Archive for the ‘Misogyny’ category

Masculinity of the Month: Mel Gibson

July 26, 2010

The last few ‘Masculinity of the Month’ posts I’ve done, have been somewhat or mostly approving of the type of masculinity represented. This month, less so.

Or Not.

Mel Gibson as an actor (and it seems increasingly, it seems, in real life) embodies a spectacularly retrogressive type of masculinity. His films are almost to a fault, of the single-minded bloody vengeance type – and his personal life, as has been extensively covered in public, appears to have large doses or racism, misogyny, and general hate and anger.

I’ve got to say I’m not hugely surprised by any of this, and I think that the example of Mr Gibson is not particularly out of the norm, except in that he is famous and his comments are on record, meaning it gets press coverage. But what’s kinda nice is that this is getting coverage, and the coverage (except for the usual suspects, like Australia’s finest far right columnist) is pretty condemning of Mr Gibson’s actions, and more importantly, attitudes.

So, what do you think, does the criticism of men like Mel, and to a lesser extent, Tom Cruise, mean anything significant in terms of broader shifts of what is acceptable masculine identity, or is it oppressive hegemonic business as usual in man land? Does the tarnishing of once great masculine icons represent genuine change, or just the cycle of fashion?

Reading: Another piece on Feminist Men.

March 17, 2010

Jeez, what’s going on at the moment? So many male feminist articles. Or, maybe I’m just paying attention now.

Anyway, this article here is another good look at the nuances of men and feminism. And from a Melbourne writer no less (yay).

I’ve spoken here before on my thoughts on men feminism and nomenclature – I tend to go for the clear, yet at times less problematic pro-feminist. I’ve also said before, (and likely will again) that it’s so great to see people and people engaged in feminist discourse recognising that men have a valuable role to play in working towards equality.

Dealing with a Crisis

October 23, 2009

As I’ve said earlier, a common refrain in contemporary discussions on masculinity is that in some form of crisis, that men have lost their way, and become in various ways, or depending who you listen to, emasculated, feminised or in some other way, less “manly”. – For those interested in a readable book dealing with this mid twentieth century phenomenon – Susan Faludi’s Stiffed  is an interesting and informative read on the topic.

Two websites that also address the issue are the Art Of Manliness which I have been reading on and off for a year or so. The other one only came to my attention yesterday (Thanks Kate) and is called The Spearhead. (WARNING: Before clicking The Spearhead link – be advised that the content is potentially triggering and generally hateful – especially the comments)

Here is an excerpt from the AoM website –  their rationale

“My idea for the Art of Manliness came about as I was reading Men’s Health magazine. It seemed to me that the magazine’s contents were continually going downhill, with more and more articles about sex and how to get six pack abs. Was this all there was to being a man?
And as I looked around at the men my age, it seemed to me that many were shirking responsibility and refusing to grow up. They had lost the confidence, focus, skills, and virtues that men of the past had embodied and were a little lost. The feminism movement did some great things, but it also made men confused about their role and no longer proud of the virtues of manliness. This, coupled with the fact that many men were raised without the influence of a good father, has left a generation adrift as to what it means to be an honorable, well-rounded man.”
And the equivalent section from The Spearhead website
“Over the last few years, it has become increasingly obvious that American men — particularly those of the post-boomer generations — have fallen into a cultural gap. Our voice is barely a whisper in the traditional media, we are consistently portrayed as worthless buffoons and advertisers ignore us….What sets our movement apart is that many men, because of the real injustices so many of us have faced first-hand, have come to a common awareness that there are serious political, legal and cultural problems that plague men in our society….Rather than engaging in status displays of conspicuous righteousness, we are raising our voices in defense of ourselves, our families and our fellow men.”
So. These sites are quite different; AoM has a lot of lifestyle content, and talks a fair bit about dress and grooming etc. but still within the context of  ‘becoming a better man’ – their idea of a better man is a very traditional, early twentieth century idea, and like all things nostalgic, I can see the appeal. AoM does not explicitly validate all the patriarchal, sexist etc.  aspects of masculinity that we associate with that time – and it has a strong focus on empowerment, through skill building and building meaningful relationships. This article is a nice example.
Compared to this The Spearhead is, in my opinion, thinly veiled hate speech and misogyny of the worst, pseudo-objective, kind. While they deny that they are an activist website (here) I have rarely read such disgusting, inflammatory and vitriolic words on the internet or elsewhere. And while they are more explicit and overt in their hate, I think this attitude, and their rationale is increasingly common among men.
Both these sites deal with a perceived crisis (As I’ve already stated on this blog I tend to disagree with that concept), and there is a lot of subtextual anxiety, fear & anger on these sites. And while I disagree with the underlying ideology and thesis of both sites, it is with The Spearhead that I object to massively.
AoM, as a site, has an active community and a strong emphasis on self empowerment and behavior change. If you’re going to use the internet to create and amend masculine identity AoM is a pretty good way of doing it, a broad range of content, from the lighthearted and superficial, to content relating to improving attitudes and relationships. it’s not a type of masculinity I love, but I can see where it’s coming from socially and it’s appeal, and I think it’s coming from a perspective of respect and equality.
The Spearhead on the other hand, does not attempt to rectify the perceived ‘problems’ through meaningful self change, preferring to espouse an easier message of opposition to all who have done them wrong, with feminists and women uppermost on that list. I am finding it difficult to come up with any more cogent analysis of that site, because it is making me so angry. So I will stop.