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Author Topic: Manliness?
origami_jane
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I was watching the Colbert Report this afternoon, and Stephen did an interview with Harvey C. Mansfield, author of Manliness. I haven't read the book, but I feel like I should just so I can make a critique of it.

Personally, I don't believe in categorizing traits and abilities by sex. Women can be aggressive and stubborn just as much as men can be sensitive and empathic.

How can the presence of a particular set of sex organs dictate your personality? I don't think it can.

Anyway, what do you guys think about Manliness?--both the book and the concept.

[ 04-06-2006, 03:39 PM: Message edited by: origami_jane ]

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Beppie
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I think that "manliness," like "womanliness" is largely a cultural construct, although it can be pretty difficult to see that sometimes, particularly when you're talking about manliness. While things that mark "femininity" in our society usually involve explicitly doing something to our bodies-- shaving, hairstyling, makeup, specially tailored clothing-- there are relatively few things that most men will have to do to their bodies to be considered masculine.

Although men do feel social pressure to be certain ways (and this shouldn't be discredited), a man who does not attempt to live up to this ideal is far less likely to be considered unmasculine than a woman who doesn't try to live up to cultural ideals of femininity would be considered unfeminine. For instance, a man who refuses to shave his face and only wears plain, shapeless, simple clothing might be considered inappropriate for an professional office, but he won't be considered unmasculine. A woman who does the same, however, will be perceived as unfeminine (although she won't have a status as masculine either). Likewise, for instance, if a man goes bald, he may feel a little self-conscious about it, but if he chooses not to get a toupee, he's not considered unmanly in the way that a bald woman (and this is more common than you'd think) is considered unwomanly for not wearing a wig.
In order to be considered unmasculine, a man will usually have to explicitly adopt behaviours that are associated with femininity, while a woman who does not actively pursue the socially designated "goal" of femininity is considered unfeminine.

This is not to say that masculinity is all a matter of dress, but the way in which masculinity and femininity are inscribed onto our bodies. It's also an over-generalisation to say that men are never expected to modify their bodies-- generally, however, men who are expected to modify their bodies in order to retain their masculinity itself are men whose bodies give the impression of performing femininity-- for instance, a man whose voice does not drop.

I think that the way we (men and women) are expected to modify our appearance, or not modify it in order to perform gender is significant, because it gives the impression that masculinity is more "natural" than femininity, and this idea of "naturalness" is then transcribed onto other behaviours, and if a man does do something that is considered feminine, he is encouraged to "shed" that behaviour for his "natural" manly self. For instance, the perception that women are emotional and me are stoic-- the emotional side of things (a large part of it at least) is seen as a performance, while stoicism is seen as the appropriate, natural reaction to an event (even if it is, in fact, a huge performance). Also, the idea that men are courageous, while women are afraid more easily: a frightened man will be expected to "shed" his fear, as though it is something he has simply put on like an item of clothing.

So, to sum up: I think that the idea of "manliness" is a social construct that is presented in such a way as to make people think that it's natural.

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Gumdrop Girl
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here are some book reviews. i don't think the Colbert Report is the best way to evaluate the content of a book.

NY Times
Yeale Press

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origami_jane
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Oh, I read the NY Times' review already. I'd heard of the book a week or two ago, and then the Colbert Report reminded me of it, thus inspiring me to make a post.
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origami_jane
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I think Beppie makes several good points. On one of the blogs I frequent, people had started talking about femininity/masculinity. Women spoke of losing jobs strictly because they did not wear pantyhose to interviews or shave their legs. (Their interviewers even told them that.)

I just don't understand how Mansfield can make the claim that we live in a gender-neutral society when women still earn 20-something less cents on the dollar than men, are having their rights slashed right and left, etc. *shrugs*

But good points. *salutes*

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Heather
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quote:
Women spoke of losing jobs strictly because they did not wear pantyhose to interviews or shave their legs. (Their interviewers even told them that.)
Oh yeah: been there, done that, have the t-shirt.

