We’re all pretty hip around here, pretty into questioning gender programming and taking our own path, and I think we can forget that outside the Social Justice League, things are a lot uglier.
Masculinity is conflated entirely with maleness for a lot of people, so that failure to be sufficiently masculine equals loss of one’s entire gender identity, and of course performative masculinity is extremely fragile and precarious.
So yeah, if you fail to perform a sufficient number of rituals and meet enough arbitrary and contradictory criteria, your entire identity as a man is forfeit. Think I’m exaggerating? Let’s look at a few examples:
Right off the top, we’ve got this poor fellow:
Well, evidently body language is sufficient to strip one of one’s entire gender identity. And here I’d thought gender identity was a complex issue, but no, apparently it can be as simple as a stance and a pair of sunglasses.
Some of you may be asking what in hell a “man card” is. Fortunately, there is a very obnoxious site dedicated to explaining exactly that. It contains a list of “revocations“, or guys who have been stripped of their male identity for insufficient performativity. Try to read through those and imagine what kind of person could meet every criterion cited. For those who don’t want to give them the hits, here’s a small sample:
Note that these particular examples involve demonstrating common sense and sexual fidelity. You might not think of these qualities as unmanly, but here’s an exercise: go to any site with a bunch of movie trailers, and watch the trailer for anything marketed as a “guy comedy”. Frat-boy gross-out comedies, white-male-mid-life-crisis comedies, action-movie spoof comedies, whatever. You’ll see that lack of common sense and (at best) difficulty with sexual fidelity are universally presented as intrinsically and inseparably masculine qualities.
Now, some will argue that those are comedies, and really everything I’ve cited here is basically a joke. That is, in fact, exactly my point. Jokes require context to be funny, and everything I’ve cited is a that-always-happens joke, intended to be a humorous observation about a universally-understood truth. So these jokes are not advocating for this insanely restrictive and damaging notion of manhood, they are assuming you already subscribe to it, because hey, doesn’t everyone?