THE MASCULINITY CONSPIRACY

03: Sexuality cont’d

with 2 comments

The Problem

Lawlor’s title Earth Honoring: The New Male Sexuality gives a clear impression we are entering “new” territory. Similarly, Deida suggests he is going beyond the older macho and newer sensitive male stereotypes to a further stage of masculinity. However, this is rather misleading. Indeed, every time I hear the word “new” in relation to men and masculinity, alarm bells ring for me, as it usually signals the exact opposite (the same applies when I hear words such as “evolve”). It’s a bit like when you hear someone start a point with “I’m not a racist,” you know they’re likely to say something racist. Equally, I want to make it clear that I have no in-principle objection to the idea of “new” in relation to men and masculinity, as in many ways this is exactly what this book is about. The key lies in how we articulate that newness, and about being honest about what is new and what is simply a tired re-hash of the old.

In the previous chapter I had a moan about Wilber, but I don’t want you to think I’m one of those types who sweeps away a person’s entire corpus of work in one swoop, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are a number of points Wilber makes very well, and one that applies here is called the “pre-trans fallacy.” In our context of masculinity, that old-school macho masculinity would be the “pre” of Wilber’s formula (pre-feminist, for example). We are currently in the phase identified by both Lawlor and Deida as having rendered masculinity rather confused and limp, and both seek the “trans” part of Wilber’s formula: in other words, learning from all our previous lessons, but progressing into new territory. However, in the pre-trans fallacy there is a danger that those who claim to be “trans” have not learned from previous lessons, and while they think they are in new territory, all they are doing is retreating into the old.

How we go about spotting that these allegedly new masculinities are really spruced-up old masculinities is not always easy. It depends largely on how much you know about those old masculinities, and whether you can recognize them in the first place. If you’re an old-school feminist, it is blindingly obvious that when people start talking about what is “naturally” masculine and feminine, there is something fishy going on. However, for various reasons a lot of younger people do not have this awareness: either they have not been exposed to it, or they believe this type of critique to be old-hat (in some ways, it is, but it needs to be fully incorporated before you can move on), and listen in good faith when they hear about the “new” masculinity.

CONTINUE >>

Written by Joseph Gelfer

August 1, 2010 at 12:35 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I guess I’m an old-school feminist. Essentialism is not the answer, no matter how lyrically women or men are described. Any “natural” roles need to allow the full range of expression of all women, men, intersexed, transgendered etc. If they don’t, we’re just upgrading to a prettier cage. And the Jungian animus/anima concept is simply a cop-out. A false dichotomy is still false, even if you quarter it.

    But I’m not arguing from a philosophical point of view, I’m arguing from a moral point. Philosophies that unnecessarily cramp our style are immoral, in my opinion. I guess that makes me take the opposite view of Duff, when he was arguing against anomie. I’d say that anomie is another word for growing edge.

    Apel Mjausson

    March 16, 2011 at 8:30 am

    • Yes, I think we could do well to bring morals back on the table: they’re one of those things (like “family values”) that have been co-opted by the Right, and thus are out of favor with the Left, but they are outside of this framework.

      Joseph

      March 16, 2011 at 8:58 am


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