You Can Call BS on Masculinity and Still Be A Man

I have a friend, and he’s a feminist.  Yeah, he’s a him and he’s a feminist.

The other day, he texted me to tell me that a young woman friend of his said that she thought it was weird that he “disowned the male gender” by being critical of men and masculinity.  After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I said to my husband, “hey babe, you’re not a dude anymore.  Apparently being a man who thinks critically about men and masculinity means that you’re ‘disowning’ your gender.”  My husband said, “Wow, I guess I’m not a dude.”  My seven year old – let me say that again – my seven year old said I guess that means I’m not a guy either.  And then he said “People call me a girl all the time, I can deal with it.”  He has long, gorgeous red hair and is frequently mistaken for a girl.  It doesn’t get him down because he doesn’t think that being a girl is something that you should be ashamed of.  This was a weird moment when I suddenly thought of a whole list of guys that may want to be warned that they’ve been disowning the male gender for so long.  Did they know!?  Are they even men anymore!?  I’m being facetious, but only a little.

If you’re new to feminism, maybe it’s difficult to understand why men would be critical of masculinity as a social construct and of men who constantly perform traditional masculine behavior like their penis will fall off without it, but it’s really not that complex.  Patriarchy hurts guys too.  Demanding masculine behavior from men and belittling them when they don’t deliver on something that doesn’t feel comfortable to them is a pretty big part of how patriarchy hurts men.  Patriarchy necessarily separates people into a socially constructed binary where one half of that binary is just plain better than the other half and there are few things more threatening to that structure than when a part of the upper binary crust is like “thanks, but no thanks.”  This is, of course, not to mention all the racial, ethnic, sexuality, and economic differences that separate and order us.  It’s a lot to take in, I know.

My friend is a really nice guy, and he’s relatively new to feminism (mostly because he’s pretty young).  He talks about feminism a lot because he’s passionate and because – as a gay man who isn’t traditionally masculine – I think he relates a great deal to the struggles that women face.  If he’s critical of masculinity it’s probably, in large part, because he’s grown up in a world that questions the validity of who he is as a person.  Men who don’t embrace all aspects of traditional masculinity, or at least not enough aspects, are frequently treated with suspicion and hostility for not behaving according to standards.

These things are ingrained.  They’re such an intense part of who we are as people, and not a fun part.  Gay men, bisexual men, and even straight men who fail to exhibit traditional masculinity get a lot of shit.  Is it better now?  Yes.  There is a lot more latitude for men, and that’s great.  If feminism is going to win for us though, men have to be able to be critical of maleness and masculinity without being accused of “disowning” their gender. Everyone has to be able to look at the societal norms that we take for granted and say “hey, maybe that’s a bunch of bullshit.”  Being a man doesn’t have to be a zero sum game of exhibiting the most masculinity.  It should be whatever it is to you.  That’s what feminism should be about, and it should be for everyone.


I’m Tweeting @HuluPlus About SeaWorld And You Should Too

So, SeaWorld is awful.  From Blackfish to Beneath the Surface, we’re hearing a lot about how crap SeaWorld is.  SeaWorld would rather that we don’t buy the hype, but I’m buying.  It has been bought.

I’m not an anti-zoo activist…or really any kind of animal rights activist.  It seems to me, however, that it’s time to stop using animals – maybe especially large animals – as entertainment spectacles.  Maybe SeaWorld means well (and I think that’s seriously debatable), but I think there’s a fair amount of meeting the bare-minimum and saying, look we’re following the law like…

“When you look at the Animal Welfare Act, the parks meet it, but the act is outdated. Killer whales aren’t even acknowledged as being dangerous.” – Former trainer Bridgette Pirtle via NatGeo

SeaWorld is in trouble and they know it.  They’ve even launched a snazzy new commercial to talk about how they really are awesome and all these people telling you otherwise have no idea what they’re talking about.  Their commercial is airing frequently on Hulu.  I’m sure that commercials are a bit different for everyone on Hulu because they are tailored to some extent.  I know that whenever I’m watching Hulu on my computer and I see (or hear…because let’s be honest during the commercials you pop over to another tab and do something else) a commercial that I’m not cool with I say “no, this is not relevant to me” because that’s an option on my computer.  On my television, it is not.

