I'd knit so hard, bro
January 14, 2017 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Further on the topic of ways that toxic masculinity harms men, an Independent article on feminine activities men would do if society didn't judge them so hard, from a Reddit thread on the same topic.
posted by bile and syntax (243 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
I saw this on FB the other day and I gotta agree: sewing is fun :)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:32 AM on January 14, 2017


Turns out the patriarchy is bad for everyone!
posted by The River Ivel at 10:34 AM on January 14, 2017 [80 favorites]


Why does the Patriarchy hate quilts so much?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:35 AM on January 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


Things like this make me feel completely alienated from other men. I mean, not ALL other men, but certainly men who hold these attitudes. Doesn't anyone remember that Rosey Greer did needlepoint while he played in the NFL? Or that Joe Namath touted the warmth-retaining benefits of wearing hose/leggings? I guess masculinity has gotten more toxic over the past 30 years? I thought things were letting up where these things are concerned. I guess I was wrong.

Seriously, men... just you do you. By simple definition, if you're a guy doing a thing, then that's a thing that guys do. Spending all this energy wanting to do a thing that you feel you can't do because it will somehow "compromise" you is the most ridiculous thing ever.

Nothing in this toxic masculinity warehouse of bullshit annoys me more than the whole "tough enough to wear pink" campaign. You want to know what's tougher than wearing pink? Being a man who likes to suck dick and trying to maneuver your way through a world where if you say that out loud in the wrong circumstance will end up with you having the shit beaten out of you.

Just relax. Listen to Katy Perry, get some yarn and take up knitting, wear yoga pants (with or without underwear, I don't care). Just fucking relax and BE YOURSELF. The more men that do this, the more masculinity will absorb it, and the levels of toxicity will lower until everyone is comfortable doing whatever they want to do.
posted by hippybear at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2017 [189 favorites]


I sew, no one has ever given me shit for it. I wish I were better at it and had more room for sergers, etc. It's a really space intensive hobby.
posted by bswinburn at 10:40 AM on January 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


I recall reading somewhere that Harry S Truman gave up studying the piano, although he was very talented, because he thought it was not something a grown man should do.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:42 AM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


I apologize in advance for womansplaining- but it has been my observation that everyone from my Dad to almost every one of my male partners that they rarely give two craps about what other dudes think when they go to do their thing. Most of the men I know cook, know how to sew better than I do, and are better at the domestic thing than I ever care to be. Is there some high school shit still going on in the adult world that I am missing?
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 10:43 AM on January 14, 2017 [18 favorites]


hippybear, as an androgynous dyke with interests all over the place (sewing, knitting, martial arts, comics...) I agree entirely. The only way to tear it down is to create space for yourself and tear it down. We're not getting anywhere when men are afraid to order a fruity drink.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:44 AM on January 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


I once ordered a Cosmopolitan at a bar when I meant to order a Manhattan, but when that giant pink drink was set in front of me, I drank it and it was delicious. I ordered a second.
posted by hippybear at 10:46 AM on January 14, 2017 [49 favorites]


I apologize in advance for womansplaining

Well, actually, that's not how 'splaining is done. [/joke]
posted by hippybear at 10:47 AM on January 14, 2017 [109 favorites]


I've always wanted to learn how to operate a Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader in space.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:50 AM on January 14, 2017 [31 favorites]


HAHA- Nice one hippybear :)
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 10:51 AM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, my grandfather did the sewing and cooking thing because he was an adult man in the great depression who joined the army.

But on the other hand, positioning that as some kind historic masculinity opens up another whole can of worms. The "tough enough to wear pink" problem cited above. I kind of resent when my knitting gets co-opted in support of a masculinity that gives me the willies. And yes, I think pop cultural masculinity has become a lot more fragile and aggressively segmented in the last decade.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


There's a mani-pedi place near me targeted for gay men, and as a woman, I love it. It's much more about the pampering, and they don't look at me funny when I only want a top coat and no polish.
posted by politikitty at 10:55 AM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Doesn't anyone remember that Rosey Greer did needlepoint while he played in the NFL? Or that Joe Namath touted the warmth-retaining benefits of wearing hose/leggings? I guess masculinity has gotten more toxic over the past 30 years?

I think that's true, in the same sense that Saudis can still hold hands without shame. Back then some things were so beyond the pale that it didn't even occur for folks to worry about them. That said, being a pro football player tends to insulate someone from claims of insufficient masculinity.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:55 AM on January 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


Before the 1800s men wore all the colors in the rainbow and the tightest-fitting leg wear their technology allowed. It would be nice if pre-Victorian aesthetics made a return.
posted by sukeban at 10:55 AM on January 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


I have found one community of men who have embraced sewing, backpackers. For (mostly) guys who want lightweight outdoor gear, the choices are really spendy stuff from cottage manufacturers or to DIY.

The catch is that nobody uses the term sewing machine, rather it is a thread injector. The bushcraft community increases the absurdity by calling it a tactical benchtop thread injector. Sewing is for girls, but thread injecting is something a self-respecting man can do with a beer in hand.
posted by peeedro at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2017 [182 favorites]


My god. Tactical benchtop thread injector.
posted by sukeban at 10:57 AM on January 14, 2017 [116 favorites]


Tactical benchtop thread injector.

Do they come in camo or just olive drab?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2017 [23 favorites]


Is there some high school shit still going on in the adult world that I am missing?

I don't think so, but part of the problem is passively toxic masculinity. It's guys not doing things for fear of becoming the target of toxic masculinity.
posted by fatbird at 11:00 AM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


When I lived in SF I would get mani/pedis a couple of times a year. It was great! I also love Teenage Dream-era Katy Perry and have been rocking a man bag since 2001. Don't knit because it is too tedious for my tastes. Have never been accused of being overly masculine in terms of behavior, but never really got harangued about it after college. I will never wear yoga pants because I have little desire to parade my junk around. I dance to music at the grocery store and enjoy having my buns snuggled (the spoon terminology irritates me.)

What am I? A person. As we all are. If men are afraid to knit, that is on them to overcome. Peer pressure is not an excuse once you are over 18.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Nice sentiment for 1992. But this article is a dollop of individualist horseshit. I would argue that consumerism is antithetical to feminism.

fuck you i will stink like an ape. i'm not going to buy product just to get in touch with my 'feminine side.'

If people are going to write about feminist liberation, I would ask that they avoid telling stories of consuming extra goods and services as liberatory. How the fuck is that is going to somehow make me happier with my gender performance in a capitalist society? What an insult.
posted by eustatic at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2017 [24 favorites]


I apologize in advance for womansplaining- but it has been my observation that everyone from my Dad to almost every one of my male partners that they rarely give two craps about what other dudes think when they go to do their thing. Most of the men I know cook, know how to sew better than I do, and are better at the domestic thing than I ever care to be. Is there some high school shit still going on in the adult world that I am missing?

This is one of those things that really depends on your milieu. My male partner does all the meal planning, shopping, and cooking, is interested in fashion and art, and many other things that are traditionally considered feminine pursuits. This is common among his male friends too. However, the circles we run in are ones where that's not just allowed, it's encouraged. There's a value placed on engagement with the arts and on NOT adhering to sexist traditions.

However, from my observations at work (teaching at a community college, where we have a diverse crowd of folks), I can report there are a LOT of people who would be (and are) excoriated for anything that smacks of deviation from gender norms.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


yoga pants = flexfit legshells
knitting = microknot textile crafting
mimosa = energy-dense vitamin hydrator
posted by theodolite at 11:05 AM on January 14, 2017 [133 favorites]


Peer pressure is not an excuse once you are over 18.

To an extent. People who get tagged as LGBTQ on the basis of gender signals still face discrimination, harassment, and violence.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2017 [27 favorites]


yoga = intense hyper-flexibility training
makeup = social camouflage layering
posted by Hutch at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2017 [17 favorites]


There's a mani-pedi place near me targeted for gay men, and as a woman, I love it.

Manny Petty is the best drag (king) name ever.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:10 AM on January 14, 2017 [66 favorites]


People who get tagged as LGBTQ on the basis of gender signals still face discrimination, harassment, and violence

Definitely, and my heart goes out to them. I was more referring to the cishetbro contingent that has heretofore been "prevented" from making a sweater in their spare time or smelling like daisies.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:10 AM on January 14, 2017


grumpybear69: True, part my my skepticism on this piece is its coming from an online venue that's host to an anti-feminist right that's very concerned with keeping masculinity as a thing. (Of course reddit also has some good spaces for genderqueer and nonbinary people, but they're much smaller.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:14 AM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have a co-worker who argues with other co-workers about how I am NOT gay when it comes up simply because he can't handle the idea, despite the rainbow flag sticker on my back window. He's never talked to ME about it directly. Toxic masculinity takes odd forms.
posted by hippybear at 11:14 AM on January 14, 2017 [18 favorites]


but it has been my observation that everyone from my Dad to almost every one of my male partners that they rarely give two craps about what other dudes think when they go to do their thing.

I can't or at least shouldn't malign people you know and I don't, so maybe this is as true as it seems, but this is like the number one posture of posturing masculinity. Admitting that you care what other people think and taking other people's feelings into consideration when you decide how to live your life in order to please is the most taboo of feminine hobbies and it is no surprise that manly men, even ones who like fiber arts and pretty colors, are hesitant to do it in public. whatever they may enjoy behind closed doors.

I am no fan of caring what men think, myself; I think it is as boring as cross-stitch, or almost. like cross-stitch, it is a hobby that has historically thrived, or thriven, or throve, among classes of people cooped up inside a lot of the time and forbidden more vigorous pastimes. but like cross-stitch, just because men might not admit they do it doesn't mean they don't. I think that the men who care most about what other men think of them and their gender performance are the least likely to come out and admit it.

I do know what you mean about men not giving a shit who sees them knitting or doing their eyeliner and it is moderately heartwarming, I know some of those guys, they're nice. but I really hate the whole thing where sure, you can have girly hobbies and still be a man's man, but only if you are tough and cool and super secure and don't give a shit what anybody thinks about it. you know, if you're masculine about it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:15 AM on January 14, 2017 [58 favorites]


Yeah, I think there has been a bit of an upswing in gender essentialism in the last twenty or thirty years. I know we've discussed it a lot here in terms of marketing "boys'" and "girls'" toys and related issues.

Speaking as someone who's been involved in the arts all my life, particularly working with young people, I know for a fact that peer pressure keeps LOTS of young boys and men from getting involved in music, dance, theater, and performing arts in general on a school and community level. I've worked with even medium-sized middle and high schools that had only all-girl choirs because it was considered such an uncool thing for boys to sing. Even with social dancing, it's always Justice hard to find enough male partners to go around as well Jane Austen's characters complained about it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:17 AM on January 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


Ironically, one can simply man up and do those things.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


My god. Tactical benchtop thread injector.

Yeah, that sounds butch and all, but for truly manly threaded joining, you need a sailmakers awl. (Yes, that's a sewing machine, yes it works, yes it's easy, yes it's cool and fun :)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:23 AM on January 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


yoga = intense hyper-flexibility training
You joke, but at some point someone got upset that few men go to the group exercise classes at my gym, and they rebranded a bunch of them with names like "Turbo Intense Power Drills" and "TMX Manly Bootcamp Workout." There's a huge wall of video monitors when you walk in the door, and they always have it showing dudes in group exercise classes doing very dudely, totally-non-girly things with kettlebells and whatnot. As far as I can tell, it's not working at all, and the "He-man Mega-weight Super-dude Power Workout" classes are also mostly full of women, but they're making a valiant effort.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:23 AM on January 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


"Why do you care what anybody thinks of you," people say, while they get ready for their interviews, for their networking events, for their 360-degree reviews. While they make social media marketing plans and do advertising for their small businesses.

People who "don't care what anybody thinks" are either conveniently only interested in things other people approve of, lying, or economically handicapped by their indifference. Which is not to say people should care. It's just to say that there is a real, concrete impact that being outside the social norms will have on your life. You can't just tell people not to care because other people's opinions don't matter. We don't exist in some kind of communist utopia where we all get the same access to opportunities and wealth regardless of what people think of us. There shouldn't be consequences to doing things outside the norms for your assigned gender, but there absolutely are.
posted by Sequence at 11:26 AM on January 14, 2017 [124 favorites]


I've met plenty of guys who knit or crochet since I volunteer at a place that offers craft classes. But then again, I live in a hippie-ish area and people tend to be cool(er) about things like that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:30 AM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


yoga = intense hyper-flexibility training

makeup = social camouflage layering


Ok but for real there's a "body weight fitness" subreddit and every time I see their stuff I just think "oh, so easier yoga?"

Somewhat related: every time a dudebro sets up a mat next to mine in what is clearly the first yoga class he's ever taken and with the clear assumption that he's gonna crush it because it's not a real work out*, I have a game I like to play. The game is called "how many optional chuttarungas can I make you do?"

It never, ever fails. No matter how much of a sweaty, shaking mess they are, if I start one, they have to do one too. Sometimes I mess with them and pretend to go back to child's pose before sliding forward -- slowly -- for another one.

I do not feel guilty about this at all, because men who are not sexist dicks about yoga are immune.

*this is obviously a strict requirement. It's only happened maybe 4-5 times in 8+ months of 3-5 / week yoga. But I've enjoyed it every time.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:32 AM on January 14, 2017 [78 favorites]


Knitting? Oh, do you mean stylus-based tactical looped gear manufacturing?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:33 AM on January 14, 2017 [36 favorites]


"Why do you care what anybody thinks of you," people say, while they get ready for their interviews, for their networking events, for their 360-degree reviews. While they make social media marketing plans and do advertising for their small businesses.
I take your point, but how would anyone even know that you were knitting unless you told them? A lot of these things are things that you could pretty easily keep private or choose not to reveal at work.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


"He-man Mega-weight Super-dude Power Workout"

Anyone need a slightly-overlong user name?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


I apologize in advance for womansplaining- but it has been my observation that everyone from my Dad to almost every one of my male partners that they rarely give two craps about what other dudes think when they go to do their thing. Most of the men I know cook, know how to sew better than I do, and are better at the domestic thing than I ever care to be. Is there some high school shit still going on in the adult world that I am missing?

There are still limits. For example, as someone else mentioned, touching is still extremely taboo in the context of homosocial bonding among straight men. Hand-holding may be acceptable in Saudi Arabia or China, or even in western societies as of a couple of centuries ago, but most men I know would become confused and frightened if I tried to express affection with anything more than a handshake or a brief hug. Certain displays of male grief can also provoke discomfort or judgment in others, e.g. if a man really starts full-on sobbing.

The cooking, the sewing, the ordering fruity drinks, the smelling nice -- those are good changes, but in a sense I consider them only surficial changes. The deck chairs are looking better these days, but the Good Ship Toxic Masculinity is still taking on water. Our culture still has a set of complex, subtle and restrictive rules about how men can express affection, grief, etc., just as it has a set of complex, subtle and restrictive rules about how women are supposed to express anger, ambition, etc.

[I happened to grow up in an alcoholic home, where the unspoken rules (as in most families with an active addict) were essentially don't talk, don't trust, and don't feel: alienate yourself from others and from your own emotions, because emotions are incredibly dangerous things. Unlearning these habits has been one of the most difficult tasks I have ever faced, and an agonizingly slow process. I had to learn those rules instinctively to keep my safety and sanity intact. "Old habits die hard" is right, and that includes the deep-down cues and habits and fears that society inculcates in us. Sometimes I think about the rules I learned from my upbringing, and how they compare to the rules that we all learn to a bone-deep level from our society. Anyway, that may be neither here nor there.]
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:36 AM on January 14, 2017 [50 favorites]


I'd like to have access to the full spectrum of fabric patterns that fit my body type, rather than an austere "masculine" subset. For example: a year or so ago, Uniqlo had Liberty-print floral shirts. The women got ones in a full spectrum of rich colours, golden yellows, reds, greens and such, whereas the men's ones were restricted to a steely blue-grey. Because men are meant to be hard and steely and project a granitic gravitas, and colour is for silly girls, or something.
posted by acb at 11:38 AM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


yoga = intense hyper-flexibility training
I actually like this re-branding from a cultural perspective, since yoga usually isn't really yoga assuming there is a thing called yoga to brand.