And strictly anecdotally, one of the weirdest things I had happen to me once when that happened at a job (I was told if I did NOT wear a skirt and hose, I would be fired or have my pay docked) was that the male boss I had at the time was a self-identified "liberal, nice guy." Incidentally, the Muslim man who ran a shop next door, a man the other would constantly criticize for being "old world," blah, blah, blah, in overhearing the whole exchange, offered me a job at his jewelry shop on the spot making clear that he thought that was patently ludicrous.

Gender-neutral society? By the guy who wrote THIS book? Umm, okay. seems to me the title of his book alone illustrates quite clearly that we do not.

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Heather
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quote:
I think that the way we (men and women) are expected to modify our appearance, or not modify it in order to perform gender is significant, because it gives the impression that masculinity is more "natural" than femininity, and this idea of "naturalness" is then transcribed onto other behaviours, and if a man does do something that is considered feminine, he is encouraged to "shed" that behaviour for his "natural" manly self.
This, and..

quote:
In order to be considered unmasculine, a man will usually have to explicitly adopt behaviours that are associated with femininity, while a woman who does not actively pursue the socially designated "goal" of femininity is considered unfeminine
...that are SO on the money. Well spoken!

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origami_jane
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quote:
I was told if I did NOT wear a skirt and hose, I would be fired or have my pay docked.
That's one of the reasons why I liked my waitressing job, everyone wore the same uniform--including really comfortable Oxfordy-type dress shoes. But I still don't like how women are looked down upon for wearing pants with their suitjackets, etc. Hopefully university professors do not have to wear high heels, or I will be out of a future job.

I think I also read somewhere that wearing pantyhose doesn't let any air circulate around your privates and can cause problems. Am I misinformed or is that true?

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Heather
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No, that's true. We have pantyhose (and nylon lingerie, the whole lot of it) to thank for an AWFUL lot of yeast infections.

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daria319
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quote:
Originally posted by origami_jane:
quote:
I was told if I did NOT wear a skirt and hose, I would be fired or have my pay docked.
That's one of the reasons why I liked my waitressing job, everyone wore the same uniform--including really comfortable Oxfordy-type dress shoes. But I still don't like how women are looked down upon for wearing pants with their suitjackets, etc. Hopefully university professors do not have to wear high heels, or I will be out of a future job.

I think I also read somewhere that wearing pantyhose doesn't let any air circulate around your privates and can cause problems. Am I misinformed or is that true?

University professors (at least here) are asked to dress professionally, but that just means no jeans, no short skirts, no tank tops. Revealing/uncomfortable clothing is actually looked down upon, thankfully. Most of my professors wear khakis and t-shirts with funky sandals.

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likewhoa19
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You know, I think this is a really interesting debate. When I was little my mom told me it was easier to be a ''masculine'' woman than a ''feminine'' man, and that this is why babies who are born with ambiguous sex organs are usually surgically altered to look female. But I just disagree with this statement so strongly. In many parts of the country I have learned (grew up in midwest -now living in MA) that ''feminine'' men have their niche (metrosexual is popular). But more importantly, it is not easy to be either. I was teased horribly in jr high by guys and girls b/c I didn't shave (mother didn't allow it), no makeup, had short hair, wore baggy clothing, and have a boyish figure plus strong facial features. I do feel women are expected to fill a narrower slot than men, at least heterosexual women, but perhaps this depends A LOT on what part of the country you live in and your subculture.

[ 04-11-2006, 07:48 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Heather
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And even teasing is incredibly benign.

However, things like being able to put food on the table or not -- based NOT on how much one works, or how well one works, but solely on how one looks, in a SEXUAL ideal -- are a very big deal. Even the mere fact that on a dark street, a woman's figure, no matter how she dresses, can be fairly easy to distiinguish most of the time is no small thing, because what appears to be a woman is most often what a rapist or mugger will follow first. And none of these things have anything to do with what a woman's sexual orientation is, because the standards are generally being held up to fit heterosexual MALE ideals.