Now, I’m a paying HuluPlus customer and I have been for a few years.  It is weird to me at this point that HuluPlus doesn’t have an option to note relevance of commercials on their television app.  Still, it’s not an option.  How ever will I then express my discontent?  Well, I emailed them and expressed my discontent and explained the ways in which I have no ability to stop these commercials that I find very offensive to the point of being upsetting.  Seeing them is doing the opposite of what I think SeaWorld is interested in doing.

To the point, finally, I’ve decided to start using twitter to let HuluPlus know about my discontent, and I hope that if you watch shows on Hulu that you will too.  I know, I could just unsubscribe from Hulu and stop watching it entirely, but I like my Hulu and screw SeaWorld, that is not how this is going down.  Instead, I’ve decided to tweet my displeasure @HuluPlus every time I see this asinine SeaWorld commercial.  I, however, am just one person and that’s why I’d like to enlist you.  If you watch Hulu and have a twitter account, please tell HuluPlus every time you see one of SeaWorld’s damage-control propaganda commercials and tell them to stop accepting ad money from SeaWorld.

From here on out I’ll be hashtagging all my tweets to HuluPlus “boycottseaworld” and I hope that you’ll join me.

Becoming a Diva

I tried the Diva Cup.

Last month I bought a diva cup after reading a blog article by someone who really loved their diva cup.  Menstruation is the worst.  It’s probably less the expelling of my endometrial lining once a month and more the hellish cramps that go with the process.  There isn’t enough ibuprofen on earth to get me through my period.  I hate it.

So what difference does a diva cup make and what on earth made me decide to buy one?  Well clearly diva cups do nothing for your cramps.  However, if you’re feeling earth conscious and would like to reduce your imprint not to mention save some money on sanitary products maybe the diva cup is for you.

I’m not a tampon user.  I’ve tried them before and I could never really get the hang of the string and a piece of cotton shoved up my vagina.  The alternative of course is pads and that’s always been more my speed.  Yes, I have just admitted the variety of period supplies I use.  What I’m saying is that the diva cup was a change of pace for me and after I spent $29.99 on it I was a little worried.

The diva cup arrived and it wasn’t yet that time of the month so I read the instructions and tucked it back on a shelf until the time came.  Weird, when I did get my period I was actually kind of excited.  I’m a nerd for new gizmos, why should it be any different when it comes to my vagina?  Clearly the excitement wore off once the cramps hit, but it was still interesting.  I’m on my second diva cup period, and I didn’t use it for the entire week the first time.  I’ve decided that I’m easing into it.  After all, I’m 33 and I’ve been getting my period for just over twenty years.  Change is hard.

Change is also rewarding, and the process of switching to the diva cup made me think about my period in a totally different way.  So, as mentioned, cramps same.  Still, periods are gross, right?  We’re trained to think of our period as something horrifying that is disgusting and that we should hide and never speak of except in special groups of lady friends when we compare tales of doubling over in pain.  Maybe someone mentions that they have a really heavy flow.  It’s still pretty abstract.

I’ve never gotten up close with my flow.  It grossed me out.  Besides, standard menstrual products don’t really require you to know about it.  So when I used my diva cup I got a chance to really see my flow.  It’s not scary.  It’s a little messy, but it’s part of my body.  It is a fact of my existence.  Getting up close and personal with my period without feeling grossed out or disgusted by my own body was liberating.

And, not for nothing, there were a couple times during the last week when I was using the diva cup and I almost completely forgot I was even on my period.  If it’s inserted properly there may be a point during your period that you just totally forget that your period is happening.  It’s never happened to me before.  I’m always extremely aware of my period.  For these moments alone the diva cup was totally worth it.

So…conclusion?  I’m happy I went for it.  I plan to continue and in a couple months I hope to be 100% diva cup during my lady times.  It’s really made me think about and look at my period in a whole new way, and that’s pretty cool.