Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If Male = Default...

Inspired by this piece on Pandagon, and previous discussions at the Hathor Legacy.

Judging by the mass media, the language we use, it would seem that male = the default experience. Anybody doing gender analysis in media knows this. Male = default, female = specific. That's where there are flicks, and then there are chick flicks which presumably cater to the very special female audience. And men are not expected to go because they'd have to imagine themselves in the female protagonist's position and that's alienating to men (despite the fact that women have to stretch their imagination and put themselves in male protagonists' shoes all the time).

But if masculinity is so natural, being manly is so natural, being male is so default, then why do some men spend so much time differentiating themselves from women? Why this investment in the gender binary for a sense of identity? Why all these how-to books on masculinity? Why did the Spartans take their sons away from their mothers in order for the sons to become manly men?

And if part of being a man means being an animal who cannot help but destroy and rape, well, this is the baffling bit - why would a man want to be a man, knowing that this will become part of his nature?

If male is the default nature, why must sons be taught how to be men?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with almost everything you said. I still don't understand why male is almost always default. It's considered normal to say "they" (gender neutral) or "he" (since male is considered more "neutral" than female), but saying "she" is apparently odd and out of place. It's something that really bothers me since our language has adapted to the point where gender-neutrality is taken into account on many occasions, yet people still insist (whether intentional or not) on saying "he," "his" or "man" in place of "they," "their" or "human"/"person." That is what bothers me. It's like saying that only men are true humans ("All *men* are created equal," etc.), whereas women have to be placed in a separate category, as if they're a different species.

    As for your "Spartan" example, I think that has more to do with the fact that back then, men were in wars and women stayed home. Also, I don't think that "part of being a man" is destroying and rape. If I'm not mistaken, women were very much respected in the medieval days due to chivalry.

    Like I said, the only thing that bothers me nowadays is the fact that women are considered the "other." We are all humans, regardless of gender, and we should completely abolish sexist and male-favoring language so that we can finally progress in society. I can't even comprehend how society went this way.

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