(Per the ambiguous sex organs thing, I don't know the exact rate of surgeries, but I DO know that that's more often a practical issue than anything else: it is easier to construct what looks like a vulva than what looks like a penis of normal size. So, your Mom's take on that is pretty off.)

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origami_jane
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Feminine men are now trendy, I think. Partly it plays on the idea that women want to "clean up their man," but most importantly, it means MONEY because cosmetics companies have a wider audience. Plus, "feminine" men look like models in magazines--an accepted social norm.

"Masculine" women do neither of those things. They don't feel the need to use cosmetics nor do they look like the accepted social norm. Society punishes people like that.

I'm sorry you had to go through that in Jr High. Kids can be so intolerant like that. I was pretty much in the same boat with you. Although I've always had a somewhat "matronly" figure (large bust, wide hips), I come from what insiders call "the Hair Belt." And it sucked. Classmates at my old school teased me so much about my arm hair that I would wear long sleeves on 90+ degree days.

But my old school was (without making generalizations) a mainly white, blue-collar town. My new school is in a college town, we have tons of non-white students, and many of the kids are children of professors. I guess because of that diversity, others are more accepting of differences.

These two towns are 3 miles apart.

Edit: Amen to Miz Scarlet's post too.

[ 04-11-2006, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: origami_jane ]

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likewhoa19
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Well, I agree teasing is benign compared to outright assault. I also agree survival through ability to get food, etc. should always be the most important human right in all societies.

But when I say teasing, I mean insults yelled out loud at me across the hallway whenever kids saw me like ''there goes the man!'', having very few friends, and when I'd try to dress to look more ''feminine'' by wearing tight pants or skirts a couple of guys would grab at me and then call me ugly, another guy said he'd go to a dance with me and then didn't show up. A majority of people participated in these behaviors. I was severely depressed, and it probably has some affect on my current difficulties (5 yrs later) functioning in society when it comes to relationships, so I do think extreme teasing can do violence to individuals. I think depression and suicide in youth are considerable concerns up there with not being paid as well as you would be as a ''socially acceptable'' woman.

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Heather
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Hey, teasing is bad news.

Interestingly, my partner and I recently were debating whether or not teasing is verbal violence, and, by defintion, malicious in intent. I'm Buddhist, so suffice it to say, my perspective on this is absolutely influenced by that, and I'm of the mind that it IS a form of violence.

So, I'd absolutely agree with you, especially when you consider that for many women in that position, that teasing is PARTNERED with forms of discrimination which also put or keep them in poverty, with sexual violence, the whole lot.

And yeah: I don't imagine how teasing -- for any gender -- could NOT contribute to depression. While I wouldn't personally say it is AS serious as poverty, as dealing with rape (when a person isn't dealing with depression as well -- when we can separate those), I would say it's certainly a concern.

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truth1
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Manliness is a very complex issue.

Actually the real issue is masculinity --- and it is the most important factor is a masculine gendered man's life.

It is both a natural/ biological phenomenon as well as a social one. I refer to the first as 'natural masculinity' and the second as 'social masculinity'.

In fact societies for long have controlled male behaviour --- especially his sexual behaviour and attitudes by controlling and maneuvering what constitutes 'social masculinity.

It is wrong to say that there is no difference between men and women. But then there are actually two (even 3) genders of men --- masculine, feminine (and bi-gendered/ meterosexual). There are similarly three genders of women.

The modern west (perhaps even the medieval west) doesn't acknowledge Gender as biological --- at least not consciously, although gender plays an important although silent and underhand role in the 'sexual identities' created by the modern west as well as in the scientific study of so-called 'sexual orientation'.

