Feminism and masculinity, an addendum.

Posted: August 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

About a week ago I posted an exploration of masculinity and why feminism seems to be so intent on reshaping it into something more ‘palatable’. The implication is clear: masculinity is broken and in dire need of fixing. For some reason, feminists have decided they are the only ones qualified to fix it. Worse than that, male feminists are using the fact they are men to try and present this as something all men should be welcoming of, despite the fact that, as I said my previous post, masculinity is something that transcends definitions and is entirely personal to each man.

As part of that blog entry, I initially focused on another article, an article that occupied the same spectrum as the one that ended up in the final version. It’s by a man who feels so ashamed of who he is that he feels the need to apologise simply for being a man, feels the need to pay some kind of penance for enjoying traditional masculinity because, somehow, it’s oppressive and all that banal shit you’ve come to expect from feminists, male or otherwise.

When I posted the blog on my Facebook page I made an allusion to the editing I’d done to reduce the length of my post. Yeah, the blog I posted was about 8 pages so should be apparent why I thought it was necessary to edit this down. Instead of getting rid of it completely, though, I decided to simply finish what I’d started and make a separate post, sort of an addendum that follows on from what I said originally.

I’m going to leave it completely as it was originally written so the start won’t make sense here, you have to understand it was originally part of a bigger piece and would have appeared before the article I ended up focusing on in last week’s blog. I’ve put it in bold to make it stand out more.

So, if you can stomach more of my ramblings about what it’s like to be a man, here we go:

The first, which I’m not really going to delve into, concerns one man’s struggle with finding a place for masculinity in 2015. It could, and should, have been an insightful delving into the psyche of what exactly it is to be a man, how masculinity still has a huge, valid part to play in modern society. Instead, it comes across as a snivelling apology piece that, for some reason, seeks to denigrate all men for enjoying traditionally masculine things. I can’t remember where I saw this first but I’m pretty sure it was the aforementioned Honey Badger Radio group:

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/07/grilling_feminism_and_masculinity_a_grand_unified_theory.html

The implication is simple – enjoying ‘traditionally’ masculine things like outdoor grilling is somehow worthy of guilt. It reduces traditional masculinity to a cliché, something to be embarrassed about, something that is, somehow, only furthering the notion of oppressive patriarchy or some other bullshit. Rather than simply enjoying grilling, the author postulates that it is in fact some kind of social construct that needs to be dismantled or something. It goes on to state that, in fact, it’s our society’s obsession with the ‘private’ and ‘public’ spaces that dictate this enjoyment – women are supposed to live in the ‘private’, men in the ‘public’. Essentially, it is implying that men who like to grill are simply conforming to harmful, societal gender norms that exclude women and only serve to foster a sense of ‘brohood’ that limits masculine development.

It couldn’t possibly be because men simply enjoy cooking outside, it’s because they’ve been indoctrinated to enjoy it by decade’s worth of advertising and socialisation. Don’t forget, this is a male feminist writing this, a piece that is all about masculine guilt and how, even subconsciously, something as simple as enjoying being a ‘grill master’ is actually enforcing the rigidity of gender roles. This is what I mean when I talk about the need to redefine and reshape masculinity. Now, it’s very presence is damaging.

The thing that I’m sure I’m supposed to take away from this is how damaging traditional gender roles are, how it’s damaging that ‘men make fire’ when it comes to outside grilling and BBQing. Instead, all I’m seeing is something that seeks to shame men for enjoying something that has a traditional history, in the same way some women are shamed for enjoying traditional lifestyles from previous decades. Just because something is traditional it doesn’t automatically become a negative thing now we’re living in, supposedly, enlightened times. How many women love 1950s fashion? I’m no fashionista so I’m not about to say that 50s chic is making a comeback but I’d say that it’s something very much admired by a large portion of my female friends.

Does liking 50s chic mean you endorse everything about that era? If you wear polka dot dresses with coiffed hair and thick, red lipstick do you hate all blacks and want to see them segregated? Of course not. Enjoying something from the past doesn’t mean you actively endorse all the other things that come from that era. In the same way, enjoying a BBQ in the back garden with your friends and a few beers does not mean you think the denigration and subjugation of women is ok, it simply means you enjoy an activity that has its roots in a past decade. Does enjoying grilling mean you don’t think women should also be allowed to enjoy grilling? God no.

I absolutely love rugby, it’s my favourite sport. Rugby has been around, in various forms, since the 1830s. In the 1830s the majority of the British population, men and women, couldn’t vote. Does my enjoyment of rugby mean I think the removal of voting rights are the best way to go? Of course not, in the same way that my enjoyment of 1980s British Heavy Metal doesn’t mean I see all female concert goers as potential groupies. I’m mature and intelligent enough to know that enjoyment of something specific does not condone everything else that belongs to that era.

Do some people still have outdated ideas about the roles of men and women? Of course, but it’s not as simple as saying ‘men who like to grill are buying into an age old system of oppression.’ That’s such a ludicrous way of thinking and treats individuality as something non-existent. When you say ‘I feel guilty that I like grilling because, in the past, it’s usually been exclusionary to women’ you are effectively rendering individual choice obsolete. You apply 50 year old social norms to a more progressive world. If you feel guilty about every single thing that has roots in a past era of time then you’d barely be able to enjoy anything!

So no, I don’t buy into the idea that enjoying something that is borne out of a different time period, something closely linked with masculinity, is inherently linked in with oppression. If women want to work the BBQ then that’s absolutely fine with me.

But it’s not just grilling that’s raising the ire of self-loathing feminists. Now, the act of marriage has been a sore point for feminists for a long, long time. ‘It harks back to the time when women were treated as property’ is the most common exclamation. I mean, if you don’t want to get married, that’s fine, but don’t ruin it for those who do want to get married. But, this time, feminism has instilled such a high degree of self-loathing in one feminist that he feels he needs to forgo his own happiness in order to appease his wife’s unhappiness! Yeah, it’s just as fucked as it sounds.

So there you go, a page of stuff I edited out in order to shorten the original blog. There may be some repetition as I had to rework everything once I’d edited this out, but generally not too much changed. The response I got to last week’s blog was pretty good, got a good number of shares and some insightful comments. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I posted it, I’m aware that not everyone can access my rather verbose ramblings but I find it hard to scale down what I write. As you can see, these blogs take a lot of effort to write and often go through edits and redrafts.

Hopefully you get something from a different perspective. If you do take something away then that’s awesome, that’s all I can ask for.

Until next time!

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