Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rejecting the Mainstream Masculinity

An Australian blogger, Andrew Smith, who blogs at Divine Trauma, has an interesting post on how one becomes marginalized if he does not partake of the normative behavior of drinking and football (rugby). We have the same issues in this country to an extent, but sports in general is the norm, and those men who do not know about sports must be gay - and gay men certainly have no interest in sports (this isn't universally true in my experience, be that as it may).

Anyway, here is Smith's post. I don't necessarily agree with his conclusion - we can never jettison our biological heritage and drives. But we can be more than that, as he rightly suggests.

Masculinity and Humanity

Connell argues that all forms of masculinities that fail to meet the conventions of the dominant form of masculinity as well as all forms of femininities are marginalised.
Merete Schmidt
Masculinity, Sport and Alcohol

Schmidt's key point in the article is that people who don't drink alcohol and who don't play (or follow) football are not part of the mainstream definition of masculinity, and will suffer isolation as a consequence. Her conclusion is based on observations in a rural Australian town and on wider social observations.

From my experience, I suggest that she's correct. I don't drink and I don't follow the dominant football code in Australia. Although my reasons for this are my own, the mere fact that I'm not playing along with drinking and rugby league (or most sports, for that matter) has isolated me in professional and social situations, with colleagues and close friends.

From a secular perspective this is a problem for society, but I imagine it has its roots in how societies form hierarchies. The societal norms are required in order to rank people, in order for the males to compete to be alpha male. Competition arises in the amount of alcohol that can be consumed, the proficiency at sport, the discussions of sport. Failure to display one's plumage in any of these arenas is tantamount to emasculation.

The solution, however, is indifference. Indifference to the differences determined by the hierarchy is necessary in order to escape the problem. This is not a call for a new kind of masculinity, but rather a stand that says the categories of male and female, sporty and non-sporty belong to the animal kingdom, whereas human existence can be played out without paying attention to those classifications. The solution is not a new masculinity, but a new humanity.

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