much investment, discomfort, fear, anger, bitterness etc in discussions of gender, and, partly, why there is so much homophobia amongst men.
But why do you care if people find usefulness in complex definitions of masculinity, when you can barely support a definition that involves the ownership of a single body part? What stake do you have in this discussion?
Because the discourse on gender and sexuality in our culture needs to evolve, a lot. Because personal and collective spheres are inseparable, so how we use language individually affects the whole, always. Because gender conditioning, gendered expectations harm so many, so much. Including me. Because I want to live in a world in which people are inspired to become as fully human as possible rather than aspiring to become “real men” or to “feel like a natural woman.” That’s why I care about these discussions.
Hi again tu quotue, I also wanted to respond to something else. You wrote:
“That’s a trivial insight. All traits require some concept of their absence or opposite. The very act of naming (delineation) something presupposes that it is mutually exclusive with something else, creating its opposite simultaneously.
And so on.”
I totally agree, but I don’t find this a trivial insight. Quite the contrary. It seems to me something really profound and also marks an interesting meeting point between east and west–something that hasn’t happened terribly often. Ie, certain strains of poststructural thought meeting the Madhyamaka for example, the culmination of buddhist philosophy, two thousand years later. Notions such as the necessary complementarity of opposites, the endless deferral of meaning, and so on are really saying much the same thing as what buddhists call emptiness or total interdependence. To me that’s a pretty remarkable convergence. But more so because it opens up such helpful perspectives on how we manage to tie ourselves into conceptual knots, individually and collectively.
As you say, in order for us to think of ourselves as good someone else has to be evil. In order for there to be “real” men another class of men have to be the poofs. James Baldwin says this somewhere: society “needs the faggot.” In order for men to hang onto “straightness,” or if you like to be able to think of themselves as “the good guys,” they create the faggot, the class of ultimately “failed men.” (Today it’s become a bit more subtle than that, but the same principle still applies: “real” men by definition–full, proper males–are “straight.”) They need him, he says, to serve two simultaneous functions–to be both escape-valve object of desire *and* guarantor of their own “masculine” status.
So yes, I would say ultimately the preservation of masculinity *is* machismo, which takes a variety of forms ranging from subtle to crude. When QRG says: “I am saying that to ‘fag up’ is to resist emasculation, which is part of machismo,” this to me is a genuinely revolutionary idea. Continuing to assert one side of a coin–one’s own always, of course–as truly real while denying any connection with the negated Other is a losing war. “Fagging up” points to what Baldwin was saying: seeing the constructedness of the whole thing, and rejecting any kind of reification of it. The alternative is, yes, the endless spectre of emasculation. Won’t it always be there for as long as we think “Masculinity” is something truly real, truly separable from “Femininity?” How could it be otherwise?
“People invent categories in order to feel safe. White people invented black people to give white people identity. . . . Straight cats invented faggots so they could sleep with them without becoming faggots themselves.”
– James Baldwin to Nikki Giovanni[i]
Thanks for the quote QRG. That’s beautifully succinct. The bit I was remembering came from an essay somewhere but I have no idea which one. I can just remember where it was on the page (!)
That doesn’t make any sense at all. Inventing “faggots” only makes it possible that you could be branded as one. It was always primarily gender-atypical people who promoted the concept of “gay” in order to make homosexuality a symptom of inversion, and therefore allowing their gender expression to be an identity springing from biology, rather than moral deviance. Before the “gay” identity, men were more able to indulge their bisexual desires without the identity crisis that arises from a system of dichotomous sexual orientation. Balwin is exactly wrong here.
And his writing sucks.
“Before the ‘gay’ identity, men were more able to indulge their bisexual desires without the identity crisis that arises from a system of dichotomous sexual orientation.”
I agree, but we need to be sensitive to cultural context here. Even in “pre-Gay” cultures in which male bisexuality has been studied (certain Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and South American ones for example), there is a parallel to this situation, as you may know. A guy who consents to be fucked isn’t placed in the kind of solid, immutable, metaphysical category that Gay has become, but nonetheless they are still functioning as the guarantor of the “manliness” of the fuckER. The system is still gendered. And this is the more general phenomenon that Baldwin is referencing, I would say.
So I’m not sure I agree that the concept of “faggot” only made it possible to be “branded as one,” as you say. Personally, I tend to think that whole thing was probably a necessary step. The problem is that now we’re stuck in it, and need to be moving on. The terms, again, have become veritably metaphysical–which is precisely the opposite direction to where they needed to go.
good points Paul
Oh shut up ajay. I am not talking to someone seriously who thinks Baldwin’s writing sucks! 😀
This argument is completely self-defeating. If language is just constructed, then no one needs to justify their use of it. People who cruelly separate the world between real men and failed men have an ironclad defense in the constructedness of language.
“People who cruelly separate the world between real men and failed men have an ironclad defense in the constructedness of language.”
