Looking at a few stories today that relate to what we see as “girly” and “manly” in our society. These examples show how we label things “girly” or “manly” and how we use these labels to define acceptable behaviour.
1. Girly Movies
Nick Waters, a “guy” from Oklahoma, gave himself a challenge to watch 30 chick flicks in 30 days and to write reviews for each one on his blog. The question he answered with the challenge: “How far would you go to understand the opposite sex?” Some of the movies watched were Nights in Rodanthe, Made of Honor, Valentine’s Day, Mamma Mia, and He’s Just Not That Into You. To be fair, he also watched a couple of movies less typically defined as “chick flicks” like Drew Barrymore’s film Whip It. But what does it say that people think the content of these movies represents something innate about what they want?
NY Times film critic Manohla Dargis says that the latest generation of chick flicks like He’s Just Not That Into You tell us that “today’s woman wants designer threads, extravagant weddings and a generous helping of public humiliation served up with laughs, most at her expense.” Dargis mourns the loss of movies like Thelma and Louise, which celebrated confident and powerful women; so do I. Also, typical chick flicks rarely depict lesbian or queer women in any serious way. Any “women’s nature” they try to portray is definitely not universal.
Waters told Asylum that people are suggesting his wife now take a similar challenge to watch action movies. But just like chick flicks aren’t representative of what all women think or want, neither are action movies for guys. It’s fine for people to enjoy these types of movies, but let’s not use them to define how people are supposed to behave based on their gender.
I came across this via Neatorama. Apparently someone decided men couldn’t enjoy regular cupcakes because they’re too feminine, so Butch Bakery was born. The Butch Bakery Man-Ifesto? “We’re Men. Men who like cupcakes. Not the frilly pink-frosted sprinkles-and-unicorns kind of cupcakes. We make manly cupcakes for manly men.”
Each cupcake is topped with a chocolate disk in such designs as Woodland Camo and Checkerboard and flavours include “The Driller”: maple cake with chocolate ganache and bacon bits. The flavour on the main page of their site is the “B-52.”
I’m not too keen on the bacon bits idea, but other than that I usually believe the more cupcakes, the better! What’s interesting is what it says about what’s unacceptable for men (eating pink desserts) and what’s considered manly (red meat and military motifs).
3. Girly Men
Apparently another thing that’s been deemed unmanly is men’s figure skating without a quad jump. Russian contender and former World and Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko was the one who put that out there after he skated his short program at the Vancouver Olympics this past Tuesday. “Without quadruples, I dont know, sorry, but its not men,” Plushenko said. Plushenko ended up coming in 2nd to US skater Evan Lysacek, who skated without attempting a quad jump. He then repeated his assertion to Russian media, saying “You can’t be considered a true men’s champion without a quad.”
As a skating fan, I thought Evan Lysacek was oustanding. And while I do think it’s unfortunate that the system might discourage skaters from even attempting quads, so too is the gender policing taking place. Now Elvis Stojko (who, by the way, never won an Olympic gold medal), is saying February 18, when Lysacek won, is “The Night They Killed Figure Skating.”
Another skater we saw last night was Johnny Weir, who has been attacked in the past for being “too feminine” and “too out.” In 2007 figure skating commentator Mark Lund said, ” I’m sorry. I don’t need to see a prima ballerina on the ice,” referring to Weir as “not representative of the community [Lund] wants to be a part of” (Lund is openly gay). In a sport that blurs the boundaries of masculinity in the same way as ballet, it’s interesting to see all the effort put into forcing the athletes into conventional heterosexual gender roles.
We’re going to have a more in-depth article from a new contributor to this blog on gender in figure skating a bit later, but I wanted to touch on this because it fits in with the theme of how we say that certain things are “manly” or “girly” and use this to limit what behaviour is seen as acceptable.