In fact most of the confusion created around understanding male gender and sexuality in the modern world is because of the west's refusal to acknowledge the various genders of males as different and its insistence on dividing men on the lines of their sexual preferences.

[ 05-12-2006, 08:46 AM: Message edited by: truth1 ]

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Heather
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Stating something is wrong because you have your own, personal alternate theory which conflicts with most current approaches (and a lot of broad, anthropological and scientific data) is iffy at best.

I don't know that there IS any data/theory which DOES state that there are no differences between XX's and XY's, or between male and female gender, for the record. Rather, most theory states that many of those differences are cultural, rather than biological, and that's based on study, not personal theory.

There's a pretty good reason that approaches to sexual orientation differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity, unlike your ideas, in part because an approach like yours is pretty heterosexist.

"Metrosexual," for the record, is a pop culture term, not something used in sexology. Why? Because a man dressing with a bit more flair than your average straight, North American guy often does has very little, if anything, to do with his sexuality, unless we're applying stereotypes about gay men to hetero men.

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alainn
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Interesting discussion, !
One thing that i find myself struggling with in my new relationship is that i have labeled my partner as being more masculine in her nature then me. And i have had these types of discussion till im blue in the face with friends , yet i still find myself labelling myself and others. One friend says that i am more masculine in nature because i am assertive and take action , i find myself nor agreeing with this in the slightest. It assumes that we are either action takers ot nurturers and that we pair to meet each others needs.Yet what we've discussed seem to be traits and mannerisms are learnt. My new gf doesnt seem to inhabit her body in a similar sense to other women , and takes stances and poses that i see men often doing , When she does this i find that my stomach churns, its something that i have to figure out, Either these effects will fade away for me , or perhaps im not attracted enough to sustain a relationship with her. . I def have preferences as to how a person is within their body , but that is not a gender thing, often how a person moves or hold themselves speaks volumes about so many things.Sometimes i have found women who have become hard in some way , because they have an internal belief that strenght means that cold, blockish energy that somehow takes away frm their spirit, Its almost like something has been shut down or repressed. Again not a gender issue. Or we can ask is manliness dominance m which is equally not true, ive been asked so many times, so are you the man or the woman in the relationship. I had the biggest fear in the world that i would be the (man). I am attracted to men that seem gentle, and that love dancing , are in touch with their bodies , sensitive. eyc , Without sounding too hippyish , its more of an energy balance , an acceptance of all qualities within oneself . I think that the terms male , female, ying and yang are far to black and white. ( that pun wasnt intended ,hah)Were far more intricate then that. By teh way , has anyone else experienced similar reactionary stuff with partners , as in my instance?
Slan go foill :>)

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Saint_Sithney
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I believe that there is a fundemental difference between the principles of masculine and feminine. I believe that neither is superior or inferior- they're just different. Sure, you'll get the people who fall in the gray in between area, but if there are really no mental differences between males and females, how is transgenderism possible? I've only known one transgender- a very nice young lady who just happened to have the wrong sex. She was attracted to females sexually, but she just can't feel like a male, despite her genetics. Her mind is feminine.

I think it's an important thing for each individual to figure out what their gender means to them- what, in essence, defines them as masculine or feminine and celebrate it. Personally, I define my feminity in terms of being a nuturer- caring, healing, and maternal. I feel most like a woman when I'm taking care of someone else, whether I'm doing something tangible (like cooking and nursing) or intangible (like supporting and encouraging). I can and will still lead and enjoy it, but I like supporting people. I still feel womanly without feeling dominated when I support another person above myself. A good friend of mine feels most feminine when she's taking charge and leading people to personal victories. Archetypes Mother and Amazon, if you will.
I think it's extremely important for men to know what it is that makes them masculine, since it's impossible to be a true man without knowing why you are a man. No, I don't think that it should be the same for every single person, but I don't think gender-neutral should be the strived for position. Children are a gender neutral position- an adult needs to know what it is that defines the basic core of their personality. After all, what's the first way you define yourself? With most people I've asked, it's Name then Gender. Then they add other important details like Age, Religion, Orientation, Personality, and Physical.


