What is it to be masculine?

A recent photo essay poses the question. “What is it to be masculine?” Philadelphia photographer Chad States photographs his subjects in the poses and settings they find most masculine. He finds his subjects using craiglist and leaves his ads gender neutral so that women and transmen feel free to reply. While there are some interesting responses, sadly the philosopher, naked but for socks, reports that he is masculine because “I abandon women after taking their love.” Another of the men says he is masculine when he “dominates in his field of study.” Cool though that the project includes transmen, who notably sound less stupid.

19 thoughts on “What is it to be masculine?

  1. The ‘philosopher’ one was truly bizarre. In fairness to our profession, probably worth noting that he is most likely (at most) an undergraduate student of philosophy. He looks way too young to be faculty, and I have trouble imagining a grad student being dumb enough to pose in this way with that ridiculous caption.

  2. What I love about your comment, mm, is the implicature (probably unintended) that you’ve no problem imagining a faculty member being dumb enough to pose that way!

  3. Gott im Himmel, that philosopher is a painfully bad advertisement for the profession, though. Let me publicly thank Michael the Quasi-Gimp, for being less embarrassing!

  4. OK, here’s my guess. He’s a visiting grad student, possibly Icelandic, and he is participating in what he regards as hysterically vulgar American culture. He doesn’t care what people will think because he’s out of here soon.

    He also regards himself as bi-sexual, but in fact feels some anger over the fact that his self-image requires him to have sex with women. At the same time, he’s happy to advertise it. Much less self-reflective American men, as he sees it, tend to draw silly conclusions about sexuality.

  5. I would guess he’s one of those undergrads who studies philosophy only because he likes to think of himself as a person who studies philosophy. And he may also be one of those annoying types who yammers on incessantly about Nietzsche at the bar (because he thinks women are impressed by this) until you find yourself thinking, “dude, have you ever even read Nietzsche???”

  6. I was thinking the same thing as Rachel. In fact, I did a double-take because a few years ago in a second-year ethics course, I had a classmate who not only had that kind of entitled fratboy attitude – plus a bunch of the “Look at Me, I’m So Smart” using Greek words, and trying to be all Objectivist without ever using the name “Rand” – he also looked quite a bit like this dude.

  7. Umm, anyone else notice that (perhaps ironically) a book titled “Feminisms” is on the philosopher’s bookshelf to his right?

  8. One more thing. I sincerely doubt that the “philosopher” has successfully absconded with that many (unlucky) women’s love…that is, unless hetero women nowadays are into dingy socks, mule clogs, and great swaths of pubic hair.

  9. Well observed, Cpt. D! Am I the only one to have the thought “I’m so glad it’s not my book on that shelf!”?

  10. In one of the answers he gives in that article, he says:

    I intentionally leave it gender-neutral so males, females and transpeople feel free to respond. Most of the respondents are men, but a few are female and a few are trans.

    The photo essay is interesting, but I really don’t like the way this language sets up trans folks as having a different gender from ‘men’ and ‘women.’ Of course, some people do fall outside of that binary, but the (fairly common) suggestion that trans men, or women, are less men, or women, than cis ones is troubling. And I think that suggestion is here.

    (I made the same complaint when Bitch Phd posted the same link, but wanted to say it here too.)

  11. Just out of curiosity, hippocampa: why wouldn’t you do Nietzsche? Because of, as you understand them, his ideas? His remarks on women? His appearance? His sickliness?

    Since I’ve refrained from delving much deeper into his biography than what can be inferred from what he either promotes or betrays about himself in his writings, I’m particularly interested to see how an upcoming biography deals with the “puzzle” of “why this enemy of feminism preferred the company of feminist women.”

  12. Rob, he’s dead.
    But those other things you named sure don’t help foster any attraction for the guy.

  13. Another bio I may look to for insight into Nietzsche the person and women is Leslie Chamberlain’s Nietzsche in Turin. Not long ago, she wrote a fabulous piece in TLS (“Dear little soul: Heidegger’s marriage and womanizing reflect the coldness and impersonality at the centre of his philosophy”, May 15, pp. 14-15) about Heidegger’s extra-marital ways, including astonishing extended excerpts of letters, brimming with the tumid suggestiveness of his philosophical prose, to his wife and Arendt. The piece opens with the question: “Is it the shadow of the loveless Nietzsche that makes one so surprised to find Heidegger a womanizer?”

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