The cooking, the sewing, the ordering fruity drinks, the smelling nice -- those are good changes, but in a sense I consider them only surficial changes. The deck chairs are looking better these days, but the Good Ship Toxic Masculinity is still taking on water. Our culture still has a set of complex, subtle and restrictive rules about how men can express affection, grief, etc., just as it has a set of complex, subtle and restrictive rules about how women are supposed to express anger, ambition, etc.

Good point. Our American cultural history is filled with no lack of sensitive artistic men who were misogynist as heck in their interpersonal relationships. In fact, that's kind of what the whole mythopoetic movement ended up in.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:39 AM on January 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


but most men I know would become confused and frightened if I tried to express affection with anything more than a handshake or a brief hug. Certain displays of male grief can also provoke discomfort or judgment in others, e.g. if a man really starts full-on sobbing

I don't generally spend a lot of time feeling sorry for men -- I'm still working through the "INCREDIBLY ANGRY" stage of my feminism, so that's...very much the top note -- but *this*.

This makes me so incredibly sad for so many men, and makes me want to give out hugs.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:42 AM on January 14, 2017 [37 favorites]


I know for a fact that peer pressure keeps LOTS of young boys and men from getting involved in music, dance, theater, and performing arts...

Which always struck me as ridiculous because those activities are full of girls. You would think that teenage boys would be acutely alive to the possibilities of this, but very few of them are. I went to a very progressive high school, and even then most of the boys interested in theater were gay. The ones that weren't became very popular with the ladies (and being teenage boys, they generally handled this very badly, but until we invent cryosleep for adolescents this is going to keep happening).

The only explanation I can figure is that boys imbibe the idea of performing as unmanly at the "latent" age, or whatever it is we now call the period of ostentatiously hating the opposite sex, and it's too difficult for them to budge and admit that they're wrong before ... well, that depends on the guy, of course. And then there's the subtle social question of whether the kind of girls in the performing arts are supposed to be in the "marked" category of undesirables - not blonde or rich or Christian or partying enough for boys to aspire to be around them. All very ugly and ordinary.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


My mom likes to tell the story of when we were vacationing in Texas over the Christmas holiday. I went to sit on Santa's knee, a big brash Santa with a drawl as thick as molasses. When he asked me what I wanted, I said, "I want a Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven..."

Santa went, "whoooaaaaa..." and held me up like I'd just shit my pants.

"...and a Mobil Oil Truck."

Santa, held me close again, relieved. "Well, OK, then, I'll see what I can do."

So I learned about the pitfalls of toxic masculinity from Santa.

But fuck Santa. My truck and my oven were both fuckin' rad.
posted by klanawa at 11:45 AM on January 14, 2017 [169 favorites]


"Why do you care what anybody thinks of you," people say, while they get ready for their interviews, for their networking events, for their 360-degree reviews. While they make social media marketing plans and do advertising for their small businesses.

You're conflating work and personal life here. Lots of people dress in suits or whatever at the office and then head for the S&M club at night. Never the twain shall meet. Extracting wealth from others of course requires adjusting to the norms of your target, but that is distinct from what you do in your dungeon living room.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


This stuff changes all the time. I'm a 46 YO American, and I can remember when my grandfather thought wearing ANY kind of deodorant was too girly for real me.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


Easy Bake Ovens were awesome because you were cooking food WITH THE EXCESS ENERGY OF A FUKIN' LIGHT BULB and how is that not fascinating and amazing and totally male?
posted by hippybear at 11:48 AM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


Ok but for real there's a "body weight fitness" subreddit and every time I see their stuff I just think "oh, so easier yoga?"

In total fairness (and ignoring whatever possible nonsense may exist in any given subreddit), "body weight exercises" are a definite thing meant to build bulky muscle and endurance without equipment, and having in the past poked around the topic outside of reddit, most bodyweight enthusiasts are well aware that there's no relation to or comparison with yoga. Heck, lots of people do both, myself included - you yoga so you don't go, "OW FUCK I CAN'T" when you do a bodyweight workout.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:50 AM on January 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


(I mean, cooking with light bulbs is also totally female. It's totally making food, which is a universal need. Jeebus. Please don't hate on me for what I said in my previous comment.)
posted by hippybear at 11:52 AM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


gumpybear69: One of the things I've come to realize in the last few years is that the excessive compartmentalization of being in the closet here but not there is, in fact, a significant health risk that needs to be addressed. There's a bit of difference involved here between guys who pick up a feminine hobby just for fun, and people for whom passing is labor we put into accommodating straight people.

hippybear: I don't have the cites at hand, but there's a bit of feminist work about how technology used by men is coded differently compared to technology used by women. Examples include "computers" (see Hidden Figures for a look into that world), cooking, telephone operators (feminized because you could fit more women in the room and pay them less), doctors in post WWII Russia, and bras/corsetry.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:04 PM on January 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


Or just see Hidden Figures, which is a brilliant movie about segregation, women, and labor in multiple ways.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:05 PM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


Easy Bake Ovens were awesome because you were cooking food WITH THE EXCESS ENERGY OF A FUKIN' LIGHT BULB and how is that not fascinating and amazing and totally male?
The thing is, it's all kind of arbitrary. We take for granted that knitting is totally female (and hence boring and hokey and useless), but you could rebrand it as making utilitarian three-dimensional objects by using instruments to tie knots, and it could seem obvious that it was a male activity that men would innately be much better at because of their innate masculine knot-tying and spatial-reasoning skills. The point is to have a rigid division between masculine and feminine activities, to code all masculine activities as superior to feminine activities, and to disproportionately celebrate and reward men who take part in feminine activities. It's to elevate men over women. The actual content of the activities is irrelevant and can be manipulated to make the arbitrary division seem natural.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:05 PM on January 14, 2017 [88 favorites]


I take your point, but how would anyone even know that you were knitting unless you told them?

"So what're you doing this weekend, Joe?"

"Uhhhh."

Part of social contact is talking about the things you're doing. Sure, you could knit in secret. You could take yoga classes without telling your coworkers. But you're going to have to talk about your activities sometime, as a part of that posturing to get ahead in the world. People are going to ask what you do in your free time. People are going to talk about their hobbies and assume you're going to talk about yours.

Nobody's being held at gunpoint to stop them from knitting, of course not. But there's a huge stack of disincentives to spend your time doing things that aren't socially acceptable, and they need to be acknowledged that the problem isn't "men don't knit enough", the problem is "people in power are strongly enforcing gender norms, as well as class and ethnic norms, in a way that introduces significant risks to people who violate those norms". Because it's kind of sad that men don't knit more, but there are a lot of people who're suffering far worse from that kind of gatekeeping than just not being able to knit.
posted by Sequence at 12:07 PM on January 14, 2017 [23 favorites]


(Technically, I don't think knitting creates true knots, but that's an esoteric quibble.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:07 PM on January 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


The comments in this thread have been shockingly dismissive, sneering, even insulting. I can't imagine MeFi treating female issues so blithely, but here we have a thread full of comments calling these attitudes ridiculous and telling people to get over it without even the barest acknowledgement of the kind of social and cultural norms and risks that Sequence mentions above. It's not like all these guys just decided not to knit, they exist within structures that reinforce gender norms and punish men for openly defying them. In threads discussing women's issues these points are always at the forefront, but strangely not here.

Threads discussing men's issues tend to go badly on MeFi but this is surprisingly terrible.

It's also funny how many comments are essentially, "In my progressive social circle in the liberal coastal enclave I live in this isn't a problem, so what's the big deal?" There are many places where, say, telling your coworkers or boss about your "feminine" hobbies could harm your reputation or career.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:15 PM on January 14, 2017 [80 favorites]


(The true knots in knitting is at the beginning of the cast-on and at the finish. Everything else is just a tangle.)
posted by hippybear at 12:15 PM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


Sure, you could knit in secret.
I do knit. I am sitting here on my couch, alternating between knitting and checking Metafilter. I don't tell people that I knit when they ask me what I'm doing this weekend, because that's not really where knitting fits in my life. I knit while I watch TV or listen to podcasts. I wouldn't say "I'm going to read a book" or "I'm going to listen to some podcasts" when people asked me what I was doing over the weekend, either, I don't think, and it's not because I'm hiding my reading habit. I don't think that most people who know me casually know that I knit, and it's not because I "knit in secret."
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:15 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


(Knitting doesn't make true knots at all, no, unless I guess you define an entire finished piece as a knot and you only use one piece of yarn to make it and focus on the bit where you draw in the last bound off bit and the first cast on--but yeah, no.) not that ArbitraryandCapricious isn't completely 100% correct otherwise.

I actually liked hippybear's excited comment, because it so perfectly encapsulated why I fucking loved the Easy Bake Oven I inherited from my mom as a kid. It had been hers when she was a kid, and as the eldest grandchildren my sister and I got it. You got cake at the end! It got cooked by a lightbulb, so you could watch it puffing up and heating! How is that not amazing?!?

I do disagree that it's inherently male, mind, because--well, I had exactly the same kind of delight as a kid, and I'm not all that masculine, me. I do think it's inherently awesome and it makes me sad that little boys who wanted one might not have access for reasons that basically boil down to misogyny hurting them, too.
posted by sciatrix at 12:17 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Regarding knitting, ArbitraryAndCapricious.... well, here's a thing that occurs to me, as another female knitter. I have spoken to male knitters who talk about going to yarn shops and having women follow them, wide-eyed, from aisle to aisle or who make dismissive comments about them picking up yarn for (assumed) wives. I have also heard from men who used to knit on buses or in public--and I knit on buses all the time, me, because I'm sitting and why not make a hat while I'm waiting on my hour-long bus ride--but have stopped because the unwelcome public attention they got every time they pulled out needles and their current project was just too damn irritating.

Where does that fit in, in the spectrum of public pressure?
posted by sciatrix at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


I mean, cooking with light bulbs is also totally female.

Elegant save, sir, well played.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2017


Knitting was associated with mostly grandmothers not that long ago.

I did buy a pair of galaxy patterned leggings to match the ones my husband wears. He is not too concerned with the trappings of masculinity, despite how he was raised. I wonder if it is a function of age? We're both on the downhill side of our 30s. He wears what he likes and does what he likes, and I leave body hair in place as I like and avoid make-up as I like.

Or maybe it's a byproduct of being aged roleplayers. We already had to cross the gauntlet of playing D&D and reading comic books before geekery was "cool" and when we were more peer-influenced in our youth. What's a little gender non-comformity as established adults in comparison?
posted by pearshaped at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Is there some high school shit still going on in the adult world that I am missing?

While men are encouraged to be gregarious and generally benefit from it, but they can get by all right even if they're not. As a result, men are more free to choose what information to share or withhold about their private life, and others won't necessarily press too hard when meeting resistance. So, they don't have to reveal their knitting hobby or whatever if they're in company that might judge them for it.

The bushcraft community increases the absurdity by calling it a tactical benchtop thread injector.

I had really, really hoped you were joking about this, but it seems not. A sewing machine is still a machine, right? It's a tool! Surely, there's no need to masc it all up. But, apparently there is. Sigh.

Which always struck me as ridiculous because those activities are full of girls. You would think that teenage boys would be acutely alive to the possibilities of this, but very few of them are.

Ballroom dancing is perhaps the most extreme version of this. Yes, it's dancing, and therefore unmasculine. But it's also an excuse to get really up close and personal with girls. Maybe the unmasculine part is that the physical contact is all consensual...
posted by tobascodagama at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


I remember reading in a book about prison, that knitting was very popular among inmates. Then they figured out that you could kill someone with a knitting needle, and administration had everyone switch to crochet.
posted by jonmc at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


"He-man Mega-weight Super-dude Power Workout"

intense hyper-flexibility training

"Turbo Intense Power Drills" and "TMX Manly Bootcamp Workout."

So many new good euphemisms for having sex with my boyfriend :)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


Closets of all kinds are horribly isolating. It's fundamentally walling off a part of yourself from everyone else on the planet, until maybe it goes numb. And the part of you that likes to knit may not be as core to your experience as who you're attracted to or how you identify, but when there are a lot of those smaller things, they add up, and they start to hurt.

I've been trying to puzzle out why the Man Names For Lady Things is so deeply funny to me, and I think it's because it's an expression of pain that hits at someone else (women). It's like when, after getting punched in the balls by a child, Tony Cox lashes out and punches Billy Bob Thornton in the balls in Bad Santa. I know this is a bizarre comparison, but it's the same kind of painful bark laugh.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:26 PM on January 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


The comments in this thread have been shockingly dismissive, sneering, even insulting. I can't imagine MeFi treating female issues so blithely, but here we have a thread full of comments calling these attitudes ridiculous and telling people to get over it without even the barest acknowledgement of the kind of social and cultural norms and risks that Sequence mentions above. It's not like all these guys just decided not to knit, they exist within structures that reinforce gender norms and punish men for openly defying them. In threads discussing women's issues these points are always at the forefront, but strangely not here.

Is there any way to deal with toxic masculinity other than by insulting it and its ridiculous fears and premises? Is holding some toxic masculine guy's hand (like he'd let you even do that!) and trying to lead him gently into some new kinder, gentler future where it's okay that he really like Lady Gaga and wants to watch cooking shows on the weekend while he does needlepoint going to really defeat the horror that is the cultural bullshit attached to what is okay or not okay to do because he has an outie instead of an innie? I mean, seriously.

If women's issues are treated better on MetaFilter it's because women have been subjected to so much suppressive cultural influence for centuries. I always want to see women overcome the cultural bullshit, and it's such a fucking giant Hollywood moment that Hidden Figures exists because OMG women can do math that, despite its true story and the race issues involved, I don't know why women aren't insulted that 1) this story wasn't better known across the decades and 2) are you fucking kidding me that it's so shocking that women can do math?

Tell me how to effectively confront toxic masculinity in a way that doesn't require me to use the entire worldview of toxic masculinity in order to trigger a change, and I will happy follow that recommendation. But as it stands, saying "it's so stupid that you have this attitude, you should change that, don't be a wuss, be a real man and do what you want" seems to be the only way to get things to change. It's not like the guys who suffer from this cultural condition are going to hug it out.
posted by hippybear at 12:30 PM on January 14, 2017 [24 favorites]


Sangermaine: I am not being blithely dismissive. I am a man who has not conformed to many traditional aspects of masculinity or social acceptability. To wit: my hairy back. It remains one of the last free fire zones re: mockery - nobody will defend the recipient of a hairy back joke. Do I care? No. I did, once, very much. You can even read my story in the Washington Post. I stopped shaving and started taking my shirt off at the beach after I realized that, contrary to popular narrative, it wasn't an insurmountable obstacle to acceptance. The mocking didn't stop, but I stopped listening.

Now, that doesn't compare to people who have to mask their sexuality or actively repress behavioral traits that will result in real violence, but anodyne stuff like knitting or getting a manicure mostly don't fall into that category, especially and particularly if you present as masculine. So no, I shed no tears for the Secret Crochet Brogade, because their "bravery" or whatever is literally just growing up and learning to Believe In Yourself.

Also my favorite deodorant is Secret Powder Fresh, though I use it sparingly because the aluminum discolors my shirts.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


I don't pretend to have all the answers, or even an answer, to how to change things for the better.

It just seems utterly bizarre to me that on a site that usually values compassion and understanding, the response to men saying that they feel social and cultural pressure to refrain from doing things they want, and face social and cultural repercussions for doing so, and that this is an aspect of the patriarchal social structures that we inhabit, the response is "it's so stupid that you have this attitude, you should change that, don't be a wuss, be a real man and do what you want".

Now, that doesn't compare to people who have to mask their sexuality or actively repress behavioral traits that will result in real violence, but anodyne stuff like knitting or getting a manicure mostly don't fall into that category, especially and particularly if you present as masculine.

I thought we usually don't like this "oppression Olympics" kind of thinking. Sure being pressured to avoid something like knitting isn't the end of the world or a mater of life or death, but that doesn't mean social structures that exist that keep people from doing and feeling what they want aren't a real problem.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2017 [27 favorites]


> I don't think that most people who know me casually know that I knit, and it's not because I "knit in secret."