As a note, the 20 cents on the dollar thing is mostly because men are more likely to do higher-paying, more dangerous jobs. You don't see many women signing up for Alaskan King Crab fishing, which pays a years salary for every four months. Statistically, it'll work out to a big wage gap between the jobs that women normally do and the jobs that are almost exclusively done by men. If women are willing and able to work the same jobs, then the wage gap would shrink accordingly. There's also things like potential for pregnancies, time taken for child-rearing, and certain physical limitations that women are more likely to have than men.

But off that tangent, and reiterating my main point- a man is not a woman and a woman is not a man. Neither is better, neither is worse. There's plenty of gray area, but we as a society can't be gender neutral because there simply aren't enough gender-neutral people. The average woman will feel feminine in whatever way she defines it, and the average man will feel masculine in whatever way he defines it. Rather than castigating people for acting in one set of gender stereotypes, personal definitions of masculinity and feminity should be encouraged and celebrated.

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'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
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origami_jane
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Not only that, Saint_Sithney, but there are many more male CEOs/COO's/VP's/executives than female ones. And they get paid hundreds of millions of dollars all the time, which throws off the curve even more.

Plus, women are often encouraged to take "nurturer" and traditionally "pink collar" jobs, like teaching or nursing, which don't pay as well as being a doctor, lawyer, etc. Men are often encouraged just to make money. Women are similarly encouraged to go into the "humanities," where they won't find a high-paying job as easily as a man who was encouraged to go into business. (I've also had a few female friends who loved chemistry and physics, but were told by their teachers that they should become teachers instead of scientists.)

Another take would be that stay-at-home mothers are part of the "traditional family," so if SAHM's do get jobs, they might be low-paying and part-time. Or, that if a man in a "traditional family" makes enough money to support his family and more, his wife may not want to take a job, even though she may be of comparable skill/education level and able to get a very well-paying full-time position. When both parents must work (out of necessity), they might both have lower incomes, only because of the previous high-income example, there aren't high-paid women balancing them out.

There are definitely execptions to that, though. My aunt is some type of executive in some financial company, and my uncle was a teacher, but they decided that he should stay home with the kids and home-school them.

I'm probably assuming a whole lot, just trying to get my thoughts out there.

[ 05-12-2006, 04:57 PM: Message edited by: origami_jane ]

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Beppie
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And of course many of those predominantly male jobs are dens of rampant sexism, which means that its simply not safe for women to do them oftentimes, because in addition to the dangers of the job itself, she is far more likely to be in danger from her co-workers. When we get rid of that danger, and when we get rid of girls being encouraged away from traditionally masculine jobs, THEN let's see if people are still talking about being hardwired to perform gender.
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kitka
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In a strange way, I think that the current (operation-other-than) war is doing exactly that - very VERY slowly eroding the notion of hardwired gendered labor, in one particular field.

The female Marines whose convoy was hit in Fallujah in 2005 - their commanding officer said in the aftermath that the attack was a "crystallizing moment" for the Corps because female marines had always insisted that they would be able to function as well as men in line combat, but were never given the opportunity to prove themselves.

Of course, women's roles in the military are still limited, for the most part, and I'd be the first one to admit that it's a chauvanistic hierarchy that priviledges fitness over intelligence, bureacracy over doing the right thing, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Still, I think it's important to note that the military may be one avenue where gender roles can be slightly upended.

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kitka
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If women are willing and able to work the same jobs, then the wage gap would shrink accordingly.

I wouldn't be so sure, only because of the patriarchy that prevails. At the full professor level in US universities, men are paid at a 12% higher rate than women, across the board. There's absolutely no reason for that to be the case when other institutions (again, the military) pay men and women equally.

