Recently I shared on my Facebook page that I’ve been working on a new essay exploring the themes myth, sexuality, and the initiation.
In particular, I speak about men’s relationship to their sexuality and the feminine, using the lens of the classic tale “Iron John”. Written by Robert Bly, this book has been a key source for the mythopoetic men’s movement – which has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity as it’s discovered by a new generation of men like myself.
Just like when it was first released in the early 90’s, many men in modern Western culture continue to struggle with questions of purpose and identity. And the conversation has been further enriched by with the work of gender activists and the emergence of non-binary gender spaces.
In this vein, my friend Erin Innes reached out and shared her critique of the movement from the perspective of a queer feminist activist. Her article titled “Meet the New Masculinity, Same As the Old Masculinity” brought up some important considerations, especially around the foundational axioms of the movement, which posit the existence of a universal Masculine (and there Feminine).
“By continuing to imagine masculinity as universal, unchanging, and only definable in opposition to femininity doesn’t make women safer. It just gives us a different set of rules to follow, a different script to read from and from which we mustn’t deviate or we’ll face the consequences.
Queer people too, of all genders, will always be marginalized in any conversation that can’t talk and think about gender independent of the dynamics of straight relationships. What the mythopoetics are missing is an analysis of power, a critical framework for assessing how gender creates and is created by dynamics of domination and exclusion in the larger culture — in a word, feminism.”
Sensing the value of a longer conversation, I invited her to an interview and she graciously accepted.
Please enjoy our conversation, where we touch upon topics like:
understanding gender as a cultural artifact
the problem with essentializing the qualities of masculine and feminine
and the possible way forward toward a society of true solidarity and diversity.