Sure, but if you're working on a big knitting project, or a special one, or a new one that is giving you fits, you might mention it in the same way you'd mention you were....I dunno, finishing the new kitchen cabinets but you bought the wrong paint, or you're putting the final touches on the treehouse you built for your kid's birthday. The point is no man should have to spend a millisecond of time or emotional energy deciding if the person he's talking to will raise an eyebrow or give him any shit whatsoever when he talks about how he just can't get the damn sleeves on the sweater he's knitting to come out to the same length. It ought to be small talk in the same way "bought wrong paint, gotta go back to the store" is small talk but for all too many men it very clearly isn't.
posted by rtha at 12:39 PM on January 14, 2017 [24 favorites]


The point is no man should have to spend a millisecond of time or emotional energy deciding if the person he's talking to will raise an eyebrow or give him any shit whatsoever when he talks about how he just can't get the damn sleeves on the sweater he's knitting to come out to the same length.

QFMFT
posted by hippybear at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


A sewing machine is still a machine, right? It's a tool! Surely, there's no need to masc it all up.

No kidding. My sewing machine is an ancient hand crank Singer 15-91; it's a sleek, black and chrome, cast iron, precision tool. Imagine if Darth Vader had a sewing machine, that's what it looks like.
posted by peeedro at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2017 [21 favorites]


the response is "it's so stupid that you have this attitude, you should change that, don't be a wuss, be a real man and do what you want".

No, the response is "free yourself from the shackles of needing the validation of others."
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:47 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


I was just quoting hippybear there.

And it's not about needing the validation of others, it's that deviating from gender norms can have real consequences for people, though this may vary, as hurdy gurdy girl notes above, by milieu. I would submit that perhaps, as someone who used to live in SF and is now a programmer and composer in Brooklyn, you have been fortunate enough to not have to deal with these repercussions, but that doesn't mean they don't exist for other people.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:55 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Receiving the disvalidation of others is the definition of what it means to have repercussions from others. I say this as a gay man who has never lived on either coast and who has had to stand strong in the face of what is considered cultural violation for decades.

But I guess that maybe a faggot is stronger than toxic masculinity affected men. I don't know. I am not one of them.
posted by hippybear at 12:58 PM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


IMO, even though deviating from gender norms can have real consequences, what other options are there if you want to change things? I'm not sure how patriarchy can die until a large enough mass of people just start being themselves no matter the consequences. I'm not saying this is easy - it's most definitely not.
posted by FireFountain at 1:01 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Part of my skepticism is that marketing has an ugly pattern of co-opting any steps for relaxed gender roles and reframing it as the new macho, sometimes with laughable results. At worst, we could end up with another Brony where male knitting geeks take up all the air in the room in ways that are hostile to other people.

The occasional shock when I shop in a yarn store (not that often) is just one of many mild points of dissonance I experience. That sort of thing adds up but it's not the worst by far.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:03 PM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


That sort of thing adds up

Welcome to the microaggressions that are a daily part of being a gay man.
posted by hippybear at 1:05 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I just got No True Scotted! Nice. You are in no position to judge my life based on my profile page, SG. But whatevs. As has been mentioned, the only solution is to not GAF. Commercial cooption has, as CBrach noted, negative knock-on effects.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:07 PM on January 14, 2017


I had really, really hoped you were joking about this, but it seems not. A sewing machine is still a machine, right? It's a tool! Surely, there's no need to masc it all up. But, apparently there is. Sigh.

I see this a bit differently. There is most definitely a gender component in making it seem less feminine because patriarchy and sexism but there is an opposite effect at play.

Men, have more freedom to play around with their machines, with play being the operative words. I'm a woman who loves tools and machines and the utility of what they do while being the most important is just part of it. I would fricken love to 'soup up' my sewing machine and make a badass 'thread injection tool'. It would be heaps of fun to add some bells and whistles and heck maybe some flashing lights. It's just fun. Of course there is nothing stopping me I know but it's also something coded unfeminine because a lot of woman are just like 'why?' it's a sewing machine?

This coded machine play can easily be seen in things like car and motorbike culture. It's much more acceptable for men to do what is essentially a form of play.

It's also something I've experienced in computer world and it's been around since the beginning. Back in University in the days of lan parties that I attended part of it wasn't just playing the game, but about playing around with your rigs. I saw some absolutely nuts set-ups with water tubes and lights, some of which did provide increased technical specs of the machines but beyond a point the 'tweaking' was more about playing and the challenge of being able to eek out the half a percentage point of power or speed. And all the lights, effects and graphics were about show. Your computer does not work better because it has bolts of lightening on the tower or your keyboard backlighting changes colors.

And again there was and is nothing stopping me technically from doing the same but it is definitely coded as a male thing to do by both men and woman. I've gotten more questioning about doing these things from woman then I have men in my experience. This thankfully is something that I've seen slowly change over the years but it is still there.
posted by Jalliah at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2017 [13 favorites]


I wish the muumuu were an acceptable garment for men, especially lazy fat men like myself.

Muumuus: The garment that says, "I'm wearing clothes. What more do you want from me?"
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:14 PM on January 14, 2017 [23 favorites]


After my dad passed in 2007, I got his sewing machine, which he purchased to make seat covers for whichever airplane he was building back in the late 60s/early 70s. When he no longer engaged in that hobby, he used it for routine clothing repair.

Dad, who was born in 1931, was not an open-minded, feminist-type. E.g., when Mom asked (yes, she actually asked) if she could get a job after my brother and I were in grade school, Dad begrudgingly allowed this on the condition that dinner was on the table when he got home (at 5:30, no less).

But it never seemed odd to me that he had a sewing machine. Nor was I at all surprised when Mom gave it to me because she "had no use for that thing".

Further evidence that "normal" is what you grow up with.
posted by she's not there at 1:15 PM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


Faint of Butt: Homer Simpson went through a muumuu phase. I don't remember what the end of that episode was, but it probably involved gender shaming or something.
posted by hippybear at 1:16 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Regarding knitting, ArbitraryAndCapricious.... well, here's a thing that occurs to me, as another female knitter. I have spoken to male knitters who talk about going to yarn shops and having women follow them, wide-eyed, from aisle to aisle or who make dismissive comments about them picking up yarn for (assumed) wives.
Yeah, I've heard that, too. I've also witnessed, though, a kind of flip-side, where dudes in yarn shops are treated like really awesome and exceptional creatures and where their skills are celebrated even compared to equally or more-skilled women knitters. I'm sure that a lot of male knitters find that annoying, too, but it's a kind of annoying that elevates them above women. Men don't have to do a whole lot to presume themselves and be presumed to be experts, even (and maybe especially) at things that are coded female. And the flipside is not true. When women go into hobby shops or gaming stores, we are presumed to know less than men when we arrive, and we are still presumed to know less than men if we establish that we know what we're doing. We're not automatic experts. We're fake geek girls.

But that's not really the point, because I was responding to someone who said that men don't knit because there would be economic consequences at networking events, job interviews, and performance reviews if they did. And I think the pressures are more subtle than that, which is not in any way to deny that the pressures exist. My nephew was really enthusiastic about knitting until he realized it was a girl thing, and my nephew is at least a decade away from having to worry about his career prospects.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:16 PM on January 14, 2017 [27 favorites]


No, the response is "free yourself from the shackles of needing the validation of others."

And again, this will happen just as soon as people can free themselves from the shackles of needing to actually earn a living. The validation of others is literally how most people manage to actually attain economic security. I'm not saying I seriously weep for the ability of cis het white men to attain economic security. I'm just saying that categorically, nobody is capable of existing in a world where it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks of you. It matters. You can say, "If you're economically secure anyway, you can probably stand to take a few small risks with this," and I'll go for that.

But people do care about gender presentation, and as a queer person who's always been terrible about it, I can't just stand by and let people say it doesn't matter. Where I'd be in my life if I conformed is a very different place than where I am now. This attitude pretends that the poor opinion of others just results in you needing to find some kind of nebulous self-worth elsewhere, but that's not how the world works. Corporate America, academia, small business, there's not really any arena of modern employment that's actually a meritocracy where the opinions of others don't matter if you're good at what you do.
posted by Sequence at 1:23 PM on January 14, 2017 [37 favorites]


But people do care about gender presentation, and as a queer person who's always been terrible about it, I can't just stand by and let people say it doesn't matter.

Yes. Let me just dive down to the bottom of some of our ugly cultural muck and point out (as many of you know) that boys and young men are violently discouraged from doing "feminine" things because of the two poisonous beliefs -- that (a) doing feminine things will "make them" gay and that (b) being gay is not okay. There's a ferocity there that I don't know if we can just laugh off.
posted by puddledork at 1:32 PM on January 14, 2017 [30 favorites]


At its core, toxic masculinity is, indeed, homophobia.
posted by hippybear at 1:34 PM on January 14, 2017 [35 favorites]


"Not caring what other people think" in the limit case is sociopathy, no? It's what trolls and other people who are being abusive use to deflect blame away from themselves and onto their targets: it's not my fault for being mean to you, it's your fault for getting upset about it.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:35 PM on January 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


Or homophobia is really effemephobia at its core.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 1:36 PM on January 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


So, from what I've noticed, this is how things currently stand for heterosexual men in America.

Acceptable for a man :
cooking
sewing
knitting
childcare
getting a manicure/pedicure
yoga
dressing fashionably

Not acceptable :
ordering a "girly drink" at a bar
wearing dresses and tights
liking "girly music"
crying
being a stay-at-home dad
going out of your way to befriend another man just for the sake of being friends (and not because of a shared activity, hobby, or work obligation)

Not sure if there's a pattern here. Maybe it's that if something can somehow be thought of as "work" or if enough other straight guys do it, it becomes okay.
posted by when it rains it snows at 1:43 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


No, the response is "free yourself from the shackles of needing the validation of others."

And again, this will happen just as soon as people can free themselves from the shackles of needing to actually earn a living. (posted by Sequence).


Well put. This reminds me of the notion that women who don't like make up (and all the social implications) should just quit wearing make up—as if that's what all strong, don't-give-a-fuck-about-the-patriarchy women do. Except, of course, for those who continue to wear make up simply because they like make up and have not been at all influenced by social expectations.

"Free yourself from the shackles of needing the validation of others" oversimplifies the issue and is another version of victim-blaming.
posted by she's not there at 1:44 PM on January 14, 2017 [14 favorites]


I don't remember what the end of that episode was, but it probably involved gender shaming or something.

King-Size Homer. Homer intentionally puts on a lot of weight so he can work from home for medical reasons (and not have to attend the mandatory corporate calisthenics program), quickly figures out how to automate his job, is about to cause a Chernobyl-size nuclear accident when the automation breaks down, but ends up saving the day by being big enough to seal the tank opening with his body "while a slimmer man would have fallen to his death."
posted by effbot at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Rainbo Vagrant, I don't think that's right either. In my experience straight men are also threatened by overtly, conventionally masculine gay men -- I'd imagine because straight men fear being seen as the object of male desire.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:51 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Welcome to the microaggressions that are a daily part of being a gay man.

I've been struggling with passing (and violent reactions to not-passing) for about 35 years now. For me, those pressures are very much about a somewhat irrational phobia of getting beaten or shunned. That's only somewhat irrational because it has happened before over trivial shit that I wasn't aware of until after the fact.

When I was asked about my current project at a family gathering (where half the room knows and the other half doesn't), the phobia voice asked, "Is this the moment? Is this going to lead to the conversation that I'm not straight and quite possibly not a guy? Will I get thrown out of the family? Is this the start of the conversation where I walk out not to come back? Could that conversation turn violent? And what happens to my wonderful GNC nephew if it goes there?" Thankfully that voice is fairly quiet, but it's still there. It's an annoying little burr in the trust of those relationships.

That's why these conversations trigger so much dissonance from me. Because doing gendered thing puts me into a gender binary in the eyes of other people. I knit because I like it. It's not some sort of masculinist reclaiming of a hobby with masculine fashions, and oh gods, that horrible men-focused written voice that's the opposite of comforting for me. I knit because I can. I build computers because I can. Just give me the pattern or the parts list and quit trying to use that to gender me into your scripts. (Indefinite "you" in that last paragraph.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2017 [19 favorites]


I admit that my gut reaction to this is "just get over yourself and do whatever you want." and so reading the comment about how this is structural made me rethink that automatic reaction. Here's the thing though, I'm sure it is structural, but I think there are two places the structure is coming to bear on people's decision-making.

1. If men do supposedly unmasculine things, they may be sanctioned in various ways by others. Ok, "just get over yourself" might not be the answer to that. I get it.

2. Men (well, boys) come to believe that some things are unmasculine and their own disdain for the feminine combined with their belief that others share this limits them. This is where I feel inclined to say "get over yourself."

So I think I automatically assume that #2 is what's happening. And I assume that because I dated a guy with a serious case of #2 and it was a source of great conflict between us and part of the reason I eventually broke up with him. It's kind of amazing how often this kind of stuff can come up when someone's entire consciousness seems wrapped up in making sure they're not perceived as feminine. Among the things that he told me he didn't do because they weren't manly:

1. Carry re-usable grocery bags (like if I had reusable grocery bags, he couldn't put them in the car. Plastic was ok).
2. Use a grocery cart (the kind for taking your groceries home). I ran into him while pulling my own cart once, and I was literally on the verge of passing out (I had just gotten home from surgery + complications and it was August and a million degrees out, and I way overbought given what I could carry home in my condition). He ran up to me and said "Let me help." and took the dog's leash from my hand, leaving me to pull the cart.
3. Walk some breeds of dogs.
4. Attend a baby shower for my (male) cousin.
5. Cook a meal indoors (seriously).
6. Drive some models of car and any automatic transmission car.
7. Use non-Old Spice or non-"For Men" soap or bath products.
8. See a doctor about his chronic long-term illness. (which to be fair, he managed very well, but when insurance required him to get a blood test before covering a very expensive device related to his condition, he actually wanted to just pay thousands of dollars himself, instead).
9. Read a fiction book.

It goes on and on. I don't even remember it all, but trust me that many many things were like the reusable grocery bag thing, stigmatized only in his own mind. And the thing is, it wasn't unconscious. He would clearly articulate that he could not do these things because men don't do those things. And of course let's not even talk about his legitimately confused reaction to the idea that if we were ever to have kids he would have to parent them, not just play with them a while after dinner.

So yeah, I guess I should reconsider that there are lots of people in category one, but my mind just jumps automatically to #2. And the thing about #2 guys, is that they're the ones creating the structure that guys in category #1 are trapped in. These category #1 guys are the ones silently (or not so silently) judging or ribbing other men, in this case for completely self-invented offenses. Those guys need to just get over themselves, for sure.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:56 PM on January 14, 2017 [45 favorites]


9. Read a fiction book.

Would he at least read the kind where there's guns and/or monsters and women and you know exactly what's going to happen at the end because the book came from an endcap filled with books in which the exact same thing happens at the end?
posted by Countess Elena at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2017


Sure- all these men wanting to do traditionally feminine things, but still no one wants to help me write Olivier Giroud fan yaoi.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


IOIHAP, if internalized misogyny is anything like internalized homophobia I'd guess that #1 actually creates #2. I suspect the guy in your story didn't invent those ridiculous rules himself, I think someone probably mocked him (or someone else in front of him) for breaking them, and so he's self-enforced thereafter.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I think there has been a bit of an upswing in gender essentialism in the last twenty or thirty years.

Seconded. Yeah, Rosey Grier did needlepoint and Joe Namath talked about wearing panty hose, but that was in the hippy ERA crunchy-granola 70's, and then along came the bro-tastic Wall-Street 80s and that was all dismissed as wussy bullshit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Rosey has quite the resume: football player, needlepointer, author, motivational speaker, assassin tackler (Sirhan Sirhan, look it up) and he even cut a few decent pop-soul 45s back in the day. If that ain't a badass, I don't know what is.
posted by jonmc at 2:25 PM on January 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


Yeah, Rosey Grier did needlepoint and Joe Namath talked about wearing panty hose, but that was in the hippy ERA crunchy-granola 70's, and then along came the bro-tastic Wall-Street 80s and that was all dismissed as wussy bullshit.

