Tag Archives: The Good Men Project

Gender and Super Heroes/oines

In light of Captain America’s soon-to-be film debut, I saw this article today on the Good Men Project:

“Captain America is the Best Man” by Mark D.:

As a longtime comics fan, I find inspiration in many of the superheroes whose adventures I read every month, but none inspire me as much as Captain America. Simply put, to me, Cap stands as an example of the best we can be. He embodies all of the classical virtues that are just as important now as they were in the days of the ancient Greeks, including honesty, courage, loyalty, perseverance, and, perhaps most importantly, honor (in particular, military honor). While I can’t be as strong or fast as Cap, I can hope to be as honest, courageous, and honorable.

(Although Mark D. argues that Captain America has moved beyond his jingoist, hegemonically masculine, and paternalistic roots, in a post-911 age these historic roots cannot be denied.)

And that’s great and all.  The guy seems just swell.

But it got me thinking – where are all of the honest, courageous, and strong superheroines?  Most of them are either crazy or can’t control their powers or they’re young with teenage troubles or sex on the brain. 

Literally I can only think of Xena.  Any thoughts?

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On the table, 7/6

Happy 4th!  I’m still recovering from my weekend of little sleep, grilling out, and eating lots of peaches.  I miss it all already.

Here’s what’s been brewing over the weekend:

In his book, Michael Billig coined the term “banal nationalism” to draw attention to the ways in which nationalism was not only a quality of gun-toting, flag-waving “extremists” (p. 5), but was quietly and rather invisibly reproduced by all of us in our daily lives.

So, what’s the problem with banal nationalism?  Sociologists have critiqued nationalism for being the source of an irrational commitment and loyalty to one’s nation, a commitment that makes one willing to both die and kill….  [Read on]

 

Read more: Check out Michael Billig’s book Banal Nationalism

 

 

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A few months ago I read about encouraging advances in the science of male contraception. That led me on a long search to speak to the leading minds in the field.

As readers know, I had a vasectomy several years ago. But I have several buddies who are either on the fence about wanting kids or don’t want them right this second. So, for those guys, I wanted to ask these scientists: What’s taking so long? [Read on]

 Read more:

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Georgia is having mixed results with a new program replacing migrant farm workers with probationers.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal started the program after farmers complained a crackdown on illegal immigrants was scaring away the mostly Latino workers needed to harvest labor-intensive crops like blueberries and cucumbers.  (This article sparks a plethora of conversation points – worker’s rights, prisoner’s rights, the value of migrant work and the claim that migrant workers take jobs from US citizens, and the intersections of class, race, and ethnicity to name a few.) [Read on]

Read more:

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“The moment when something is transformed into something else is the most beautiful moment; it’s a magical moment,” said Brazilian artist Vik Muniz in the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land (in Portuguese, “Lixo Extraordinário”), directed by Lucy Walker, João Jardim and Karen Harley.

The movie tells the remarkable story of how the “catadores,” scavengers of recyclable materials found in an enormous landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, are coached by Muniz to transform mountains of discarded items into breathtaking works of art….[Read on]

 

Read more:

Watch the documentary Wasteland on Muniz’s work.  Check out the trailer here or watch the film on Netflix.

NPR also has a few more articles on the project.  Check them out:

 NPR – “Recyclers Turn Rio ‘Waste Land’ into High Art”

NPR – “Film Chronicles Artist’s Work from Rio Dump” by Pat Dowell

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Chesty Mags

Alrighty, I’ve been lazy and haven’t posted this past week.  I was preparing for Doomsday.  But, alas, nearly the entire world made it through the day.  So prepare for a quarter-sized hailstorm of posts.

For Doomsday my friends and I went to a small rinky-dink, cash-only bar.  The local gay bar closed recently, creating a surprisingly beautiful blend of really white drunken country-singers and some really fun, amazingly good-singing gay men and women.  Needless to say, the whole bar was treated to jello shots by the end of the night.

The world did not respond to happily to the recent Dossier cover featuring a shirtless, Serbian androgynous model named Andrej Pejic.

As Adam Polaski from The Good Men Project points out, what’s the big deal?  “After all, men appear shirtless all the time on Men’s Health, Esquire, and Men’s Fitness:”

Barnes & Noble and Borders have told Dossier representatives that they wouldn’t shelve the magazine unless all copies were covered with opaque poly bags—the kind typically reserved for Playboy or Maxim. According to Skye Parrott, the co-founder of Dossier, both stores acknowledged that they understood the model, Andrej Pejic, is male. But representatives asserted that the femininity inherent in the image was too confusing to risk putting on the magazine shelf.

Let’s explore this “risk.”

