Masculinity and the Feminism of Simplicity, Part Two

Masculinity and masculine roles – and by extension, feminine roles – are interwined with earning a salary or wage. A man is a man if he earns enough to take of his family. A man isn’t a man if he becomes a house-husband. A woman works but her worth is less because she earns less for the same job. A woman of the elite classes can leave work to care for children, unpaid work that is devalued because she isn’t earning a wage.

A grayscale photo of a flower with only redAs I said yesterday, the women described in the opt-out generation want back in  value more than their children their own lifestyle. Discussions of being able to accomplish all the housework, child-rearing expectations and volunteer or work part-time by hiring a nanny suggest a zealous devotion to a wealthy lifestyle. Another way to reduce expectations of housework is to move to a smaller house.

But that would fly in the face of the roles – some might argue prisons – these men and women have constructed for themselves. They are rich! They want all their richness to be reflected in the house! Their car! The colleges their children go to! They work hard dammit! And super duper smart and come from the rich classes! How will anyone else know that if we can’t see it in their houses and cars and advanced degrees?!?

No retirement? That’s fine! Money is for spending. The more money, the more spendy one becomes.

My definition of feminism is: the belief that male and females are inherently equal and valuable at birth and that it is our social customs, mores and practices that create and continually reinvigorate sexism and misogyny.

One of the chief ways we recreate and reinforce sexism is through money. We earn money through exchanging our time for a certain number of dollars. Money equals our life’s energy. Masculinity is fundamentally defined as men – for the most part – exchanging the bulk of their life energy to earn money. This is a fundamental way in which masculinity is expressed in our culture. Femininity is more complicated. The American economy can’t function without working women and most families can’t function without both adults working, and many function with only the woman working. But we get anxious about the kids! These same kids we don’t really care about as a society, as evidenced by our singular devotion to military spending, we become protective of when women begin to work. But what about the kids?!? Kids are bad today because of those damn working mothers?!? Read more

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Masculinity and the Feminism of Simplicty, Part One

The latest NYTimes Magazine article tells us that the opt-out generation, the generation of women reaching the first stages of their peak earning potential who then left it all behind them to raise their kids, now want back in.

Is anyone surprised they’re having a hard time getting back in?

I didn’t think so.

Two of them seem baffled as to why they can’t get jobs, and one is resentful that she had to downsize from a mcmansion to a more raffish townhouse she calls an “apartment.” The author does a decent job of talking with husbands, and I actually found their stories more intriguing, because their situations speak to the state of American masculinity for not just the upper classes as well as possible directions for feminism in the 21st century.

One is utterly without shame when he locates the demise of his marriage to his wife getting a part-time job. “Once she started to work, she started to place more value in herself, and because she put more value in herself, she put herself in front of a lot of things — family, and ultimately, her marriage.”

The second husband is fortunately married to a woman who understands the sacrifices he has made for her, sacrifices that she is not able to make for him, financially. “Carrie said the situation was in many ways unfair: she had been able, twice, to live her dreams, with her husband’s encouragement, first as an at-home mother, then as a start-up visionary, while Stuart’s steady job made it all possible. And he had to adjust to the loss of her attention when she first shifted it to their daughters and then to her new job.” Read more

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Masculinity: T Cooper’s Real Man Adventures

Of all the measures of “real men”—length, girth, height, weight, stubble, testosterone, a helicopter pilot’s license—Cooper continually refers back to one: He is a man because he satisfies a woman as one. He spells this out in his contribution to Esquire’s “How to Be a Man” issue, which the magazine omitted “in favor of insights from guys like Tom Cruise.” He tells Esquire that “the unconditional acceptance from and love of the best woman in the world” has “probably made me more of a man than any of the other shit out there, including testosterone.

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Masculinity: What Does Self-Organizing Men Mean?

I am often asked what does the title of my book mean? Simply put, the title suggests we organize and re-organize our self-understanding as we move through our daily lives. We are conscious beings aware of both what we think about our circumstances at any given time. We are also conscious of what others think about us or how social norms might be functioning at any given time.

conscious masculinity. perhaps notAs a female-to-male transsexual, I have been given the gift of seeing gender as a collective set of opinions about the constellation of interactions within and between human biology, social roles, genetics and other things. I am conscious that masculinity, even conscious masculinity, is a social construction. I am aware, I am conscious, of this dynamic.

I choose to organize my sense of self within this consciousness. I am, therefore, self-organizing. I use my consciousness of myself and the world and the feedback I receive from the world and myself, to understand my masculinity.

This notion evolved in the book to: how do you question your masculinity? One need not be a female-to-male transsexual, or transgender, or even gender queer to engage in conscious masculinity. A person can be  a self-organizing man, if they say they are.

What is paramount to me as a writer, artist and human being is that I don’t let myself get away with anything. Not god nor science nor fate has made nor makes my masculinity. In collaboration with you, I make my masculinity. Through this path I have found liberation and collaboration with men, women, gender queers and other human beings committed to organizing our self-understanding in an evolutionary manner:

Something that once worked, may no longer work. So to the rubbish bin it goes, until it works again.

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