Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

Posts tagged ‘masculinity’

Why do people want to police masculinity?

I came across a link recently on CNN.com titled “Carolla: Men are becoming ‘chicks.’” It was an interview on “Parker Spitzer” in which comedian Adam Carolla says:

“I think there’s a reason why we’re different, and it’s mostly about the kids. I mean, it’s mostly about saying here’s dad, and here’s mom, not here’s blaahhh.”

“Blaahhh” in this case is an entity where the father is indistinguishable from the mother. His point seemed to suggest that boys and girls are biologically different, and any effort to make men more feminine was an endeavor doomed to fail. His example was giving a boy a doll to play with. He said it’s “BS” that boys, if given the chance, would be equally as likely to play with a doll as with a truck or another typical “boy” toy.

Guess what, Carolla? Just because your son would rather play with GI Joe doesn’t mean your neighbor’s son wouldn’t rather play with a Barbie. Just because your daughter likes her baby doll doesn’t mean your co-worker’s daughter wouldn’t prefer an Erector Set. You know why? As you pointed out, people are different.

I’m curious to know what Carolla’s definition of a man is. Is it a man who doesn’t help his wife with a newborn baby? Never tells his kids that he loves them? Doesn’t help them with their homework or volunteer at their schools? Spends all of his free time drinking beer with his buddies, criticizing the old battle ax at home?

That’s a very limiting definition of a man. And if it’s OK to tell your kids you love them, but not show affection in public, who decides that? Who gets to say, “It’s manly to take care of your wife after she’s had surgery, but it’s not manly to tell anyone you’re doing it”? Where do we draw the line?

I’ll give you an example of someone who I think is an awesome representative of a so-called “feminine” masculinity.

Scott Fujita advocates for gay rights issues. He recently co-wrote an editorial with Congressman Michael Honda urging legislation that would allow immigrant families to stay together. He has a master’s degree in education and wants to be a schoolteacher. He’s active on behalf of breast cancer awareness because his mother is a survivor. He’s married with two young daughters.

He’s also a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and has played in the NFL for eight years.

What do you say to that, Carolla? Do you consider Scott Fujita a “real” man? How does he fit into your narrow view of gender binaries?

There’s another recent example that fits this topic. A woman stood up in support of her 5-year-old son, “Boo” (not his real name), dressing as Daphne from “Scooby Doo” for Halloween.

Her blog about the costume, “My son is gay,” has mostly received positive and supportive comments. However, there are the usual nasty trolls who said things such as

“your son looks like he has issues as do you get help asap looney you’re a fucking horrible mother”

“ur sendin ur son to hel!! read ur bible like a good christian and see, here I will read it for u:

Leviticus 20:13: ‘A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed’”

“Congrats, you’ve successfully made your kid a head case for years to come. It’s liberal douches like yourself who ruin a boy’s life. What’s next? Maybe some breast implants? Maybe he’ll act too unruly and you’ll shove some ADD/ADHD meds down his throat.

I hope they take your son away from you and give him to won’t mentally scar him for life.”

First of all, wearing a girl’s costume does not make this little boy gay. He’s 5! He has no concept of sexuality, only what he likes and doesn’t like. What I think is awesome, beyond the fact the mother loves her son unconditionally, is that her son thinks it’s cool to be a girl. Maybe someday he’ll change his mind, but when was the last time a boy you know expressed such a sentiment? More often it’s phrases such as “you throw like a girl” or “mama’s boy” being thrown around.

I have no idea if Boo will turn out to be gay. Lucky for him, his mom doesn’t care either way. But what I hope sticks with him is a respect and admiration for girls and women. How can that be a bad thing?

Secondly, it’s this kind of attitude that leads to bullying, and in extreme cases, death. Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, and way too many other people have died because other people didn’t approve of the ways they were living their lives. What business is it of theirs? Why do they care?

Another sad example is the death of 16-month-old Roy Anthonio Jones III. The toddler was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend, who was “trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl.” As Samhita at Feministing says, crimes such as this are “rooted in the belief that there are only two genders and there are only two distinct ways to perform those genders.”

In the end, the people I feel the worst for are Adam Carolla’s kids. What’s going to happen if one of them comes out to him? Or his son wants to stay home to raise his kids? Or his daughter wants to stay single to devote herself to career? Is he going to support them no matter what?

So here’s my question to people like Carolla: Why are you so threatened by nontraditional masculinity?