What’s Wrong With Masculinity

I know the meme seems silly and perhaps trite, but it’s true. (It’s also the first meme I created myself and I’m quite proud of it.) Let me explain.

In Western society especially, it’s generally seen as desirable to be masculine. The trouble is, nobody has a good definition of what masculinity means. Much of what we associate with it is not at all useful – some of it is destructive , but mostly it’s irrelevant. Some tasks require a lot of physical strength, but with modern engineering and tools a healthy woman can do those jobs just as well.

We care less and less about it as time goes on. It’s now acceptable for men to be camp, or gay, or show emotion, or to have jobs or hobbies traditionally associated with women: nursing, teaching, knitting, crafts. Mostly, nobody cares, and most people feel more comfortable with men who don’t fit the stereotype.

Yet, the media and popular culture perpetuates a myth of masculinity: big strong men who show no fear, who do the right things and solve problems directly, often violently. These mythical men never suffer from mental illness, are rigidly cisgender and heterosexual, and usually get the girl at the end by forcing a kiss until she melts in his muscular arms.

We all know this is rubbish and that real men, like people of any gender, negotiate a complex set of social and practical problems every day. We also know that kissing anybody without consent is liable to land you in court on a sexual assault charge

But what if a man’s masculinity is threatened, or in doubt? Perhaps he lacks agency in his work or relationships; maybe he is physically frail or suffers from poor body image or a small penis (I wasn’t joking). He could be repressing some sexuality or gender expression issue.

At this point he might look to Hollywood role models, becoming sullen, confrontational, defensive, violent. He might take up a traditionally masculine activity, like football or heavy drinking. Perhaps he’ll buy a big gun, or a powerful car that he’ll drive too fast, or become controlling and abusive in his personal life.

Let’s face it – if you’re happy in your skin you don’t need all that shit.

To sum up, the more I see you trying to prove your masculinity, the more certain I am that it’s flawed, and that you have a really tiny dick.

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My view on the current (silly) Scottish Independence debate.

I have a problem with politicians, and it’s the same problem I have with deeply religious people or those with any long-standing beliefs.

 

Anyone who has been absolutely certain of anything for a long time cannot be trusted. If you can believe in anything unwaveringly for decades, whether it’s a political party, your god of choice, that women should (or shouldn’t) wear burkas, or that homosexuality is (or isn’t) evil, your opinion is irrelevant. The most useless people in any debate are the hardliners on both sides.

 

Put another way, the more strongly you believe that you are right, the less I believe you.

 

Politicians cherry pick information that supports their existing cause, and ignore or try to discredit anything that might give credence to an opponent. We know this, but we listen to them anyway hoping for a convincing, balanced and well thought out argument that might persuade us. It never appears.

 

I don’t have a telly, and my radio is not used for current affairs, so my main exposure to the debate is Facebook posts. They tend to be rigidly polarised, most often one side pointing out some error the other side has made and poking fun. I have yet to see either side show any respect or give any credit to the other. I hate that.

 

They keep telling us it’s the most important decision in Scotland’s recent history. It’s not. No matter what happens next month, in ten years time most Scots will be living where they would have been, doing the same job for the same salary and paying a similar level of tax for a similar level of public service. And complaining about it no doubt.

 

The Yes campaign keeps bringing up the failings of the Westminster government: dishonesty, corruption and unpopular policies. These are spurious arguments if we examine them singly.

 

  • The dishonesty I’ve already covered: any member or strong supporter of a political party or cause is inherently untrustworthy. Scottish politicians are no better.

 

  • The corruption thing is nothing to do with Westminster. Abuse of power happens everywhere, from Putin’s Russia to Troon Community Council. We need stringent laws and good policing but it’s probably impossible to eradicate from a democratic system.

 

  • Unpopular policies are once again part of the nature of democracy. Our elected representatives will make decisions you don’t like, or I don’t like. If those decisions displease the majority of the electorate, said representatives don’t survive the next election. The scale of government is not important. The current coalition government in the UK is not what I voted for and I have disagreed with some of their policies: others I have fully supported. The same will be true of a Scottish government, and no matter how local the government becomes it will still be true. If three friends have a vote on which pub to go to on a Friday, chances are one of them will be disappointed. The other options are for one person to make decisions on everyone’s behalf, or for each friend to go alone to their own choice of pub.

 

In the short term, independence will impact negatively on all our pockets – it’s probably cost us already. International investors hate uncertainty and almost certainly there have been board meetings in which overseas companies have chosen not to base their new European operation in Scotland, because anything could happen in the next year or two.

 

In the long term I think the difference to the Scots people will be negligible.

 

The Yes campaign’s other main argument is purely jingoistic, and I despise them for that more than anything.

 

Don’t you dare tell me that I’m any less Scottish than you, or that I love my country less than you, or that I care less about children and potential grandchildren that you do. My feelings about those things are my own business, but nationalism is dangerous because of the implied exclusivity of the word. The thing is, I care equally about friends and family in England, and Wales, and Ireland. I also care about the rest of Europe, and about people in trouble all round the world. Quite a lot of the trouble they’re in is down to petty parochial arguments about what city the taxes should be administered in, or what religion the administrators should be. It’s all shite and I hate it.

 

I have more to say, but this could turn into a rant and take me all night.

 

AND I HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO. There are books to read, songs to sing, beauty to be photographed, art to be appreciated. You know, those things that make us human. Please give me peace from all this independence nonsense.