I suspect it had more to do with the fact that they had already established their masculinity cred, and could thus be safely considered "eccentric" rather than deviant.
posted by tclark at 2:26 PM on January 14, 2017 [17 favorites]


(48 year old hetero male who can make a decent pot of tea, and who notes that his Meta dating ad garnered more responses from men than women, whatever the heck that means)

In the world of library conferences, knitting is a big thing in audiences (more so in the US than the UK, where needle-clicking is controversial). And, at a rough survey across several events, I'd say between a quarter to a third of those delegates knitting were men. I took a picture of some knitters at an event a few years back; see the comments, as one of the knitters is a well-known male games-library-researcher.

Oh speaking of games; macho shoot-everyone-in-the-face video games are to me the most boring facet of the media. The only such game I got into was Halo, and that's because it lets you wander off and explore the physics aspects; oh to fly a Banshee, loop the loop, and see what objects you can nudge with it and tumble down a cliff face. Fun! But shooting lots of things: yadda yadda boring

But my favorite game franchise, by a long way, is Animal Crossing. A few screenshots from playing the 3DS version, and a blog post on about the least macho thing you can do in a video game. I've had regular comments along the lines of "why are you playing what looks like virtual dolls houses, dude?". Some I ignore, some I'll point out aspects of the complexity of play, or that Animal Crossing is fundamentally about community, or occasionally a few of the many subtleties of the games. But, usually just ignore as I kinda figure that people who prefer shoot-everyone-in-the-face video games are probably not going to appreciate anything subtle. Each to their own.
posted by Wordshore at 2:33 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Would he at least read the kind where there's guns and/or monsters and women and you know exactly what's going to happen at the end because the book came from an endcap filled with books in which the exact same thing happens at the end?

This is my Dad. He reads tons and it's all these types of books. He enjoys them. He's also pretty good on gender issues and has been doing a lot of work on understand real world sexism mostly because he was following the US election.
The sexism of his book reading and tv and movie watching is so internalized though it just doesn't occur to him that he should try anything different or that he would enjoy anything different. It's quite unconscious.

My Mom wanted to watch Outlander. So I set them up with a streaming service to do so and my Dad was sorta meh whatever and watched it because they spend their evenings together in the living room. He ended up getting into more then my Mom and would comment about his 'surprise' at how good it was. When he found out it was based on a series of books and that Mom had them while intrigued he wouldn't pick them up. One day he was looking for something to read because he had read all of his books. I literally put the book in his hand and said try this. Even then he was reluctant but I told him, you loved the show Dad just humor me and try a few chapters.

He read the whole thing, liked it a lot, but even then it didn't occur to him to go to Mom's bookshelf to look for the next one in the series. Those are Mom books!
posted by Jalliah at 2:34 PM on January 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


I suspect the guy in your story didn't invent those ridiculous rules himself, I think someone probably mocked him (or someone else in front of him) for breaking them, and so he's self-enforced thereafter.

that's a good point. I think the desire to avoid all things feminine definitely came from having had or seen those norms enforced (and I know by whom, in fact), but I think lots of the specific rules (and many of the feminine stereotypes he tried to push on me) came from sitcoms, comedy etc. He was a big fan of the "incompetent man-child and the wife who takes care of him cause otherwise how would he live" trope, though he seemed to think that these depictions and associated stereotypes were true-to-life archetypes of masculinity, rather than ridiculousness played for a laugh. I have no idea where the re-usable bag thing could possible have come from.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:35 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


I think if one sees this from an educational psychologist or a therapist's point of view, these men with male chauvinist attitudes didn't just create these values themselves per se, out of thin air. I bet they learned it, from fathers and role models in the media, and even in how the school system essentially functions as an ideological day care from K to 12, how teachers treat boys and girls in implicit ways, etc. There's a lot of historical baggage.

Part of it is that you or I may sometimes, or often, experience everday behaviors and attitudes by straight men as something threatening. But that itself is something that makes it harder to recognize their humanity, in the moment; the violence of it is precisely in that experience/encounter. Plus when stuff is happening up close and personal, it can get very hard. And for progressives this is hard, because it is just so tempting to just exclude others in return.
posted by polymodus at 2:46 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


My nephew, who's 7, told me he didn't like the colour pink, "because it's a girls' colour", so this sort of thing is still steeping into society from somewhere.
posted by Auz at 2:47 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]




My nephew, who's 7, told me he didn't like the colour pink, "because it's a girls' colour", so this sort of thing is still steeping into society from somewhere.

It's not seeping into society, it is perpetuated by society. Kids get it from older siblings, from their parents, from grandparents and teachers and random people they come across, from advertising, from the stories they take in. It's there if you look for it.
posted by galaxy rise at 2:58 PM on January 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Welcome to the microaggressions that are a daily part of being a gay man.

Lol this lesbian is um...aware

toxic masculinity is homophobia

Absolutely not. Homophobia is most often about the fear of being feminized. I mean, across cultures and time, AFAIK -- it's not a problem if you're the "dominant" one. Hell that's *still* a thing with gay men, too.

Of course men fear being feminized. Look at how they treat women.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:03 PM on January 14, 2017 [47 favorites]


> It's not seeping into society

I said steeping though...
posted by Auz at 3:07 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


One of the greatest joys this past Xmas was teaching my ten year-old nephew how to knit. He asked me.
posted by kariebookish at 3:14 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


straight men are also threatened by overtly, conventionally masculine gay men -- I'd imagine because straight men fear being seen as the object of male desire.

Yes, because they fear being treated like they would treat women.
posted by benzenedream at 3:34 PM on January 14, 2017 [31 favorites]


So, from what I've noticed, this is how things currently stand for heterosexual men in America.

Acceptable for a man :
cooking
sewing
knitting
childcare
getting a manicure/pedicure
yoga
dressing fashionably

Not acceptable :
ordering a "girly drink" at a bar
wearing dresses and tights
liking "girly music"
crying
being a stay-at-home dad
going out of your way to befriend another man just for the sake of being friends (and not because of a shared activity, hobby, or work obligation)


I think this depends a hell of a lot on context, age, and environment.

I mean, first impressions from my older GenX white Midwestern urban self:

cooking: Sure, might as well know how to feed yourself plus tons of famous male chefs
sewing: utilitarian only, maybe borderline-geeky-OK if you're making hobby costumes
knitting: nope, weird
childcare: meaning what? taking more-than-your-Dad-did care of your own kids, absolutely fine, even expected. As a job? Not really.
getting a manicure/pedicure: maybe for lawyers and bankers and other rich folks who have a need to look extremely well-put-together at work. Otherwise, not so much.
yoga: generally fine, but you wear T-shirt and gym shorts, nothing clingy or brightly colored.
dressing fashionably: acceptable up to a point. Lots of men's fashion, even young people's fashion like "hipster", doesn't really stray far if at all from "standard" gender presentation, though. So "fashionably" doesn't really push anybody's hostility buttons (mostly.)

"girly drink": depends a lot on the bar, some places anything more complex than rum and Coke is sissy stuff, others you gotta go full-on bright blue with umbrellas or "appletini" before it's a "girly drink."
dresses & tights: nope, can't do that
liking "girly music": like drinks, the definition of "girly music" can depend a lot on the environment. (So, yeah, liking "girly" things is a no-go, but you gotta be aware of when something is "girly" and when it's not . . .)
crying: Totally fine in the grip of really strong emotions, like a death in the family or the Cavaliers winning a championship and breaking a 52-year "curse." Otherwise not so much.
stay-at-home dad: Eh. This is way more acceptable than it used to be, given the last 40 years of economic roller coaster.
going out of your way to befriend another man just for the sake of being friends (and not because of a shared activity, hobby, or work obligation): *Blank look.* By which I mean, how do you even meet people outside of shared activities, hobbies, or work? I might exchange pleasant chit-chat with the dude in front of me at the grocery store or with one of my neighbors in my 40-unit apartment building, but does something like that turn into actual friendship for women or gay men often enough that you can generalize about hetero male behavior because it's notably different? Genuinely baffled about this one.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:50 PM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


Its weird, I can't help but wonder how much of the toxic masculinity is purely an internal affair. Maybe I've just been extremely lucky, but I lived most of my life in a fairly small town in Texas (Amarillo, pop ~180k) and only recently moved somewhere larger (San Antonio).

I've always cooked, and I've never been judged for doing so. Or at least as far as I know I've never been judged for cooking.

Likewise I once picked up knitting when I had an extremely tedious job back in the days before smartphones, and no one ever even looked at me funny. My partner wears the Gryffindor colored scarf I made for her and when she tells people I knit it for her the reaction is always approving both from men and women.

But.... I remember back when I was 11 or so being terribly worried about being seen as feminine, or weak, to the point where I wouldn't stand with my weight on just one leg because I had convinced myself that was a girly way of standing. No one ever told me that, no one ever shamed me for the way I stood, yet somehow I'd decided (apparently totally at random) that was the line I must never cross and I was standing uncomfortably for nearly a year before I gave it up.

Sometime in my late teens or early twenties I just stopped giving a shit about whether I was "manly" enough, it probably coincided with my discovery of feminism.

I've never actually encountered anyone shaming me, or any other man, for engaging in "feminine" pursuits. But I've encountered a lot of men afraid of being shamed for it.

So either there's a lot of shaming going on that I'm unaware of, or it's one of those fears that's largely groundless. Or maybe a bit of both?
posted by sotonohito at 3:51 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, gosh, I worry about this sort of thing a fair amount as a mother of boys. They really like gardening (major dad hobby) and cooking (involves fire and results in food), but we've gotten pushback on those since they were in preschool. We even sought out picture books that had boys cooking and liking flowers, to try to normalize! But sometimes they talk excitedly about what flower came up this week and get made fun of by peers or have adults seem amused rather than interested. One of my kids picks right up on that and stops talking about it and acts less interested; the other has some special needs and DOESN'T pick up on it, but gets that he's being excluded by his peers. Both suck. My husband is super-relaxed about masculinity issues, as are their uncles and grandfathers, but making it okay at home doesn't protect from social disapproval starting as young as two or three. (I vividly recall giving one of my boys a sippy cup with juice and someone saying, "Whoa, bold choice with the pink cup!" to my kid, jokingly, but also seriously, and that was just one of the colors that came in the package!) And I want them to have space to develop their talents and interests without society telling them those are Not Okay talents and interests for boys.

"I had really, really hoped you were joking about this, but it seems not. A sewing machine is still a machine, right? It's a tool! Surely, there's no need to masc it all up. But, apparently there is. Sigh."

I didn't sew for a while when my boys were both very small because I never had time; when I got the machine out when my littler one was about two, his eyes went very wide and he came over and started shrieking with joy and jumping up and down and shouting "MACHINE! MACHINE!" He was very accusatory about the fact that I'd been holding out on him that I had a powerful machine in the house and had never shown him. They both get excited by the stand mixer, too, having both been convinced as toddlers it was a cement mixer for cookies.

(Which makes me realize I use a lot more machines than my husband does, because I do almost all the baking (he cooks but he's shit at baking), and I sew (which is my big hobby). So my kids think I have much cooler machines than dad does.)

"He read the whole thing, liked it a lot, but even then it didn't occur to him to go to Mom's bookshelf to look for the next one in the series. Those are Mom books! ""

I tease my husband that one of my favorite things about him is that when it comes to books he's basically a 14-year-old girl. (As am I.) But one thing I notice with these masculine-coded activity things is, here in the Midwest we tease people about what we admire about them -- for example, we have a (male) friend who is a marathoner and sews really well, and we tease him constantly about both, because they are both really great! ("Oh, well, I was going to go jogging, but then I remembered I wasn't crazy ...") and he gets that because he's Midwestern too. But men (and women) from outside the Midwest don't necessarily get that teasing you about your impressive achievements is a form of admiration, and read it as just mockery. Which we try to be conscious of when we have friends who are Not From Here and don't know that when we're like "WELL I'LL JUST ASK JOE TO KNIT ME A HAT!" it means we love his knitting. Which, yeah, I think that adds to the problem when teasing is approval because that can be hard to decode.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:51 PM on January 14, 2017 [38 favorites]


My daughter got a lecture from a boy in her pre-K last year about how her blue Converse were "boys shoes" and how boys have short hair and girls have long hair. About how boys hate the color pink and only girls should wear pink. And other kinds of tired-ass gender bullshit. It really bothered my daughter. I was surprised/not surprised that that same bull is being trotted out like there's a list somewhere that simply must be checked off.
posted by amanda at 4:05 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


"how boys have short hair and girls have long hair."

This is a weirdly persistent preschooler category even if most of the girls/women/moms/grandmas they know have short hair and they know plenty of boys with long hair. (We're always like, "While most boys you know have short hair, and many girls have long hair, boys CAN have long hair like $babysitter, and girls OFTEN have short hair like grandma ..." and they're like "FAIR POINT, BUT PONYTAILS.") I have no idea why this is so persistent when it does not map to the world so many of them actually see!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:17 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


As a gay trans dude I guess I'm supposed to be all flouting gender norms and such but I just want someone to watch the damn football game with. None of my friends will.
posted by AFABulous at 4:19 PM on January 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


I don't give a shit about football but if you lived nearby AFABulous I'd watch the game with you. I grew up in NM which is close enough to TX that I can speak and watch football with no problem. I might want to do craft projects while the game is on, if that is okay.
posted by hippybear at 4:23 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


I asked to learn to knit when I was 7, and I taught myself to sew around when I was 12, so I've been doing this stuff for about 4 decades now. That got me called gay before I knew what it meant, and before I knew that's what I was. So that sucked, and that sort of thing continues to suck, but as a 50-year-old gay man, it's kinda the background noise of my entire life. I'm used to it being there.

I've also witnessed, though, a kind of flip-side, where dudes in yarn shops are treated like really awesome and exceptional creatures and where their skills are celebrated even compared to equally or more-skilled women knitters. I'm sure that a lot of male knitters find that annoying, too, but it's a kind of annoying that elevates them above women.

Yes, this is for me the most annoying part, and it's the main reason I don't have any yarn to knit with right now. I just want to go the damn yarn store and buy some fucking yarn, but it always ends up something like a celebrity sighting with a bunch of weird attention, and I have to do some quick thinking to determine whether I'm expected to be big dumb duh how do you cast on? or some sort of intarsia glove knitting expert. I'm neither, I'm just someone trying to shop for yarn. It's the kind of experience I hear women I know complain of constantly, where you're a novelty and the only thing people can see is their own stereotype of people like you. It floors me though, how so many people who have such strong feelings about being on the receiving end of that sort attention are utter blind to the fact that they're giving it out.
posted by conic at 4:37 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's on some level the yarn shop equivalent of cat calling.
posted by hippybear at 4:39 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


It floors me though, how so many people who have such strong feelings about being on the receiving end of that sort attention are utter blind to the fact that they're giving it out.

not sure if facetious
posted by dersins at 4:44 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's strange, maybe I've just gotten so used to the background level of policing from other men, but these days I really feel my gender performance and sexuality being policed far more by women.
posted by conic at 4:46 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


not sure if facetious
Not facetious at all.
posted by conic at 4:47 PM on January 14, 2017


Doesn't anyone remember that Rosey Greer did needlepoint while he played in the NFL?

It's all right to cry, by Rosey Grier.

This, along with William Wants A Doll (Alan Alda) was on Free to Be... You and Me and got plenty of play in our home when we were little.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:51 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


As long as you don't mind it when I yell at the TV, I am OK football watching company. I can mix a passable cocktail or bring a six-pack (and/or crafting supplies) as a pre-emptive apology for my potty mouth.
posted by ghost phoneme at 4:51 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Bring the fucking cocktail mixings and fucking sit your shit-ass down and let's fucking watch some goddamn football!
posted by hippybear at 4:54 PM on January 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


Or not, since the season is nearly over.
posted by hippybear at 4:54 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


No, the response is "free yourself from the shackles of needing the validation of others."

Isn't this like the rugged individualism that defines 'masculine' for many people?

It sounds like your answer to toxic masculinity is... more masculinity?
posted by danny the boy at 5:04 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


I used to claim that I don't really care what other people think about me, but I realized that wasn't at all true. I care deeply about having the respect of people I admire.

Personally, I think the answer to all this bullshit is going to come from people that men look up to saying "you're ok".

