I am perversely happy to see men subjected to the same kind of gendered hand-wringing of which women are so familiar: Are men doing what women want? Are they breaking too many gender stereotypes? Are gender non-conforming behaviors shriveling clitorises across America?
But then of course Real Thoughts kick in and they basically amount to: There’s no such thing as a “real man” and this whole “debate” is asinine. There’s only one piece in the series that hits that point (and a second that kind of hints at it). I’m not going to wring my hands too hard over one piece that does to men what dozens of articles do to women every single day, but still: The whole thing is fucked up. It doesn’t present any real “debate.” It’s mostly a group of people whining about how men aren’t sufficiently manly, without any real look at how we’ve constructed masculinity and how our limited views on men’s roles do very real damage to all of us.
Not to make this a Note From Jill’s Boner, but note to men: You do you. Have fun figuring out what “you” even is. There’s nothing inherently wrong with many stereotypically “masculine” characteristics, just like there’s nothing wrong with many traditional “feminine” characteristics. There is something very wrong and very stifling (and frankly very un-sexy, if we’re going to take it there) with being expected to adhere to a certain set of character traits based on what’s between your legs. And in a totally self-interested way, men breaking down gender stereotypes is great for women and great for society. So, you know, go on getting your pedicures. Or fixing your car engine. Or doing whatever it is that seems good. “Do what seems good for you” doesn’t make for a particularly inflammatory New York Times article, but it’s a nice way to live.