In the last couple of years I have spent a good amount of time studying the context of the American Male (often in comparison with other geographies / cultures). The concept of masculinity as a part of how men make their consumer behavior choices is pretty interesting. I have been affirmed in some areas and proven wrong in others. It’s actually great fun to have hypotheses be disproved by ethnographic research. 🙂
In any case, American Culture has traditionally (at least since the invention of printing presses and propaganda and marketing) a fairly simian point of view on masculinity – which likely has a lot to do with the fact that we are, indeed, a country still stuck in a posturing mindset as we deal with our growing pains.
But global communication has allowed a lot more dialogue into our everyday and has consequently impacted what I have seen as an evolution in the American masculine ideal. To clarify: i don’t imply a speedy evolution, but a burgeoning one all the same.
In some cases, however, this movement has it’s cultural backlashes – like the “retrosexual” ideal you see among those males embracing the more “man of mystery” / “madmen chic” ideal of masculine mystique that dresses up his power in a three piece suit or even the “hipster” / “anti-emo” version of the urban cave-man.
But today’s blog was inspired by the latest Sociology of Style piece on Manning Up: Our Bulging Crisis in Masculinity , which points out a number of pointed cultural tensions and art / studies / editorial content / marketing examples that addresses them. At the end of this article, readers are asked to share their idea of masculinity, for which I left the below commentary, as it occurred to me that the men I see as most reminiscent of our cultural shift happen to be the type of men I “hang” with – the Lesbimen:
“I am probably a bit biased as a fellow sociologist and anthropologist, but for me, I see masculinity as a far more balanced ideal. And maybe it is just my idea. For example, I have found that the majority of my heterosexual male friends – at least the ones who are in my “inner circle” share a common set of characteristics: They are not overtly macho, but still maintain at least some interests that are considered traditionally “masculine, such as Football, Motorcycles, “gentlemen’s clubs”, etc. However, they also tend to be more emotive in general and free to talk about their feelings. They tend to care more about their appearance and not just in the sense that they are attractive to women but that they are pleased with their own style and upkeep. They also don’t “freak out” but rather are flattered when gay men give them complements or proposition them – regardless of their general disinterest. They have a nurturing side and at least a minor tendency toward nesting and creating an aesthetic environment in their homes. And they are generally pretty intelligent and effective people who seek to improve themselves and are willing (for the most part) to be introspective and face their demons.
I think it comes down to them having the courage to allow a more spiritual and emotional perspective into their lives – to find a balance between the surface and the “deep” – which I think has been – throughout history – a socially recognized female trait. But this goes back to the idea of “Mother Earth” / Gaia.
In any case – I call these men ‘Lesbimen’ and they are my ideal of masculinity and they types of guys who become my chosen family.”
So I find myself wondering what others are seeing in their circles and if the Lesbiman ideal holds true? Are you man enough to share your feelings on this matter?
- Manning Up: Our Bulging Crisis in Masculinity (sociologyofstyle.com)
- Masculinity Issues Part 2 (whentheninesrollover.wordpress.com)
- How does Jesus Exemplify Counter-Cultural Masculinity? (trueyoungmen.wordpress.com)
- What is Masculinity? (lochieflagg.wordpress.com)
- I Feel Masculine Because I Study Philosophy, Not Literature (newafricanmen.wordpress.com)
- Study says that the Beauty industry should encourage men to be men (fragrancedirect.co.uk)
- young man blues, the value of masculinity and the new masculinism movement (larrysmusings.com)
- The Gym Generation and Hypermasculinity (marvinscorridor.com)
4 thoughts on “The Lesbiman: A New Masculine Ideal?”
I am completely flustered on whatever gender roles are/were supposed to be. I agree that there is a transition that is good, and that I have seen in my lifetime, and I certainly feel a whole lot more comfortable with my existence today. I just don’t know what to call it.
You talk about a gender shift in society, and I am tempted to agree that their has been one, but the examples of the modern lesbi-man behaviours aren’t very convincing. I’m not sure that there was ever a time when it was actually true that “real men” didn’t talk about their feelings.
If the way that manliness is projected has changed then I think we need to be looking at the reason why people want to project their manliness, which must have something to do with attracting a partner. Since those values that have traditionally been useful for a hunter/provider man seem to be the origin of the concept of manliness, I suspect that the change in social ideas of manliness today are a reflection of the values which equip a man to provide in the modern world. Being techno-savvy, being a good driver, a smart and professional appearance, etc
What do you think?
I think you have a point re: what males project in public to attract a mate / compete in society and that perhaps some of those “lesbiman” qualities have always been reserved for private consumption. But as American culture shifts I think it is interesting to see some of those more traditionally “feminine” qualities enter a public forum.