Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Subject Position of Masculinity is Not Easy to Maintain

From NZ Men - lifestyle mag.
Eh what? What did she say? Gah, she is being all Dr. Smith! Where is the MILFy flirting?

'Kay, yah. This blogpost is about being a man, and whether that is hard work and I suppose I do wonder, Why do men bother? And unfortunately, I think it's because it's What Women Want (to answer Freud's infamous question).

From grassroots femnism.
When I was a li'l kitten I read one of those earnest early feminist books, those ones that tell the story of their life and by reading their story you go along the author's journey 'n realise what it is like to be A Woman. (Er, a white middle class able-bodied heterosexual woman who likes waffles that is, LOL.)

Anyway, anyway, when this author was a kitten, she had met the Man of her Dreams. They were college sweethearts 'n he was so-o-o big and so-o-o strong and so-o-o handsome and so-o-o clever and they got married and ... he was working, she was up to the eyeballs in nappies and they began to argue and fight.

One night when they were fighting, he suddenly broke down and began to sob and cry. She had to take him in her arms like a little boy to comfort him. Their relationship had got to breaking point and she realised that if they were to survive, she could not demand things of him. He was hollow inside. She realised she would have to let him go out and be a Dream Man, looking all big 'n strong 'n handsome n' clever. She would know he was hollow inside but she would prop him up at home so he could go out getting in the cash for them and looking good.

Migosh, when I read that my li'l kitten eyes opened wide 'n I was like, Effing Hell! is there no big bad boy in the world who could be big 'n bad 'n strong 'n whatever? I tucked the story away in my knicker leg (wink) and went along, singing my little song, picking up cubs, dancing at the gay bars, playing rugby, ditzing around - oh, and along the way I picked up a PhD (wink).

You can buy other books
than Barbara Cartland at
Abe Books.
Just like I was writing about in the Master and the Slave dialectic, in gendered relationships, men have power, women have knowledge. But y'know, although men have power, we all know they are not reely that much stronger; they are no cleverer than women. We just pretend. The women read romance stories in which the men are SO-O-O big 'n strong. They pretend their men are so-o-o big 'n strong but behind their backs, they have a li'l bitch: "Oh, he may be Mr Big, Chief Exec of Stuff, but he can't tie his own shoelaces! I have to do it, he is such a baby." The men prolly feel hollow inside and nervous about it. Cuz if you are in power and everyone is acting round you like you are the big tough guy but they know you are not acksherly that big n' strong, and you know they know, it must be uncomfortable. It is no fun pretending you are so-o-o big when you feel little inside and wish you had someone to hug you. 'N if your loving MILF is not very simpatico on days you feel little 'n wish she would hug you 'n make you feel big instead of bitching at you, no wonder if you get grumpy with that ditz you are keeping in vacuum cleaners.You may not be the Millionaire Duke with the big black stallion <snerk>, but at least you pay the mortgage. Usually. 

There we are, sweet things. The women are cross and feel like they are bitches for being cross and grumbling that the men are not as big 'n strong as they pretend, 'n the men are nervous that they are not as big 'n strong as they pretend and they are prolly very cross with the women if the women make it plain that they know it is all a pretence.

Women are allowed in
proper pubs if they
are serving the beer.
I read a paper written from an ethnographic study of a rural pub (which I have unfortunately forgotten the reference for so I cannot write about it proper academic like, gah) that described how the men would behave in the pub. In the pub, men talked slightingly about their women and the women were all at home with the piglets, cooking the dinner. ('Kay yah, this was the 1970s, things are very different in pubs nowadays - and a good thing too, which I will write about and explain on my other blog now that my students are nearly finished so it won't distract them.) The ethnographer, who is a woman, described how one night a woman came to the pub to say: "Your dinner is ready, come home." All the other men laughed that that man was so under her thumb she could come ‘n make him go home to eat his tea. So the next night he smacked her around and beat her up.

There we are. He showed them all, huh? what a big n' strong n' clever man he was. He was not going to have some ditzy woman making it evident that he was hollow inside and needed dinner putting into his tumtum. It was his hollow tumtum in control, not her ditzy inability to cook dinner and keep it hot, and keep the piglets from going bonkers with hunger, and not let the dinner dry up, while he fed his tumtum the last savoury sips of his pint.

A man does not have to smack you around to make you fear he might, of course. Even when I just write this story, us gurlzzzz all go mm, and have a li'l shiver 'n we think we might not grumble so bitterly about having to tie up the shoelaces for the kids over 40. Nobody wants to risk a smacking around, cuz you never know. Even if your Baron is the sweetest tempered Baron in the whole wide world, he is a big 'n strong man ... sort of. Anyway, he is a man, they are prone to these things, honest, so you should just shut up and keep the home oven burning. (Yah yah, women often smack men around too, hooray for equal opportunity abuse. Those men are reluctant to admit it cuz people make them feel they are letting the side down: they should be making their women pretend they are big 'n strong men, not 'allowing' them to get the upper hand literally.)

