masculinity

The Mythical Dearth of Marriageable Men

by Jasmine Peterson

You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of being told that, because I’m a feminist, I am the reason that men are oppressed, women are lonely, men won’t marry women, or vice versa, and that the end of men is nigh.

No! Feminism and feminists have not caused some catastrophic imbalance in the dating universe. We are not the reason that people marry later in life, or not at all (or, if we are, it’s only in that people have been afforded greater choice in whether or not they DO marry, when they do it, and why they do it). In fact, what feminism has done is provide both men and women with options – you can marry, if you so choose, not out of economic necessity, not out of some patriarchal ownership of your lady love, but because you genuinely want to.

There is nothing about Suzanne Venker’s piece “The War on Men” that is not highly offensive – to women, to men, to feminists, to anybody or anything that is a living, breathing organism.

Maya over at Feministing does a great job of highlighting ten of the major ways in which Venker’s article is entirely ridiculous. For example, it’s discriminatory (e.g., ignoring the existence of anyone who is not cisgender and heterosexual), ignores more recent and accurate data on trends in marriage, and makes sweeping generalizations about men and women.

Let’s just address some of the major flaws in Venker’s argument:

 “Believe it or not, modern women want to get married. Trouble is, men don’t.”

Except that that’s not true. That’s a dated, played out stereotype that taps into discourses of a woman needing to bag a man before she’s old and unmarriageable and the myth of the emotionally distal male. It plays upon women’s fears of ending up alone, and reinforces that perhaps there’s something fundamentally wrong with those women who aren’t or don’t want to get married. Read more

Posted on by Jasmine Peterson in Feminism 5 Comments

Feminism F.A.Q.s: Can Men Be Feminists?

Feminism FAQs Title Screenby Jarrah Hodge

Can men be feminists? That’s the question I try to take on in my latest Feminism F.A.Q.s video.

There’s nothing in the definition of feminism that says no, but it can be a bit touchy, so here are some guidelines for men getting involved with feminist organizing, as well as some suggestions for how men can help feminist goals.

Read the full transcript after the jump and suggest other questions, myths, or issues in the comments below!

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism 2 Comments

Man Showers: Redefining or Reinforcing Masculinity?

"En brudgum i Sorunda"Heather Klem is a reading addict, yoga enthusiast and feminist and body image blogger located in South Florida. She rails against our culture’s narrow definitions of beauty, the destructive idealization of thinness and the mass marketing of packaged perfectionism that leave women and men feeling inadequate and shameful about their bodies and themselves. Heather believe in empowering and educating our youth on harmful media messages and limiting social systems that call them to equate their self-worth with appearance and body size; instead equipping them with tools that support healthy self esteem, positive body image and individuality.

There are few customs more gender ritualized in Western society than those associated with the wedding planning process. The wedding industry, a money making monolith boasts 40 billion a year in revenue. It is a seemingly untouchable empire wrought with timeless tradition, cultural significance and deeply embedded gender stereotypes. The contemporary wedding has become a veritable commodity and multiple pre-nuptial parties are par for the course.

The usually hyper-feminized bridal shower in particular is one of the tried and true traditions that centers on the bride and typically precludes the groom. In recent years, men, ever the gender-busting pioneers, have expressed their desire to cash in on the fun. And thus was born the “man shower” or – in some crowds – “bro baths” or “man gatherings”. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism Leave a comment

Women Are Not Like Cats

Portrait de jeune femme tenant un chat by Bacchiaccaby Jessica Critcher

The Good Men Project has been heralded as “a glimpse of what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century,” and “a cerebral, new media alternative” to glossy men’s magazines. That’s great. Masculinity needs to be talked about differently. Men need to do this. A good deal of feminism’s work can and should be undertaken by men and boys. But the premise of The Good Men Project still bothers me.

The idea of being good men is actually nothing special. Not raping, not beating, not oppressing, not objectifying, is not some phenomenal feat deserving of praise. That should be every man’s basic commitment to humanity. Anything further should not be done for applause, but as an effort to offset vast inequality.

Saying you’re one of the good guys doesn’t mean you’re exempt from male privilege, no matter how uncomfortable that makes you feel. It also doesn’t mean you’re immune from misogyny or making sexist statements.

So there’s that. I generally try to ignore The Good Men Project. Neutral is a fine place to be in my book. Continue about your business, I would say, if I thought about them. Continue to not actively oppress us, and I shall leave you in peace. But recently they managed to capture my attention and enrage me. And the behavior that caused it was definitely what I’d think of as “good men” behavior.

The article was titled Women Are Like Cats. Read more

Posted on by Jessica Critcher in Feminism, Pop Culture 6 Comments

New Survey May Say More About Gender Expression than Youth Mental Health

crying boyby Ashli Scale

Last week Global Montreal posted a news article about a survey conducted by Queen’s University in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada. A total of 26,000 youth between the ages of 11 and 15 were surveyed. The main gist of the results is that girls are more likely to have emotional problems and mental health concerns than boys. However, the method of information gathering and the types of questions asked may actually tell us more about gender expression than mental health. To illustrate my concerns I have analyzed two survey conclusions below.

1. “While boys are more likely than girls to report behavioural problems such as cutting classes or skipping school, talking back to teachers and getting into fights, girls are more likely to report emotional problems – feeling low, feeling nervous or helpless, feeling left out of things or feeling lonely” (Global Montreal, 2012).

