I can’t quite figure out what’s going on with “meggings” (leggings for men). Not because I don’t know why men would want to wear them; leggings are ridiculously comfortable, and who doesn’t like comfort? Besides which, it’s a relatively less-expensive way to add depth to your wardrobe than, say, buying a new pair of jeans. No; what I can’t figure out is why someone, who admits leggings are comfortable, doesn’t seem the slightest bit interested in questioning gender norms for the purposes of practicality, but rather reinforces them. A few articles like this have crossed my twitter feed the last couple of days, and I find it a bit amazing. Each one has included some concession that it would be nice to wear leggings (or carry a purse), but then just asserts that men must not be so “feminized.” I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. But I am.

Fuzzy feminist thinking

This is pretty unbelievable. Michael Calleri recounts how his relationship with the Niagra Falls Reporter came to an end when the new editor objected to publishing his movie reviews when the films in question featured strong female characters  (labeling Snow White and the Huntsman as one example of “fuzzy feminist thinking” that he found offensive).  The editor wrote:

If you care to write reviews where men act like good strong men and have a heroic inspiring influence on young people to build up their character (if there are such movies being made) i will be glad to publish these.

i am not interested in supporting the reversing of traditional gender roles.

i don’t want to associate the Niagara Falls Reporter with the trash of Hollywood and their ilk.

it is my opinion that hollywood has robbed america of its manliness and made us a nation of eunuchs who lacking all manliness welcome in the coming police state.

Horrifying, but kudos to Calleri.

Badassery Incarnate, pt2: Feeling Excluded When You’re Not a Straight White Dude (aka my time as a gamer)

When I watched “The Men Who Built America” trailer, I saw red partly because this is just one in a long line of trailers I’ve had to sit through where (often rich and/or straight) white men are running around doing badass things and after about the twentieth trailer it starts to feel like you are getting the message, “This is what badassery looks like. And if you don’t look like this–if you don’t see yourself in these people on the screen–then you are not capable of being a badass like they are.” And while it’s possible to identify with someone who doesn’t share your class, gender, race, sexuality, etc., it can be extra hard to when these trailers play up “This is a MASCULINE guy and this is a HIGH CLASS rich person and this is a EUROPEAN American.”

I had a pretty similar experience last year when I watched a trailer for the video game Dragon Age II. I’m an avid gamer who identifies strongly as a gamer and who is invested in gamer culture, so it felt like a slap in the face to see this series play into the same “by white men for white men” crap that currently permeates the majority of gamer culture–specifically the RPGs that I play. It’s fine for any one game to be by white men about white men. But when it’s game after game after game it’s hard to shake the feeling that, “hey, maybe you don’t belong here.” I got this same feeling when I ran around my high school spouting about how much I loved Fight Club until several different people told me, “Oh, I thought that movie was about masculinity.” Suddenly, I felt cut off from this thing that I love, that I identified with. It’s the feeling of This Is Not For You; this thing and you are mutually exclusive.

Here’s the DA II trailer I got all in a huff about:

For some context, Dragon Age: Origins (the first game in the series) was amazing in that you could play as a woman or a man, straight, bi, or gay, and occupy a whole host of different socio-economic positions (commoner, noble, royal, outcast, ward of the state (sorta), etc). On my first play through, my character was from an inner-city ghetto (albeit a white, elfish one) and I had to basically get recruited into a special ops military group (to save me from execution) after I killed a noble who raped my friend and killed my fiancee because he (the noble) felt entitled to a prima nocta. As far as video games go, the gender/class/sexuality consciousness of DAO was astounding. (Not perfect–but definitely above the norm.)

That’s why it was an extra kick in the gut for the trailer of DA II to represent itself–and all the different kinds of heroes you can play as–with the same old trope of, “Here’s you–the beefy nordic-looking male fighter.”

(I’m also pissed that they used the voice of Flemeth–one of the most bad ass characters of the series who is supposed to be this witch of mythic status who may literally eat men’s souls–and she’s sitting there narrating about how there are a few “men” who manage to grab destiny by the balls. WTF.  It’s such a weird dissonance to realize, this is not what this character would say.  This is a bunch of men putting words into this woman’s mouth.  Flemeth, the actual character, would instead say something like this: ‘Some men change the world forever.  Then I change into a dragon and eat them.  Because that’s how I roll.’)

Badassery Incarnate, pt 1: Glorifying Rich White Men (And Erasing Everybody Else)

While visiting Los Angeles last week, I saw the trailer below during the previews for a movie. As I sat there in the darkened theater, I thought to myself, “Self.  You are writing a blog post about this when you get back to the East Coast.”

I present to you: The Men Who Built America

In the trailer, this tag line appears: “America wasn’t discovered. It was built.” It then flashes between depictions of men like Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, Rockefeller, Ford, Edison (I assume), and Carnegie–all of them rocking suits and  yelling various things which peg them as badass, ruthless, and unaplogetic capitalists.
There’s a lot to talk about here. (after the jump)

Read More »

Let’s Say It Together: Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too (Airplane Edition)

The Consumerist has a story from a man (who–for extra irony–happens to be a nurse who already goes through background checks to make sure he can work around children) who was asked to switch seats on a plane because it’s the airline’s policy not to have men sit next to unaccompanied minors. …For the minor’s safety. (And it’s not just this airline with such a policy.)


