Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alpha Seedling II

Why start a blog about masculinity/performance?

In part because of the strong feeling that gender is being performed across a number of contexts with little critical thought. This is especially the case in male heavy social groups the best example of which I can think of would be sporting clubs. Whilst these contexts can be fun (most people seem to enjoy themselves) I often have the strong impression of a series of one-dimensional characters play acting their masculine roles. These roles are so artificial and appear so limiting that I wanted to talk about this with everyone's friend, the internet.

The first limitation that I wanted to talk about was the seeming limitation that is placed on male-male intimacy. So often these roles leave me questioning where is the intimacy? The vast majority of the time when I witness men trying to be intimate or even when I try to be intimate with another man I can feel a resistance. This resistance puts me in mind of old movies where the protagonist and crush desperately want to be together and they cannot touch or be seen together and so stop achingly short, like these two. 

This is really just a teaser post, I am going to be doing a little research and talking to some people about intimacy. Once this is done I will return to discuss in more detail.



  1. I am super excited about the topic of this blog. Gender expectations and naturalised ideas regarding these are such a concern of mine. I see them manifesting themselves ALL THE TIME in my classroom, and it distresses me that no-one talks about it.
    Maybe because talking about stuff is unmanly.

  2. I suspect that there are different guises of 'manliness' in different cultures. You might want to explore those.

    In Europe, we see a model of masculinity that is far more effete than would be acceptable in some parts of the world (South Africa, for example; probably also Australia). From my own experience, men who would be considered adequately masculine in Britain, are often seen as faintly ridiculous in South Africa.

    For a slightly more extreme example: in India, it is perfectly acceptable for heterosexual males, even those 'on the prowl', to hold hands. Nay to hold 'pinkie' fingers (Google the comedian Russell Peters for a take on this). Can you picture this in the comparitively macho Australian setting? I suspect not.

    While English men of a generation ago would do little more than shake hands, we now see a generation of relaxed male-male huggers. My own husband and sons do tend to fall slightly outside the norm in that they kiss each other in greeting and to express affection. This would be perfectly normal in Latin countries, but is still somewhat exceptional in all the countries which have shaped our family culturally (Zambia, Sweden, South Africa and the UK).

    The whole concept of personal space/physical contact is embedded in culture, and goes beyond gender - although that is certainly a factor. In certain countries, incidental physical contact is de rigeur. In others, it is an affront.

    Nor is physical contact always an indicator of machismo. In some of the tribal cultures of Southern Africa, machismo and posturing are an anthrolopological necessity. Displays of male athleticism are evident in many of their rituals and traditions. Blatant peacocking is both accepted and expected in ways that Europeans can find embarrassing. And yet, in this culture, too, it is acceptable for men to make physical contact with one another.

    This is a complex issue.

  3. Good start. Yes, this is a teaser and I'd love it if you put up some meaty thinky stuff.

    Since I am required to write a male POV in my books, I also find the performance of masculinity fascinating. I'm hoping I will develop greater understanding through your blog. I find when my male characters do heinous, awful things, I often make them insane as I can't understand how 'normal' people can do those sorts of things anyway, and then have to learn, in later drafts, how to handle the topics sensitively.

    Anyway, yay blog! And no c0ck