Even more personally, it means when my nephew told me the pink watchband I was wearing "is for girls", the answer wasn't to say that he shouldn't care what other people think, but simply "I like pink".
posted by danny the boy at 5:11 PM on January 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


I mean, I'm from the Detroit area, the season is always pretty much over after the last pre-season game.

Personally, I think the answer to all this bullshit is going to come from people that men look up to saying "you're ok".

This makes sense, but how do you get men who buy into toxic masculinity to look up to guys who will say "You're OK." I'm a woman, so I can say "That's OK," but that's probably minimally helpful, I'd think?
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:19 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Easy Bake Ovens were awesome because

having to actually bake it yourself was simply the price of your virgin admission to the sensuous world of CHOCOLATE CAKE WITHOUT MOMS PERMISSION.

I suspect many ovens given as a gift to a daughter were quickly hijacked by her brother the first time she was two blocks away on a play date.
posted by CynicalKnight at 5:36 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well this is why I reject the idea that this is a problem that is primarily solvable by men waking up and realizing their problem is that they are too considerate of other people's opinions.

As I alluded to with my nephew I think the only thing anyone can do is influence the people close to you. The good and bad news are the same: this is a problem that is most likely going to be solved in the next generation.
posted by danny the boy at 5:39 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, all my barbie dolls were hijacked and made into superheroes by my older brother. Who played football, makes an amazing cream puff (he even has the spendy doohickey to transport them in) and was a comic book artist before it was sassy to be one. I didn't really care cause I'd learned to read and climb trees at that point.

And to Hurdy Gurdy girl's point- this was in 1980's New Jersey, which held at least 35% more testosterone than other Breakfast Club Era states.

I'm genuinely puzzled about how and where the policing happens- unless it is more of a self policing. I am very familiar with that feeling of gender unease.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 5:44 PM on January 14, 2017


This, along with William Wants A Doll (Alan Alda) was on Free to Be... You and Me and got plenty of play in our home when we were little.

Free to Be You and Me is still progressive today (except they don't mention LGBTQ issues). I've shown my kids many of the shorts from it on Youtube (Michael Jackson?) and it never fails to start up some discussions.

If you told me in the early eighties that we would be fighting white supremacists and sexists nationwide 30 years later I would have laughed in your face.
posted by benzenedream at 5:45 PM on January 14, 2017 [12 favorites]


Part of social contact is talking about the things you're doing.

Admittedly, I was just a little kid when this happened, but my old man in the early seventies was pretty good at making his own clothing (for fun, not because we were dirt poor or anything) in an era where that was definitely Something Women Did. I know this not because of keen personal memory or oft-repeated family stories but because I have the newspaper clipping.

Yes, in a time where Ms. magazine was a fledgling new publication and the term "women's lib" was probably the most common term for feminism, the city's main paper actually devoted maybe thirty column inches to the story and included a big photo of my dad sewing a pair of pants. There were some attempts to couch it in some terms that men could understand ("Mr. Biscuit explains that it is like assembling a model aircraft") and some reassuring background mentioning that he had grown up with several sisters, so naturally there were sewing machines around.

The Biscuit Family: overturning gender norms since 1972.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:57 PM on January 14, 2017 [30 favorites]


Incidentally, it was 1972, so the pants were hideous.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:58 PM on January 14, 2017 [34 favorites]


brown and gold plaid, made of polyester.
posted by hippybear at 6:15 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Weaving is a man's game.
posted by chapps at 6:29 PM on January 14, 2017


You're actually not far off. More orange than gold, and with a pattern so bold you probably would have needed a matching jacket to see the whole thing
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:29 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was alive in the 70s. i know what the clothes looked like. I had Sears catalog suits ordered for me when I was in elementary school. "Gold" is the wrong word. "Harvest Gold" was the color name for the popular orangeish yellow that was popular.

We don't talk about the "avocado" green sinks and toilets. Ever.
posted by hippybear at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2017 [9 favorites]



My favorite piece of clothing in the 70's was a pink jumpsuit thing made out of jogging suit material. Around the neck and shoulders was blue material tubing and it was thick tubing! I sorta recall thinking it was like wearing a Star Trek suit but not sure as it's something I don't try too hard to remember.
posted by Jalliah at 6:39 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


None of us try too hard to remember the 70s. But mostly we can't help it.
posted by hippybear at 6:43 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm genuinely puzzled about how and where the policing happens

I really feel like people are telling you right here in this thread - the same places & ways gender policing happens for women. From parents, siblings, older relatives, friends and peers at school and at play. Who tell kids, "That's a [not-your-gender] toy!" Or color. Or if you like the wrong thing they sneer, "What are you, a giiiiirrrrllll/boooooooyyyyyy?" Other kids don't want to play with you or hang out with you because you like the "wrong" things, or try to do the right things but wind up doing them "wrong."

Or even as an adult there are men who just got raised in such a "standard" masculine culture and it never occurred to them that other straight American males wouldn't have the same interests. They're not mean about it, usually, they're just baffled, it doesn't compute. There's nothing quite like the uncomfortable silence of two guys left alone in a room after they discover that one of them has little to no interest in sports or cars.

Interestingly, all my barbie dolls were hijacked and made into superheroes by my older brother. Who played football, makes an amazing cream puff (he even has the spendy doohickey to transport them in) and was a comic book artist before it was sassy to be one.

Did he take the barbies over to his friends' houses to play? Were they really superheroes or more damsels in distress or even villains? Was he making cream puffs for his 8-year-old friends when they came over? Did he show his comics to his schoolmates? (And besides, comics were always kinda cool, at least superhero or space battle stuff.) I suspect there may have been lots of gender policing you simply didn't notice (like, really, no-one ever gave you a hard time about being a girl climbing trees? That it wasn't "nice" and that you'd get all dirty and scratched and good girls shouldn't be dirty?), and that you're conflating your knowledge of your secure adult male relatives and friends with their personalities as kids and teens.

unless it is more of a self policing

Genuine question - how did your "self" know how when and why to do this policing? Where did you get the information to gauge whether or not you were doing your gender "correctly"?
posted by soundguy99 at 6:54 PM on January 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


My favorite piece of clothing in the 70's was a pink jumpsuit thing made out of jogging suit material....

And I bet that by today's standards, it appeared to be at least a size too small.

(I'm sure I would have asked you where you got it with the hope that I could get one, too.)
posted by she's not there at 7:03 PM on January 14, 2017


Genuine question - how did your "self" know how when and why to do this policing? Where did you get the information to gauge whether or not you were doing your gender "correctly"?

This, this, and more this and so much this that it encompasses all the Thisness.
posted by hippybear at 7:04 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


For years I have been deliberately complimenting men on their hand-knitted jumpers, and following up with an innocent "did you knit it yourself?". In almost all cases the answer was an incredulous 'no!' but one man proudly responded with a yes. Turns out, his family was from Scotland.
posted by Thella at 7:06 PM on January 14, 2017 [9 favorites]


microknot textile crafting
Sorry, "crafting" sounds too feminine to me. I think you meant microknot textile engineering
posted by Hal Mumkin at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can only speak from my experience. And of course people gave you shit- constantly. But you adapt and tell them to fuck off. You are probably correct in your view I haven't taken every single scenario into account.

And I went to the shrink for ages to untangle all the crap that was fed me. But I also came to realize it wasn't meant to be hurtful- they were just saying the things that everyone said. Which gave the words no value in my eyes.

I personally decided to change my rules about what was OK for being a girl. And a woman. And a person. I just know that part of being human means that every word spoken to me i s not anything I have to agree with or respect. I can't kick their ass for being a dick, but i don't have to believe them either.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 7:10 PM on January 14, 2017


Hand Engineered Microknot Textiles. It's a total Ron Burgundy thing to say.
posted by hippybear at 7:10 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think the phrase "fiber integration" needs to be involved somehow.
posted by Sequence at 7:12 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


"fiber integration" is more of a felting process, isn't it?
posted by hippybear at 7:14 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


(I'm sure I would have asked you where you got it with the hope that I could get one, too.)

Likely Sears or Zellers or some other department store. I was in elementary school and only ever remember being dragged to the children's department in one department store or another.

edited: Or wait maybe not! Just googled and patterns came and realized that maybe my Mom actually sewed it! I'll have to ask. Ha
posted by Jalliah at 7:35 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't knit, because I am an arthritic spaz. I don't wear pink because it doesn't go with my complexion. The one time I sewed (a rugby shirt), I sewed my finger (the worst part was some thread got stuck in the puncture). Also, I drink a lot of iced tea. Fashion? Would much rather be comfy.

You knit? Might commission a scarf (I love me some giant scarf). Wear pink? Glad it works for you. You sew? I snark about enviously hating you then tell the finger story. Make a great cuppa? I mention always wanting to try a proper British cuppa. Dress fashionably? Glad it works for you.

Male. 49. I identify as "non-judgemental". (As in "You meet someone you honestly connect with and it is consensual? Go you!" then I snark about about enviously hating you.)

Yes, I snark a lot about enviously hating people that do things I can't, but always with a smile on my face. Or, at least a smirk.
posted by Samizdata at 7:46 PM on January 14, 2017


I have no idea where the re-usable bag thing could possible have come from.

Sadly I feel like I can hazard a few guesses just off the top of my head: reusable bags tend to be more brightly colored, and look kinda like tote bags, which both GASP equal lady (this is similar to the terror some straight men feel at being asked to hold their wife's purse for a second, because SOMEONE MIGHT SEE THEM AND THINK IT WAS THEIR PURSE); reusable bags imply you're an environmentalist which GASP equals effete/unmanly; reusable bags imply you do the shopping often enough to need them which GASP equals lady chorez...
posted by en forme de poire at 7:47 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


Social conditioning doesn't always take explicit form. It's part of the human condition to want to fit in, so when very few others in your category (eg male) do something it can feel uncomfortable without anyone mocking or using violence or even just acting surprised.

Rather than belittling anyone who lacks the self awareness or context or bravery to realise they don't have to conform to social norms, I think it's helpful to celebrate those who have overcome their fears.

What I have less time for is people who actively enforce social norms on others to massage their own ego.
posted by walrus at 7:54 PM on January 14, 2017 [7 favorites]


en forme de poire: "I have no idea where the re-usable bag thing could possible have come from.

Sadly I feel like I can hazard a few guesses just off the top of my head: reusable bags tend to be more brightly colored, and look kinda like tote bags, which both GASP equal lady (this is similar to the terror some straight men feel at being asked to hold their wife's purse for a second, because SOMEONE MIGHT SEE THEM AND THINK IT WAS THEIR PURSE); reusable bags imply you're an environmentalist which GASP equals effete/unmanly; reusable bags imply you do the shopping often enough to need them which GASP equals lady chorez...
"

Also, I had no problem holding purses. The problem I had with the ex-wife was when she would strand me waiting in the women's underwear department. I kept being afraid one of the women would be all Donald Sutherland in that one Body Snatchers remake, and next thing you know, I am being burnt alive on a stack of sexily dressed mannequins.
posted by Samizdata at 7:56 PM on January 14, 2017


I graduated high school in 2000, and I was into all sorts on uncool (i.e. not masculine) things like:

Playing violin
Choir
Drama
Creative writing class

My parents were cool and supportive about these things but I got plenty of shit from other boys at school. The main thing that got me through was my ability to cultivate an intense anger and elitism about the whole male enterprise. I was just lucky I never got my ass kicked.

I live and work in Dallas, and am fortunate to be in a position at work where I can influence the culture to some extent (I'm a manager) and help carve out safe spaces for everybody on my team. Thing is, I have to actively work on that, it doesn't happen naturally just because I'm "a chill person".

If you want the world to be less shitty about this you have to go out of your way to make it happen. I go out of my way to talk about goofy/non-manly hobbies I enjoy, and share them with my coworkers like it's NBD. And when I hear someone else mention a non-conforming hobby I have to go out of my way to be interested but also cool about it, to normalize the conversation.

And even though I feel like we've made good progress and our tiny little IT company is getting more diverse every year, I can see that a lot of folks at work still feel they have to hide certain aspects of themselves.

This shit is pervasive.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:56 PM on January 14, 2017 [10 favorites]


One of my long term goals is to learn to sew well enough to make myself a bespoke hand-tailored suit. And if I can pull that off, make a few for my best friends, and my Dad. Speaking of Dad I should probably get cracking.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 8:20 PM on January 14, 2017


MarvinTheCat: I know a guy, an engineer, who was able to get near that level of sewing after two years of practice. Nothing Savile Row, obviously, but it looked really sharp. He used a machine for a lot of the straight stitching, which might disqualify what you consider Hand-tailoring. But it's totally doable.

Btw, metafilter's own David Coffin does some very good books on men's tailoring you might want to check out. They're some of my favorite.
posted by bswinburn at 8:27 PM on January 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


At least in the hammock forums, "thread injector" is used very knowingly, because so many men have been encouraged to JUST TRY IT and thus had the scales rent from their eyes. They are pretty self-aware, and often self-mocking. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:33 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also, the only male thing I am embarrassed of is those toxic asshats and the fact I share a gender with them.
posted by Samizdata at 8:33 PM on January 14, 2017


When my son was about 2, we where in Chile, where we live, in this cool rock-themed kids clothes store, and there's another 2yo boy. My son has always been very affectionate, and they sort of hit it off and start hugging each other.
Anyway, the father of the other boy gets all bent out of shape, and pulls his son away saying 'No, no, no! Machito, machito!', which, ugh, stupid, sexist and stereotypically latin american macho too boot.

He looks at us like he expects us to back him up, which we of course don't, just sort of look at him, like the regressive freak he is. He grabs his son and leaves in a huff.

7 years later, my son is basically unencumbered by toxic masculinity so far, doesn't really care about whether something is 'for boys' or 'for girls'. I hope the other guy's kid is finding a way to deal with his dad.
posted by signal at 8:34 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


The idea that encouraging people to do whay they want regardless of whether or not it is cool is alternatively sociopathic, victim blaming and/or itself a manifestation of toxic masculinity is bonkers.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:38 PM on January 14, 2017


You know what all of this boils down to?

We need to make it okay in the world for people to be weird. Or different. Or gender non-conforming. Or anything other than standard white stereotypical white male. People need to be safe in order to be able to be who they are and not get murdered for weirding someone out and thus they must die.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:43 PM on January 14, 2017 [15 favorites]


Sangermaine, I can recall you speaking about this two years ago, you have my thanks both for then and for now..
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:51 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


The idea that encouraging people to do whay they want regardless of whether or not it is cool is alternatively sociopathic, victim blaming and/or itself a manifestation of toxic masculinity is bonkers.
If it were just the encouraging, then yes.

But telling people that they should be strong enough and just not feel the emotions associated with being socially sanctioned for nonconformity is exactly those things.
posted by Horkus at 8:55 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


No one said don't feel the emotions. But letting them dictate how you feel about yourself seems counterintuitive.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 9:00 PM on January 14, 2017


But letting them dictate how you feel about yourself seems counterintuitive.

... and we've come full circle.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:03 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


Dumb idea of the day, "so hard" is the intensifier that can make any sentence creepy, or more masculine. Is there a difference?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:04 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've also witnessed, though, a kind of flip-side, where dudes in yarn shops are treated like really awesome and exceptional creatures and where their skills are celebrated even compared to equally or more-skilled women knitters.

Just want to say, I've experienced this while grocery shopping with my kids; checkout staff congratulating me (or occasionally asking, jokingly I guess, if my wife is ill) literally for being in the presence of my own children while doing the week's food shopping.
posted by Jimbob at 9:25 PM on January 14, 2017


but I lived most of my life in a fairly small town in Texas (Amarillo, pop ~180k)

180,000 people is a fairly small town???

Wow, things really ARE bigger in Texas.
posted by she's not there at 9:43 PM on January 14, 2017 [8 favorites]


Even the real inch to internet inch conversion ratio is bigger in Texas.
posted by hippybear at 9:50 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'd have something to say about this but for my feeling that proper mefite blokes don't do third-hand chat.
posted by Segundus at 9:50 PM on January 14, 2017


Tell me how to effectively confront toxic masculinity in a way that doesn't require me to use the entire worldview of toxic masculinity in order to trigger a change, and I will happy follow that recommendation. But as it stands, saying "it's so stupid that you have this attitude, you should change that, don't be a wuss, be a real man and do what you want" seems to be the only way to get things to change. It's not like the guys who suffer from this cultural condition are going to hug it out.

