This is a guest post by Rebecca Katherine Hirsch. Rebecca Katherine Hirsch is an acclaimed art model, cat-lover and solo psychoanalytic discussant amongst herself and no one else. In the past she was an NFT editor, UCB comedy person, NYU graduate, Freud apologist, Minnesotan and so much more, like that one time she was THIS CLOSE to being a Babeland sex educator. She is presently hard at work on her first novel to be completed in the summer of 2085, in honor of her centenary! She is a proud member of the gender-blending, sex-positive, self-determination-respecting Barbarism collective, found here. Barbarism also makes exciting experimental videos. She is a Scorpio.
Hello! Have I a disclosure for YOU (and you and you and you):
I am attracted to men who do not hew unbendingly to unrealistic–that is to say, “traditional”–templates for male behavior. I am similarly heartened by all gendered people who work to find the courage to map out their own internal and presented identities in the face of omnipotent, implicit and explicit gender stereotypes!
I love this picture.* And I would like to return to its significance momentarily.
But first! Masculinity as defined by our lovably open-minded, calmly acceptive, live-and-let-live culture is one of—oh wait, let me rephrase: Masculinity as defined by our anal-retentive patriarchy is one of EXTREME STOLIDITY and INTENSE NOTHINGNESS, big braggadocio and mind-numbing manipulativeness born of fear of emotions we demote to “women’s roles.” I do not appreciate these male stereotypes any more than I appreciate the female stereotypical mandates to be passive, sexy-not-sexual, stupid and performatory.
This is frustrating because I am attracted to men. Yet we’ve all have been taught so well to adhere to gender stereotypes. I’m constantly kicking myself for my shyness or my more socially-sanctioned sexual attitudes, only to then kick myself again for kicking myself in the first place because, after all, I’m doing my best! Now thoroughly bruised by my own kicking (what am I, some kind of archetypal female masochist?!), I must remind myself that we’ve all been manipulated by a corrupt patriarchal system. At least I’m trying to reclaim myself and unlearn the old lies. My shyness exists and my sexual attitudes are constantly in flux, so it’s cool! I’m trying.
But it’s also frustrating that so many men buy into the gender myths. Because I am attracted to men and I like male bodies. A lot. I’d intellectually like to be attracted to female bodies. After all, I am attracted to myself. Who would’t be? Look at this body. Yeah. That’s what I said. When I saw myself in the mirror. But alas, I appear to be more moved by the appearance of male-bodied creatures than female. Sexually. My loins are into it. My mind approves. All this leads me to believe I am straight. Now what?
I’m thinking about dudes. I’m into dudes; hot dudes wearing.. I don’t know: Dresses? Lace booties? My bras? A pretty hat? Jewelry? Lipstick! And… a dirndl? SO HOT. The images that just flashed through my head were resplendent.
Look at that picture! Granted the fellow in that picture is way culturally-condoned physically in that he is muscled and drinking Jägermeister without a shirt, which men are generally taught they can do. And if this person were walking down the street in a T-shirt and some pants with his buds, that’d be cool, sure, but my loins just wouldn’t figuratively jump to awareness.
The erotic appeal of interdependent individuality is great! The appeal of stretching the extremely limited norms outside of the gender binary is great. As is the ethicality and empathy to coexist with fellow peoples trying to navigate the world in their own way. In trying to hone in on what exactly elicits such enjoyment in the idea of non-gender-conforming men, I’ve decided that (intellectually) I think it must be the bravery and vulnerability, which as far as I’m concerned operate simultaneously and cross-influence the other.
The guts involved in being yourself are no easy guts to procure. In order to be the self that you are and want to be, you have to first peal away so many layers of externally-created ideas of, in my case, What Women Are, What Women Look Like, What Women Feel, What Women Do Not Feel, et al, ad infinitum. I have never been a man, but I get the impression that men are instructed to similarly neuter themselves: Be strong, be tough, be a man, don’t be a pussy, don’t be a fag, don’t be like a woman because Real Men are The Opposite of Women. All those prohibitions! All those fears! The kind of person I want to be is kind of like my fantasized characterization of a culture that’s better than ours: lovably open-minded, calmly acceptive, live-and-let-live.
I’ve mocked the stereotypes of Strong, Arrogant Man and Weak, Beautiful Woman my whole life while never actively fighting against them. Until you actively disengage yourself from false ideas, you’re still kind of indebted to them. I get that impression a lot from comedy: Many male comics tease “manly” things in “manly” ways without, it appears, ever really questioning or challenging the premise that manly=strong. Except for maybe Rob Delaney. And I’m sure plenty of extremely attractive other male comics who I’d like to bang but not this one.
So I’m sexually and intellectually into non-gender-conformity, however you personally slice it. The male display of vulnerability is so powerful because it’s a direct affront to our rigid, cultural ideas of what Real Men are. And I find it so sexy because it’s rebellious in context and bravely welcoming of vulnerability in content which, to my mind, makes one invulnerable. And because it turns me on in ways I have yet to plumb.
I have not gotten (many) men to act out my fantasies yet but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before all my future lovers will discover throughout the course of our courtships that these fantasies of mine are fantasies of theirs and voila, we can “gender bend” or be our myriad selves while we entangle our loins, and elsewhere, like maybe walking down the street. And I think it’s important to make this known. It seems less a “fetish” to desire people and sexual minutiae that who aren’t cardboard cut-outs and stock characters (like sartorial choice, lovemakin’ positions or approaches!)–than honest.
I think what it really comes down to is honesty.
*Photo description: A bald, muscular man sits on a street corner at night, drinking Jagermeister while wearing a pink tutu and a tiara.