Reading: Courtney Martin on young men engaging with masculinity
I’ve been reading this article on The American Prospect. It’s a good write up on increasing engagement of younger men with gender activism, and particularly how young men are trying to negotiate new understandings and relationships with masculinity, traditional or other.
I guess it describes pretty much what I’d like this blog to be, and by extension, it describes people like me.
It’s really good that positive ideas of masculinity are getting attention recently, but I’d take a slight issue with one point.
They’re also not particularly effective in imagining what they do want to be….But what are these young men saying yes too? We’ve all failed to envision an alternative.
It is clearly easier to define oneself in opposition, and indeed opposition to misogynist and harmful ideas and practices is a great activist goal, but I don’t think it necessarily follows that young men are directionless and unclear as to what constitutes positive masculine identity. To draw an obvious parallel – Feminism isn’t and has never been, homogenous.
I’d agree with what Courtney Martin is saying in regard to a notable lack of highly visible examples of respectful masculinity. I certainly can’t think of any of the top of my head, except perhaps (probably only recognisable to the Australians reading) Matt Preston, but even this example is problematic.
I’d like to suggest that while high profile examples of non-hegemonic masculine identity are needed, perhaps a more fruitful place for meaningful examples of positive masculinities are those around us, and that engaging in conversations with those we know might lead to positive change around masculinity and more general issues of gender.
EDIT: I’ve just come across this really excellent summary on of both the Courtney Martin article and the National Conference for Campus-Based Men’s Gender Equality and Anti-Violence Groups. It’s from Feminists For Choice and I thought I’d add it in here.