The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:44 pm

Spinning off on stoicism, I guess I see it (at least in American culture) as being gendered, but I don't really see it as being feminine or masculine so much as different types of stoicism being coded as feminine or masculine. Like I feel it's more valued for a woman to be stoic in the face of rudeness from strangers or parenting difficulties, while if the person were a man, it would be tolerated or sometimes encouraged to be angry or upset about the situation. Men seem to be expected more to be stoic in the face of physical danger or when dealing with grief, and probably some other things that I don't necessarily notice because those particular gender norms don't hit me personally.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Bumble on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:00 am

I've always thought of it as if I were looking at a woman's dating profile. Am I attracted to risk takers? Do I like it when women can watch movies without crying? Do I want to be with a dominant woman? Do I need her to be confident in her career direction? Absolutely not.

Do men (in general? the vast majority of men?) want these things? I would say no and that's why I consider these traits gendered. Now like you guys have pointed out, there are plenty of non-gendered traits like ethics and shared values and stuff which can/should be very important. And there can be differences based on culture or context that can blur the lines. My opinion is that society, even liberal progressive society, still has gendered expectations of men in dating which I think feminist discourse is uncomfortable with because it doesn't jive with their criticism of gender roles.

Edit: To clarify, I don't find a woman who takes risks or has any of the other qualities I mentioned unattractive. I think a woman can be as risk adverse as she pleases without people coming to take away her woman card. That's the point I'm making.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by eselle28 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:21 am

Bumble wrote:I've always thought of it as if I were looking at a woman's dating profile. Am I attracted to risk takers? Do I like it when women can watch movies without crying? Do I want to be with a dominant woman? Do I need her to be confident in her career direction? Absolutely not.

Do men (in general? the vast majority of men?) want these things? I would say no and that's why I consider these traits gendered.

Ouch! I'm unambiguously two of those things and probably get half credit on the other two for an average of three out of four. I'd hope that what you're claiming isn't entirely the case for either gender, because that's terribly restrictive if we assume that every dater is looking for the same things you do. My own dating life isn't fabulous, but I've had enough feedback to suggest there's at least a vocal minority out there, and that some people like those similar to them in terms of what you talk about and others do well with people who differ from them in those ways but are similar in others.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Bumble on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:43 am

I apologize for my poor wording. I believe the traits I listed when applied to women are more or less neutral. Some guys might be turned off, some will be turned on, and maybe most won't be using those traits as criteria in the first place. I certainly have no problem with any women who fit those descriptions. I'm sorry to generalize left and right here but I don't think this is really controversial. Feminism has done a great job allowing women to break out of the submissive homemaker role.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Enail on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:45 am

In addition to what Eselle says, I think it's also worth mentioning that people who are attracted to (or open to) people whose positive traits don't match their gender's traditional role aren't usually just attracted to "the opposite of whatever positive gendered trait" - very few people are going to say "oh, baby, a woman who doesn't cry while watching movies, that's so hot," or "I wish for once I could find a man who's ambivalent about his career path," even if they are interested in calm, stoic women or men who prioritize personal life over career.

And for people who don't fit closely to their gender's stereotype, I think learning how to develop the positive traits that they do have, and especially how to signal them in an appealing way to potential dates, is very undervalued. Growing up, people mostly learn how to show the good points that match their expected gender role, and other traits that might be attractive can easily go unnoticed or be expressed in ways that are less appealing even to people who are attracted to those traits.

ETA: Actually, that's much like what you're saying, Bumble - there's a difference between positive traits that don't match gender norms, and traits that don't match gender norms but that most people wouldn't consider actively appealing qualities even if they're into people who don't match gender norms.


Last edited by Enail on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by InkAndComb on Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:46 am

Bumble wrote:I apologize for my poor wording. I believe the traits I listed when applied to women are more or less neutral. Some guys might be turned off, some will be turned on, and maybe most won't be using those traits as criteria in the first place. I certainly have no problem with any women who fit those descriptions. I'm sorry to generalize left and right here but I don't think this is really controversial. Feminism has done a great job allowing women to break out of the submissive homemaker role.

I feel that feminism is also greatly responsible for the acceptance of the stay at home dad, and the homemaking gentleman. Part of accepting that women can be equals in the workplace and outside of the home means that men need to be able to have the option to fill that space too. I'm not sure I understand what roles you're suggesting feminist-friendly spaces are uncomfortable addressing? Do you have any specifics, or maybe a scenario you encountered...?