Qualifications in the academic world are the same for everyone, regardless of sex, yet women get paid less. They are viewed as a liability. ie "she'll get pregnant."

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alainn
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Ok Saint Sithey,
i see your view on differences , what i guess im trying to say is that , i wouldnt see myself in so much a carer role, "well . not in my work" with friends family etc def. I think what im trying to say is that i would prefer to see myself as a strong woman as opposed to a woman who is imitating ot taking on what are deemed to be male traits .Or similarily , if i were a man and vice versa.Just because we are women doesnt give us the inclination nor the capabilities or desire to care and nuture , let alone bring up children., I agree it a personal thing.;Adieu!

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logic_grrl
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If women are willing and able to work the same jobs, then the wage gap would shrink accordingly.

Actually, no. That's why there are a huge number of class action lawsuits being fought - because women aren't getting paid the same wages even when they are doing exactly the same job as male co-workers, or when they're doing work in a mostly-female profession that has equivalent difficulty and risk to a mostly-male profession.

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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Heather
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quote:
With most people I've asked, it's Name then Gender.
Well, that's less a "proof" of the natural import of gender than it is evidence of what most of us know already, that gender is given a LOT of import in many (at this point, we can probably safely say most) cultures.

And just some food for thought:

quote:
I think it's an important thing for each individual to figure out what their gender means to them- what, in essence, defines them as masculine or feminine and celebrate it.
And the cultural and interpersonal pressure to do so may very well be a big part of why transgenderism happens, since you asked. Plenty of gender theorists have suggested as much. In other words, your friend you feel such compassion for may not have felt so conflicted if the social pressures to have to choose a binary gender, to have to define what that binary gender is, were not so pervasive.

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logic_grrl
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if there are really no mental differences between males and females, how is transgenderism possible?

Because identifying as male or female is not the same as somehow having a "male mind" or "female mind".

And as many trans people have pointed out, identifying as "female" doesn't always equate to wanting to be "feminine", or vice versa - there are MTF women who are butch or "tomboys", and FTM guys who identify as "femme boys".

A good friend of mine feels most feminine when she's taking charge and leading people to personal victories.

And there are probably many guys who would feel most "masculine" when doing that, too.

So doesn't it become a bit meaningless to insist that "femininity" and "masculinity" are these deep and opposed essences, if you're simultaneously saying that people can define them any way they want, even to the point when they're using them to describe the exact same thing?

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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Heather
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It should also be added that some of the most well-known trans activists and theorists -- many of whom ARE trans themselves -- don't agree that 1) sex and gender are the same things, and 2) that there are clear, easily identifiable -- or any -- "mental" differences between male and female gender.

And so well-spoken, your last post, logic_grrl, especially when you consider how very cultural so many definitions of what the archetypes/prototypes of what the binary masculine/femine are and have been through history. What qualities in one historical time, culture and community would categorize someone's "mind as femine," could, in an entirely different setting, be categorized inversely. Does that mean that person is a woman here, and a man then or there; femine in this one place, or masculine in another, or does it not very, very simply make clear how arbitrary gender -- which, again, is not the same as sex -- is?

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Saint_Sithney
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I never said that they are opposed essences- I said that what makes a woman feminine and what makes a man masculine are different things, since the goal is different. A woman who feels feminine leading people is not the same as a man feeling masculine doing the same thing, since the avergae female psyche is different then the average male psyche. I can't bring myself to believe that masculinity and feminity are entirely cultural brainwashing. If it was, then patriarchy or matriarchy wouldn't exist, because there would be no misunderstanding between the sexes. One group tries to dominate another because of differences, not similarities.