Most everyone fun loves drag.  Get a guy with a cute face and some pizzazz and put him in a dress and you’ve got some great Saturday night entertainment.  Have that same guy want to wear a dress to work and that’s no longer drag – that guy’s trans and therefore “weird” and to some even “profane.” 

Women, obviously, have much more flexibility in wearing men’s clothes, as I can go to work in flats, suits, boxer briefs, and cut my hair short.  But can men wear heels or skirts?  Not really.  Over the past decade, America has barely come to terms with men wearing pink

But in the case of Pejic, it’s his body that both engages and frightens people.  Despite the massive gains we’ve made in moving towards gender equality over the past half-century, the controversy surrounding the issue reveals a nation of gender squareness. 

Polaski includes a quote from Jon-Jon Goulian, author of a memoir about his own skirt-wearing, who provides some interesting context about our country’s obsession with labels:

One thing I’ve learned over the course of 24 years of behaving and dressing androgynously is that people hat e to be confronted with indeterminacy. The uncategorizable is unsettling. If I were a man in drag, people would know exactly what I am, or at least they would believe they know exactly what I am, and have fewer problems with me: “Oh, yes yes yes, that man is definitely gay, and he has a very strong identification with women, he probably thinks he is a woman, and that’s why he dresses like one, and a sex change is probably in the offing, in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if his [own] special vagina is being made to order as we speak.”

But gender and sexuality, race, religion, and politics…aren’t so easily definable, despite our continual efforts to turn all of us rainbows into squares.

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Your WTF Gender Debacle for the Day

I feel totally out of the loop.  Here’s the scoop:

1) Last week a photo was also released showing the President and his top advisors getting briefed on the capture and death of Osama bin laden.  Compared to the relative stoicism displayed by the men in the picture, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton covered her mouth. 

Nothing of great importance, don’t you think?  Or maybe it just brings depth to her character – an iconic photo to remember the shock we all felt when the announcement was made.  I know I probably made some similar gesture, along with my boyfriend.

You’re apparently wrong, according to some media outlets who claimed Clinton had staged the photo for shock value.  The media responded with great hoopla, forcing her to have to defend her gesture as a cough – a fit of spring allergies:

“Those were 38 of the most intense minutes. I have no idea what any of us were looking at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken…I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs. So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever.”

In an article responding to the controversy, MSNBC reported the pollen count for D.C., and concluded by offering no-fuss ways to fight allergies this season.  WTH?

Maya from Feministing explains the weight of Clinton having to defend herself, yet again, for her hormonally-enduced antics:

But would that gesture seem uniquely emotional if she weren’t one of the only women in the room? I don’t know. But I have a hunch that there wouldn’t be so many articles written analyzing that gesture if it were Biden who was making it.

2) When the photo was reprinted in Der Tzitung, an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic newspaper, however, both Clinton and the lesser-known woman peeking in the door were erased!

Cam Martin comments from The Good Men Project:

Well, Der Tzitung, an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic newspaper, eliminated the question for its readers in a unique way: The newspaper Photoshopped Clinton out of the picture it ran on its front page. Why? Because Clinton is a woman and—as Jezebel reports—“the religious newspaper never publishes pictures of women, as they could be considered ‘sexually suggestive.’”

Why even publish a newspaper if you’re basically ignoring one half of the world’s population? If Hillary Clinton were running against Condoleezza Rice for president, and the two of them had a presidential debate, would Der Tzitung run a picture of two lecterns? Lecterns, you know, can be rather sexually suggestive.

I just have to ask, if Clinton had won the election, would they just decide to ignore US politics?  Or would they just publish pictures of empty podiums?

 

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Feminist Porn

They may not be the Oscars or the Grammys, but two weeks ago a different kind of awards ceremony took place: the Feminist Porn Awards. The show, now in its sixth year of honoring work that challenges the mainstream porn industry, was hosted April 13 to 15 in Toronto by Good for Her, a sex shop in the city that specializes in women’s pleasure.

We know what you’re thinking. Feminist porn, really? In the recent past porn has developed a long list of connotations, including “misogynistic” and “anti-woman,” and the entire industry has been painted with those descriptors. But not all of it fits the labels…

Alison Lee, a writer and manager of Good for Her, heads up the event. Lee said:

A lot of people don’t understand that they have a choice when it comes to porn. They think that the mainstream, big porn machine is all that exists, and there was nobody in the mainstream porn industry who was recognizing that not all porn was the same. Showing the world that there’s a lot of different porn out there that can actually be really interesting and empowering is an important goal of the awards.

Want to know what criteria Good For Her recognizes as feminist porn?  Read the rest of Polaski’s article here and check out GoodforHer for this year’s award-winning films.