Then don’t do it. Every time you say ‘manhood is…’ you are separating ‘real’ men from ‘failed’ men.
Any time you use ANY word, you separate it from what it isn’t.
We have a word for, say, running. But we don’t believe the word ‘running’ made the action running exist.
Why do we believe that ‘manhood’ has no existence outside of the definition of the word? Why is ‘man’ proscriptive rather then descriptive?
“We have a word for, say, running. But we don’t believe the word ‘running’ made the action running exist.”
To a reductionist, it does. Generating a concept cuts a discrete shape out of fluctuating, formless phenomena. The types of human movement that we observe have no metaphysically correct taxonomy. We separate this singular blob of human movement into categories like walking, standing, running, etc and then name them.
“Why do we believe that ‘manhood’ has no existence outside of the definition of the word? Why is ‘man’ proscriptive rather then descriptive?”
It’s both. Societies promote roles that it believes best makes use of people’s inherent abilities.
“We separate this singular blob of human movement into categories like walking, standing, running, etc and then name them.”
Is it possible to separate the category ‘physically adult human female’ into woman and not woman?
Why then is it possible to separate the category ‘physically adult human male’ into man and not man?
That’s defining something into existence that has no existence outside of its definition.
What things can a ‘man’ do that a woman cannot do that don’t arise out of his physical masculinity? And if the things that a ‘man’ does that a woman cannot arises out of his physical masculinity, then why do we need the word ‘man’ to refer to anything other then ‘physically adult human male?’
“Is it possible to separate the category ‘physically adult human female’ into woman and not woman?”
Oh, yes, it certainly is *possible*. However, most societies have not deemed it useful to make womanhood contingent on behavior as they do with manhood.
“That’s defining something into existence that has no existence outside of its definition.”
No thing has existence outside its definition (by definition, I’m including the completed process of taking raw phenomena and creating concepts out of it).
“What things can a ‘man’ do that a woman cannot do that don’t arise out of his physical masculinity?”
As I pointed out in a thread on NSWATM, this is something societies, specifically men in societies, are constantly trying to figure out. That’s why, in societies that tell men that women are just as capable of doing all the things considered traditionally masculine, men scour all the obscure corners of human behavior to find things that they do with a significant amount of greater expertise than women.
“And if the things that a ‘man’ does that a woman cannot arises out of his physical masculinity, then why do we need the word ‘man’ to refer to anything other then ‘physically adult human male?’”
Because we still think of pregnancy as this magic, sacred thing that women are cosmically imbued with. We also think of women in a homogenized way. They’re this undifferentiated force of reliable life-giving. Males are a mixed bag of unrealized potential, that first need to be distilled (to separate the alphas and betas) and then refined.
Yep. I’m aware that a fragile masculine identity contingent upon behaviors decided by people other then the man makes men useful to society, tu.
The question is, do men want to continue to be society’s dupes and whipping boys?
“Because we still think of pregnancy as this magic, sacred thing that women are cosmically imbued with.”
Eventually this will die. After all we can now gestate a goat in a sack; I’m sure a human fetus is not far away.
What identity will women have when a machine can do what they do? And likely better?
I would say it’s precisely BECAUSE language is just constructed that it’s incumbent upon us to use it as clearly, precisely, helpfully as we are able.
“Clearly, precisely, helpfully” are all subjectively determined. How I determine a man is clear, precise, and helpful to me, but may not be to a transperson.
I agree. I was simply replying to this: “If language is just constructed, then no one needs to justify their use of it.” Language being indeed human-made, not god-given, this is the very reason we need to work hard at using it well.
I wasn’t implying you weren’t by the way. But I *was* implying that words like “masculine” and “feminine” are in general used as if they had some transcendently given, real essence. And they don’t. So then we can discuss what meaning they have for us, and as for myself I simply can’t come up with a single quality a “real man” should have that a woman shouldn’t, and vice versa.
Men are an achieved ideal. There are traits that we associate more strongly with males, strength being the least controversial one. Therefore, exemplary strength becomes one of the ways males achieve manhood. Since “exemplary” is by definition a relational term, not every male can be a “man”.
We could also endow womanhood on females who are really good at giving birth. I’m not exactly sure why we don’t anymore.
Oh one more thing, and then I’ll shut up already! Just wanted to note I’m aware the loose “definition” of the masculine I gave two posts up will not hold for many people who identify as transgender. I really don’t intend even that as a definition. I merely meant by it something like: if someone were to ask me, personally, what “masculinity” means and how far it extends, that’s the most I could say. For me, thinking simply in terms of my own experience, it goes no further than that.
Yes I see your point about transmasculinity paul. And I too get called a ‘man’ often by feminists simply for my views on gender. But I still think ‘the penis’ is a signifier of masculinity! Some trans women have penises but they are still ‘masculine’ aspects of those women. Just as my opinions are ‘masculine’, so far as we can use the terms ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ – like you say, even if we use them and attach them to things, what do they *really* mean?!
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