Hopefully I've crystallized my point a bit (I have a bad throat infection and I'm kind of woozy from all the medication ^^; ) I believe that it's very important for men to feel like men and women to feel like women, and for them to enjoy those feeling. I'm very happy I'm a woman- I don't want to be a man, I don't want to be more like a man, I want to be a woman and celebrate my feminity in my own way. At the same time, I'm very glad that my partner is a man, that he's happy and comfortable being a man, and that he doesn't want to be or be more like a woman- I'm thrilled that he takes pride in his masculinity.
The only deep opposition in the personal definitions is whether what you're doing affirms your self-image.

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'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
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Heather
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Again, though, you seem to be continuing to conflate or confuse gender and sex.

SEX is biolological. GENDER, by defintion and practice, is social and cultural, and thus, to a large degree, arbitrary. We are sexed at birth (though only binarily, and by ID of our genitals, so even this is flawed quite deeply). We are not gendered, save by cultural assumption and how our sex is applied to ideas about/treatment of gender.

There is really no "average" male or female psyche. Personality is so incredibly individual, and gender only one aspect of many, of greater or lesser relevance to different people AND different cultures. Gender is also defined differently in different cultures, and it isn't always, and hasn't always been, binary, especially not as binary as it is in much of our western -- and some eastern -- culture.

There's SO much good reading/study to be done on gender and sex, on biological differences and social ones, on binary ideas and those which expand beyond the binary: via varying gender theory, biological sex research -- especially that which includes intergender -- anthropology, what have you.

A lot of what you're saying here sounds very much like it's coming from a pretty limited place: from personal ideas, personal community, rather than broader study and exposure as well. That's all fine and well and good (to a degree) for defining yourself, for only applying these ideas to yourself, if you're comfy with those limitations. But it isn't especially useful, to say the least, once you start moving that discussion out into the realm of all people.

quote:
... what makes a woman feminine and what makes a man masculine are different things, since the goal is different. A woman who feels feminine leading people is not the same as a man feeling masculine doing the same thing, since the avergae female psyche is different then the average male psyche. I can't bring myself to believe that masculinity and feminity are entirely cultural brainwashing. If it was, then patriarchy or matriarchy wouldn't exist, because there would be no misunderstanding between the sexes. One group tries to dominate another because of differences, not similarities.
Most of what you've said there, for instance, just doesn't hold water once you really read up on gender theory, sex and gender in history, the history and dynamics of hierarchal structures overall, the history and study of oppression, cultural anthopology, zoology, the works.

Heck, plenty of what you've said up there doesn't hold water just for the arbitrary ways OTHERS may choose to define gender for themselves -- and unless a given person is documenting a very culturally or historically specific defintion of gender any one group, culture, or period of history has held, it IS, when it comes to gender all arbitrary per defining it -- which differ from yours.

[ 05-13-2006, 04:27 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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logic_grrl
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A woman who feels feminine leading people is not the same as a man feeling masculine doing the same thing, since the avergae female psyche is different then the average male psyche.

But that's a circular argument - you're saying "they're different because they're different."

One group tries to dominate another because of differences, not similarities.

Well, there are some pretty obvious physical differences, yeah [Big Grin] .

But that doesn't prove that there are mental differences - any more than the history of racism "proves" that there are mental differences between different races.

I'm very happy I'm a woman- I don't want to be a man, I don't want to be more like a man, I want to be a woman and celebrate my feminity in my own way.

And that's fine. You get to identify however you want, express yourself however you want, and enjoy your partner's gender expression however you want.

But I think it is potentially problematic if you assume that everyone else feels, or should feel, exactly the same way.

For example, I've never experienced any deep sense of "feeling like a woman" (other than in the "uh, yes, got breasts and a a vulva and presumably XX chromosomes although I've never had them checked, guess I'm classed as female, got no problem with that, whatever" sense). I'm not interested in feeling more "feminine"; it's not a term that's really meaningful to me, and my gender expression mostly tends towards the androgynous/butch.

I'm not saying that this is somehow "better", or that everyone ought to be like me, either.

But from what you've said - repeatedly - in this thread, it seems that you think that people like me are lacking some key element in our lives and are not "true women" (or "true men").

