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Men, manhood and manliness

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Svrtnsse, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Going back to the discussion about clothing, I ran across this on the Book of Faces today and thought it was very interesting...

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]

    I think it says a lot, not only at the face value about what may be visually stimulating to the opposite gender, but what men and women find attractive, mood-altering, and even possibly empowering about their own attire.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Cause every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.
    - a little bit of Texas wisdom.
     
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  3. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    How does that relate to that other bit of Texas wisdom - "She's got legs and she knows how to use them?"

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I came across this list of tips for men. The title is a bit cheesy, but some of the advice listed aren't that bad. It could probably be useful for when creating a character. Pick some of the advice listed and play them up in order to give a certain impression.

    45 Ultimate Tips For Men. - 9GAG

    (and yes, I know most of these would apply to women as well - most)
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
  5. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    Some thoughts on gender and society and characterization...

    Our culture is in a surge of redefinition of what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman. There are young people today who have grown up with publicly nurturing fathers who stayed home with them and mothers who raised them on their own with no overt stigma. This sort of thing never happened in my father's day (he's 65 now). I was eligible in Canada for 7 months parental leave. I stayed home with my youngest daughter and cared for her, feeding her, the whole bit. I do have friends to who this is alien and counter-role. Somehow, I think I am saving them from being gender type-cast. I want to put these ideas in my fiction, albeit self-consciously.

    As humans, we have a great discomfort when things are ambiguous. We feel comfortable when we can say this thing is an orange, and that thing is an apple. We get uncomfortable with apple-orangey-ness. Gender isn't a static thing that is done once and let alone, rather we constantly DO GENDER at all times. Every time you go to the washroom and you choose a door, you reinforce gender, every time we say men do this, women do that, we are DOING GENDER. We can't help it.

    When I take my girls with me to do the groceries or errands or what-have-you, I get a mixed set of responses from women. Some seem to think what I am doing, orchestrating a bunch of kids at the checkout, fending off requests for candies, negotiating the day's activities, settling arguments, all while packing my bags, calmly and cooly, is some kind of man-miracle. I've also had the woman who comes over when one of my kids is acting up and I am putting them in timeout, feels the need to coach me as if I don't know what the heck I am doing, because I have a set of male parts.

    When you turn your back on what the world says is what men do, and what women do, and just do - you can become weird to the world, they don't understand, they get uncomfortable. When I am managing my kids at the store better than a woman next to me, it can possibly undermine for some people what it is that "women" are good at, and what it is that "men" are good at.

    Just in the same way, men can feel that they cannot do these woman things, that at least they have these man things that are their own domain. For if one can do what the other can, does it erode your own sense of dignity and strength? It can feel that way.

    So, when writing about what is manliness, what is womanliness, there is this sensitivity about "domain" that tells so much about the character and the culture. We always deal with roles. I try to think about how my characters are DOING GENDER in their world. There are always massive social forces at work, mostly invisible to people, which make them wear specific things, want specific things, act in specific ways, and most importantly NOT act in specific ways. There are things that if you do will un-woman you, or un-man you. Our modern western world is redefining this, but most of us don't live in Greenwich Village, NY, we live in places where traditional gender roles are very strongly enforced by social convention, places where Men like trucks and football and Women like scrapbooking and yoga, and any flipping of that around is considered - weird.

    I despise the princessifying forces at work on my girls. So, I let them hammer nails into wood and play with bugs and salamanders. We learn science and chess and how to fix a flat tire, because Disney and Mattel and other companies are trying to turn them into pink-wearing dental assistants instead of lawyers and warriors and leaders. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. I let them be happy wearing their princess dresses and tea parties, because I know later they'll be riding bikes, climbing trees, and full of mud with bugs in their hands trying to bring indoors as a pet. Not that there is anything wrong with wearing pink or being a dental assistant, but I don't want any artificial boundaries to exist for them.

