Showing posts with label masculinity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label masculinity. Show all posts

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Bronies Phenomenon

I'd run across some dismissive references to "Bronies" on the Internet, but had little idea who or what they were until I happened to catch a documentary by Morgan Spurlock on Netstream tonight. "Bronies" are fans of the cartoon program "My Little Pony Friendship is Magic." There are, by conservative estimate, seven million self-identified "Bronies," the majority of whom identify as straight white males. The average age of a Brony is 21, although they range in age from adolescent to middle aged.

Who knew there were more Bronies than manosphereans?  There are Brony conventions that draw thousands from all over the country. And who is buying all that "My Little Pony" merch at Walmart? Truckers, military veterans, motorcycle mechanics.

What draws these men to a program that was originally targeted for little girls? The values of kindness, loyalty, and optimism... a determination to expand the narrow confines of conventional masculinity... and an attraction, I must surmise, to cute pastel animated horses with adorably squeaky voices.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Wall of SJW Champions

Following the manosphere can really fill an old broad like me with despair. And it's been a particularly horrible year for many women on the Internet, thanks to the misogynistic shit goblins and grifters who broke out of the confines of the manosphere to invade gaming. What gives me hope is seeing so many successful men come forth and stand up as self-identified feminists in the wake of a twitter-driven witch hunt -- a veritable orgy of doxxing, threats, and harassment -- that was ostensibly about "ethics in journalism," but was never, ever about anything but angry white, mostly anonymous guys having meltdowns over their perceived "loss" of privilege. 

Today my students are writing about whether celebrities and professional athletes should be role models, so this is on my mind today:  

To anyone who uses his position of power, his louder voice, to champion those who have relatively little power, I salute you. I want to throw you a ticker tape parade, bury you in flowers, buy you drinks, kiss your hand. You make a difference. You give others hope and strength.

I have so many masculine heroes right now, I can't name them all: Aziz Ansari, Louis CK, Stephen Colbert, Chris Kluwe, Arthur Chu... Help me out, who am I missing here?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Remembering Fred Rogers

I once asked a friend who her biggest celebrity crush was, and was surprised when she immediately answered, "Mister Rogers."

"I dream about him some nights," she admitted. "How beautiful it would be to have a physical relationship with a man like that, so tender and kind! I imagine us losing our virginity together."

I have to admit that up until our conversation, I'd never seen Mister Rogers in that particular light; in fact, sexually fantasizing about Mister Rogers was a bit... well, creepy. For me, his show had been the adolescent equivalent of valium: I'd come home from school, fix myself a huge bowl of sugary cold cereal, and zone out in a soothing bath of unconditional love and acceptance for an hour. Mister Rodgers was the proxy for the parents and teachers I'd always longed for. Certainly he was the only adult who ever told me, "I love you just the way you are."

Because Mister Rogers was the masculine embodiment of acceptance and nurturing, qualities traditionally identified as "feminine," many people have assumed he was gay, a notion his new biographer wishes to dispel. 

In fact, Mister Rogers was a pretty radical character for his era. He challenged viewers' perceptions of what it means to be "a real man." 

Perhaps he had a greater impact on my childhood psyche than I have previously given him credit for. After all, I grew up to be openly attracted to men with recognizably "feminine" qualities: Those teachers, nurses, and therapists that combine physical masculine strength with sensitivity and empathy; those "sissy" straight boys who aren't afraid to surround themselves with color or soft sensual fabrics, whose hair is just a little too long, who openly cry at movies or concerts. And then, in late middle age, I took that predilection even further (and I've never looked back).

What explains the enduring appeal of Mister Rogers? Well, even an agnostic like me believes that, as a force for change and a source of happiness, nothing in this world is stronger than love: Mister Roger's call for compassion and the need to embrace tolerance, not only of others but of oneself, has never been more powerful, or more needed.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Mask You Live In

Has anyone seen "The Mask You Live In?"  It's not available on Netflix yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to watching it when I get the chance.  (Christina Hoff Sommers didn't like it much, BTW; here's a link to her Time review although without even seeing the documentary, it's pretty clear she deliberately missed its point.)  It's made by the same directors as Miss Representation (which I highly recommend if you haven't already seen it).  Speaking of Ms. Sommers, I also recommend mancheeze's post on her relationship with AVfM.