This comment by Dave was in response to Tom Matlack’s post Being a Dude Is a Good Thing
Until recently very few men were publically challenging or even discussing masculinity. This is why the Good Men Project and spaces of its ilk are so necessary. Just because masculinity in its various negative stereotypes abounds in our culture doesn’t mean there’s any sort of critique of it. Obviously you [editor’s note, another commenter] are frustrated at the “rigid and patriarchally enforced definition of manhood”. That’s great! So are we! Dialogues about this definition – such as the Good Men Project hosts – lead to change.
In your comment I noticed a tacit assumption that because this definition is so prevalent, people discuss it. I’d contest that repeating stereotypes and speaking in ways that reinforce the usual narrow definition of masculinity does not constitute talking ABOUT it. Tom’s made the point that many dialogues about masculinity are female dominated, which is true. The feminist movement resulted in a generation of women (and several handfuls of men) educated and socialized to think critically about gender and gender dynamics. However males have not undergone such a revolution, and therefore have no education in how to think about or challenge stereotypes about themselves. Cut guys a little slack as we figure out how to actually talk about these sorts of things.
Finally, I’d like speak a little to your son’s inability to identify with anything traditionally female. As a heterosexual male, I am also scared of being judged as “bad, wrong, deviant, and disgusting” for, say, wearing pink. But do you know who will judge me? Not my close friends friends. If anything they’ll see my breach of social norms as funny. Not the male population at my school. It’s unlikely they’d give something like that even one thought before shrugging it off. It’s the straight female population that would judge me, that would question my sexuality. The reason why many straight men don’t embrace traditionally female tropes is because it harms their ability to date and their chance of finding a partner. Jesus, but that’s messed up.
photo: wonderlane / Flickr