“We have a great deal of criticism and loathing for what men have been socialized to be in this society: what they support, how thy act, and how they oppress. But we do not have the misguided notion that it is their maleness, per se -i.e., their biological maleness-that makes them what they are. As Black women we find any type of biological determinism a particularly dangerous and reactionary basis upon which to build a politic.”
People sometimes think that gender is biologically based. that being a “man” in the way that society values a particular kind of masculinity is rooted in DNA, programed into our very beings as humans. The collective isn’t so sure. If you look around the world and the country you’ll see all different ways that masculinity is performed, not just by men but by so called biological women as well.
What does your culture or community mark as masculinity?
What do you think about the markers? Are they only for men? Are they useful characteristics for men to possess?
How would you want masculinity to look?
Is this different from what femininity should look like?
What do we actually have to do if we say that biological maleness and masculinity are not the same thing?
What new models of masculinity do queer and trans masculinities open up?
C. Riley Snorton, a scholar, activist and filmmaker who engages queer masculinities in his work provides the following thoughts:
Masculinity is always an unstable term–its relational nature suggests that it shifts and moves differently across communities and cultures. Its instability also relates to the ways in which various cultures and communities seek to produce, maintain, and police masculinities even as any definition of the term dissolves under closer scrutiny. For example, in many societies, there is a collapse in distinctions between “male,” “man,” and “masculine.” These collapsed designations play out in encounters with medical personnel or in one’s local barbershop. Similarly, societies organized under heteropatriarchy are interested in proscribing and circumscribing articulations of femininity—that is to say that controlling women becomes part of the project of stabilizing masculinity. Hence it is often important to refuse conversations that assume (without problematizing or critique) the need to rescue the always-already black man in crisis. These types of conversations do in fact draw on both a politics of respectability and forms of racialized nationalisms that seek to regulate and control (often through disavowal) gender multiplicity, femininity, and gender non-conformity. Queer and trans masculinities do not presume a feminist politic, but are surveilled and subject to similar regimes of power that seek to constrain women’s lives.
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