I suffer from this cultural condition, because I inhabit my culture. Everyone is subjected to cultural conditioning. Whether we're aware of it or not, whether we're trying to change it or not, we all learn these lessons unless we grow up in total isolation from society -- and even then, we learn the lessons that our families teach us.

I can only speak for myself, and perhaps my lens is too narrow, but I think that these problems are rooted in shame -- the shaming that we pick up from parents and other children and then other adults, the signals that we absorb from the society around us. Shame is one of the primary vectors for the perpetuation of these habits and attitudes. Shame says, "who you are is not okay and you had better disown part of yourself before you get cast out." Shaming a person to fix a problem that's rooted in shame... I don't think that works. At least, it would not work on me.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 10:10 PM on January 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


Honest question, VMPV: What would work on you? What would help you overcome the cultural conditioning you feel encased in enough to let you start doing a thing that you want to do but you feel constrained against doing? Like I said in the quote of mine above, I would be happy to know that, and would work toward encouraging that.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 PM on January 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Some people are bolder than others because of fluke of personality, or milieu. (Or because they can't afford not to buck the norm for other reasons.) Others are more inhibited, for equally flukey reasons. People come into things in their own time, if they're going to. It's great when influencers with wide appeal push the needle a bit, speeds things up, but I think unfair to harp on people who just aren't up for it (right now).
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:21 PM on January 14, 2017 [4 favorites]


"Honest question, VMPV: What would work on you? "

I think, because it's a cultural issue and not solely a personal one, it can only be solved culturally and not through individual action. (And I think that's something a lot of feminists have seen is when people who want to minimize women's concerns insist on individual action/strength instead of social change.)

I think parents of boys, like me, have to parent thoughtfully and create space for our boys to develop those interests, shield them from mockery when they're small, and help them develop the self-confidence and ability to say "yeah, I knit." I think friends have to be good friends, and accept and admire their male friends' accomplishments and interests that fall outside the traditional masculine norm, create a social space where men can own those things. I think we have to be good romantic partners to men, and not insist they fit an outdated norm of masculinity, and make clear that we support their interests and hobbies. Good coworkers, who help create a social norm at the workplace that we don't mock men for being "insufficiently masculine." And I think men who ARE able -- socially, personally, emotionally -- to say "yeah, I knit" should do that, in a relaxed way, just pushing back against those norms so that other men (who may not have had the family support growing up, or who may be just a bit more timid about being different, or who may face social or professional consequences) can ease into the space you've created.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:25 PM on January 14, 2017 [11 favorites]


I bet they learned it, from fathers and role models in the media


Mothers, too. I've known more than one woman who flipped the hell out when their sons wanted to do something that didn't read as 100% macho to them.


Lady, it’s not going to hurt your two-year-old son to sleep in the Dora the Explorer toddler bed he wants, but it may hurt him if you can't get your blood pressure back under control.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:25 PM on January 14, 2017 [16 favorites]


So I am a cis white woman who went to a party with a bunch of strangers in the bay area today. It was a birthday party for a burning man fan. I knew the place would be filled with burners and yet I waffled about earrings before I left my place. I don't like to wear earrings that much. It's one of the few signals these days that I'm a gal and I had to debate with myself a little bit before I left the house without them and remind myself that I'm tired of performing traditional femininity for strangers when I don't feel like it. I have no problems believing that men get pushback for not being conventionally masculine and I'm sorry that's the case. I married a man who knit me a sweater before we started living together and I was dazzled and impressed by his patience, which I do not share. At the party today I met a woman who had brought a counted cross stitch project. She explained to me and a few others outside in the garden that she liked counted Crosstitch because it was math and then explained what she meant by that. And I told her that she should check out MetaFilter immediately because she was smart, she was crafty, and she liked math. I can't believe how retrograde things have become and in the worst possible ways. My grandson's dad was afraid that using an anal thermometer in his infant son might make his son gay. My grandson's dad has parents, male and female, both of whom apparently contributed to his toxic, scary ideas about masculinity. I know everything is not fucked but there are days when it seems like everything is fucked. And one of the most fucked up things to me are the number of women who are complicit in supporting toxic masculinity and in ensuring that it continues in the next generation.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:03 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


No one said don't feel the emotions. But letting them dictate how you feel about yourself seems counterintuitive.

If only it were easy to separate emotions from how one feels then I guess there would be no conditions such as depression or social anxiety.
posted by walrus at 11:10 PM on January 14, 2017 [6 favorites]


leotrotsky: "I think that's true, in the same sense that Saudis can still hold hands without shame."

I wish. Little more than anecdotal evidence here, obviously, but when I was in Saudi Arabia the Saudis I hung out with would comment hand-holding men always with "oh these are Pakistanis, we don't do that".
Hrm. :/
posted by bigendian at 11:38 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


One from the Reddit thread that brought back a very specific memory: crossing your legs. Specifically, I remember getting mocked by an entire room full of sixth-graders for sitting with my legs crossed. The "nicest" comment I got was from a girl explaining to me, as if to an idiot, that boys were only supposed to sit with their legs uncrossed or with their ankle on their leg. One boy made a big show of trying to cross his legs all the way and failing, as if his balls were just so massive that they were getting crushed together by his thighs. I remember being completely bewildered by this, particularly by the size of the reaction: I thought it was just a comfortable way to sit. I actually conditioned myself out of it for a good few years, because I got enough negative attention as a weird little protoqueer, even though crossing my legs at the ankle always made my fucking foot fall asleep. Anyway, I'm crossing my legs (Samantha voice) right now, but I'm definitely still aware of it in a not-always-conscious, code-switchy kind of way.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:27 AM on January 15, 2017 [16 favorites]


The 80s humor book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche posited that they would be more likely to do so if it were called egg and bacon pie.

In Drums of Autumn, Jamie and Young Ian are shocked and amused when Claire let's them know she's never learned how to knit.

My dad loves traditional Scottish/Irish music, got hooked on the outlander tv show when he heard the soundtrack but still refuses to read the books.
posted by brujita at 4:08 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I hate that there's boy stuff and girl stuff, and I think anyone who can, and is in a position to push back on this stuff - whether it's buying your sons baby dolls, knowing how to use power tools while apparently female or knitting while apparently male - should.

And I know how hideous people can be when you don't perform whatever gender specific dance they expect you to. But it is my experience that people who will really try to hurt you will do it on the flimsiest pretense, so you might as well have the pleasure of suiting yourself in the meantime.
posted by glitter at 4:20 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


At least in the hammock forums

I'm picturing something like the dark web, but for hammocks.
posted by kersplunk at 5:01 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


there's a "body weight fitness" subreddit and every time I see their stuff I just think "oh, so easier yoga?"
Oh, how many strict muscle-ups and handstand push-ups do you do in your yoga class? You have a sick front lever too, I suppose?

Yoga is awesome, yoga has been great to me, I love yoga, yoga has lots of really hard poses. But posturing as if yoga is the hardest just because it's your sport isn't very convincing. Both yoga and BWF are easy to start and have vast challenging depths. Maybe you're judging r/BWF on the exercises they share for people just getting started? In which case you're punching down at fitness noobs?
every time a dudebro sets up a mat next to mine in what is clearly the first yoga class he's ever taken
...you go out of your way to taunt them so they feel weak and out of place? Cool story, bro! You're so woke. Glad to hear you only do it when you magically know they are evil in their heart. There is of course no reason except sexism that someone would try to keep up with people around them in class.

I can't help but be reminded of the dozens of AskMes and r/xxfitness threads with women saying they felt unwelcome in the weight room and CrossFit classes because the person next to them was lifting more or doing it better. The remedy, of course, is "stay in your lane" and don't worry about the person next to you. But some people already find it hard to be in the outgroup, and comparing themselves to the person next to them is an additional challenge. In the context of the OP I don't feel convinced this is a feeling only felt by women.

Consider the possibility that you are literally going out of your way to make your yoga class into a space where men don't feel welcome. And you're bragging about it in a thread about how men don't feel welcome in feminine-coded spaces.
posted by daveliepmann at 5:14 AM on January 15, 2017 [29 favorites]


I've been trying to formulate a longer, hopefully substantive comment for the last day but i had to comment on this:

My grandson's dad was afraid that using an anal thermometer in his infant son might make his son gay.

So this is why all men born before the advent of digital thermometers are gay? That's seriously messed up.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:31 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


crossing your legs

Oh yeah. I don't have any specific memory of being told this, but it was definitely A Thing where women cross their legs knee over knee, men put the ankle on the opposite knee.

This one seems to have mostly gone by the wayside, though? As in a few years ago I noticed that tons of movies and TV shows had male actors sitting knee over knee, like scenes of Important Men having Serious Meetings in Full Suits are full of guys sitting that way.

Sitting knee over knee didn't have the code-switching subtext for me, so I don't think I had quite the same awareness and tension, and I probably started sitting that way (sometimes) after 35 or 40, when everything starts to stiffen up (not in a good way) and it's just easier. But the message about "this is how MEN sit" clearly sank in enough that I noticed when the standards changed.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:03 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've always been one of those kids that did whatever I wanted to do - I learned how to sew and knit and crochet because mom was doing it and it looked like fun. I like cooking, because it is a ton of fun to make something good and it makes me happy to see people enjoy something I made. My wife jokes sometimes that it is a good thing I am sensitive, because one of us has to be. My wife's cousin once made me go shopping with her because she needed to buy pantyhose, had no clue what she was doing, but trusted that I would be able to help her.

Now as a dad, I see my son coming home from school and proudly showing me that he learned to finger knit. He's worked with me on our sewing machine (which my wife won't use, because I already know how to use, and why should she learn if one of us can already do it?). He's still at the age where he tries things without fear of reaction - nail polish or wearing Mom's solitary pair of kitten-heeled shoes (she prefers flats) or letting his hair grow out in a long mess. He still insists (as he has since he was in preschool) that he's going to marry his friend Max when he grows up, although he knows that they'll need to adopt if they want kids. I expect that this side of him will end at some point. Not the enjoyment of the things he does, but the simple ability to exist in his own space and feel safe being who he is without concern for how others will treat him or see him as a result.

My father in law is confused by it all. He is positive that boys smash their toys and want to shoot animals and fish all day, because that's what he did. It's not what we do though. The kid likes fishing with grandpa but he is equally happy helping in the kitchen or playing with stuffed animals.

I've been proud to be raising a kid who isn't being taught strict gender roles from the outset, a kid who is learning that other people's opinions are not important enough to make him stop doing things he enjoys simply out of embarrassment or social pressure. On the other hand, I'm conflicted now because it seems that even THAT might not be enough. We'll see, I guess. I'd prefer the sweet, sensitive boy I have remain a sweet, sensitive person as he grows up.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:50 AM on January 15, 2017 [11 favorites]


This one seems to have mostly gone by the wayside, though? As in a few years ago I noticed that tons of movies and TV shows had male actors sitting knee over knee, like scenes of Important Men having Serious Meetings in Full Suits are full of guys sitting that way.

It was much more of a thing when I was a teenager.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:00 AM on January 15, 2017


Yah, I would have "learned" the Sitting Rule sometime in the 70's, maybe early 80's. Graduated high school in '86.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:08 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


As someone with some interesting quirks who works in an extremely social office, I have noticed that people will comment on things that are strange or different to them long before they'll comment on "normal" things. I guess it's just part of human nature to notice the unusual.

I wonder if the toxic aspect comes in when someone's eye is caught by an interesting thing another person is doing/wearing/using/etc but they don't feel comfortable commenting on it in a positive way. Maybe they're not even comfortable admitting to themselves that they like it. So instead, they belittle. Like how some of the most outspoken homophobic people have later been discovered to have homosexual tendencies.

I kind of understand. When I get into a funky mood I find it easier to think up negative things to say than positive. I imagine that if I was in an environment that actively encouraged and rewarded some of that negativity, it would be a hard groove to get out of. Something we can all do is look for ways to encourage positive behaviors that we want to see more of in other people. A kind of mass group therapy. Ongoing, for life.
posted by mantecol at 9:05 AM on January 15, 2017


Consider the possibility that you are literally going out of your way to make your yoga class into a space where men don't feel welcome. And you're bragging about it in a thread about how men don't feel welcome in feminine-coded spaces.

Nope! Only a handful of men have fit this description, as I mentioned in the original comment, which you ignored. (Most of the men who become regulars are not like this -- it sort of selects out!) And I do all the optional chutturungas because I do them anyway -- but seeing whether someone who has been told repeatedly that they are optional, that they are for when you feel your practice is ready for it, that you should listen to your body -- seeing whether that guy will ignore all of that just because he sees a girl do something better than him?

Fuck yes I'm fascinated by that. And no, I am not making them feel uncomfortable by following my own yoga practice, unless you think women have an obligation to protect men's feelings at all times. I'm observing how their own toxic masculinity screws them over in this very specific circumstance, and yeah, it's funny because it's the only time it's not screwing someone else over instead.

Frankly flirting with going back to child's pose is the only way I can be sure that's what the dude is doing. All those chuttarungas are performed with a growing sense of bewilderment. I am shocked every time. Like really, that's how deep this goes? You can't just listen to your female yoga teacher or your own body as long as a girl is "beating" you? Yeah, no pity.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:12 AM on January 15, 2017 [18 favorites]


I'm also going to note that there's a horribly offensive comment upthread equating fawning attention given to male knitters with catcalling, and that the comment I made pointing out that, as male knitters presumably do not face the danger of gender-based sexual violence, it is really not the same thing that all, appears to have been deleted...

I mean, I don't know what to do with this thread. We can acknowledge that toxic masculinity damages men, but I think it's another manifestation of toxic masculine privilege to shout down or ignore the ways those same manifestations hurt women. And a hand waving dismissal about "oppression olympics" doesn't really cut it, because these things are fundamentally intertwined. You literally cannot talk honestly about toxic masculinity without talking about women because it's a construct that is almost universally defined in the negative -- it is what is NOT female/subservient. You cannot talk about an axis of hierarchy without talking about the bottom rung that supports the whole damn thing.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:20 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


I just want to say, having just caught up to this point, that this is a great thread, and I appreciate everyone's voices here, especially in the cases where, as schadenfrau highlights, there's contention and outright disagreement about how to proceed in the discussion. It's made me think about conversations I've had with various male friends lately, my own interactions with my husband and previous partners, my own genderqueerness, etc. I don't have anything else concrete to add right now, just props. I feel like the conversation on this here is strong on a level beyond the original links. Excellent conversation-starter, bile and syntax, and fabulous discussion, everyone, even if we're not all in agreement on everything here (and won't be).
posted by limeonaire at 9:24 AM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


If people are going to write about feminist liberation, I would ask that they avoid telling stories of consuming extra goods and services as liberatory.

Except that this article isn't about "feminist liberation" as such, it's about a bunch of (ostensibly) cishet d00ds acknowledging that traditional masculinity maybe ain't all that. Kinda flabbergasting that someone's takeaway would be "buy more shit".

How the fuck is that is going to somehow make me happier with my gender performance in a capitalist society?

I'd posit that for the majority of folks, gender roles are so deeply engrained that they don't ever stop to think of them as performance. Maybe shitting on people who are having their first inkling of that concept isn't a great move?

What an insult.

For someone so against "individualist horseshit", you appear to have taken this article awfully personally, no?
posted by tantrumthecat at 9:25 AM on January 15, 2017


And I do all the optional chutturungas because I do them anyway -- but seeing whether someone who has been told repeatedly that they are optional, that they are for when you feel your practice is ready for it, that you should listen to your body -- seeing whether that guy will ignore all of that just because he sees a girl do something better than him?

