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Questions (and answers?) > Are we stuck in a "Quagmire of Masculinity"?

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Tim | 86 comments Mod
Here follows an interesting essay which is an excerpt from Robert Jensen's book from last year called "Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity"

Read the article here:

http://www.counterpunch.com/jensen102...

I can empathise with him very well. I need to tell myself to back down when i hear similar conversations..argh..it is something which really frustrates me and challenges my normal great calm.

Do we just accept it however..what can be done..if anything..?

This may link, to a degree, into a question about justice..


Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) Very interesting article, Seek, and the book sounds interesting too.

Jensen says: Masculinity in three acts: Attempts at dominance through (1) force and humiliation, (2) words and argument, and (3) raw insults. Three episodes about the ways masculinity does men in...

All classic signs of insecurity, not just in men but women also. Funnily enough, in this the genders are exactly alike, though women tend to do it to each other rather than the opposite sex.

I have to admit to a feeling of contempt for people who continue to behave like this well into their adult years. It doesn't help, but that's the way I feel. I wouldn't even bother interfering in that first situation: the men are obviously drongos and very insecure, and the woman is punishing herself by being with a man like that - and women who punish themselves like this aren't going to want help.

This isn't quite the same thing, but since moving to Canada a couple of years ago (where we get US stations and ads) I've noticed that the commercials are not only very gender-specific (as in, women advertise cleaning and cooking products), but the men are portrayed as childish imbeciles and the women as sexual objects. (For example, the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese commercials.) The way men in particular are portrayed (I must be really desensitized to female stereotypes by now) angers me. Has anyone else noticed this? What's worse is how it is embraced: they're selling a product by appealing to how you want to be. Is this really how men want to be seen as?


Tim | 86 comments Mod
It is encouraging to hear i am not alone in my contempt for men acting that way. What really struck me about what you shared is about women staying with men like that as punishing themselves and therefore are not going to want help. That is definitely worth noting thanks.

I fear i am guilty of generally assuming that women should and would want to be treated with respect. In doing so i guess i could be unwittingly be charged with chauvinism when actually it is my (unwise?) sense of ethics. Perhaps it is wisest to not project values upon anyone other than oneself?

Interesting question re the portrayal of sexes in the media.. I cant comment on the ads your side of the pond and i rarely watch tv in general, but i know where ye are coming from and it certainly isnt healthy advertising. I always used to say that ads wouldn't affect me. I dont think they do, but.. it is such a huge industry that it must work for a majority of people, which is frightening. Perhaps it is because people take what is on TV to be their guide of what to strive towards, to what ye want to be, as ye say. As to why people choose that as their yardstick, i have no idea.

I certainly do not want to be seen that way. heh, at times i likely swing the other way too much. Not buying brand name clothes etc is fine, but i recall one tv ad for coldsore cream which was soooooo annoying, oh my word i had to turn the tv off if i was watching it and the ad came on. Well one day i got a coldsore and went to the chemist and asked for the best coldsore cream... yup.. it was that same annoying ad brand! I laughed and told the chemist that there was no way i was going to buy it and explained why heh, so i ended up getting what he called the 2nd best cream :P Who is to say if it really is any different, but fer me, that time, the ad positively lost custom of the brand *chuckles*

I have noted that "family" ads frustrate me - showing images of what is being played out as "normal" or ideal families.. and even worse are food and drink ads targeted at kids.. Noooo.. chocolate cereal is NOT healthy for your kid no matter what it is called or what funky cartoon animals are dancing *mumbles*


Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) It's not that women don't want to be respected for who they are and what they can do etc., but that there are some women who, subconsciously, believe they're not worthy of respect. I've known women like this, and it breaks my heart, because it doesn't matter what I say, they recognise all my arguments as valid but they still can't bring themselves to leave Mr. Prick. And I do know a bit what that's like, having been in a relationship that I should have ended early on but let continue for five years, miserable though I was. It's a complicated issue, but until the individual has the strength of will to do something about it themselves, the best you can do is just be there for them.

Oh, don't get me started on commercials portraying the average family! Always white, always conservative, always bland. What I've always hated, though, from a young age, are ads targeting children, food yes, but also toys. Insulting pieces of plastic junk! There're a lot lately that are for "educational" computer games, and ones that incorporate "exercise". (I don't watch ads, by the way, I always mute - and read - but some have caught my attention.) And that overwhelming feeling of "wholesomeness" that pervades it all and makes you feel like a bad person if you don't go out and buy said piece of crap.

Sorry, what were we talking about? Think I might have gone a bit off-topic :)

I'd say we're stuck in a quagmire of pretty much everything, really. The more "advanced" we think we're becoming, the more lost we really are. That's what I see when I look around: lots of lost people, trying to stay on the same track as everyone else because they must know what's going on, and there's safety in numbers, and ooh look iPods come in electric green now! getting constantly distracted because life is scary.