Alison Lee, a writer and manager of Good for Her, heads up the event. Lee said:

A lot of people don’t understand that they have a choice when it comes to porn. They think that the mainstream, big porn machine is all that exists, and there was nobody in the mainstream porn industry who was recognizing that not all porn was the same. Showing the world that there’s a lot of different porn out there that can actually be really interesting and empowering is an important goal of the awards.

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Top 10 Worst Things to Happen to Women This Millennium

Check out this hilarious list of the ten worst things to happen to women this millennium (written by men). They’re spot on!  The top 7 at least are definitely the worst things to happen to women so far – and the millennium has just started!

Here’s part of the list.  Check out the whole thing here.  Seriously.  Go.  Right now.

6. Bridalplasty

As if we needed any illustration of how crazy-making the Marriage Industry has become, there’s a reality show wherein engaged women compete to win the wedding—and plastic surgery procedure—of their dreams. The winner isn’t allowed to see her groom until the wedding day, when her new look is revealed. Is she getting her face butchered for the wedding or her husband? Either way, it’s bad for women, the country, the world, the human race, and really just too fucked up for words.

5. Reality TV

The Bachelor, America’s Next Top Model, Rock of Love, Bridezillas, My Super Sweet 16, Toddlers and Tiaras, The Swan, Joe Millionaire, Married by America, For Love or Money, Jersey Shore, Farmer Wants a Wife, Flavor of Love, I Love New York, The Cougar … shall we go on?

4. Vajazzling

It’s when a woman glues crystals to her “vajayjay.” And yes, it’s real. Why would women do this? It’s not entirely clear. Is it art? Is it peacocking? Ladies: we’re already excited about your pubic area. You don’t have to rip out all the hair and glue stuff to it…

Read on!

The Frisky compiled a list for men, but they aren’t as funny.

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The Good Men Project

The Good Men Project – a website about men that’s not sexist and heterosexist, for single men and fathers.  Check it out.  Here’s their about:

First, we’re try­ing to make the world a bet­ter place. Seri­ously. In that pur­suit, we give 25 per­cent of our prof­its to orga­ni­za­tions that help at-risk boys.

Sec­ond, we’re try­ing to rede­fine what a men’s mag­a­zine can be. Sure, we write about sports. Yes, we write about sex (although we do it with­out sell­ing sex). But unlike so many other men’s mag­a­zines, we don’t patron­ize or car­i­ca­tur­ize our audi­ence. We try to bring out the best in men, and we do that by pro­duc­ing con­tent that chal­lenges men to think deeply—and to talk about the things they don’t usu­ally talk about.

With a name like the Good Men Project, some folks assume that we’re going to tell men how to be good. This assump­tion has led at least one media critic to sug­gest that we might be a “con­ser­v­a­tive culty thing.” Oth­ers have called us “fem­i­nists” because, we sus­pect, we cel­e­brate, pub­lish, and appear to be very pop­u­lar with women. (Ms. Mag­a­zine said we are “what enlight­ened mas­culin­ity might look like in the 20th century.”)

We sup­pose we are a dif­fi­cult mag­a­zine to cat­e­go­rize, and that’s exactly how we like it. We’re not inter­ested in telling men how they should go about liv­ing their lives, nor are we intent on pro­mot­ing a cer­tain “image” of mas­culin­ity. We’re inter­ested instead in cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity where men (and the women who love us) can talk openly and hon­estly about their lives.

 

And here’s one of the many great articles from the website about Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter:

Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls by Hugo Schwyzer

Encour­ag­ing princess culture—however innocently—contributes to the sex­u­al­iza­tion of girls. Men can be part of the solu­tion to the ‘princess prob­lem.’

This may sur­prise the read­ers of the Good Men Project Mag­a­zine, but we’re part of a prob­lem: the princess problem.

More and more experts rec­og­nize that “princess cul­ture” does great harm to girls. I don’t know how many GMPM read­ers also read Red­book, but it’s worth check­ing out this story: “Lit­tle Girls Gone Wild: Why Daugh­ters Are Act­ing Too Sexy, Too Soon.” In it, Peggy Oren­stein (the author of the new and impor­tant Cin­derella Ate My Daugh­ter: Dis­patches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Cul­ture), makes the case that a lot of the pre­ma­turely sexy behav­ior and dress we’ve all noticed is actu­ally rooted in some­thing we think is very inno­cent: the world of princesses.