Coming from a more "traditional" exercise background, I remember the first time I heard, in yoga, that "this pose is optional" and "don't push your body any farther than it wants to go." It did not compute--of course doing more is better! No pain, no gain! (as long as you avoid injury). I still think this way by default. In my default mode of thinking, exercise is about competition. Primarily with myself, but also with others if they're around. Gender isn't really of importance, but if they look weaker than me I'm going to feel pretty lazy if they outperform me. I'm well aware that yoga flourishes from and and nourishes a different mindset and develops a less visible form of strength, but it's pretty foreign to me even though I've been aware of yoga for a long time. I'm not so sure there's something wrong with me for taking an aggressive and competitive approach to exercise. I appreciate yoga and practice it sometimes, but what gets me fired up to go to the gym is the competition aspect.
posted by mantecol at 9:35 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Coming from a more "traditional" exercise background, I remember the first time I heard, in yoga, that "this pose is optional" and "don't push your body any farther than it wants to go." It did not compute--of course doing more is better! No pain, no gain! (as long as you avoid injury). I still think this way by default. In my default mode of thinking, exercise is about competition

I come from this tradition too. But I had no problem listening to my female yoga teachers, though, just as I had no problem listening to my Crossfit coaches. Did you, as a rule, also ignore professional recommendations when it came to kettle bell swings or Olympic lifts or whatever?

Anyway, the phenomenon I described has only happened with men. Female first-timers don't seem to get caught in the competitive chuttarunga death spiral, for some reason. Since it's January, there have been more recent data points than usual.

And I think the exercise as competition thing is its own manifestation of toxic masculinity. I mean, there are yoga competitions (which are regarded with um...distaste, by a lot of yoga people that I know, although I'm not IN the lifestyle, I just do it a lot), but they seem more like vehicles for promotion than anything else. For the most part it's not an activity that requires a loser at the end--it does not require anyone to be on the bottom of a hierarchy.

Which is maybe one of the reasons it's such a female friendly activity.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:45 AM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


To clarify: yoga feels, to me and to others I know, like a respite from the kind of thing you're talking about. It might seem ridiculous on the surface to draw a connection between aggro dudes needing to always figure out where they are on the gym leaderboard and toxic masculinity in, say, the work place, but it's really all the same. Just dominance cues and social hierarchy as far as the eye can see. It's toxic AF.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:47 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


being a pro football player tends to insulate someone from claims of insufficient masculinity.

I just learned about this! Idiosyncrasy credit is the general form. One accumulates credit by conforming and spends it by deviating. For example,

One of my fondest memories was when this big, burly, 'manly man' walked in and ordered a grape vodka and lemonade. His buddy next to him (also a huge burly man) said, without hesitating, "sounds delicious, I'll have the same". Later some women were poking fun at them and they both said "so what, this tastes good". As a woman who generally likes the 'manly man' type, it is extremely attractive to see a man who is so completely confident in his masculinity that he has no problem ordering 'girly' drinks. Confidence is sexy, and so is a man who goes after what he wants. So order your fruity drinks all night long. Fuck what society tells you to do. Being masculine has nothing to do with what drink you order, its about how you order it. Any reasonable woman knows that. (permalink)

As she's telling this story of deviance (ordering a fruity drink), she keeps emphasizing the other ways in which these men conform (big, burly, confident, going after what he wants). One wonders if the reaction would have been as positive had these men not accumulated so much immediately visible idiosyncrasy credit.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:50 AM on January 15, 2017 [21 favorites]


I've been thinking about idiosyncrasy credit recently in the context of nerdy Asian men who are into some pretty extreme sports (high-level Olympic weightlifting, climbing and bouldering, backpacking). Being an Asian man is already a bit effeminate, and in addition some of the traditional performance of masculinity codes the opposite way in the U.S. Stuff like, excelling academically, being family-minded, respecting the authority of elders. So it's like we start off with a deficit of idiosyncrasy credit, which some of us then try to make up by being extra-masculine in other ways.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:02 AM on January 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


So it's like we start off with a deficit of idiosyncrasy credit, which some of us then try to make up by being extra-masculine in other ways.

I see this a lot in the trans male community, although it's dropped off sharply with the younger generation who DGAF that men "aren't supposed to" wear nail polish. Among the older (30+) generation, I don't know if it's so much a conscious "making up for" or "gah, finally we don't have to pretend to like this or that and we can really be one of the guys, drinking beer and watching football." From the outside it can look like Trying Too Hard, though.

I myself dress and act a little more masculine than I would naturally, mostly for safety reasons. Occasionally I wish I could wear tighter pants or more brightly colored shirts, but I also don't want to get punched in the face in a bathroom.
posted by AFABulous at 10:12 AM on January 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


Thank you, d.z. wang, for introducing me to the term "idiosyncrasy credit"--it's what I was describing yesterday when mr. hgg and I were talking about this thread. Part of the reason he can "get away with" liking so-called feminine things without social consequence, even outside our social circle, is because he presents with many of the traditional outward traits of masculinity.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:37 AM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Nope! Only a handful of men have fit this description, as I mentioned in the original comment, which you ignored. (Most of the men who become regulars are not like this -- it sort of selects out!) And I do all the optional chutturungas because I do them anyway -- but seeing whether someone who has been told repeatedly that they are optional, that they are for when you feel your practice is ready for it, that you should listen to your body -- seeing whether that guy will ignore all of that just because he sees a girl do something better than him?

It's not just yoga. File it under 'When sexism and coded gender activity angst can literally put you in the hospital".

I spent 8 years teaching Snowboarding at a world class resort. I was fairly young and somewhat naive at first and it took me a bit to clue in to what was going on with number of men I was teaching. The absolutely majority were totally great but these guys were common enough that a pattern did emerge. They would get all weird and huffy. Act all distant and aloof and they would not listen. They would repeatedly decide to try things that they weren't anywhere close to skilled enough to do and at times I felt like they were actually trying to compete with me. "I mean come on dude I've been doing this for 10 years and this is your first or second day. What ARE you doing?"

I finally clued in and figured it out. Although in this case while amusement could be found, it also greatly increased the risk of them getting really hurt. (and a few did) So I ended up having to use these messed up ego massaging tactics to save them from themselves.

And holy heck don't get me started on what happened if they were taking lessons as a couple and the woman picked it up quicker. That was really nasty and horrible for everyone involved. Like equipment throwing, yelling and screaming, tears and on one occasion me having to get security involved nasty.

Oh and then there were the dudes that after a bit would try to take over and 'teach' other people in the class. Now that was funny, especially in beginner classes.
posted by Jalliah at 10:38 AM on January 15, 2017 [22 favorites]


I've been thinking a bit about objects of the class "fun things I didn't do because I thought they were girly" recently, so great thread to run into. (Better than the original article IMO.)

I think there are sub categories. Things I didn't do that I would have enjoyed (read Jane Austen or Little Women. Musical theater, maybe.) Skills I would have felt more pressure to learn that I now regret not learning sooner/better/at all. (Singing, cooking, gardening. God, I wish someone had called tending flowers in gardens "botany, which is science like dinosaurs are science" my 7 year old boy brain would've eaten it up.) Then pressures that became easier to avoid if I gendered them (like dressing a certain way.)

These all started pre-puberty.

Note the first two are bad, as I am/was "less free" but the last is actually good. I'm not giving up cargo pants with like twenty pockets as summer weekend wear. Getting rid of the gendered part is important but IMHO it may take more work to make sure some things don't slip into more conformity.

Which always struck me as ridiculous because those activities [dancing, arts, etc.] are full of girls. You would think that teenage boys would be acutely alive to the possibilities of this, but very few of them are.

Indeed, but I think a big part of this is that a 13 year old who joins a club that's full of mostly girls who've been doing it for years will be the worst in the class. Demonstrating a lack of competence in front of a bunch of girls is not a good opening move in the teenage boy mind. I realize this ties into other issues, like mansplaining, that are toxic in their own way.

I'd also imagine going out of the way to make the initially incompetent boy feel welcome in these "girl spaces" would lead to a lot of complaints, along the lines of the boy being praised for mediocrity while the girl is overlooked for doing the same thing, backwards and in heels. This stuff is complicated.
posted by mark k at 11:09 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


And I think the exercise as competition thing is its own manifestation of toxic masculinity.

Ignoring the gender aspect for a moment, what about competition in exercise is inherently toxic? A gym leaderboard is one way to think of it, but one could also think of it as a competition that everyone can win. It doesn't need to be about one-upmanship. Everyone comes into the gym with their own goals, and whether or not they meet them is a personal thing. The people working out nearby can serve as a yardstick or extra motivation, and maybe someone leaves cranky most days because someone else lifted more weight than them (and hopefully in time they learn to set more achievable goals). But maybe everyone leaves happy that they achieved what they set out to do.

So I guess the first thing to establish here is a working definition of competition in exercise (in classes or on the floor when everyone is doing their own thing, outside of formal competitions). I'd say that person A "competing" with person B doesn't automatically enter person B into some battle for supremacy. Maybe person B is not at all interested in competing and continues doing their own thing. Or maybe person B is also competing with person A, but on a different plane defined by person B's own goals. So competition is an asymmetrical activity that doesn't need active participation from all participants, and doesn't need to be 0-sum. But as long as everyone keeps their hands, eyes and comments to themselves I don't see where the situation takes a turn for the problematic. I don't want to be supporting or participating in toxicity by any gender; I'm just not getting the "competition=toxic" idea. Parsing the sentence I quoted a different way, you seem to be saying that if they weren't carrying around this toxic masculinity, they wouldn't enjoy competitive exercise. Which, if true, would enable easy labeling of everyone who seems competitive as "toxic." I don't think that's fair.

Another relevant question that comes out of this discussion is: if increased male participation in yoga changes it, is that a bad thing? Generally all innovation in life comes from outsiders bringing a new spin to established customs. There are already tons of flavors of yoga; why not a more competitive one? (led by qualified people there to ensure that people are informed on how to avoid injury). If it stops being yoga by definition then fine; it's something else and maybe a new sport is created. Or maybe the definition of yoga expands. Whether the different flavors are performed in different classes or just on different mats, what one person is doing doesn't have to take away from what anyone else is doing. Just because someone is competing with you doesn't mean you are expected to compete with them on the same terms, or at all.
posted by mantecol at 11:55 AM on January 15, 2017


At the gym, I usually (!) have to stifle the urge to match / exceed the speed of whoever's next to me on the low-impact cardio machines I'm allowed to use (because I set the resistance high, and also going fast isn't great for my knee). I find it *very difficult* to quell that urge. (IAAW)

I think that's different from going to a class, though, especially a yoga class where you're supposed to be somewhat, I don't know, humble, or open to correction or something.

Also in case anyone else also has lowered standards because of the flu, the Slice Network (Canada) is rotating Shall We Dance (2004), in which lawyer Richard Gere addresses his midlife unhappiness by taking ballroom dance classes at a studio at which Jennifer Lopez is teaching (conveniently). It's pretty crap, but fellow lawyer and dancer Stanley Tucci has some bits where he talks about shame viz a viz love for sequins and the rhumba.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:08 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


My husband gets frequent comments when he uses the pink Breast Cancer Awareness reusable bag but he also gives no fucks. Anyway he's colorblind so pink isn't really pink to him. I don't get reusable bags being feminine in general, ours have nondescript design/logos mostly.
posted by emjaybee at 12:37 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I mean, I don't know what to do with this thread. We can acknowledge that toxic masculinity damages men, but I think it's another manifestation of toxic masculine privilege to shout down or ignore the ways those same manifestations hurt women. And a hand waving dismissal about "oppression olympics" doesn't really cut it, because these things are fundamentally intertwined. You literally cannot talk honestly about toxic masculinity without talking about women because it's a construct that is almost universally defined in the negative -- it is what is NOT female/subservient. You cannot talk about an axis of hierarchy without talking about the bottom rung that supports the whole damn thing.

I don't know. I think we should have this conversation. I don't know if I can do it because I'm really starting to resent all the labor I do just to survive in straight culture. And to be blunt, experience has not left me with a lot of trust regarding how other people, especially straight people, talk about my queerness.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:52 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


"Idiosyncrasy credit is the general form. One accumulates credit by conforming and spends it by deviating."

Oh, wow, I'm delighted to learn this is a real thing, I call it the "Midwestern Social Acceptability Index" (that your Midwestern neighbors will excuse just about ANY level of personal eccentricity as long as your kids are polite and your pets are fed and you bring something good to potlucks). I'm so pleased it's a real social science thing!

I phrased it as: "I have this theory I call the "Midwestern Social Acceptability Index" and the goal is to score 100 points. If you can get to 100, everyone (in the Midwest) will thereafter excuse all of your oddities as charming and interesting rather than threatening. So, like, are your kids fed and clothed? 50 points. Do you take good care of your pets? 25 points. Are your kids polite to adults? 25 points. Look! You're at 100 already! You could be circus people riding unicycles everywhere in brightly-colored clown outfits and everyone will say, "Oh, that's just the Smiths, they're great, they're in the circus!" Other point-gathering opportunities: Dressing appropriately for weddings and funerals, being employed in some gainful fashion, maintaining the exterior of your home to neighborhood standards, liking beer, cheering for the appropriate sports teams as local fandom demands, volunteering for some community organization, etc. Note you don't have to do ALL these things, just enough of them to get your 100 points. And then everyone will be like, "Well, she's a Pagan lesbian single parent keeping goats for organic cheese-making AND she cheers for the Miami Dolphins, which is a clear sign of mental illness, but gosh-darn doesn't she keep her house up nice and her kids are so polite! And have you tried her cheese? So good.""
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2017 [18 favorites]


Only a handful of men have fit this description, as I mentioned in the original comment, which you ignored.
In my comment I addressed this specifically, using sarcasm: "you only do it when you magically know they are evil in their heart". This is of course ludicrous: you have simply labeled them as Not Belonging and therefore worthy of taunting.

You know how people are reluctant to go to the gym, and their friends tell them, "Just go! Nobody's going to be watching you, they're just worried about their own workout!" I love that sentiment. But then other people make Snapchats making fun of people at the gym for being weak, or not knowing how to use the equipment. That's the team you've chosen to join.
I do all the optional chutturungas because I do them anyway -- but seeing whether that guy will ignore all of that just because he sees a girl do something better than him?
You seem to try to squirm out from taking responsibility for your taunting by being Schrödinger's yogi, both "just doing your own practice" while also "messing with" first-timers with "extra chutturangas" and "pretending" to retreat to child's pose. Either admit that you embellished your story, or take responsibility for your actions as you describe them!

But to address your interpretation of these mens' motivations, in my comment I said, "There is of course no reason except sexism that someone would try to keep up with people around them in class." Once more, this was sarcasm. I wrote that, and invoked the many many threads of women at CrossFit and in weight rooms who are intimidated by people around them, to flag for you that people, both men and women, often feel like they need to keep up with the person next to them in fitness classes for reasons other than sexism. I do not find this to be an outlandish claim but I will lay out some supporting points in the next paragraph.
You can't just listen to your female yoga teacher or your own body as long as a girl is "beating" you? Yeah, no pity.
Do you also have no pity for women who hear "do it at your own pace" in CrossFit intro classes but are still intimidated and feel it's not for them? Are they motivated only by the misogynist belief that they must outperform the other women in the class? Can't they just listen to their instructor? I'm not making this scenario up, it's straight out of specific Asks that out of basic courtesy I won't link to here.

Are you similarly unsympathetic to women who are intimidated by the weight room because the men there lift more than them? Or is your callousness reserved only for the group you deem Outsiders, and whose internal sexist motivations you are mysteriously privy to?

Again, I ask you, and I'm not kidding: consider the possibility that you are enforcing gender barriers in your yoga class.

Finally, I want to address this:
unless you think women have an obligation to protect men's feelings at all times
Look, I find athletics really special and important, and I know that the first time at a gym or dojo or fitness class is really anxiety-inducing for lots of people, and that their attempts to do their best in those new environments often manifest in weird ways often not representing their best selves, so I take it as a special moral obligation to be really good to newcomers and their feelings in those sacred spaces. I'm asking you, in all seriousness, to please extend this courtesy to newcomers to your space. Even if they're men. Even if they try to do a good job by keeping up with people around them.
posted by daveliepmann at 1:31 PM on January 15, 2017 [8 favorites]


what about competition in exercise is inherently toxic?
mantecol, I don't find competition inherently toxic, but I'm with schadenfrau in finding the injection of competition into yoga to be massively toxic. I'm a rather competitive person in other sports but I find the unasked-for intrusion of competition into a solo activity like yoga or lifting incredibly rude, disruptive, and unwelcome.

