Author Topic: To be a man  (Read 2544 times)

Placid Dingo

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To be a man
« on: October 26, 2011, 02:19:15 pm »
Edit: Meant to drop a prefix, just to say that I've NEVER read any gender theory so I apologise if my brilliant ideas are basically exactly the same as the lifetime work of theorist X.

I feel like post-modernism has done a bit of a disservice to the idea of being a man.
 
Used to be there was a very clear defined concept of a man. White, straight, strong, brash, bold, good with women, drinker, smoker, good lover, straight talker. A post modern view of things challenges this discourse. To be a man isn't any of those things. It's a construct like any other- and as ficticious as any structure you care to name. Hetrosexuality and success with women doesn't define a man. Nor does clothing, nor an appitite for violence, nor the car you drive. Even the idea of definition through physicallity or chromosomes doesn't define one as a man, at least so far as gender is considered as a construct, epecially as we look at genderqueer types of identities.
 
I don't have a problem with the disintegration of the fixed and specific view of a man. I wonder though at how it seems to leave us with with the question; if we don't have this as a clear, concise idea of what a man IS or should be, what IS a man? What should a man endevour to be?
 
Nietzche rejected the idea of God and of meaning in life, but importantly HE ALSO REJECTED NIHILISM. What I worry about is that as a gender concept we have rejected the idea of the existing concept of masculinity, but failed to endevour to replace it. We have a nihilistic view of gender, as far as the post modern view is concerned.
 
False constructs of gender, while conventionally still challenged, still find power in their circulation through media and advertising. We draw the net a bit wider; there's a whole indistry for you if you're gay now, but there's still a very narrowly defined view of what a man should be, should want, should need. My problem is that if we choose to reject this corporate fantasy land, we end up with a choice between returning to it, or gender nihilism.
 
I don't like the idea of gender nihilism because gender IS important. Returning to the genderqueer idea, the whole concept of identifying as a gender other than that which one is biologically does not to me lessen, but heighten the importance of gender. People choosing; against all social stigma, choose to identify with a particualr gender. For some reason, more than social acceptence or convention, gender MATTERS.
 
I don't feel like we need a single alternative to the popular media views of what a man is. Counter-culture is a great tale of where that road goes; generally nowhere, and sometimes somewhere, for just long enough to get co-opted, repackaged and sold as part of the system is was made to oppose. Rather I feel what we need is a sense that corporate gender stories need not only be destroyed (leaving a gaping void of nothingness), but replaced with new gender narratives, a personal sense of mission to develop as a man in a way that upholds a set of shifting values. For us to individually not just decide that gender is meaningless and stop there, but in rejecting the corporate narrative dedicate some part of ourselves to determaining a new narrative that tells us,
 
WHAT is a man, and
 
WHAT does this tell me about who I am, and who I ought to be.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2011, 02:26:28 pm by Placid Dingo »
If sheep entrails could in any way be related to the weather, i.e. sheep trails only originate where it rains, then you could use it as an accurate model for discerning what the weathers going to be like. Either, sheep shit makes it rain, or raining makes sheep shit. Sheep don't shit "randomly" sheep shit after they eat, it doesn't rain "randomly" it rains after water collects in the atmosphere.

LMNO

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2011, 02:36:43 pm »


Why can't i walk down a street
free of suggestion?

Is my body the only trait in the eye's of men?

I've got some skin
You want to look in
There lays no reward in what you discover
You spent yourself watching me suffer

Suffer you words, suffer your eyes, suffer your hands
Suffer your interpretation

of what it is (what it is)
what it is (what it is)
what it is (what it is)
TO BE A MAN!

I've got some skin
You want to look in
She does nothing to deserve it
He only wants to observe it
 
We sit back
like they taught us
We keep quiet
like they taught us

He just wants to prove it
She does nothing to remove it
We don't want anyone to mind us
So we play the roles that they assigned us

She does nothing to conceal it
He touches her 'cause he wants to feel it
We blame her for being there
But we are all

guilty


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCSM9QNZzLg

Cramulus

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2011, 02:56:55 pm »
So to summarize your post (want to make sure I'm reading you right) - - - - -

The substance of "manliness" is getting shaken up by the idea that gender is a social construct. Modern examples and representations of men have confused the existing idea of masculinity. Your question, essentially, is "What is a man in a world where Girls Who Are Boys Like Boys To Be Girls  Who Do Boys Like They're Girls  Who Do Girls Like They're Boys?"

--that about right?

My questions for you:

Who determines whether or not you are manly - you or your environment?



Your post points at a growing rift between "corporate gender stories" and the real masculinity, and suggest that the corporate stories need to be destroyed/replaced. Why?



