Thursday, December 22, 2011

Clearly, If You Have Concerns about Stereotypical Masculinity, You Hate teh Menz

Recently, I wrote a piece about my concerns with stereotypical masculinity, which I feel promotes entitlement, violence, and misogyny. The post has gotten a little bit of traction and some attention from some men who write about healthy masculinity. In the short week it has existed, it has climbed into the top 10 most read posts on my blog. I knew it was only a matter of time before someone had a problem with it.

Before I dug into my analysis, I put a number of disclaimers, including:

I am in no way, shape, or form a man hater. I despise that stereotype of feminism. My favorite person in the world is a man as are some of my best friends. In fact, I advocate for a definition of feminism which is inclusive to all people. This topic, for me, isn't about any one man or "all men" (which is a statement which will always prove false.) Instead, it's about societal messages surrounding what it means "to be a man." So what I'm saying here is that if what I discuss isn't about you, don't make it about you.
Building on that, I think that us vs. them mentalities are destructive, overly simplified views of a much more complex reality, and ultimately counter productive. As such, my discussions of masculinity come from a place which sees sexism an obstacle to both men and women (in different ways) and isn't an attempt to place blame.

Despite trying to explain that I was only talking about my fears regarding stereotypical masculinity, and not "all men" or EVERY aspect of masculinity, and specifically not placing blame, I get this comment.
Well, I hope your "hypothetical future child" is female too, because given that your understanding of masculinity is purely negative in character, you would be a terrible mother to a little boy.
Like every feminist blogger no matter how small, I get trolls. As such, I have a pretty strict policy surrounding my commenting. If I feel your comment is trolling me, I will delete or ridicule it. This is my personal blog. I make no illusions that it is a community where I owe anyone their voice. If you feel very strongly about something I write, either comment respectfully or go spew your hatred on your own blog.

So naturally, this comment almost hit the trash can. On its face, there is no merit to the viewpoint presented. It's basically an attempt to insult me ("terrible mother" is often supposed to be the worst possible thing you can call a women, right?) and insinuate that I am a man hater. However, there is an underlying element to this comment that I would like to address. So rather than approve the comment and get into a potentially pointless discussion with this person, I'd like to just get it all out right here. (Although I feel I shouldn't have to given the extensive disclaimers I put on my original post. But I guess some people lack reading comprehension skills, so I'll put it out there again.)

My piece on the WORRIES I hold about masculinity wasn't intended to represent my full view of masculinity. It was a blog about the negative sides to stereotypical "manliness" and its dangerous implications for both boys and girls. I'm reiterating this because as I've said countless times, the stereotype of the man hating feminist is one which I utterly despise.

When I wrote the post, I didn't feel that I should have to list the positive things we traditionally associate with masculinity because society does that for us daily. But because apparently I am perceived to hold a "purely negative" view of  masculinity, here goes: strength, bravery, and honor to name a few. (But of course in my view, men and women should be able to exercise both their masculine and feminine qualities however they see fit.)

I'm sad that I have to write this. I'm sad that we still exist in a place where a female critique of masculinity is seen as a threat. But it's no surprise to me that this is the case. Instead of listening to me and thinking critically about my viewpoint, it's much easier to dismiss and belittle me.

In other news...congrats, trolls. You've earned your own topic label.

Edit: AH HA! I found out the story was picked up by a "men's rights" group where "thetrollking" (obviously) linked me. I won't direct you their way, because why contribute to their page views?

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