    In fiction it seems hard to go counter to culture without making your book about that. I'd like to see more bucking of traditional gender roles in fiction, not because it is trendy to do so, but because people grew up not believing in most of these "rules" about gender that were in fact, not real but completely artificially created by culture. If I am conscious of it now, maybe future writers won't be, and maybe some are today, I'd like to see it.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
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  6. hots_towel

    hots_towel Minstrel

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    ugh this is just me, but i never grew out of hating to dress up. as a kid I would look at myself in the mirror after having my hair done and wearing a suit and think something to the effect of "wow, I look like a tool." to this day i think that same thing whenever I have to wear something outside of my normal t shirt and jeans.
     
  7. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    Try this little experiment. Go downtown, to the mall, or wherever wearing a suit, a well-fitting suit, and see how differently people react to you. In my last job, a kind of IBM culture for seven years, I had to dress up. In my current job, for the past 3 years, I go to work in jeans and tshirt. When I do rarely wear a suit, I notice the great difference with which people attend to me, the deference. When I wear t-shirt and jeans, women on the street will very rarely smile at me. When I wear a suit, I will get a different response.

    In a suit, I "look" like someone who is 99% not going to cause mayhem. I am dressed for work. I look serious, responsible, and important. People like that are in their positions because there is a great weight of trust upon them. In jeans and a t-shirt, going by appearances there is no indication that I won't cause mayhem.

    The suit is a status signal. People respond to status signals. We can't help it, it is how we are made. Think of how people react to police uniforms, military uniforms, doctors in white coats, etc... the business suit does the same job.

    I'm not saying it is right or wrong, I'm just saying that's how things appear to work. When I was young, I felt the same way about dressing in a suit. When I went to work in the summer for my father's accounting firm as an auditing clerk when I was 17, I had to wear a suit to the customer location. The way people treated me was very different than what I had experienced. I felt like a phony until I became comfortable with it. The thing is, I had a reason for wearing it, so I wasn't a phony. I was there to do serious business, so I wore the attire of serious business.

    I was the same person, but a few yards of cloth cut in particular ways changed their perception of me. If they saw me with ripped jeans and a Sex Pistols t-shirt and my hair standing up in spikes, they might not have let me in the door. Rather, they were holding them for me.
     
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I always thought princesses were overrated. If little girls must seek role models in royalty, I would prefer they look to ruling queens. At least those women could exercise real power.

    Of course there is the argument that traditional monarchy isn't a system we should idealize regardless of the monarchs' sex or gender, but that's probably off-topic.
     
  9. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    I still remember a time when I was in my late teens. I was wearing a suit, and my brother and I were playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game at the local pizza place. The quarter slot for Donatello didn't work, which sucked because I liked hitting robots with a big stick. The pizza guy asked no questions when I said the machine took my quarter. He apologized for the inconvenience and gave me a quarter right away.

    That was the second-best service anyone in my family ever got at a pizza place. The best was when my uncle's boss let him use his limo for the day, and we ordered pizza from that. The response was: "Yes sir! Right away sir!" *drops pizza* "Aw, $#!%!!"

    In both cases, we were acting perfectly normal as we would without the limo or the suit. So yeah... status symbols.



    Oh, and being a dad with three girls: I just have fun taking them out in public! I love the compliments about how cute my kids are. There's that gender thing where women are much more likely to tell me my daughters are cute, but I'm not thinking about inequality when I get compliments...

    ...except how unfair it is that other people's kids aren't as cute. Haw! (jerk laugh)
     
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  10. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    Suits convey authority, heck, we even colloquially refer to the people who wear them as "suits".

    We are trained from a young age to defer to authority figures. Unconsciously, we know that this person represents authority, and whether we follow or rebel, it is simply there in the air because of the style of dress. Strange but true.

    Milgram Experiment: Milgram Experiment | Simply Psychology
     
  11. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    I'm not trying to be funny... I think you actually are "wrong," or at least these conversations occur considerably less to the extent that I've managed to avoid them for 41 years.

