Monday, February 8, 2010

Feministing - The Daily Show Takes on the Crisis of Dudes

Interesting to see this turn up on a feminist blog - seems some of the most vocal defenders of men are women (Feministing, Kathleen Parker, Dr. Helen, and others).

Some thoughts below the article/video.

I realize it's become the day of the man, but so be it. Check out this segment from last night's show on the crisis of masculinity, hosted by none other than Samantha Bee:

Bee gets major points for her outfit, creative use of language ("pusswads?" amazing), and making that sociologist look like the bozo that he is, but she also missed out on some awesome opportunities with this subject matter (MRAs? Superbowl controversy? Glenn Beck?).

The Daily Show's deal, of course, particularly in these kinds of segments, is to point out the hypocrisies, ridiculousness, and stereotypes that we so often accept in our social and political worlds. But sometimes it feels like they go after the wrong goat, as in this segment, where they're making fun of guys who actually seem invested in making masculinity less defined by violence and domination.

These guys aren't the oversimplified narrative; they are the ones trying to redefine it. Sure their never ending circle formations are funny and they seem sort of clueless out there in the woods, but that's all easy. It would have been more challenging, and more interesting, to go after organizations that purport to care about masculinity, but only end up reinforcing dysfunctional, oppressive male behavior. The guys featured in this clip, are already being made fun of, I would guess, by people who find them too radical or feminized. The Daily Show's best comedic opportunities aren't in going after the people already challenging the status quo, but addressing those firmly convinced of their own right to stay firmly positioned within it.

One might argue that Bee was trying to position herself as the un-evolved woman--a parody of the kind of lady who doesn't want her man to cry for fear it will challenge the gender role duality and the world will come crashing down. But I'm not so sure that's how people read it. Instead it becomes one more way to laugh at guys who aren't "tough enough."

Your thoughts?
This is lame (even though I appreciate the humor) - not so much for its bashing of men's groups and Warren Farrell (who I have issues with anyway) - but because men (and GLBT people) are the only group left in this country that can be openly mocked and belittled.

Samantha Bee is usually pretty funny, and she usually does not go for the easy laugh. But this time she did.

I have issues with some of the "banging a drum in the woods" version of men's groups, but we should not be making humor out of the few men who are actually trying to change how men behave and are perceived in this culture.

The true target should be the manly men, the hyper-masculine, the gun-totting, Budweiser swilling, pick-up truck driving, Wrangler wearing stereotypes of traditional masculinity. They deserve to be the target of humor.

Here's the deal:

* I cry from time to time.
* I would rather read a book than shoot a gun.
* I eat quiche.
* I use moisturizer.
* I drive a four-door sedan.
* I think John Wayne made horrible movies.
* I make love far more often than I have sex.
* I watch the History Channel as much (or more) as I watch ESPN.
* I squat 395 lbs.
* I do dips with 135 lbs hanging from my waist.
* I look damn good naked.
* I am masculine without being a stereotype.
* I am sensitive without being soft.

I could go on and on. There are a lot of other guys like me out there, and we are trying to redefine what it means to be a man in this culture. We are smart, we are fit, we have emotions, and we are not stereotypes.

We need to speak up and be more visible. We need to lead by example - there are many men who would be glad to know they do not have to be a stereotype, either as hyper-masculine or too feminine. We can bridge the two and be authentic men, integrated men, whole men.

1 comment:

davanna said...

From a middle-aged woman's perspective: I think Samantha was honing in on the fact that there seems to be some complaining from the men that they aren't treated sympathetically enough? When they are in charge of many of the institutions and powers structures in the world.( The guys in the woods weren't exactly saying that. Although the one jerk she interviewed did seem to be.) My own take on modern masculinity (I am speaking about men in my age group -- fortyish, fiftyish) is that men do need extra care even though they seem to be the ones in power. This is a paradoxical situation. I always relate it to the fact that biologically speaking, (and I think this is correct) the male of the species is more fragile developmentally from conception to old age (once you remove the dangers of childbirth which have been greatly diminished with modern medicine). So I always look at males as strong in some ways, but weak in others. Men and women need each other. And I don't think that sniping at the opposite sex is healthy.

Great topic, though.