Is that also off-topic?


message 5: by Tim (last edited Mar 13, 2008 11:48AM) (new)

Tim | 86 comments Mod
heh, not at all. As ye say, and i agree, we are becoming swamped in...stuff. Discussions like this are great in that they throw up many tangents, all somewhat linked, for further thought.

Definitely feel free to start other topics if ye feel something deserves further chat on its own. Otherwise i certainly dont mind what route a particular thread goes down. :)

It is shocking how many people do follow the crowd. It has reached the point where to not do so draws criticism of being a risk or threat. This i see so clearly these days in terms of politics and policies which is i feel a very dangerous "normality" to be letting happen.

Semi on topic, i wonder if masculinity or indeed femininity is playing any part in todays political world? I know some women likely want to vote for Clinton because she is a woman. Yet it heartens me to hear so many other women refuse to vote for her because of her policies and dare i say it her personality, thus rejecting the notion of sex playing a part.

I wonder what mens thoughts are in respects to this in politics?


Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) That election campaign is certainly very, ah, telling. I mean, it will be interesting to see how they vote, in the actual election. I certainly don't agree with the idea of voting for Clinton just because she's a woman. That's utterly ridiculous, but I have heard women say this (that they have voted for her or would (if they were American) because she's female). I haven't been following it very much, but I haven't heard men talk about the issue so much. Are you American, Seek? If so, what are your thoughts?

Some people, women as well as men, are very comfortable when everyone is given a role to play and stay there. One thing that annoys the hell out of me - but is also very telling - is, what do you call them, salutations? I mean, Mr, Mrs, Ms, Miss. When I was in primary school, we had a relief teacher who was a "Ms ...". It was the first time we had heard it, and we spent all day trying to figure out what it meant. In the end, we decided it must mean she was divorced. When I was at uni I was talking to my then-boyfriend's father, who works at a credit union, and he was saying he always uses "Ms" in letters to customers but that some of the women he worked with refused to be called "Ms" because they thought it was for lesbians.

So my point is, we are always trying to slot people into comfort zones - our own, not anyone else's, usually - and designate roles to people. Why do people have to know whether a woman is married or not? When you meet "Mr. Johnson", or whoever, is the fact that he's married or not in any way relevant? Then why should it be so for a woman? Some women are proud of the fact that they are married, and want people to know. Why? I'm not saying don't be proud, but does it alter who you are? Is your identity, your very self, defined by the man your with? It's a little thing, I know, but personally I feel we should scrap "Mrs" and "Miss" altogether, and just go with one that simply means "I am female".

Don't mean to rant, it's just something I take issue with :) Anyway, I noticed Hilary Clinton, who is obviously very clever and quick, has held her own against odd comments and questions regarding her husband being the ex-president. She's definitely able to stand on her own two feet.


message 7: by Kristjan, Ye Olde Bard of Fate (new)

Kristjan (BookTroll) | 51 comments Mod
Shannon said: All classic signs of insecurity, not just in men but women also. Funnily enough, in this the genders are exactly alike, though women tend to do it to each other rather than the opposite sex.

I agree with Shannon here. I find the author’s use of term masculinity as the engine for the behavior described awkward … in that it doesn’t quite fit. What I see is more of a quagmire of anger … which seems to be endemic in the US these days. How do we typically respond to the subject of our anger? If you have power (physical or otherwise) you use that power to (violently) compel said subject to conform to your vision of the world around you. If not, you seek revenge from the shadows. Gender doesn’t matter nearly as much as the type of power you are use to having. Trying to closely associate masculine behavior with the former is an error and simply makes it more difficult to actually reduce it … in fact; it makes it almost impossible, because it leads to such amazing declarations like the way to get rid of [macho] violence is to get in touch with your feminine side.

In addition … how you respond to various situations where you feel that you have little or no control (insecure) greatly depends upon what you were exposed to as a child. Abused children are much more likely to be abusers … much more likely to respond with violence. Although this may have a correlation with gender, it does so only to the extend that boys are treated differently then girls with respect to their exposure to violence. This seems a long way from the social behavioral norms encompassed by masculinity.



message 8: by Kristjan, Ye Olde Bard of Fate (new)

Kristjan (BookTroll) | 51 comments Mod
Shannon said: One thing that annoys the hell out of me - but is also very telling - is, what do you call them, salutations? I mean, Mr, Mrs, Ms, Miss. […] It's a little thing, I know, but personally I feel we should scrap "Mrs" and "Miss" altogether, and just go with one that simply means "I am female".

Okay … which one of those do you think is most frequently put in front of Kris?

