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“Performing masculinity” requires a willing audience

December 31, 2010

For all the guilt trips people like to play when it comes to “performing” masculinity, there isn’t nearly as much attention given to the fact that those “performers” must have an audience that love the show (and therefore, an incentive to keep going).  How is it that in our present economic climate, where we see cutbacks and shutdowns around us for those unfortunate enough to not be raking in enough money, some of us can’t make a connection between the performance and the audience that loves the show? Does Tony Porter need to have the taste slapped out of his mouth followed by a punch right in between his eyes before he realizes that this stuff doesn’t happen in some misogynist vacuum? How does he make that self-pitying of a speech in front of a public audience and ignore the role that women actively play in shaping the attitudes that he now appears to want us all to be “liberated” from?

While his “I have sinned, please forgive me!” story is great porn for those who get off on men humiliating themselves for feminist approval, it does little to shine a light on how women willfully engage in the same behavior and never get called out for it in the same way. Missing from these sad trope-laden stories are anecdotes about how girls at any age will gladly attack a boy’s sexual identity for the least little deviation and get away with it, not because it doesn’t exist but because the man on the podium would be ripped to shreds as soon as he brought it up. Another thing missing is how equality completely goes out of the window when it comes to the moral of the story; it’s always “men, don’t offend women with X”, not “people, don’t offend others with X”. So instead of these sensitive, progressive types telling girls to grow up respecting men and boys to grow up respecting women, the former is wrongly assumed to not be necessary and the latter is treated as if that’s all it takes to end the culture gender wars.

Unsurprisingly, some boys grow up to be men that successfully glitch their way around these bugs in their gender programming and get rewarded for it by women that go on to treat every not-evil man as if they’re just eagerly waiting to get away with being evil, eventually reinforcing the very problems they claim to want to get rid of. Afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted has a way of losing its appeal when its the men who are fed up with bullshit and decide to afflict a society that is comfortable with constantly attacking them because it’s popular and trendy.

The “wussification” of the country is one such frequent method of attack that draws in supportive audiences that don’t give as much of a fuck about lifting men up as they do about tearing them down in hopes of getting attention from women. Note the last four sentences, where the same governor that can tarnish the manhood of football players for not playing when Philly had more than a foot of snow is surprised that more people care about that than his views on early-childhood education (or whatever else he’s been responsible for while in office). Given the ways in which people will gather around to chip away at masculinity, this would only be a surprise to those who treat average hetero men as social constructs and not actual human beings (read: feminists and the politicians that serve them even when they pretend not to serve them).

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