Monday, January 5, 2009

Male Authenticy

(A surprise visit to relatives ate up all of my writing time this weekend, so instead of anything remotely original, this post turned into an impassioned rant. My apologies.)

I'm really pissed at this thread. Specifically, at the person in the thread who goes by the name of 'Chinese Gorden'. Yes, I am aware that complaining about Internet trolls is a pointless exercise, but this person was unusually interesting/horrible.

To spare you the trouble of reading the thread for yourself, somebody made an announcement for a show by a all-female cover band (DandeLion, which is fairly good, to judge by their myspace). The Troll trolled in with an offhand remark that women just couldn't really play rock music. Needless to say, other (more sensible) people tried to jump in and refute him, they did a poor job (since he's a professional troll), and he ended up getting the last stupid word. Predictable, I know. But here's the interesting quote:

Rock-and-roll almost has to be 'male' to be authentic.It has to be ugly and raw and sexual and in-your-face and unpleasant and powerful. It has to imply rebellion. It's about standing up on your hind legs in your life and in your music.

Great rock and roll is not passive, feminine, playing-by-the-rules, having babies, having a hobby, being someone's bitch, staying neat and clean, avoiding a fight, wearing skirts and makeup, playing-it-safe....

Leaving aside that this is one of the silliest definitions of 'rock and roll' ever, notice the first sentence: "Rock-and-roll almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."

How many other subjects could that sentence have been about, and still be seen as true by many, many people?

"Science almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."
"Professional sports almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."
"Business management almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."
"Building things almost has to be 'male' to be authentic.".
In general:
"Earning a living almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."
How about:
"Technical writing almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."
"Journalism almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."
"Reasoning and logic almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."
and, for that matter
"Sex almost has to be 'male' to be authentic."

It almost seems, that for any thing that actually matters, "[noun] almost has to be 'male' to be authentic." In other words, male=good, female=bad. And women need to become more male in order to matter. Even very well-meaning individuals sometimes fall victim to this attitude. Take this otherwise excellent article:
So what flaws can female characters have? Uh, I don’t know. How about the same flaws a male character would have?

Now, I'm not sure that the author really meant it, but that almost sounds like "Male characters are just fine - now let's make female characters just like them!"

Perhaps I'm just in a screw-the-gender-binary sort of mood, but I believe that everybody tries to apply this concept to real life, too. Men want women to be like them, but not too much, of course. Feminists want women to be almost just like men, to accomplish the same things, etc. Unless, of course, they want to be the same 'tough slut' types that men like - and that's okay, too. I'm certainly guilty of this myself - I'm a femmeish lesbian - guess what kind of women I'm attracted to!

Why can't we admire feminine individuals for themselves, both women and men? Why are certain concepts, power or intelligence or rebellion or creativity or even simple non-object value almost always associated with being, at least, somewhat masculine.

It's something we all need to work on.

On the other hand...


rebelleink said...

here from Shakesville.

Holy crap, that's the fuck with my head sentence of the day: Rock-and-roll almost has to be 'male' to be authentic.

And I disagree with the Troll's definition of Rock to begin with. The rebellion element is true enough, but the rest? meh. Not so much.

Rock-and-roll to me is either too big or too small though to fit this. It sounds like he's talking about his personal rock tastes, which given his trolldom, doesn't say much for his choice of bands. Or else Rock is everything from Elvis to Britney Spears and he's still full of it.

He also has never heard of 7 Year Bitch or Joan Jett.

Unknown said...

Here is what is authentically female:

"Housekeeping almost has to be female to be authentic."
"Giving birth almost has to be female to be authentic."
"Nurturing almost has to be female to be authentic."

Sigh. We think we have come a long way, when truth is, we really haven't. And I, too, was in a "screw-the-gender-binary" sort of mood last night. My boyfriend asked me to do the dishes and I snapped back, "What, should I be barefoot and pregnant, too?" He did the dishes himself. ANGRY FEMINIST SMASH! :)

Lauren O said...

This dude can't know that much about rock if he's never heard PJ Harvey. And he's clearly never heard PJ Harvey.