This reminds me of Gloria Steinem’s quote,

“We know that we can do what men can do, but we still don’t know that men can do what women can do. That’s absolutely crucial. We can’t go on doing two jobs.”


Sometimes when I’m out walking and pass by a playground, I like to pause and watch the kids play because it brings back a lot of memories of the playgrounds I loved as a kid (especially this one big wooden one that almost looked like a castle).  It’s so sad though, to think about how for so many men, if they were to pause as I do and look wistfully out at kids scampering around, they would be viewed with suspicion and possibly even disgust.  I know I’m complacent in this, too: we get suspicious if a man takes any / too much of an interest in children.  (What is “just enough” interest in children?)
That is so messed up.

Is discrimination against gay men an example of a “second sexism”?

In his controversial book, The Second Sexism, David Benatar eschews analyses that see a structural element to kinds of discriminations, such as racism and sexism. Thus for him, the fact that gay men are more likely to be the target of violence than lesbians are (if that is indeed true) shows that gay men are discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation but also on the basis of the fact that they are male (p. 137). Another example of unjust discrimination against (some) men. End of story.

This clip, sent to us by its producer/participant gives us a clearer picture of what’s going on:

Thanks, Nicola Fonti

If you have trouble in viewing the video, try going to youtube.

Turkish FA to ban men from stadiums


The Turkish football association has come up with a radical solution for tackling hooliganism – by banning men from stadiums. Teams sanctioned for unruly behaviour by fans are instead only allowed to admit women and children aged under 12 to watch games.

On Tuesday, more than 41,000 women and children attended Fenerbahce’s match against Manisaspor in Istanbul.

Fenerbahce’s 1-1 draw with Manisapor kicked off after players from both teams hurled flowers at the fans, while the visitors were greeted with applause instead of the more customary loud jeers.

The home side’s captain, Alex de Sousa, said: “This memory will stay with me forever. It’s not always that you see so many women and children in one game.”

Maybe if they hurled flowers at the men, the men would be nice, too. Just a thought…

Read more here. (Thanks RW!)

Michelle Bachmann on Bullying

Representative Bachmann has criticized antibullying legislation, saying in 2006 that “there have always been bullies, always have been, always will be.”

“I just don’t know how we’re ever going to get to point of zero tolerance, and what does it mean?” Bachmann said during a 2006 Minnesota state legislature hearing. “What will be our definition of bullying? Will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression? Will it mean that what form of behavior will there be — will we be expecting boys to be girls?

Now that’s a toxic understanding of masculinity.

This is part of a discussion of the rash of teen suicides, many of them resulting from antigay bullying, in Bachmann’s district– and Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion that Bachmann should comment on them.

(Thanks, L!)

Infantile Gender-Deviance: Your Heartwarming Tale for the Day

Elp-son—who is four years old—loves to be pretty. His favourite colour is pink, he loves fairy wings and glitter and nail varnish and dresses and pretty hair clips and so on and so on. For as long as he’s been expressing preferences about dressing, this has been the case. Lately, he has started to complain that children at preschool are being nasty, taunting him and telling him off for wearing ‘girl clothes’. We were, of course, very nervous about the situation, and couldn’t really figure what to do. (Parents seem to care a lot about gender indoctrination; how could we fight the teaching the other children were getting at home?)

We’re friendly with another family at the preschool, whose three year old son J also likes being pretty, and has also had trouble, though his trouble, alarmingly, came from a teacher, not from other children! So, knowing that they were in a similar circumstance, we told them about elp-son’s troubles. J’s mother immediately sprung into action: she decided to organise a boys-being-pretty day, and got in contact with another mother whose son was keen to be a fairy. (This boy’s mother is a social psychologist, as it happens, and was very enthusiastic about flaunting gender norms!) This mother told her about yet another child in the class whose pretty impulses were being stifled. That boy’s parents were contacted. And his parents brought in yet another child, whose parents went shopping especially for the occasion.

To date, the boys-being-pretty day has somewhat crumbled, because the boys involved couldn’t wait for a specific day to wear their pretty clothes: they wanted to wear them right away!  So in effect, we’ve ended up with (at least) a boys-being-pretty week.

I can’t decide what aspect of these events is the most wonderful: the exuberant efforts of J’s mum on behalf of elp-son; or the fact that every parent who’s been approached so far has greeted the initiative with enthusiasm; or the fact that as it goes on, more and more little boys are jumping at the chance to finally be pretty. (No, to be honest, I know full well what aspect I like best: with any luck, my beautiful, wonderful, magical little child won’t be bullied in preschool any more!)

But don’t worry: gender is still innate. ;-)