Your post suggests that we need new gender narratives, something that gives us "a personal sense of mission to develop as a man in a way that upholds a set of shifting values" -- is that versatility absent from the existing masculine construct?




And finally, the big one - why do you feel that gender is important?





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Re: To be a man
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2011, 03:21:50 pm »
A man must be swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire, and mysterious as the dark side of the moon.
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LMNO

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2011, 03:25:11 pm »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiXaT_1I-vw


what makes a man, is it the power in his hands?
is it his quest for glory?
Give it all you've got, to fight to the top.
so we can know your story.

now you're a man, a man, man, man.
now you're a man, a manly, manly man.
a man, man, man.
you are now a man, you're a man.
now you're a man.

what makes a man, is it the woman in his arms?
just cause she has big titties?
or is it the way, he fights every day?
No, it's probably the titties.

now you're a man, a man, man, man.
now you're a ma-man, a ma-ma-ma-ma-man
now you're a man, M-A-N man, man.
man, man, maan.
now you're a man.


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Re: To be a man
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2011, 03:44:29 pm »
:lulz:

I like the OP and think it raises some interesting questions.

Still, LMNO wins the thread in a landslide.
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LMNO

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2011, 03:45:07 pm »
:ECH:

Placid Dingo

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2011, 03:45:33 pm »
Quote
So to summarize your post (want to make sure I'm reading you right) - - - - -

The substance of "manliness" is getting shaken up by the idea that gender is a social construct. Modern examples and representations of men have confused the existing idea of masculinity. Your question, essentially, is "What is a man in a world where Girls Who Are Boys Like Boys To Be Girls  Who Do Boys Like They're Girls  Who Do Girls Like They're Boys?"

--that about right?

Almost. More I feel like manliness has BEEN shaken up by the idea of gender as a construct; and this is good, but it's not complete. Your question is right on. "What is a man in a world where Girls Who Are Boys Like Boys To Be Girls  Who Do Boys Like They're Girls  Who Do Girls Like They're Boys?" I guess I feel like it's good to be asking that question, but it's not good enough to hang it up like a decoration; it's actually a question worth answering.

Generally at least in this article, I've associated the representations of masculinity with the corporate narrative, if only in the sense that, irregardless of best intentions, these are prepackaged gender narratives, usually wrapping somebody else's ideology or (gulp) product.

Quote
Who determines whether or not you are manly - you or your environment?

Good question. I don't have a good answer. I guess what I'd like to say is, I'm looking at the value of the idea that individuals should construct individual gender narratives, which in turn guide them through their environment. So the self, the environment and gender have a relationship but not necessarily one as simple as identifying one or the other as the constructive force. But I'm aware I'm verging on speaking in riddles there.

Quote
Your post points at a growing rift between "corporate gender stories" and the real masculinity, and suggest that the corporate stories need to be destroyed/replaced. Why?


This I can do. Because I'm short and skinny.
There's more to it, but I've been thinking about gender roles, views etc a lot, and recently watched Captain America, which for at the first 15 min or so, had a bit of a crack at subverting traditional notions of masculinity (if you wanted to get all analytical you'd be forced to admit it ultimately re-enforces the dominant paradigm, but meh). So I guess what I was looking at is that the majority of media portrayals of masculinity, messages about weight, sexuality, body type, personality type etc aren't giving a very useful concept of who I am as a man. What they are doing is re-enforcing insecurites, about how I dress, about how successful I am with women, if I'm attractive, if I'm doing the 'right' thing, if I'm a success. They're not useful, they're misleading and confusing, and I feel to some extent, damaging.

Quote
Your post suggests that we need new gender narratives, something that gives us "a personal sense of mission to develop as a man in a way that upholds a set of shifting values" -- is that versatility absent from the existing masculine construct?

I feel it is. I think there's really two directions at present.

One is the pre-packaged masculinity, which doesn't have a lot of ability to shift and personalise because it is, in its essence, pre-packaged to sell a product, a hero, a plotline, an ideology etc.

We can reject this narrative, but I feel like the other side of the coin is hazy. That it represents a lot of loose statements like 'gender is complex', 'gender is a construct', 'who gets to decide what's right or wrong anyway?' etc. Which isn't wrong, but neither is it particularly HELPFUL. I feel like rejecting the existing popular narratives leaves you in a (excuse the term) no-man's-land of ambiguity. So rather than offering the importunity of developing new value sets, I feel it offers either a complete rejection of values, or an aggressive maintainance of ambiguity.

Quote
And finally, the big one - why do you feel that gender is important?

