11.15.2005

A Quickie on Masculinity

Kenneth's blog today is about Johnny Cash's masculine persona, and I was so delighted--as I always am--to see any man critiquing masculinity that I was inspired to share a bit of one of my favorite feminist rants.

The topic is, Masculinity Is a Toxin.

Walter notes in his master's thesis that one of his litmus tests for white people's level of racial consciousness is to ask, "Can you see how the popularity of the King Kong story in America could be due to its allegorical connection to race?" He says the answer is usually no, meaning the answer-er is operating out of a place of unexamined white privilege.

The "masculinity is a toxin" rant functions in a similar way for me. If I even say that sentence, many people react with such defensiveness that it tells me that they haven't examined male privilege in this culture, and that, if they are men, they haven't divested of that privilege. And I should stress here that I don't mean that men are a toxin, but that the way our culture has defined masculinity is toxic, both to men and to women.

I'm happy to flesh out this theory; I can go on at length about the problems with our cultural construction of masculinity, and I probably will do so at a later date on this blog. But what I want to say for now--before I dash off to school for an afternoon of meetings--is that I am increasingly coming to see sweetness as the characteristic I most value in men. Kenneth says, "In musicians and songwriters I much favor gentleness and tunefulness over swagger," and because we are in a culture that by and large doesn't value sweetness or gentleness in men, I think celebrating these characteristics is activist and incredibly important.

2 comments:

christiemckaskle said...
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christiemckaskle said...

What I loved about this - besides the fact that it makes me nostalgic to hear you speak on this subject, is that it took me to Kenneth's blog...which several days ago, ironically enough, mentioned Fonziemania. I even left a comment, because I was a pre-teen participant in Fonziemania. And if that wasn't toxic masculinity, I don't know what is!