I provide social support to homeless and street-involved youth. In my experience, the vast majority of male youth DO experience feelings of depression, nervousness, loneliness or alienation but DON’T feel comfortable expressing these feelings. Instead, they act them out in more masculine and socially-approved ways – getting into fights, bullying or withdrawing. Remember, boys are raised to be MEN and told that real men don’t cry or show signs of weakness. Read more

Posted on by Ashli Scale in Can-Con, Feminism Leave a comment

Fist-of-Cuffs: A response to ‘Toronto, City of Sissies’

This post was originally published at The Scale. Cross-posted with permission.

There was a huge response to a recent article in ‘The National Post’ by writer Christie Blatchford regarding the men of Toronto. It was a call for Toronto to stop being a ‘City of Sissies’.

In response, I am going to share two things with you: a moment and a secret.

First, I am going to share a moment.

This is a moment in my everyday life that I personally dread. Not a moment like fearing my safety when walking down a strange, moonlit street, facing a boss and his sexual harassment-laced advances, a trip to the dentist or a strange man following me into the elevator.

I dread when my car acts up or needs attention. Some light goes on, or there is a rattling sound or grinding noise, which means walking into the auto shop.

There isn’t a moment where I feel more insufficient or I am made to feel more pathetic than when I need to do something car-related.  Growing up I didn’t have the kind of father that was forever under the hood, asking me to pass the wrench and explain how the engine works. I literally could write on one sheet of paper the entire conversations I ever had with my father. The Strong and Silent type: My father, my example of a man.

Admittedly, I should take on my deficiency of automotive knowledge and learn more about the vehicle I use everyday (I just know how to drive, change the oil and gas up). Whenever I walk into any auto shop, however, is my moment of dread.

The moment the man behind the counter raises his eyes up from typing on the computer with hands adorned in grease and calluses…

Hands toughened from years of working with them
Hands manually manly
Hands hardened and thickened
Hands that don’t feel a thing

…the moment he quickly realizes my depth of automotive know-how is thinner than the worn out treads on my tires, I see a smirk. I see eyes rolling, or a subtle shake of the head.  The soft groan under his breath is a mighty roar questioning my manhood, echoing in the empty cavity where my esteem once stood. This pressure, this feeling may seem trivial, but it is real, it is potent and it needs to be discussed.

…urgently.

 

Secondly, I am going to break the man code of silence and share a secret.

There is an invisible gun held to the head of every man and boy you know.
At any given moment, at every moment of everyday, familiar cold steel presses against the head of every man’s soul. Unseen hands take turns cocking it, pressing it against the temple. The hands belong to people you know and never knew, those you despise and those you will always love.

It is a loaded gun that we as men don’t point out, don’t signal for help with, certainly don’t discuss and don’t internally acknowledge even exists. It has been pushed into our temple since birth.

The gun is society’s impossible, elusive state of manhood.
The bullets are Vulnerability, Inadequacy and Emotion. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 1 Comment

The Gender Anachronisms of Figure Skating

Artistic Impressions Book Cover

The 2011-2012 figure skating Grand Prix Final is starting this week in Quebec City, but according to Queens University Kinesiologist Mary Louise Adams, figure skating’s gender roles are running at least a few decades behind the times.

Adams is the author of Artistic Impressions: Figure Skating, Masculinity, and the Limits of Sport, which I highly recommend for figure skating fans, skaters, and anyone with a passing interest in the gender dynamics of sport.

Last year’s Vancouver Olympics brought the gender dynamics of figure skating to the public’s attention more than ever before as the battle between male skaters Evan Lysacek and Evgeny Plushenko turned into a debate on whether men skating without a quad jump was “effeminate”, and former US champion Johnny Weir was the subject of homophobic remarks by French commentators. Over the years, skaters like Elvis Stojko have argued that figure skating needs to be re-branded as more masculine to appeal to young boys. And organizations like Skate Canada have on occasion taken up that torch with ad campaigns.

Adams’ book gives historical perspective to these issues, showing how figure skating originated as a gentleman’s sport in which women were not even allowed to participate. But over time society changed, and so did the technique, rules, artistry, and demographics of figure skating so we now see the sport dominated by younger and younger women.

(Note: Adams’ book and this article only look at the singles’ events. The gender dymanics of pairs and dance events are too much to get into here.)

“The thing about skating more than other aesthetic judged sports is the division between presentation and aesthetic qualities and also technique and athletic qualities. The relative weight and balance of these things and what they mean for both the sport and for the people who participate in the sport has been a debate since the beginning of the 20th century. It’s changed over time. It used to be about class and now it seems to be more about gender,” Adams told me in an interview.

Adams points out that the very way we score skating today is based on arbitrary gender constructions. In addition to obvious gender markers like women’s revealing, skirted costumes (women skaters weren’t allowed to wear pants in competition until recently) the women’s long program is thirty seconds less than men’s. It’s based on the idea that men are stronger, but it has real implications in terms of the scoring. Adams points out that women’s world champion and Olympic gold medalist Yu Na Kim will never be considered “the best” under the current scoring system because women’s scores are very likely to always fall below men’s. Adams continued:

“The thing that surprises me most is that these rules persist – the spirals, the timing – and the illogicalness of them given, say, that pairs skaters skate longer. The anachronisms of figure skating are stunning given what women figure skaters do now and have done. They pretty much always do what the men have done except for one or two things – and we then place the emphasis on those things.”

“Those things” includes the quad jump: widely purported to be the ultimate goal for male skaters. Male skaters like Evan Lysacek who do fail to work quad jumps into their programs are frequently attacked with homophobic accusations of effeminacy. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 4 Comments