    If anything, I brag about the benefit of having daughters. I can play with girly Legos which are better looking than the gender-neutral ones, I can watch movies about fairies and princesses, and the stories I tell my girls are fun... they tell me what they're into and we have our adventure for the evening. Some of the characters are princessy, some super strong, and few are male. When my daughter requested a male fairy character, I began playing my role as King of the Fairies. He needs to make his voice extra deep to sound manly, which is hard for a male fairy to do, especially on Pink Day. The king claimed he dyed his beard pink using blood from his nose, which he deemed manly.

    So let me semi-retract my statement. These conversations do exist, but my brother and friends and I tend to approach the topic with humor. There is no outrage or any real concern. Maybe guys who want to be dancers and such might have a deeper, more serious conversation like the one you're talking about.




    Going back to my daughters. I let them have their mermaids, fairies, princesses and mermaid-fairy princesses that ride unicorns. In fact, this weekend, my girls actually rode a pony with her mane dyed pink. It's their favorite color. I don't feel they were pushed to this. It's out there and they're attracted to it. As a boy, I was not.

    Simply put, my daughters are encouraged to chase their dreams and be honest about what they like. I don't worry about the dreams and things they like being too girly or boyish.
     
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  12. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    They do indeed exist between men. The men I can have these conversations with are few and far between. I'm an oddity, in that I buck the trends, but I also live in a very cosmopolitan city and work with very progressive people. They don't have rubber balls dangling off the back of their Ford F150.
     
  13. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Indeed, but even then they don't happen often.
     
  14. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Do women sit around and talk about what it means to be a woman? I think these types of conversations are rare or perceived to be rare because the subject isn't always approached in such a direct manner. I think the conversations take a more personal note, what it means to be me, things involving me. People will throw things out like "I'm thinking about taking a cooking/ dance/ knitting class. What do you guys think?" And the conversation will focus in on why and the perceptions around it not how it relates to the general definition of what it means to be a man.
     
  15. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    You do have a point of course.When the topic is touched upon it's often under the guise of something else, but even then it's fairly rare.

    I believe, and I might be wrong, that this type of discussion is more common among women. As a straight, white, male the world is pretty much tailored to me and the vast majority of the "inconveniences" I suffer in my life are not a direct consequence of my sexual preferences, my skin colour or my gender. Being SWM doesn't give me that much to complain about. This isn't the case for a whole lot of people.
     
  16. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    I'm relatively sure that these conversations are more common among women, though the closest I get is from those occasions when my wife explains women/girls to me. I'm still not an expert on the subject. But after assisting all three of my daughters' births, I learned this: whenever a woman plays her childbirth trump card ("You think that's suffering? Try giving birth."), she's right.
     
  17. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    I am part of a "philosophy" dinners group where we go out to a restaurant and we discuss moral and societal issues, and that obviously involves gender issues. There are equally represented men and women.

    I am also part of a smaller circle, of which I am the only male, where we discuss spiritual, moral, and life issues in more depth. We end up talking about roles, society's pressures, people's perceptions. We are well represented, a black German woman, an Iranian Lesbian, an older straight white woman, and myself. We are rare birds in that we focus our discussions on these issues and gain perspectives from everyone. The truth is that we form these groups because most people don't want to get that deep.

    So rare, yes, I suppose.
     
  18. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I mostly talk to my husband about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. As parents of both boys and girls we both have a stake in those questions. Also (sigh) I don't know anyone else smart enough to hold such conversations.
     
  19. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    This is why I joined these groups. I'm just that way, and most people get confused or even angry when you talk about specific situations in generalities... most people seem unable or unwilling to rise above what they are doing and look down on them, and all the other people as being influenced by social forces... everyone wants to believe they are autonomous and not affected.

    So, I found a way to seek out like minded people, and not feel so alone ;)
     
  20. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Your philosophy dinners sound interesting, but unfortunately I am more interested in metaphysics than societal issues. And I've never really found a good way to meet like minded people.
     
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