Do you see why some people might want to disagree with that view?

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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Saint_Sithney
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I understand, and I know I'm not doing a very good job expressing myself (Like I said, woozy from medication and tired from fighting off infection), since I don't seem able to get my point across properly.

Going in the topic of the book strictly, gender is a huge deal to a lot of people. To many people, being a man or a woman is the defining point of who they are as people(I know the difference between gender and sex for the record). I think that for people who put importance on their gender, it's very good to have a re-affirming message on that importance. I'm trying to find a good article a friend of mine wrote on the subject... I should be able to post it tomorrow.

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'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
'I never know what you are thinking. Think.'
-T.S. Eliot The Waste Land

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Heather
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And yet, this book in particular, even in excerpt from the very first few pages, contrasts with what you're saying.

His first example/icon of "manliness?"

...is Margaret Thatcher.

This guy defines the WOMEN'S movement as "manly."

(From all the exerpts I've read, by the way, what he's really talking about here is machismo. I'm not sure why he used "manliness" instead, though I'd suspect that it's primarily because trying to coin a new term is a) usually an attempt to get readers not to bring solidified ideas to the table when new ideas are being proposed and b) kitchy terms that catch tend to be very marketable per selling books and theories. Publishers are generally large fans of new terms for old dogs.)

He also, in his intro he earnestly says he "doesn't want to look like a wimp." Suffice it to say, the book doesn't exactly yelp with a particularly unbiased or ingenious approach to the subject matter.

I'm happy, by the by (though I think I already did similar in another thread) to make a reading list of well-respected books and studies, across the board, when it comes to very basic gender studies. For those who want to become more well-versed in these ideas, and discuss them further than what is a personal idea/definition, it's really very helpful, as it is with any other subject, to get a basis in the cornerstones of a given area of study.

[ 05-13-2006, 05:11 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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September
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Miz S: It'd be awesome if you could point us to that list. I took a feminist theory class last semester, where we touched a lot on gender studies, and I'd really like to self-educate myself a little bit more on the topic as I found it really interesting.

Thanks!

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Heather
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I may as well make a new list specific to this topic and where the thread has gone, especially since I'm sitting in the dining rom with the laptop facing one of my bookshelves.

So, in no particular order...

"Backlash" by Susan Faludi
"Real Boys : Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood" by Mary Pipher and William Pollock
"Raising Cain : Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys" by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
"Gender Studies: Terms and Debates" by Anne Cranny-Francis, Wendy Waring, Pam Stavropolous, Joan Kirby
"Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Women and Men" and "Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality" by Anne Fausto-Sterling
"Reflections on Gender and Science" by Evelyn Fox Keller
"Gender Diversity: Crosscultural Variations" by Serena Nanda
"Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective" by Caroline B. Brettell, Carolyn F. Sargent
"My Gender Workbook; How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely" by Kate Bornstein
"Undoing Gender" and "Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity" by Judith Butler
"Gender and Anthropology" by Frances E. Mascia-Lees, Nancy Johnson Black
"In a Different Voice" by Carol Gilligan
"The Lenses of Gender" by Sandra Lipsitz Bem

From the excerpts I've read from the book this topic was started about, and what reviews I've read? I'd not add it to the list: honestly, it just doesn't seem very well done, and it strikes me as more of a defense of machismo than an actual investigation into gender or masculinity. I think any of the above books on the list would be a lot more beneficial to anyone earnestly interested in exploring gender studies and theories, rather than defending the status quo.

(In case it's not obvious, I'm a big reader: I usually have three or four books on my bedside table at any given time, and my partner cannot for the life of him stop telling friends the weight we were given of all of my things by the moving company when I moved, which was 6,000 pounds. There was a piano in there, mind, and a few pieces of furniture, but mostly, that weight was indeed primarily books. So, anytime anyone wants a reading list from me, all you gotta do is ask!)

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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