Competition needs to be carefully managed as a social tool. In the judo dojo or BJJ club, for instance, you are supposed to be doggedly competitive in tournament and only somewhat competitive (and only with some partners) in class. Knowing when to ride competitive urges to success and when to suppress them to refine technique is a major part of developing in grappling arts. If competitive drives are allowed to spread unchecked, injuries abound in both bodies and feelings.
posted by daveliepmann at 1:57 PM on January 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


This one seems to have mostly gone by the wayside, though?

It's interesting, I can't tell if it's that it has become less important over time, or if I just live in a more tolerant environment now, or if people just enforce violations against adults less strictly, or if people still assume I'm gay for crossing my legs knee-over-knee but are somewhat more tolerant of gay people so they don't say anything (and maybe they would if I were straight). Like, I "learned" that rule in the mid 90s. That's later than some of the other people in the thread but is still before the sea change in attitudes towards gay people that I saw in the mid 00s (out queer people at my high school could be counted on one hand when I was there in the late 90s/early 00s; by 2008 people were telling me about gay middle schoolers).
posted by en forme de poire at 2:00 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Funny thing, as a girl I learned that it wasn't ladylike to cross your legs. Ladies cross their ankles. So leg-crossing is not only a womanish activity, it's a bad woman's activity. I suppose this makes sense in the context of universal skirts and the possibility of someone glimpsing the form and shape of your legs, but in the time of pants it is outmoded. Luckily, my parents did not really enforce this; I just picked it up somewhere. Leg-crossing is the most natural sit that comes to me, so it takes thinking about even to this day.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:13 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


A fond college memory: that time my coed fraternity all sat around and knitted while watching the Super Bowl. Hey, I'm lucky.
posted by the_blizz at 2:13 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


This yoga thing seems a little hyperbolic given that the "competition" was likely only happening in their heads, possibly only in her head. She didn't go out of her way (she was on her mat in her own yoga space with a class) and there was no "taunting" of this other person. It's a known thing that some men have an issue about possibly being bested by a woman. I've heard some truly embarrassing rants and witnessed some of this behavior over my years. I think it's okay to tweak their noses a bit on this (if even only in her head). Frankly this otherwise smacks of over-response that is kind of par for the course when a woman dares to get one over on a guy. Even a little. Even in something of no consequence. If the guy walks out of there thinking, "that chick did a lot of chatarangas!" He had not actually been humiliated, demasculated or had his balls taken away.
posted by amanda at 2:29 PM on January 15, 2017 [9 favorites]


male knitters presumably do not face the danger of gender-based sexual violence, it is really not the same thing that all

I'm a male knitter who was sexually assaulted by my activist best friend in high school, who made me fuck her as a both a strike against the social limitations on female sexuality, and attempt to shock to life my non-existent bisexuality. It only took me 30 years to figure out what happened and begin to stop blaming myself, because if there's one thing that many feminists and the Patriarchy can agree upon, it's that a man cannot be sexually assaulted by a woman who calls herself a feminist. Thank for continuing to deny my reality.

I think it's another manifestation of toxic masculine privilege to shout down or ignore the ways those same manifestations hurt women

In a post that's about the effect that toxic masculinity has on the behavior of men, you're claiming it's misogynistic that this isn't a derail about women's experiences? There are hundreds of threads on MetaFilter about how shitty our culture is to women, and very few about how it is shitty to men. Please let us speak this once.
posted by conic at 2:44 PM on January 15, 2017 [7 favorites]


[Let's choose to end the twin derails of arguing about yoga-shaming and knitting store behavior and let people return to the larger point.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:01 PM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


Or to be really blunt, I'm not down for yet another conversation about how the way I'd like to live is really cute or sexy, when I know that those relationships can get abusive and violent at the 3:00 am when we're emotionally naked, and that's all about people under 30 anyway. I'm not down to be told that commercial art about people like me is a funhouse mirror of fantasy for them. To see "good in bed" pulled out of an entire book about complex lives and complex relationships to be used as a headline. To have the marginal information I've shared about my wonderful neurotic queer life put under a microscope of political reconstruction. To wade through yet another thread of being told it wasn't really rape. I'm not down have conversations about how it's just a millennial fantasy when I'm 45 and questioning for 30, how it's a rejection of gay or dyke culture, how writing in alternate pronouns is an assault on grammar. How stereotypes and erasure are not oppression when those stereotypes foster violence, and a lack of resources when I need treatment.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


When I was a year-round bike commuter I had started buying women's leggings to ride in, because they were cheaper and more readily available than men's cycling tights. Because I had the leggings I was able to wear them when I went on a hiking trip with friends. I had basically thrown them in my backpack because I didn't have any pants that weren't jeans and there was possible rain in the forecast, and then the weather was colder than forecast and they turned out to be useful. But still one of my (female) friends said at one point, "I didn't come out here to look at your butt in leggings." When she asked why I even had them she thought bike commuting was an entirely reasonable answer, but after saying that she also made sure to hike in front of me. So she was half joking? Maybe?

Now I own hiking pants, but on a big National Parks trip with my wife last year I learned I still pretty much have to hike in leggings because of chafing (seriously: rashes on both inner thighs after maybe two hours on easy, paved trails). So on days we'd be hiking I'd put on my leggings* and feel ridiculous until we got on the trail, and then I wouldn't care until we got off the trail, and then I'd start feeling self-conscious about it again. In a couple parks we ended up doing all the regular touristy stuff like visitor centers and vistas without changing clothes, and I couldn't shut off the feeling that I looked ridiculous.

I'm pretty sure nobody took any notice of me at all, but I still felt like I was doing something weird, like somebody was still going to say something about it. And that's after I was already confident enough to buy them from the ladies' activewear department at Nordstrom (where nobody cared) and confident enough (again) to put them on and step outside (where nobody seemed to notice or care).

So, yeah. Internalized toxic masculinity, I guess.

* In tactical-whatever-speak they're compression pants because both "tights" and "leggings" are too girly, but come on. With a few exceptions, most compression pants marketed to men are just leggings.
posted by fedward at 6:48 PM on January 15, 2017 [5 favorites]


So on days we'd be hiking I'd put on my leggings* and feel ridiculous until we got on the trail, and then I wouldn't care until we got off the trail, and then I'd start feeling self-conscious about it again.

Most of the dudes I see in leggings wear some loose-fitting shorts on top, which adds no functionality but does provide some modesty coverage.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:51 PM on January 15, 2017


which adds no functionality

Pockets. Shorts add pockets, and pockets are functional. And I was wearing shorts as described, but still felt weird when not actually hiking.
posted by fedward at 8:31 PM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


My husband read the original thread and says sometimes he just likes to be the little spoon. He's 6'4", we make it work.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:56 PM on January 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


Pockets. Shorts add pockets, and pockets are functional. And I was wearing shorts as described, but still felt weird when not actually hiking.

Agreed. I'm not super macho man (but I am a bit of a prude!) but as a man all my clothes come with pockets. All of my slacks, pants, shorts. They just automatically show up in everything. Sweatpants have pockets. My pajamas have pockets. I have swim trunks with pockets. A lot of my shirts have pockets. I have one pair of basketball shorts without pockets that I only wear around the house and I only wear those as a Laundry Last Resort because even alone in my home doing nothing I may want to put my hands in my pockets. Give the women pockets. I have some long johns without pockets, but I would be very uncomfortable wearing only those around other people. Every body deserves the option of pockets.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:02 PM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think the leggings story is very a very interesting mirror. It sends me down a couple lines of thought, one is that very gendered clothing can be uncomfortable. I read an essay recently (can't remember where exactly) about how uncomfortable it can be to really "dress up" as a woman. Tight clothing that is revealing and can need things like double-sided body tape in order to stay in place at all. (You think Jennifer Lopez's body just magically kept that gauzy nothing of a dress in place? Hell, it was probably glued on.) Not to mention short, insubstantial fabric which is breezy and cold and then high heels and hair full of pokey bobbie pins. For men, I admit I have less sympathy, but I do remember my father struggling to get his full dress blues together to go to a formal event, tight collar, cumberbund, a reckoning with a few months of less-than-energetic Air Force PT. To soar to the heights of the top of your gender's beauty standard is to be uncomfortable.

The second line of thought I have is that the problem is not with the leggings (I live in the land of multi-sport casual and I would not blink at a man wearing leggings) necessarily but with the commentary on the leggings. Which also makes me think about how women's clothing (in part) seems to invite commentary. It's colorful and form-fitting and as many seem to think, actually asks the viewer to comment. It would almost be rude to let a woman pass through your sphere without commenting on her appearance. And there's even a girl-girl thing where when I meet with other women we are to comment on some aspect of our clothing, hair, etc. Some of this is flattering but it also can sometimes feel a little stilted and suffocating. Maybe something about the leggings triggered a must...comment.... from your female friend perhaps mashed up with a gendered male "playful ribbing" and it just came out all wrong. Women can be total boobs as well as any guy. I promise that no one else is really paying that much attention. Unless they have space kittens on them...and if not, why not? :)
posted by amanda at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


To soar to the heights of the top of your gender's beauty standard is to be uncomfortable.
Some people refer to that as drag, even when it's not cross gender. At the height of gendered formal clothing, it's all more or less a stylized performance anyway. That said, the smartest thing I've ever done was make sure I owned a tuxedo that really fit me well, because when it really is comfortable enough and you get into the habit of wearing it, it stops being drag. But then I was a music performance major in college, so that level of comfort in formal attire came 25 years ago.
The second line of thought I have is that the problem is not with the leggings (I live in the land of multi-sport casual and I would not blink at a man wearing leggings) necessarily but with the commentary on the leggings. Which also makes me think about how women's clothing (in part) seems to invite commentary.
I think this is part of it. The fact that women are wearing their yoga pants everywhere has inspired lots of (stupid) commentary and I know I've noticed it* even as much as I don't care (it's not my business whether you're going to or coming from your workout, or you're just dressed for athleisure). Apparently I haven't just noticed it, I've internalized some sort of judgment about it that isn't even consistent with my beliefs. So when I found myself in athletic clothing, in public, while not actively exercising, that fact made me uncomfortable.

Even though yes, you ladies have it right. Leggings are comfortable.

* For that matter every guy I see in one of those college team gear polo shirts gets an assumed title of 'coach.' Yes, I did go to a football school.
posted by fedward at 10:47 AM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


I don't know if women really have an equivalent to buying a tux, because people notice if women wear the same thing multiple times, plus fashion in women's clothes changes pretty fast.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:07 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh, they don't, as my wife reminds me every time we have a formal event. Women also have the whole Spanx and high heels thing that men, thankfully, don't. My comment was more about how men's formal wear is performative, but not really all that bad if it fits right and you get used to wearing it. Women's formal wear, between the foundation undergarments and the societal expectation that you not repeat an outfit, is much worse.
posted by fedward at 11:19 AM on January 16, 2017


Male formal wear that's tailored properly can be quite comfortable, actually. Plus or minus a few pounds. I think most men just don't dress formally often enough to get used to the feeling of the extra pieces. (I mean, for god's sake, men are considered "dressy" these days if their shirt has lapels.)
posted by tobascodagama at 3:49 PM on January 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


(In which I roll a critical failure on my outfit snark attempt by saying "lapels" when I mean "a collar".)
posted by tobascodagama at 5:13 PM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


As a fabric shopping man I am saddened and embarrassed for the middle aged guys who look like the life is being slowly drained while they wait for their wives. They lurk like spectres and often eye my agency with dim resentment.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:27 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is one of those topics that remind me of the trauma work liberals should be doing in lockstep with activism, rather than hoping it will resolve itself when we fix policy/society.

On the face of it, we should be giddy that privileged men are finally able to name the things that the patriarchy took from them. That they're suddenly saying "I would have liked to knit", and they have a bunch of bros encouraging them to accept those norms as arbitrary and fictitious. We should be grateful so many people got woke Election Day. Because even if it would have been better in October, it's not like we're going to run out of future Election Days. So thank god our ranks are swelling with people who are now able to empathize with our pain than previously. I've studied the political psychology of social change, and recognize that this is the opportunity to dial back the fear and nostalgia that threaten the last 8 years of social progress, but only if we can successfully integrate newcomers into the fold.

But we're not happy or optimistic. I'm specifically not. Instead my initial reaction has been heartbreak and anger. I am flooded by how much I lost in being the outspoken weirdo in my Republican family, being bullied through high school because my gender presentation was wrong. And it makes sense. If I had acknowledged this sadness, I don't know how I could have been myself. But conforming to social norms caused such self hatred and intense anxiety, that was never on the table.

So instead of dealing with it then, I'm dealing with those feelings now that things are a tiny bit safer. Like all trauma responses, it's normal. But the flip side of trauma responses, it's maladaptive and puts us in situations that compound our trauma rather than heal it.
posted by politikitty at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


I knew a guy (in law enforcement, no less) who didn't like coffee but did like hot chocolate and at least once in a coffee shop, he ordered a ginormous hot chocolate with whipped cream and a small black coffee and heavily implied he was getting the hot chocolate for someone else while he was going to drink the black coffee. I'm not sure what he did with the coffee, but apparently the hot chocolate was quite tasty.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:19 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


We got ten years of hipsters, twenty of metrosexual, thirty of Romantics and Goths, forty of glam and disco, and I still wake up to toxic masculinity killing people like me, 49 in Orlando, three trans women known in the new year, HIV and race in the South, more than half of bi women bartered by partners, a third of bi men, the odds even worse for LGBTQ and major mental health. So yeah, I'm angry and skeptical that reddit is more than superficially adopting a new fashion.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:25 PM on January 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


I find the trauma response context really useful to think about some of the issues raised in this thread. Especially with regards to athletic activities that are not explicitly coded male.

If a male presenting person is experiencing a trauma response to trying a new sport that they aren't good at, or an athletic endeavor coded more feminine, and a female presenting person is experiencing a trauma response to the societal expectation that she not outperform a man (especially an already vulnerable one) and to the risk (whether real or perceived) that a space she is comfortable in will be overtaken by men who are explicitly unwelcoming of her presence, what is the suggested course of action? Specifically, how should the female presenting person be welcoming in this situation?
posted by susiswimmer at 4:26 PM on January 17, 2017


If a male presenting person is experiencing a trauma response to trying a new sport that they aren't good at, or an athletic endeavor coded more feminine, and a female presenting person is experiencing a trauma response to the societal expectation that she not outperform a man (especially an already vulnerable one) and to the risk (whether real or perceived) that a space she is comfortable in will be overtaken by men who are explicitly unwelcoming of her presence, what is the suggested course of action? Specifically, how should the female presenting person be welcoming in this situation?

You're making a lot of assumptions or stipulations that are questionable about dysphoria and trauma that's likely none of your business in the context of someone sharing an exercise room with you.

Treat us with professional courtesy and respect. (And demand professional courtesy and respect if necessary.)

Ask what we want to learn. Don't assume. I want to learn to dance both partner positions, and how to work a skirt doing so.

I'm a penguin. I've always been a penguin. Now, I'm a penguin with a weak knee. Don't bother trying to play at my level, you can't (unless you're also a penguin). If you can, help this penguin find ways to have wheezing, wobbling, and shuffling fun. If I'm pushing myself too hard, it's penguin enthusiasm and ignorance, not an attempt to compete with people who are obviously not penguins.

And at least for me, explicitly gendering me will get me to pass or clam up until I can get a safe distance. It's a defense mechanism.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:27 PM on January 17, 2017


One of the things I love about the silly Zumba game that's part of my weekly exercise rotation is beautiful people of multiple genders who apparently don't give a shit about how the dance is gender-coded for Americans.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:42 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


CBrachyrhynchos

Thank you, and I think I would very much enjoy a dance class with you, because I look for many of the same things in my classes. If you are ever in the Bay Area, let me know.

My original reaction to your response is that there are just some dudes to which it wouldn't apply. But the more I think about it, maybe I just needed the reminder that not making assumptions is the key.
posted by susiswimmer at 10:46 PM on January 17, 2017


I'm having an angry week, so that was a bit snarkier than necessary. I apologize.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:24 AM on January 18, 2017


And I walk into a movie theater and see The Halls Tough Love/Soft Love advertisement, which captures in under a minute just how fucked we are.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:46 AM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


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