Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding the positive in masculinity

With the way gender relations are these days its extremely easy to demonize masculinity and only highlight the negative things associated with it (and even try to imply that such negative things are inherent in masculinity).

I'm sure there are those that think misogyny is an integral part of masculinity and what it is to be a man. Some who believe that a man must be the external provider (by that I mean providing by working mostly outside the home whereas women are traditionally expected to work inside the home or an internal provider) is an inherent part of their masculinity. Violence is often associated with being male. And I'm sure the list of negatives could go on.

Anybody care to think of some positive things associated with being male or embracing masculinity? Not quite so easy eh?

Personally I been wondering for a while if anyone else was going to ever take enough time from attacking the male image to ask this and it seems that Courtney E. Martin has gotten around to asking that.

Its real easy to point out the bad things about masculinity in an effort to change them but at the same time current positives must be nurtured and new positives introduced if there are any. And big part of nurturing the positives* is examine the basis behind them. Let's take a look at two such positives.

Protecting people - Now at face value this seems like a good virtue for a man to have right? Yes but think about why the desire to protect people is attached to masculinity. For the most part as men we are expected to protect simply because we are men. In other words because we are men are supposed to protect others, namely women and children. Can you say a given virtue is a good thing to have when it is forcefully imposed upon you simply because of you gender? This is a part of thedisposability of men that dictates that a man's life is worth less than that of a woman or child. It would seem that to men that do take on harm for the sake of others would be doing so because it is the right thing to do rather than a gender imperative based on having one's worth based on gender.

Being an external provider for family - This is somewhat related to the desire to provide protection I mentioned above. As it has been for a very long time providing resources (ie; money) by from working outside the home is extremely demanding and is often dangerous**. So in an effort to protect the women from the demand and danger of being an external provider men have often taken upon themselves to work outside the home. At a quick glance this sounds like a noble deed on the part of such men but if you think about it how many men have taken on this demand, danger, and burden simply because they figured that since they are men it is their gender based duty to so?

These are some of the things that while should be included in a new masculinity, as long they examined to make sure they are included for the right reasons.

So Courtney does bring up what is a crucial part to redefining masculinity and an important goal for the men's movement (which she spends a paragraph attacking and painting feminists be the poor innocent victims that have never done anything wrong).

* - Now after reading these some of you may want to say, "But Danny these are parts of femininity as well." Well that is true but I'm talking about masculinity. On the other hand some of you may say, "But Danny these are parts of being a good person." Well that is true as well but along with being a good person I am also a masculine person and these values are good to have whether one embraces masculinity, femininity, neither, or some of both.

** - Now his is not to say that being an internal provider is free of demand and danger. Just pointing out how demanding and dangerous being an external provider is and quite frankly while the demand can be the same I think it can be safely said that the danger is higher for external providers.