I actually like Mr. and Ms. for most occasions … I would however keep Mrs. in one case … if and when a woman wishes to use her husband name instead of her own; such as Mrs. Kris Larson … for some reason my wife likes to do that every now and then, usually in situations where she is already known as my wife. We also still address letters to Mr and Mrs Bill Keene when we wish to write to both of them. Other then that, we stick to Ms.

Okay … I ran this by my wife to make sure I wasn’t speaking out of turn and she wants to know what some women get upset when they are addressed as Ma’am.



Molly (MollyHell) I can tell you I have been in situations like that, all three. With women involved instead of men.

And not in catty ways. I think men are just as catty as women, and women insult men just as much as they insult other women.

It's our acculturation. We are being brought up to fit into a stupid capitalist system which encourages basis of value by looks, because it sells products. Diet pills, the "right" clothes, shoes, car, everything. You wouldn't sell much useless crap if people didn't care what each other looked like and judged each other on a higher standard than clothes and looks.

I also agree we are part of an increasingly angry world, and IMO that's also the fault of our society and acculturation. I think the standards TV and movies, our bosses, corporations, etc want us to meet are killing us slowly.




Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) Kristjan, I honestly don't understand - though I try to - why some women want to take their husband's name - and you're not just talking about surnames here either. Our personal identity is very much tied up with our names, and it feels to me, personally, that if I were to use my husband's name I would lose my own identity. I don't wish to be defined by my relationship to one particular man.

In my own case, I have no wish to take on any of my husband's names, and neither does he. The problem is, then, what name to give our children when we have any. If they are given his name, I feel like I don't have any claim on them. Vice versa if they are given mine - and I wouldn't want them to, because it's not a particularly great surname. So it's an issue for us, whereas if we just followed tradition (there's no law about it, just as there's no law stating women must take their husband's surname), we wouldn't have to worry about it. That said, I don't like following traditions simply because they're traditions. Many traditions aren't good, or lose their relevance.

It also harks back to the days when women - that is, daughters - were their father's property, to be handed over as part of a business deal - for money or land etc. Father walks daughter down the aisle and physically hands her to the next man. She's little more than a piece of land. I object to this, and I think most women - and men too - do as well, though the "symbolism" of the gesture continues to be used. It is what you make it, and for most people it's just a sweet gesture.

So I see no reason why women should lose not just their own surnames but their given names as well, and become merely an extension of their husbands, like a third arm or something. Obviously, women who do don't see it that way.

Oh, and to answer your question - I use Ms, but only because there's no other option. It doesn't roll off the tongue very well, but it also doesn't give anyone any indication as to my marital status, which is, of course, irrelevant.

Having said all that, I don't want to imply that I wish to take 'choice' away from people. But "Ms" should definitely be the default option.


message 11: by Kristjan, Ye Olde Bard of Fate (last edited Mar 14, 2008 06:57AM) (new)

Kristjan (BookTroll) | 51 comments Mod
Shannon said: “I honestly don't understand - though I try to - why some women want to take their husband's name - and you're not just talking about surnames here either. Our personal identity is very much tied up with our names, and it feels to me, personally, that if I were to use my husband's name I would lose my own identity. I don't wish to be defined by my relationship to one particular man.”

My wife and I actually talked at length about how to handle names before we got married. We covered what we thought were the pros and cons of various practices at the time. We even talked about whether or not she would keep her middle name or substitute her maiden name for it, as was very common. I even had a few options ready about naming the kids that were at least partially influenced by my Scandinavian background ... the boys would have my last name and the girls was have hers, if she chose to keep her full name. In the end, we found the traditional practice to be more advantageous over all.

“So I see no reason why women should lose not just their own surnames but their given names as well, and become merely an extension of their husbands, like a third arm or something. Obviously, women who do don't see it that way.”

In our case, it was only in situations where she was already defined as my wife, such as formal functions where I was her escort or where my name is associated with some benefit she wished to take advantage of (this is not so common any more now that I have left the military). It was a shortcut to say a number of different things at once ... just like when we meet other parents these days and say something to the effect of ‘I’m Riki’s father ...’ or when I am with her at one of her functions and I am introduced as her husband ... It helps people associate you with another memory that they already have making it easier for recall. There are other advantages as well ... such as the ability to provide a certain level of anonymity to some social interaction when desired. Whether or not any of these reasons are worth it is pretty much a personal decision though.



Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) I appreciate you sharing your personal story, Kristjan. You're absolutely right, and in partnerships we all make our own arrangements. There's no doubt that going with one name simplifies things. Sometimes I don't care either way, sometimes I feel an urge to take my husband's name (only he doesn't care, so it loses its effect), and sometimes I feel indignant about society's expectations. I'm not the type of person to do something just because it's expected.

Having grown up exposed to very minimal sexism, when I do encounter it it's always something of a shock to me - like when the mechanic wouldn't talk to me about my car but turned instead to my boyfriend, who had no clue whatsoever about cars. That's just plain rude.