You may balk—what’s sexy about a lit­tle girl in a pink princess cos­tume? But sexy, as it turns out, is not the same thing as sex­u­al­ized. Sex­u­al­iza­tion is not just impos­ing sex­u­al­ity on chil­dren before they’re ready and view­ing girls as sex­ual objects, but also valu­ing a girl for her appear­ance over her other attrib­utes. “Princesses are just a phase,” Oren­stein writes, but they mark a girl’s “first foray into the main­stream cul­ture. … And what was the first thing that cul­ture told her about being a girl? Not that she was com­pe­tent, strong, cre­ative, or smart, but that every lit­tle girl wants—or should want—to be the Fairest of Them All.”

This may be true, but how is it our prob­lem as men? Many—maybe even most of you who are read­ing this—don’t have daugh­ters. A lot of you aren’t dads at all. Whether you think lit­tle girls dressed up as Snow White are cute or not, what does the prob­lem Oren­stein describes have to do with you?

Well, for starters almost every man has—or will have—a lit­tle girl in his life. If not a daugh­ter then a niece, a lit­tle cousin, your buddy’s kid, your son’s friend from play­group. And if you care about the well-being of these girls, this issue of princess cul­ture and sex­u­al­iza­tion mat­ters to you. The bad news is, you may be part of the prob­lem; the good news is, you can be part of the solution.

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Thank­fully, most men aren’t sex­u­ally attracted to pre­pu­bes­cent girls. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a very strong response when we see a 6-year-old dressed up as cute as can be. For men, com­pli­ment­ing older girls and women for their looks is often sex­u­ally charged and likely to get you in trou­ble. But as fathers, uncles, and oth­ers notice, lit­tle girls of princess age rarely have the same cau­tion and sus­pi­cion about older men as their older sis­ters. Often trans­par­ent in their eager­ness for atten­tion and val­i­da­tion, they light up at praise. And no com­pli­ment is eas­ier to give than “You’re so pretty.”

Five-year-olds in princess cos­tumes are cute. But the prob­lem is that the com­pli­ments we give as fathers, uncles, and coaches have an impact on the self-esteem of lit­tle girls. As they grow up, they real­ize quickly (cer­tainly by age 8 or 9) that Cin­derella cos­tumes won’t cut it any­more. If they want to sus­tain the same level of atten­tion that they had when they were adorable first-graders, they’re going to need to employ a dif­fer­ent strat­egy: sex­i­ness. And that sex­i­ness gets our atten­tion all over again.

Wait a minute, you’re think­ing. I don’t leer at 10-year-olds in miniskirts. I don’t tell my niece that she’s hot. I wish girls would wait longer to be sexy! How am I part of this problem?

As Oren­stein and oth­ers point out, lit­tle girls take their cues about what is desir­able by look­ing at how boys and men respond to older girls and women. The father who lav­ishes ado­ra­tion on “Daddy’s lit­tle princess” but ogles high school cheer­lead­ers is send­ing his daugh­ter a clear mes­sage. The mes­sage is that the princess phase won’t last much longer, and if you want to grasp and hold adult male atten­tion, you need to be sexy.

This sex­i­ness has very lit­tle to do with sex, and every­thing to do with the crav­ing for val­i­da­tion and atten­tion. While all chil­dren want affir­ma­tion, princess cul­ture teaches lit­tle girls to get that approval through their looks. Lit­tle girls learn quickly what “works” to elicit ado­ra­tion from mom and dad, as well as from teach­ers, uncles, aunts, and other adults. Soon—much too soon—they notice that older girls and women get val­i­da­tion for a par­tic­u­lar kind of dress, a par­tic­u­lar kind of behav­ior. They watch their fathers’ eyes, they fol­low their uncles’ gaze. They lis­ten to what these men they love say when they see “hot” young women on tele­vi­sion or on the street. And they learn how to be from what they hear and see.

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This doesn’t mean that good dads shouldn’t let their daugh­ters dress up as princesses. It doesn’t mean that good dads, good big broth­ers, and good uncles should never, ever tell a lit­tle girl that she looks “cute” or “beau­ti­ful.” It does mean that those good grown men need to make sure that they’re also giv­ing her plenty of com­pli­ments that focus on her other qual­i­ties, like her intel­li­gence, her kind­ness, or her ath­leti­cism. But some­thing else mat­ters just as much: how we look at and talk about other girls and women.

Too many men do every­thing they can to pro­tect adored daugh­ters, nieces, and lit­tle sisters—while mak­ing lit­tle attempt to dis­guise their long­ing for other young women who aren’t all that much older than the child they cher­ish. Girls who are raised to see com­pli­ments as cur­rency quickly learn that if they want to keep their praise flow­ing in, they’ll need to do more to “earn” it. And too often, they learn exactly how to earn it from by lis­ten­ing to the words and fol­low­ing the eyes of the men they love and trust most.

 

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