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June 16, 2008


Dear Everyone: please stop this nonsense.

Oh, I wish. But they won't. :-(

or spend some serious effort trying to discover whether it's possible to become gay by sheer force of will

Sadly, no.

Yes. Please.


spend some serious effort trying to discover whether it's possible to become gay by sheer force of will.

if i remember my Kids In The Hall correctly, you can do it by holding your breath.

Jes: I've never tried, but I suspect that it wouldn't work.

How fortunate, then, that I reject this whole idea of masculinity.

This isn't going to stop, alas, because 1) the Liberal Media has some bizarre and entirely unexpected conservative mores; and 2) it's an easy, lazy narrative, though why I'd associate this with our modern corporate paragons of journalistic discipline is something I can't quite put my finger on.

Susan Faludi should know better than that, too. >:(

What about George Herbert Walker Bush? Think of Dana Carvey's spot-on impression.

This is a classic example of what I call subtractive masculinity: men don't get "masculinity points" for *any* trait, quality, or virtue which may also be exhibited by a woman. I'm really surprised and disappointed that Faludi seems to have bought into it.

men don't get "masculinity points" for *any* trait, quality, or virtue which may also be exhibited by a woman.

So, my mustache doesn't count?


If your mustache isn't luxuriant, and enough women are publically seen with mustaches, then yes, your mustache would have its masculinity sucked out of it. Under subtractive masculinity, the answer to "What Is a Man?" is "Not a Woman", so anything women are seen to do/have/be doesn't mark you as masculine.

That subtractive masculinity post is brilliant, Dr. Science; thanks for the pointer.

Susan Faludi, by contrast, seems to have gone soft in the head.

The Susan Faludi part doesn't surprise me at all; I always thought she was soft in the head. If I get time, I'll explain later.

Meanwhile, as others have pointed out, gay (or straight) by sheer force of will doesn't seem to be in the cards, but seriously, we don't have to buy into either kind of ridiculously stupid and over-simplified dichotomous thinking, the gay/straight kind or only-one-way-to-be-male and only-one-way-to-be-female kind.....

People come in a rainbow of do relationships.... So Hilzoy, you can take heart, not that you weren't being lighthearted in the first place....


Gotta work, wish I could stay here instead. ;) and :( at the same time.

You people are underestimating Barack. He has the potential to be a tremendous first woman President.
BARACK OBAMA: And we also have a year to test whether they are sufficiently responsible.
MICHELLE OBAMA: They are responsible. Malia is responsible.
BARACK OBAMA: To actually-- They're responsible for a nine and a six-year-old, they are responsible. But whether they're going to be responsible for--
ROBERTS: That's a daddy right there. That is a daddy right there.
BARACK OBAMA: Whether they'll be responsible in the middle of the winter to go walk that dog--
MICHELLE OBAMA: I'm going to take-- We're getting a dog.
BARACK OBAMA: --when it's cold outside.
MICHELLE OBAMA: The dog is a done deal. You guys are getting a dog. Don't let dad --

without some pretty serious surgery and a whole lot of hormones, Barack Obama could not possibly be our first woman President.

I think you'll find that many of the dim bulbs who buy into the version of masculinity that makes you want to give up your Str8 Privilege Card would agree that even then, HE wouldn't be a woman.

Thus demonstrating nicely once again that gender, it's all in our heads.

I don't buy the idea that gender identity is completely up to the speaker, i.e. all in our heads; but neither is it completely up to the witness, or the story-teller as publius might say.

it's a mutually constitutive thing, a form of existence we negotiate throughout our lives.

with that theory, then, there may be a silver lining in that our popular culture is coming to terms with the fluidity of gender.

but coming to terms with its truth in its historically typical crass, desperate way.

So I appreciate and agree with hilzoy's frustration:

Whatever point people are trying to make when they say these things, there must be a better, and less ridiculously condescending, way to put it.

And whose "first black president" remark a dozen years back was so widely cited and little-understood? Look, Toni Morrison's a good novelist. But if she weren't so spectacularly overrated by the media et al --and if she were just one of the couple dozen fine Af-Am novelists who were (and should be) honored in the public sphere-- we wouldn't be having this discussion.

I think that Obama is interesting as a presidential candidate who is not aiming for a very macho image (as many other recent candidates have done). He is not (that I know of) rhetorically stressing his toughness, comparing himself to a warrior or a boxer, conspicuously engaging in 'manly' sports or trying to imply that he is more testosterone-filled than any other candidate.

What I think he may be trying to do is revert to an older ideal of masculinity: manliness as self-control. There is a long tradition of this, (right back to Roman senators and Victorian gentlemen), which relies on the idea that the man you want to be controlling the state is a man who can control himself, not someone at the mercy of his own desires and emotions. And in a campaign where he is faced with an opponent who is a former soldier (and who thus clearly wins on machismo), but who has difficulty controlling his temper, Obama's almost certainly better off trying to revive this alternative ideal of masculinity.

So, what I'm hearing is, you're gay for Obama.

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