What about the menz (day)?

Every year on International Women’s Day I have this little ritual where I defriend everyone on my Facebook and Twitter who posts WHY ISN’T THERE AN INTERNATIONAL MENS DAY!!!!

Because, you know, there is. It’s today. And if any of those dudes actually gave a fuck about issues that concern men, they would know about it. But basically no one knows about it, for whatever reason. So every year, on International Men’s Day, I have this little ritual where I post links and articles about issues that concern men.

Some of the posts I made last year:

So I make these posts and some people reply and say “There’s an International Men’s Day?” and we usually have a good conversation about it all. Today I went online and not only does everyone know that it’s International Men’s Day, but everyone is pretty upset about it. My friends list is full of people I know — people who do great gender activism that I respect — comparing it to white pride month, saying if you make Men’s Day posts you’re clearly sexist or an MRA, and all kinds of super snarky super dismissive bullshit. I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to wake up and read this over and over again, especially coming from people who usually have great analysis. I get that MRAs are shitty and there’s a knee-jerk reaction for people. But when we discuss issues that people respond emotionally to (like privilege), we ask that they take a moment to think through their knee-jerk reaction, and to look at what people are actually saying.

Here are some things that are true:

  • Some men are marginalized within our prevailing male culture.
  • A lot of men are victims of violence from within male culture.
  • A lot of men kill themselves for reasons that have to do with male culture.
  • A lot of boys drop out of school for reasons that have to do with male culture.
  • A lot of gay kids get the shit kicked out of them for reasons that have to do with male culture.

It’s not International Men’s Rights Day. It’s not International Male Pride Day. None of these issues are in any way adversarial towards women’s issues. This year’s focus is keeping men and boys safe. Keeping them safe by trying to address suicide, by fighting our culture’s expectations and complacence on the issue of men and violence, by addressing avoidable illnesses and death, and by examining how we perceive fatherhood and male role models. These are all positive, good things.

When men come into a feminist space and start saying WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ WHAT ABOUT THESE ISSUES, they get rightly told to scram and find their own spaces to have those conversations. So here it is. It’s International Men’s Day. If we can’t, today of all days, have a rational conversation about men’s issues without being pre-emptively snarked, what the fuck is the point in trying? Because the MRAs are just going to see it as more evidence of the Vast Feminist Conspiracy Against Men or whatever, and they’re going to double-down.

The only people that are going to get silenced are the people who actually give a shit what our feminist sisters think. I know I don’t have the will or the emotional fortitude to clean the well that the MRAs are poisoning.

Woman Boss May Lower Men’s Pay, Prestige

Woman Boss May Lower Men’s Pay, Prestige:

So guys who work for either a) high-powered women, or b) men who are in what are perceived as “women’s jobs,” are viewed as less manly, and this impacts both their social standing and earnings potential. There’s a price to be paid for being a trailblazer; for men, there’s also a price to be paid for working for one.

Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising if you think about it for a minute. Still total garbage, though.

Clearly, I need to wear more garters

A Man’s Guide to Socks:

While garters are considered rather old fashioned, they can be quite useful if your socks keep falling down as they keep you from tugging them back up all day long.

Socks aren’t the first item in our wardrobe we give thought to; however, they are an important part of a man’s clothing. Like a weak link in a chain, poor quality socks matched with a high quality suit and shoes risks weakening the strength of your entire presentation. And they can keep your feet nice and comfortable whether you’re walking into a boardroom or hiking up a mountain. Understand your needs, work within your budget, and be prepared for whatever life throws at your feet.

On masculinity

I wrote this reply to a question posed on LiveJournal asking about the contemporary definitions of masculinity, and what (if anything) separates the masculine from the feminine. No one responded over there, so I’m reposting it here, because I’m interested in other people’s thoughts on the subject.

Do not reply to this post to argue about feminism.

I suspect that there’s a lot to be said on this topic with regards to fatherhood, but I don’t have any experience in that area to draw on.

There are a few different questions here, I think.

1: What is the contemporary definition of masculine?
2: Can you construct a contemporary definition of masculine, using positive traits that are exclusive to men?
3: What traits should be deferred to men so as to consider those traits exclusively masculine?

The answer to the first question isn’t terribly flattering, and the nature of the second question makes it impossible to answer without being sexist (as it is equivalent to asking “what positive traits do women lack?”).

Personally, I don’t agree that a trait can only be ascribed to one or not the other in order for it to be masculine/feminine, because the context of the male experience and the female experience are so different that a trait (let’s say, promiscuity, or humility) is not the same thing for a man that it is for a woman. Saying that humility is a masculine trait might be positive, because to be humble men may have to recognize their own male privilege. Saying that humility is a feminine trait might be negative, because it’s morally elevating a symptom of oppression.

This article is interesting, I think. It makes a lot of positive “men are” declarations about men that would be totally unremarkable status quo statements if said about women, (A man doesn’t point out that he did the dishes. A man looks out for children. Makes them stand behind him. A man can tell you he was wrong. That he did wrong. That he planned to.) and a number of fairly provocative statements that I don’t think translate as easily, for better or for worse. (Maybe he never has, and maybe he never will, but a man figures he can knock someone, somewhere, on his ass. A man knows how to lose an afternoon. Drinking, playing Grand Theft Auto, driving aimlessly, shooting pool. A man fantasizes that kung fu lives deep inside him somewhere. A man knows how to sneak a look at cleavage and doesn’t care if he gets busted once in a while.)

Personally, I don’t think contemporary society is terribly interested in buying into the idea of positive masculinity. It’s dangerous to say “this is male, this is good” if you’re adverse to the idea of inferring something bad about being not-male.

Obamasculation

Are you a Republican? Libertarian (ha-ha!)? Did you feel emasculated after Obama won? Maybe you feel a little less virile, a little less of a man?

As it turns out, you are!

election_testosterone

The present study investigated voters’ testosterone responses to the outcome of the 2008 United States Presidential election. 183 participants provided multiple saliva samples before and after the winner was announced on Election Night. The results show that male Barack Obama voters (winners) had stable post-outcome testosterone levels, whereas testosterone levels dropped in male John McCain and Robert Barr voters (losers).

Wired has an oversimplified assessment of the study’s results, but the findings are clear:

Male voters exhibit biological responses to the realignment of a country’s dominance hierarchy as if they participated in an interpersonal dominance contest. […] Moreover, since the dominance hierarchy shift following a presidential election is stable for 4 years, the stress of having one’s political party lose control of executive policy decisions could plausibly lead to continued testosterone suppression in males.