I almost quoted the Bhagavad Gita in the article, but retrained myself for brevity. In the Gita, Arjuna is told to do what is right for his cast, his clan, his gender, his family etc. I don't think we're so different in the modern world in the west; we look to who we are, our jobs, our family, our class, our gender, our age, our nationality, our physical appearance, our religion, our political affiliation for cues on who we are, what we do, and how we interact with our environment. I feel, while accepting the constructed nature of gender, that gender offers some assistance in this aim of understanding and constructing self and purpose, but existing notions are insufficient to help us utilise it effectively.
If sheep entrails could in any way be related to the weather, i.e. sheep trails only originate where it rains, then you could use it as an accurate model for discerning what the weathers going to be like. Either, sheep shit makes it rain, or raining makes sheep shit. Sheep don't shit "randomly" sheep shit after they eat, it doesn't rain "randomly" it rains after water collects in the atmosphere.

rong

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2011, 04:28:23 pm »
"he was a smart feller who felt smart"

Cramulus

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2011, 04:41:19 pm »
Quote
So to summarize your post (want to make sure I'm reading you right) - - - - -

The substance of "manliness" is getting shaken up by the idea that gender is a social construct. Modern examples and representations of men have confused the existing idea of masculinity. Your question, essentially, is "What is a man in a world where Girls Who Are Boys Like Boys To Be Girls  Who Do Boys Like They're Girls  Who Do Girls Like They're Boys?"

--that about right?

Almost. More I feel like manliness has BEEN shaken up by the idea of gender as a construct; and this is good, but it's not complete. Your question is right on. "What is a man in a world where Girls Who Are Boys Like Boys To Be Girls  Who Do Boys Like They're Girls  Who Do Girls Like They're Boys?" I guess I feel like it's good to be asking that question, but it's not good enough to hang it up like a decoration; it's actually a question worth answering.

Generally at least in this article, I've associated the representations of masculinity with the corporate narrative, if only in the sense that, irregardless of best intentions, these are prepackaged gender narratives, usually wrapping somebody else's ideology or (gulp) product.

I'm glad that we dudes don't have as many gender norms/imperatives blasted at us as women.

For my part - while I am sometimes [rarely] jealous of the washboard abs and ripped pecs that appear on masculine characters in TV and movies, that's just body image, it has no bearing on my personal sense of masculinity.

To me, masculinity has to do with strength, responsibility, and resilience. I don't think advertising imagery impacts this personal view, but it is certainly influenced by narratives from movies and TV shows.

Back in High School, the first time I told my girlfriend I loved her, I realized my basis for action was an episode of Full House. My parents never taught me how to fall in love, (or rather, the social protocols surrounding it) popular media did.

Does that media contrast with the "real" essence of manliness? I really don't know. I don't know how I would know, because it's so much in flux. Did you know that a hundred years ago, blue was a girls color and pink was a boys color? If we go back really far, to Athens, their concept of masculinity was tethered to mentorship. A real man finds a pretty young boy to tutor up. That's real love, the wife is just an earthly distraction useful for procreation. funny how things change.

Quote
Quote
Your post points at a growing rift between "corporate gender stories" and the real masculinity, and suggest that the corporate stories need to be destroyed/replaced. Why?


This I can do. Because I'm short and skinny.
There's more to it, but I've been thinking about gender roles, views etc a lot, and recently watched Captain America, which for at the first 15 min or so, had a bit of a crack at subverting traditional notions of masculinity (if you wanted to get all analytical you'd be forced to admit it ultimately re-enforces the dominant paradigm, but meh). So I guess what I was looking at is that the majority of media portrayals of masculinity, messages about weight, sexuality, body type, personality type etc aren't giving a very useful concept of who I am as a man. What they are doing is re-enforcing insecurites, about how I dress, about how successful I am with women, if I'm attractive, if I'm doing the 'right' thing, if I'm a success. They're not useful, they're misleading and confusing, and I feel to some extent, damaging.

When you're writing a character like Captain America, you and the other writers come up with a list of adjectives that you want the audience to associate with him. How does a heroic character act? What does he look like? How does he talk? Their intent is to create an image which resonates with your sense of heroism. You see discordance between this image and your self-image... In order for that to affect you, you have to decide that the image depicts the ideal version of manliness, and then you have to identify the parts of you which are outside that version.

To me, this does not suggest that Cap should be shorter and skinnier, but that you (we) should insulate yourself against the empire of signs and signals.

Quote
Quote
Your post suggests that we need new gender narratives, something that gives us "a personal sense of mission to develop as a man in a way that upholds a set of shifting values" -- is that versatility absent from the existing masculine construct?

I feel it is. I think there's really two directions at present.

