Jessica linked to a Time Magazine article describing how masculinity is “a delicate flower.” She then commented, “And this is why patriarchy hurts men, too; by requiring that masculinity be proven to be different, better, and above femininity.” Later, in explanation, she commented: “The idea that men must prove their masculinity is an example of how patriarchy hurts men. For example, an artistic, skinny boy being called a “faggot” because he doesn’t live up to the stereotypical standard of masculinity, regardless of his orientation. A girl playing with trucks is a tomboy but a boy playing with dolls means there’s something direly wrong with him. The same logic is in this article.”
I’m feeling in a particularly spunky mood, so you are not going to read nice, balanced Joy today. You are going to read annoyed, sarcastic Joy. With that caveat and Trespassers Will sign posted, read on.
[expand title="Click the arrow to continue reading."]I first took issue with the “studies” this article highlights. Why? Because they are stupid. Read:
[T]he researchers set up an experiment to threaten men’s masculinity — by asking them to braid hair. (A control group braided a rope.) After they had completed the braiding, the men were offered a choice of punching a bag or solving a puzzle. Those who braided hair were more likely than men who got the rope to punch the bag; in a follow-up experiment in which both groups were allowed to punch a pad, the hair-braiders punched harder.
Ok. They wanted to threaten masculinity and so asked men to braid hair? How is braiding hair automatically defined as a threat to masculinity? Unfamiliar and awkward to thick fingers, maybe, but inherently masculinity-threatening? Why didn’t they instead ask men to liplock with other men? Right, because we can’t acknowledge that something like that might threaten men’s masculinity. Besides, masculinity is kind of fluid. At least, when we want it to be, such as for purposes of endorsing homosexuality and nongenderedness. Not when we want to sit around postulating about how delicate and threatened men are.
Pish posh. I really don’t know how the conclusion these researchers claim actually follows from the absurd situational study they conducted.
And, still, I have no idea why this has anything to do with ‘patriarchy’—understood here, of course, as that gender-studies buzzword which should conjure up in your mind all manner of bugbears like bloody-sacrifice-giving Abraham, those evil male oppressors who treated women like slaves throughout the centuries, Chris Brown, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course: the world really needs men like Al Bundy and Homer Simpson, instead! Yes, this sort of patriarchy, not the simple dictionary definition of societies and families largely led by men.
Which, by the way, what are the alternatives? Matriarchy and egalitarianism, I suppose. Matriarchy: well, have any of you ever seen a domineering, household-running woman? Yeah, I think they might be worse than domineering men. At least on par. Egaltarianism, ok. We can talk about that later. But let’s get back to the evil patriarchy.
Apparently, male-led societies tend to decrease the number of doll-playing sons (although this is assumed, not proven, by either our friend Jessica or the article she uses to springboard this comment). Again, not sure what’s so bad about that, unless doll-playing sons are forced to sacrifice the dolls to fire and eat their charred entrails in punishment. Then, again, while the study purports to show differences between men and women, Jessica uses it to explain why we shouldn’t necessarily note or assume these differences.
So, really, which is it? Are men and women different or not? Is that good or bad? Because, really, no one should get away with just labeling something ‘patriarchical’ and automatically getting all listeners to join her in the chorus of automatic, empty-headed boos.
Image by Philo Nordlund.[/expand]