Corbis Images
'Kay, so men are meant to be superior and women inferior 'n we all know this is not the case and it makes all of us uncomfortable and scratchy. Women cannot resist having a li'l go: Gah, you think you are Mr. Big? I will tie your shoelaces together, 'n have a larf when you trip over on your way out the door - although not in front of the neighbour cuz that would expose you too much 'n you might lose it 'n smack me around. Men are uncomfortable and overly asserting themselves and showing off their bigness 'n strongness in strange ways: Ha ha, look at this sports car I bought instead of getting the wife a new vacuum cleaner, she can take the old vacuum cleaner down the repair shop - but not in my sports car for God's sake! I will put a younger blonde version of my wife in the front seat of the sports car, 'n that will so show you how big n' strong 'n handsome 'n clever I am - 'cept don't tell my wife cuz she ties my shoelaces, I could not acksherly live without her. 'N the wife knows about the blonde but she also knows that her Baron could not live without her, so she has existential purpose in life and continues to give him existential purpose.

Lacan puts it this way. Men are the phallus. Women have the phallus.

To order online
LOL, what a tease! Ha ha ha! that is so smart: you can be the phallus, or you can hold it. You cannot do both, we are not talking cakes here. (Anyone who thinks you cannot have your cake and eat it has not seen what a MILF can do with a cream cake <snerk>.)

Men are nervous about women having the phallus. Cuz having the phallus is being in control, reely. It is like having knowledge. If you say: "Stuff this for a game. I am sick to the eyeballs of tying shoelaces, I am off," then you can prolly get along fine on your own cuz you know how to do things for yourself as well as for someone-else. But if you just are, and there is nobody to hold you, how can you know you are? How can you be sure you acksherly exist. So you will be ve-e-ery touchy anxious if it looks like the one who holds you together and knows you are hollow inside but doesn't tell anyone, shows signs of going off to hold someone-else together or even worse, says men are all hollow inside ‘n she has decided to hold just herself instead. Cuz Gollygosh! if you are wondering whether men are all hollow inside, useless ‘n redundant, that does zero for your existential angst about whether you are a Man, my son.

Well why bother? Why not say: “OK, I give up. Teach me to tie shoelaces, sometimes I will tie your shoelaces, baby you can drive my sports car, I will help you to work, you help me to work, we will be equals running through the fields together - we can effing do it sideways if you want, like in Ken Russell's Women in Love.”

From Victorian Charm
on Pnterest
It is all about Desire. Doing things equally and being equally powerful and the same and both being able to tie your own shoelaces is practical but it is not sexy. Think about just being alone tying your shoelaces. Is that sexy? What about having someone-else tie your shoelaces. Or tying someone-else’s shoelace. Think about inserting the lace in the holes, each one, maybe making a beautiful neat crossed pattern. All the way up my patent leather thigh high boot, ‘n make sure you lick as you go or I will kick you in the chest with my four inch stiletto heel (OK, if you pay extra I will do that anyway, <snerk>.) Think again about just quickly tying up your own trainer to go out to work. Well, I will not ask you which one you are going to choose cuz your wife might be looking over your shoulder (wink).

It is all about Desire and the Sexual Economy. (Gayle Rubin is good on this – ‘n that was just an undergrad essay! Yah yah, she wrote it as an undergrad piece of work.) See, if you have something different then we can get a li’l exchange going. Ooh, I will give you my boot to lace up ‘n you will lick it ‘n there will be a li’l bit extra going on in the exchange for both of us, what a thrill. Whereas if you are the same, what are you going to exchange to make things go tingalingaling?

From Russia Trek
To make tension and sexiness, we like to be different, especially if there is a spark because we are having a play with power. Men find it sexy to go, "C'mere li'l thing, I will put my big strong arm around you and you will be safe (from other men)". Women find it sexy to go: "Oooh, you are so strong! (Just lift that vacuum cleaner up the stairs for me, then.)" How will we experience Desire if we are all striding ahead like cleancut figures in a communist propaganda poster?

Yah, there has to be a way, LOL. We will find it, sweet things. Cuz this way we have now is not efficient, is it? And not reeely that much fun, either. Never mind. Have a cup of cocoa, a sugar biscuit 'n check the kitten pix 'n you will feel better. We could play at the thigh high boot lacing in a sub/Dom way. That would at least be acknowledging the power we have is delusory ‘n just a bit of fun. Then we can go out the bedroom and tie up each other’s trainer laces while we share out the housework ‘n the paid work equitably. It’s not perfect but it will do. ‘N if you do not do it to me, I will not tie your trainer laces together so you fall over in front of the neighbour, pinky promise (wink). (Um y'unnerstand, I very very rarely wear trainers! but I will not tie up your laces if you swear you will never ever attempt to wear my kitten heeled slingbacks cuz that will mean death, sweet thing, capiche?) 

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