One is the pre-packaged masculinity, which doesn't have a lot of ability to shift and personalise because it is, in its essence, pre-packaged to sell a product, a hero, a plotline, an ideology etc.

We can reject this narrative, but I feel like the other side of the coin is hazy. That it represents a lot of loose statements like 'gender is complex', 'gender is a construct', 'who gets to decide what's right or wrong anyway?' etc. Which isn't wrong, but neither is it particularly HELPFUL. I feel like rejecting the existing popular narratives leaves you in a (excuse the term) no-man's-land of ambiguity. So rather than offering the importunity of developing new value sets, I feel it offers either a complete rejection of values, or an aggressive maintainance of ambiguity.

I think that ambiguity is a very useful thing to keep in mind. If you can see that the meaning of these images is self-generated, rather than imposed from outside, it's harder for those images to get inside your head and start pushing your self-worth buttons. Captain America's ripped pecs are just some shit on a screen. And this whole idea of masculinity -- it's basically just a type of fashion. An enduring fashion embedded in our social culture, but a fashion nonetheless. It's only as "real" as we make it.

If you find yourself constantly asking yourself "What would a REAL MAN do in this situation", then yeah, gender norms are going to have a big impact on how you act.

I ask myself "What would a total bad ass rock star do in this situation?" --- speaking for myself, I don't really think about my masculine identity too much, at least not explicitly.


Quote from: dingus
Quote from: cram
And finally, the big one - why do you feel that gender is important?
I feel, while accepting the constructed nature of gender, that gender offers some assistance in this aim of understanding and constructing self and purpose, but existing notions are insufficient to help us utilise it effectively.

thought experiment: replace gender with any other cultural construct - class or race, for example.

Does this conversation also apply to things like race? Is there an essential "blackness" that we've lost through postmodernism, and is it important to protect that? People identify with race, they use it to tell their stories about who they are and where they're going. And certainly the media has a large bearing on how we think about race.           I'm not going anywhere with that, just food for thought.


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Re: To be a man
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2011, 04:52:30 pm »
Which of the men posting ITT does NOT wield fabulous facial hair?
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Freeky

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2011, 04:58:06 pm »
I actually got to thinking about this a couple days ago.  I was watching Supernatural, and one of the main characters has lost his soul.  He was talking about how he was different (didn't care about anyone, couldn't really feel emotion, and similar), and then he said "And I remember other things, and well, let's just say that I want to get it back."

It kind of sparkked a narrative in my head, like "Why doesn't he just say that he misses having the ability to care for people, to love and be sad and laugh and fear and everything else?"  I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but I kind of feel like it's a strong undercurrent where guys aren't supposed to show feelings and emotions, that it's pretty unmanly to do so, and if you do you're a big pussy.
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As a neuroscientist I have to disagree with the perception that anyone is doing mathematical modeling of cognitive intelligence, yet; intelligence as an economist defines it, yes, but economists are worlds away from actual cognition.


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PopeTom

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Re: To be a man
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2011, 06:01:31 pm »
Gender roles needed to change once people became aware that while men and women are different that difference is not a good reason not to treat them as equals.

It should no longer be about a person being manly or womanly but weather or not they are a good person.
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Re: To be a man
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2011, 06:29:04 pm »
The biggest problem I have with that whole post is in the first line:

Quote
I've NEVER read any gender theory

Now, I'm not saying that your opinion/thoughts are invalid simply because you haven't done any research or study into what's already being said; it's just that, right there, I can see that you have a desire to postulate on an existing dialogue without so much as finding out where that dialogue is at. It has a bit of similarity to Trix wanting to discuss first-year ethics without having just taken a damn ethics class or reading a book on ethics. Ever had a little kid come up to you and tell you about politics? You can tell that they feel really sophisticated, but the ideas they're dropping are extremely naive and simplistic, because they just don't know better yet. They're at a beginning point, and you can't have a serious conversation with them about politics because they just aren't educated in what they're talking about.

I don't want to go all TCC on you and tell you to read a book, but if this subject genuinely interests you, you should probably educate yourself on it in order to be able to have a really cogent conversation about it because no one will be able to take you seriously until your thoughts are a little more in-depth and well-formulated.

Here, read this article:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/04/opinion/bennett-men-in-trouble/index.html?iref=obinsite

There are probably things in there that you agree with, and things that you disagree with.

You might also be interested in Sam Keen's "Fire in the belly", Robert Bly's "Iron John", and Robert Moore's "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover", none of which I have read, but all of which are pretty well-regarded as being thought-provoking if nothing more. Oh, and "As Nature Made Him" by John Colapinto. I just started it and it's good so far.



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Re: To be a man
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2011, 06:38:19 pm »
this thread is totally unmanly.