Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tough Guise

Wow. I watched the documentary Tough Guise, and it left me with so many thoughts, not the least of which is: Where has this movement been in the past seventeen years? I know that my friends and I talked about this back in 1990, (and I was mostly ridiculed, but that's what friends do), but I had no idea that there was a Real Voice out there, making noise and yet being ignored.

I'm really excited by the fact that we have an opportunity to start crafting a twenty-first century feminism, one which encourages all of us to step away from the narrative of competition and the dichotomy of dominance and submission, to interrupt the violence inherent in the hierarchy presented by the patriarchy and to embrace, nurture and share the path of cooperation. But this leads to a very real dilemma: How do we do that? How, when conditioning starts so early (I'm thinking of the images of the young boys flexing their muscles), do we avoid telling the men in our lives who and what they are supposed to be? How are we supportive of their journey to discover and possibly create from scratch an identity that accords with their inner selves, and what do we as their community members do while they are in flux on this journey?

The twentieth century model of manhood diminishes the spectrum through which men can experience the world, so it not surprising that when faced with an opportunity and encouragement to "be authentic," conditioned men might feel adrift, or possibly even insulted. Certainly the dominant culture doesn't want the parameters of masculinity to change, and society has reacted violently when it was threatened. I'm thinking most specifically of the case of Malcolm X, the leader of the Black Power movement who shifted his stance from one of violent disruption to peaceful cooperation and was gunned down for his new position.

If we no longer define success as a function of physical prowess, how do we define it, and how do we achieve it together?

I absolutely loved this documentary. The image of 70s Luke vs. 90s Luke will be with me forever. Nota Bene: though Katz used the words inconsistently, I think now is a good time to point out that "male" is not a noun and "man" is not an adjective. We have come a long way in the last couple decades as we get comfortable with the terminology of gender issues.