Sunday, March 15, 2015

How masculinity is like a white Christmas

I grew up in Los Angeles, and every winter it would snow--but only in Hollywood in front of the movie cameras.  We Los Angeles kids, we didn't really know what snow was like, but we knew very well it was supposed to snow in winter.  Also: Santa Claus is supposed to exist and kids are supposed to believe in him, even though he doesn't and I didn't.

Masculinity is also featured prominently on the movie screen.  It's about being the protagonist, shooting everything up, and getting the girl in the end.

Sometimes movies show masculinity and snow simultaneously.  From upcoming James Bond movie, Spectre.

If you ask feminists, they talk extensively about toxic masculinity, which is a collection of expectations of men that hurt men.  Men must always want to have sex, they must never show emotion, and they must solve problems with violence.

I have a hard time believing that this masculinity actually exists.  Next you'll tell me that snow is real!  I'll have you know, I grew up near the movie studios and I've seen what their "snow" looks like close up.

So, given that the masculinity we're presented in movies is totally fake and doesn't affect anyone, I'm left wondering what the hell real masculinity is like.

Here's a thing I used to think about men.  Men are not supposed to care how they look.  They are supposed to generate a random number every morning, and use it to select clothes from a nearly identical line-up of unremarkable clothing.  It turns out, this is a total lie.  Apparently, being a man means dressing up in a suit and tie on special occasions.  People pretend that this is a "neutral" costume, like practically not a costume at all!  I find this such a bizarre belief, that I've begun to question whether my own belief in "neutral" clothing might in fact be equally bizarre.

Here's a thing I used to think about manliness.  Being manly means being a jock.  But then it seems really puzzling why geeks, who are like anti-jocks, are made up entirely of men.  Well okay, there are geek women too, but I've been told there are so few of the real ones that it would be economically impossible for geek culture to ever cater to them.  I sure can't see any way out of this paradox, it's as airtight as a whistle.

Here's a thing I used to think about masculinity.  Masculinity means wanting sex, or at least being expected to want sex.  Except... apparently this is not true of Asian-American men?  It's baffling that my whole life I thought I was expected to fit into one stereotype, but apparently I've really been expected to fit into a different one.  Only, since I'm half-Asian, I guess somewhere between those two?  Gee, I'm glad all these expectations are as fake as snow or they would be quite confusing!

One thing I'm sure about is that there's no point in aspiring to be any more masculine than I happen to be already.  It would be like believing in a religion without knowing what the religion believes in.


miller said...

Airtight as a whistle!

miller said...

That link is pretty interesting, but only halfway true to my personal experience, biased as it is. I've seen all sorts of fetishization of Asian men, especially from straight women—of all races. I was really into J-rock in high school (the visual kei style specifically). People tended to interpret my interest as a sexual thing, and somehow concluded that I'm a lesbian (?) because I "liked" dudes who didn't match their image of what masculinity should be. And yet, my experience with my peers who also liked the same music as me was that they LOVED that same kind of masculinity, and definitely saw those artists as very sexual and hot.

There's also sometimes the stereotyping of Japanese men as hypersexual creeps. It's all very hard to figure out. I'm sure the desexualizing, feminine stereotypes exist, because I've had so many people give me crap for my music taste... but at the same time, I've seen plenty of fetishizing pulling in the other direction.

American movie/superhero/cowboy masculinity is gross to me. I associate overly muscular physiques with it and feel repulsed by that. I'm sure a lot of that is from trauma, but... yeah, I dunno. Toxic seems like a pretty good adjective for that fake-as-snow stuff. I like that analogy because it leaves room for real snow to exist somewhere else, even though it probably tastes nothing like the fake stuff.