I don't mean to be rude, I'm just a bit confused by what you've said so far Sad
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by celette482 on Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:19 am

In my subculture (southern USian, particularly of the rural type, my granddaddy was a coal miner) we live in as close to the matriarchy as it could ever get. Mainly because husbands have a bad way of dying or running off when times get tough but Mama (whether that be the mother or grandmother, often grandmother) never does. And around here, we value stoicism in our women. Women are expected to be able to stand firm in the face of great adversity and maybe have a little cry in the bathroom but then splash your face and get back out there. There's a scene in To Kill a Mockingbird when they find out Tom Robinson was shot (spoiler?) and Scout starts crying. Her aunt tells her to go inside and wash her face, that she's upset too but they can't let the racists know that.

But, female stoicism in the south is based on responsibilities. As a younger woman in my family (aka not the matriarch) I'm given a little more leeway to be openly emotional. But there's always an undercurrent of 'When shit hits the fan, it will be YOU, not some man, to get out there with a mop, so be ready." It is pinned on holding things together For Other People, rather than to appear manly or something. You have to be stoic because things need to be done and you're the one who's gonna do them So I wouldn't conflate the two?

Incidentally, this is also where I see a lot of the southern "respect for women" come from, at least in the "lower classes" (as opposed to the "Our family used to be slaveowners" bunch). I never got the feeling it was "women are weaker and therefore need to be protected" it was more like "I respect my mama because she'd kick my butt if I didn't and therefore all women." In some Native American cultures, the homes belonged to the women and the men were more like visitors. that's the way it is in some parts of the south, functionally at least.

Point being: no such thing as a trait that is universally one gender or another.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Jayce on Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:13 pm

Bumble wrote:

Edit: To clarify, I don't find a woman who takes risks or has any of the other qualities I mentioned unattractive. I think a woman can be as risk adverse as she pleases without people coming to take away her woman card. That's the point I'm making.

There are different ways for women to get their cards taken away. It's just not the same as men. I have had a good female friend of mine told me once that she didn't feel like a woman. She said it was because she wasn't as girly as a lot of the other women she has met in her life and she told me she wished she was. Some of those girly things was knowing how to be more emotionally expressive, emotionally supportive, caring about her appearance all the time. Even her ex boyfriend, once told me, you know she might not seem like it, but she's actually really girly, "on the inside".

Bumble I can relate to how frustrating it can feel to not be considered as a part of your gender. I remember I confessed to a friend, who knew me for a long time, in a conversation once, that I only started practising, being a guy since two years ago, so I'm still getting used to it. And she didn't disagree. I think for a very long time, a lot of people didn't even view me as a guy.'

Bumble wrote:Hey, I appreciate everyone's thoughts. I gotta say there's a real disconnect between what people in feminist-friendly spaces like this say about traditional gendered masculinity (risk taking, dominance, strength, stoicism) and its importance versus what everyone else in my life is telling me. Maybe my life is an anecdote.. a data point.. but it's my truth and it's telling me I've got to find it within myself to change--for the manlier.

Just my opinion, but outside of feminist spaces I don't think feminist discourse is what sets the dominant cultural standards of dating, gendered performance, or gendered interaction for most people in our society. For example, Feminism might have done a good job of breaking out of the homemaker role so far, but the fact that there are plently of people making women, kitchen jokes out there kind of tells us that people still don't fully accept it as a cultural norm. Or lets look at GamerGate's shitty behaviour of treating women in their profession. So I would find it quite normal that a lot of people in your life is telling you something different to feminist perspectives.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by InkAndComb on Fri Feb 20, 2015 12:50 am

Bumble wrote:Hey, I appreciate everyone's thoughts. I gotta say there's a real disconnect between what people in feminist-friendly spaces like this say about traditional gendered masculinity (risk taking, dominance, strength, stoicism) and its importance versus what everyone else in my life is telling me. Maybe my life is an anecdote.. a data point.. but it's my truth and it's telling me I've got to find it within myself to change--for the manlier.

Just my opinion, but outside of feminist spaces I don't think feminist discourse is what sets the dominant cultural standards of dating, gendered performance, or gendered interaction for most people in our society. For example, Feminism might have done a good job of breaking out of the homemaker role so far, but the fact that there are plently of people making women, kitchen jokes out there kind of tells us that people still don't fully accept it as a cultural norm. Or lets look at GamerGate's shitty behaviour of treating women in their profession. So I would find it quite normal that a lot of people in your life is telling you something different to feminist perspectives.

Ignore my post up above signaling my confusion, this is the line of thought I was struggling with and is much more succinct.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Bumble on Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:43 am

Jayce wrote:
Just my opinion, but outside of feminist spaces I don't think feminist discourse is what sets the dominant cultural standards of dating, gendered performance, or gendered interaction for most people in our society. For example, Feminism might have done a good job of breaking out of the homemaker role so far, but the fact that there are plently of people making women, kitchen jokes out there kind of tells us that people still don't fully accept it as a cultural norm. Or lets look at GamerGate's shitty behaviour of treating women in their profession. So I would find it quite normal that a lot of people in your life is telling you something different to feminist perspectives.