Or once when I was walking along a main street in the city I used to live in, in the afternoon, broad daylight, and a man comes out of a pub just as I'm walking past the doorway, stumbles into me and as he's apologising ("Sorry love" or something equally revolting), actually grabs my breast. I was so stunned I didn't even say anything, and then he was gone.

Compared to some people, certainly, I've been fortunate to have a safe and happy upbringing and life in general, and I more-or-less have the freedom to choose what I'll do with it. But the subtle incursions on this are no less valid for being subtle. (I'm not even talking about names or anything here, just in general.)

I am sorry if I've come across as difficult and intolerant, I certainly hope I'm not, but I just don't like the feeling of being somehow inferior, for no real reason.


message 13: by Kristjan, Ye Olde Bard of Fate (new)

Kristjan (BookTroll) | 51 comments Mod
Shannon said: I am sorry if I've come across as difficult and intolerant, I certainly hope I'm not, but I just don't like the feeling of being somehow inferior, for no real reason.

You are not even close to being difficult and intolerant :) And I think I understand where you are coming from (my wife can relate to the car mechanic story, and similar reactions, as well). I appreciate your opinions ... that is why I responded.



Tim | 86 comments Mod
I love how discussions can merge out into other interesting aspects, great sharing guys :)

Shannon ye asked if im American, nope, im from Ireland. I have been following the election a bit, mostly watching to see what dastardly events take place. I am interested in politics however i am not sure if there is a real opportunity for real truth and liberty to shine through. In watching events unfold it seems that unless the actual political process is changed, that the same old same old will continue to be the same old same old.

I do see quite a lot of people appear to be supporting candidates because of x issue or personality instead of questioning them on a,b,c,d,e and f issues. It is almost as if people only consider one thing (that is normally being pushed by that candidate as their "selling point"), and decide to vote on the basis of that; thinking that that is the best they will get.

My view is that choosing one weak person over one other weak person, is not a valid choice at all.

Back to what ye two are talking about, it is a good question - I used to think Ms meant that the lady was divorced. However i can see exactly why some women would want to use that, simply to not have to be categorised.

I have to admit that when i meet or hear of women who actually allow themselves to be called Mrs James Brown, for example (her husbands name), i cant help feel "sorry" for her.

I know that i, funny as it may sound, do not like being called Mr. or Sir. It really pisses me of when companies ring and insist on calling me Mr or to try and placate me calling me sir even when i tell them to call me by my first name only.

Similarly to an extent i do not like my full first name being used. Even on official documents i always use my shortened name. Some people dont like that and try to insist on lengthening my name.

As Kris says, ye certainly are not coming across as difficult or intolerant Shannon! Quite the opposite.



message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

hi folks,

i didn't read all the posts because i'm lazy today but the topic is of interest and i've caught a few things that i'd like to add to

Ms. came about precisely because the grand fems (what i'm going to call the women who fought the good fight in the 60's and 70's-read greer, steinem, et al-it's not lost in the mists of time find out what happened during the sexual revolution dudes) thought that our language perpetuated stereotypes and Ms. was the equivalent to Mr.

it makes me crazy that this has gotten lost
not the ms but the fight

we have inherited our world
what came before?
i have no desire to reagrue all the arguments from the 70's-it was exhausting at the time

everyone from the phone co. to the bank calls me by my first name anyway (bugs the shit out of me)

male quagmire
female quagmire

only if we agree to sit in the mud

biology has a huge influence and i'll excuse a little abuse if you've got the testosterone i'm craving

likewise men will take my bitchiness if my estrogen level peaks often enough for their stamina

sorry...that's the truth
men will dominate
women will submit
it's even quite beautiful

but...it gets out of balance
that's the point of no return
when something veers towards violence it's time to address the underlying tension

societal norms are waaaayyyy out of wack but in flux

we can offer our voices, stand our ground, make our points

porn is a perversion
it is not victimless and it is not harmless
male group behavior is insidious as is female group behavior

love will set us free---let's hope
at some point the duality has to hang togehter against their gender group

they have to say, i am with you, not with all males
or i am with you, not with all females
it's hard for us to say this and stick to it




message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

oh yeah
i am tempted to vote for clinton because she's a women who was present during the revolution and my hope (valid or not) is that she would make things better
it's like an old wound, it still pains and i long to hit the man one more time in his gut
voting for the hillster would be that punch
and a part of me would celebrate
a woman president
good or bad
perhaps you have to live under the oppression to truely understand the desire to see the old oppressor taken down


Molly (MollyHell) Maureen said:

men will dominate
women will submit
it's even quite beautiful
=================================================

Sorry but that's a heaping steaming load of horse palookey.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) (Giraffe_Days) Completely off-topic again but Seek, are you switching body parts? Can I expect an interesting ankle shot or nose next? I'm all "agog"! :D


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