If New York City was on Facebook, our relationship status would say “It’s Complicated.” I love her, I do; I have idolized her since I was a kid, watching all my favorite cheesy eighties movies like Big Business, The Secret of My Success, and Big, over and over again. Our culture mythologizes her, paints her as the place to be, so full of potential. She might even be The One.
Everyone comes to New York seeking something very similar: belonging. Especially in the communities in which I run—the queer, the kinky, the subversive, the social change junkies—we have all come from other places, other more small-minded, limited, restrictive places, hoping that the Great Mythology of New York will hold true for us, too: “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” wrote Emma Lazarus in her famous poem “The New Colossus,” printed on the Statue of Liberty.
When Men Wear Skirts
December 31, 2009
Radical Masculinity for Carnal Nation
At a bar last week, catching up with some feminist queer old friends, I began discussing my ideas around Radical Masculinity and the theories I am putting forward about the ways masculinity needs work. I drunkenly argued that women have surpassed men with some of their access, range, and gender acceptance, only to be met with dismissive pshaws.
“Come on,” they said. We all come from a feminist, women-are-oppressed-in-this-patriarchal-hierarchy background. “Men aren’t oppressed!”
“It’s true!” I drunkenly argued. “Can women wear pants, acceptably, with no consequence?”
They laughed. Yes, of course.
“And can men wear skirts?” I pressed.
“The word you’re looking for is no.
“Can men have long hair and still be considered manly (outside of the heavy metal scene)? Can men bake cupcakes or needlepoint or grow sunflowers without taking shit from his buddies? Can a butch order a vanilla vodka and cranberry without getting sneered at? Can you name five positive, good traits about masculinity? Can you point to positive masculine role models? When men wear skirts, with no consequence, with no backlash, with full acceptance, then I’ll accept that we’ve reclaimed and revalued femininity and masculinity to the same extent.”
I was ranting, it’s true. But the point still remains: masculinity has a long way to go. Masculine people still need social permission to be able to pursue the wide range of interests or activities or personal tastes that are (for the most part, though not without caveats) already available to women.
An article courtesy of Abiola Abrams,
Sinclair Sexmith rocks. We first met Mr. Sexsmith when we both participated in Shira Tarrant’s Feminist Sex reading at Bluestockings Bookstore in New York along with activist-writer Audacia Ray. She’s also in the NY Sex Blogger Calendar to benefit Sex Work Awareness, and will be taking the stage on December 15th at the premiere night of our Abiola’s Kiss and Tell Reading Series at Madame X.
How to Make Masculinity Stop Hurting
Radical Masculinity column at Carnal Nation
November 11, 2009
My dad’s best friend died last week. Heart attack. He was 60, barely older than my dad, not old enough for his heart to give way. They’ve been friends for 35 years, longer than I’ve been alive. I got a heartbreaking email from my father about how they met, where they’d traveled together, and his favorite joke (What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything).
In his eulogy, his son wrote that he was “a devoted family man, one who extended the term to cover a great many individuals, supporting and caring for those who needed him.”
And I thought, that’s radical masculinity.
How does one learn how to be that? How do you grow up into a masculinity, a maleness, an adult manhood, despite this culture’s obsession with bad boys and lunkheads, to be a caring protective provider, to make effective, positive changes in this world, to build something that will last, to be generous with your heart and mind and love and time?
Traditional, limitational masculinity says don’t talk about your feelings. That masculinity says be strong all the time. It says a “real” man is tough, and the worst thing you can be is a sissy, a pussy, a girl, feminine, weak.
Radical masculinity says: I am listening. Who do you want to be?
A Manifesto for Radical Masculinity
Radical Masculinity column at Carnal Nation
September 30, 2009
Remember back in the Spring of 2009 when two young boys committed suicide within a week of each other, both eleven years old? Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Massachusetts and Jaheem Herrera of Georgia were both being subjected to unbearable anti-gay bullying at school. Whether or not these boys were actually gay, using homophobia to police masculinity is practically the oldest trick in the book. In the aftermath of these suicides, and in the discussions that ensued on the Web and in print, there was extensive lip service given to gender and the inevitable complaint that boys have it so hard, that feminism has stripped men of their manliness, that men don’t know how to be men anymore, that we’ve got a Crisis In Masculinity.
That might seem like anti-feminist rhetoric, but I agree with it—at least in part. I agree that masculinity is changing, for some in dramatic, drastic ways. I have witnessed and observed cultural changes around the masculine and male gender roles which are shifting, yes, as a direct result of the recent feminist and other gendered social change movements.
Pick up Visible: A Femmethology Volumes I and II at your local independent queer feminist radical bookstore, if you want them to be around next year, or, if you must, on Amazon.