Agreed. I would say this is the case even in liberal progressive society, where many tenets of feminism are embraced. To throw out another anecdote, which I think sums it up nicely, my buddy, who like me is liberal/progressive in every fiber of his body, and struggled with dating for a long time, said in response to this subject that as much as (liberal/progressive) women love equality and men who love equality, at the end of the day, (most) progressive women still want a man to be a man.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by reboot on Fri Feb 20, 2015 9:26 am

Remember liberal/progressive does not necessarily equal feminist. They are highly, but not perfectly, correlated. This is also why many liberal/progressive men want a "woman to be a woman" such as feminine appearance, nurturing, etc..
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by celette482 on Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:30 am

Bumble wrote:(most) progressive women still want a man to be a man.

This actually opens up an interesting line of thought, because in some sense a lot of progressive women want to be men themselves. It comes down to what you mean by "man."

If you mean "adult human who is male" then I think it's pretty common for heterosexual women, especially once they reach a certain age, to expect maturity from their partners and that can often be expressed as "a man to be a man". I've expressed this before I know. What they're really saying is that they want people who are adult-aged to be adult-acting, specifically people of the male gender.

If you mean "certain positive traits that are associated with men, like directness and assertiveness and competency," then also, a lot of heterosexual women want partners who are like that and may ALSO want to be that themselves. These traits are valuable and happen to be associated with maleness.

If you mean "all the trappings of masculine gender roles in this society, good and bad," that too makes sense. For one thing, a lot of those trappings are quite positive. Life is full of ups and downs, is it so weird to value a partner who exudes competency and commands respect from others? I like to call that the "toilet overflowing in the middle of the night-calling the cable company" axis of traits. Then you have the negative traits, and who would possibly want them? Well, considering that these traits, positive and negative, are often sold as a package deal (particularly in theory, you have to remember that when people say things like "I want a man to be a man" they aren't talking about Jeff from accounting they're crushing on, they're talking in generalities, ideals, perfection. When faced with an actual living breathing human who might actually be interested in you, ideals get compromised all the time.), they may just be taking the good with the bad. After all, "person with no flaws" is much more of a pipe dream than "a man who's a man"

But let's be real here, feminism isn't trying to abolish all masculine traits from society nor is it even trying to abolish all negative masculine traits. All it wants is space for people to be the mix of masculine and feminine that each individual actually is, without pushback from society. Every single human has negative aspects to their personality, whether they are gender conforming or not. We can point out how harmful certain traits, especially traits that are considered valuable by society as a whole, without expecting that everyone else be perfect. All we really want is for there to be space for women to be assertive and men to as in tune with their emotions as either wants to be.


Last edited by celette482 on Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:32 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fix quote tag)
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by reboot on Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:07 am

Excellent points, celette. I want to build on this idea. Most feminists want men to take on positive aspects of femininity (e.g. nurturing, emotional support, empathy) without losing the positive aspects of masculinity (e.g. competency, emotional control, directness). In addition, they want to be able to take on those positive masculine traits themselves, while still maintaining the positive aspects of femininity. And, of course, every feminist values different different masculine and feminine traits and to different degrees.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Enail on Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:46 am

As Celette said, the men I've seen who say women want "a man to be a man" and the fairly liberal women I've seen who say they want "a man to be a man" are often not talking about the same traits (ETA: not-at-all liberal women more often seem to mean the same thing as men do).

I've also found that often people don't have a very good sense of why they are rejected or struggle with dating, and I've seen quite a few people jump without much evidence to the conclusion that it's because they're not performing their gender well enough, when from an outside perspective there are other pretty obvious things that could be causing the trouble.  

A common one is that they don't have many of the positive traits associated with their gender but also aren't displaying positive traits of other gender (whether they have them or not) and thus give the impression they won't contribute much to the relationship, or that they don't display the positive traits of their gender but do display the negative ones. A woman who is easily flustered and relies on others for help all the time, but presents as delicate and pretty and is warm and supportive of the people who help her, is likely to have an easier time getting dates than a woman who is easily flustered and relies on others for help all the time but presents a tough aura and is very matter-of-fact about help, even if she has other positive traits - the positive and negative traits in a gendered type work together in a way people understand and expect, and often in ways that offset each other.

