In trying to be a man, I missed out on so many friendships

When kids are growing up, they see the difference between boys and girls, men and women. In films and video games, men do the most things—the fighting, the wise-cracking, the hunting, the problem solving. Women generally earn less money, don’t have as many important jobs, and do much of the housework and caring for the kids. So girls and boys pick up the fact that there’s a feeling, usually unspoken, that men have more power than women.

This means that being a girl is worse than being a boy—that’s how kids see it. For a boy, being seen to be a girl is really scary because it means he’d be giving up the chance to be on the more powerful side. I know that some boys support Grimsby Town, but generally why would any little boy want to be on the crap side in life?

Boys really want to have power, so until they can get some real power through having a job or having money, they court it in games. Boys play with guns and magic, worship superheroes, and pretend to do jobs that come with power, like builders or footballers. When I was a boy, I wasn’t too interested in these things. I don’t know why (please analyse me in the comments), but I wasn’t that keen on pretending. I preferred just to read. I just wanted ideas and the chance to peek into other people’s lives—so books were my closest friends. Continue reading

Four heroes who make masculinity look exhausting

1 Indiana Jones

indiana jones, bashed again
indiana jones, bashed again

Indy’s a good lad who is not afraid to break the rules of academic objectivity and non-violence in the pursuit of an ancient artefact or a smoking-hot Nazi. He’s a strong fighter, but he’s rarely strong enough. I remember feeling every punch when he’s beaten up by that strong guy underneath the grounded airplane in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Poor Indy’s face gets totally battered. Fortunately there’s a propeller that Indy can push the bad guy into. If it wasn’t for that propeller I’m not sure Indy would have survived that fight. It’s one reason why he’s a great hero; he’s always on the verge of failing, so it keeps us on our toes. Continue reading

Why can’t gay sex be equal sex?

Grayson Perry, the tranny potter, says no one has sexual fantasies about equality. Men and women don’t get off on wearing the same fleece and cruising down the aisle together in Waitrose sharing the same responsibility to find the mung beans, he says. I’ve heard him make this point a couple of times now: first was during his keynote at last February’s Being a Man festival at the Southbank Centre and most recently he said it again last Saturday, at the Southbank’s open think-in where people came to help them plan the next festival. Perry’s point is that sex always has a power dynamic going on. He implies that sex needs a power dynamic in order to work: you need one person doing the thing and one person having it done to them, whatever it is. They can switch roles of course, throughout their partnership or even in the space of a single night. Someone who has lots of power in society might want to wield this in the bedroom too, or he (yes, probably he) might want the opposite when the sexing hour starts. It’s why chief executives like to dress up as babies and be spanked, or whatever.

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