That said, for all the changes that have happened, we all live in a society which is pretty strongly wrapped around its ideas about gender, and I do think it can be tough for people who aren't terribly gender-conforming. But I think people often draw the wrong conclusions about why that is and how to get around it.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by LadyLuck on Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:06 pm

A random data point - I have a friend that is exactly "a woman who is easily flustered and relies on others for help all the time but presents a tough aura". She isn't considered very sociable at all. The dude version would probably be a guy who gets angered easily but isn't confident or assertive.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by JP McBride on Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:02 pm

Enail wrote:I can see why we have a different response to the Schrodinger's Rapist post, then - but does it change the tone of the post a bit for you to know that for at least some people who would link to that post, a feeling of wariness is is a standard response to being approached by any sort of stranger?  The thought process explained in SR is part of a continuous range of reactions rather than something totally apart from peoples' other social thought processes, if that makes any sense.

I like 'wariness' a lot more in this context. Wariness can be something that can be managed without being eliminated, whereas being threatening has malevolent connotations and feels like a taboo.

kath wrote:JP, do you have strategies you could share for building that level of comfort with dealing with strangers?

I get more uncomfortable than I'd like being in spaces that aren't "mine" / habitual (IE, work or home), and I would love to get advice to reduce that. It's not like I don't go out alone or whatever, but I'm certainly not confident when I do it, and I don't feel like ... comfortable. And I do feel threatened just like, in that situation in general.

If you do have strategies let me know and I'll make another thread, or if it's just sort of how you approach the world and you couldn't go about telling someone how to build it, that also makes sense.

I wish I could be of help, but this is a mystery to me as well, though I suspect my autism plays a pretty big role.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by kleenestar on Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:46 pm

reboot wrote:Excellent points, celette. I want to build on this idea. Most feminists want men to take on positive aspects of femininity (e.g. nurturing, emotional support, empathy) without losing the positive aspects of masculinity (e.g. competency, emotional control, directness). In addition, they want to be able to take on those positive masculine traits themselves, while still maintaining the positive aspects of femininity. And, of course, every feminist values different different masculine and feminine traits and to different degrees.

And to build one step further: most feminists want to see positive feminine traits valued as much as positive masculine traits, and negative feminine traits not devalued more than negative masculine traits are.

I think this is also an important piece of the "wanting a man to be a man" conversation but I am typing this while holding a baby, hopefully I can come back to this Smile
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by Mel on Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:35 pm

I've been on a break from the forum for a bit due to life busy-ness (and am going to be taking a longer hiatus--see my post in Off Topic), so I missed this when it was first posted, so I apologize for dragging it up. But I think it needs to be addressed.

azazel wrote:But seeing as you have a son, I take comfort in the fact that you'll have a chance to see how the process works in person. Sometimes the only way to gain empathy is to see the situation play out close at home.

"the process" we were talking about was boys being trained to hate themselves and their sexuality.

So, Azazel, you're saying you take comfort in the idea of my son coming to hate himself. It gives you positive feelings to think of him suffering. My one year old son who has never done anything to you other than exist as the child of a person you're arguing with.

My questioning the breadth of the reading was to you a personal attack, but this, this you feel is an acceptable thing to say to someone? To talk about taking pleasure in them having to witness their child experiencing horrible things? I can't believe that you have no idea how wrong this is, how many lines it is crossing.

I may disagree with you on many points, but I take no enjoyment or "comfort" from the thought of you or any other person here I've argued with being in pain. If you had or ever have a daughter, I would take no comfort from thinking you will likely see her experience slut shaming or harassment or the many other horrible things girls may encounter, regardless of how that might affect your views. It's an awful thing to say.

I hope you'll take a little time to rethink the callousness you've expressed here and what made you think it was a good thing to say. If you really feel that people making their points in a way that may be hurtful to others is wrong, then a good place to start would be not doing so yourself.
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by eselle28 on Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:43 pm

<mod>So, azazel, you've had repeated warnings, a suspension, and were recently informed that you were on your last chance. Consider the chance over. This isn't working out, so I'm going to remove your posting privileges.</mod>
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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

Post by PintsizeBro on Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:34 pm

Enail wrote:I've also found that often people don't have a very good sense of why they are rejected or struggle with dating, and I've seen quite a few people jump without much evidence to the conclusion that it's because they're not performing their gender well enough, when from an outside perspective there are other pretty obvious things that could be causing the trouble.  

...

That said, for all the changes that have happened, we all live in a society which is pretty strongly wrapped around its ideas about gender, and I do think it can be tough for people who aren't terribly gender-conforming. But I think people often draw the wrong conclusions about why that is and how to get around it.

I'll be honest here, I haven't read this whole thread. But this right here, this is so true.

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Re: The negative impact of feminist discourse on men's perceptions of masculinity and male sexuality.

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