What is masculinity? Who defines it – who makes the rules? Is it intrinsic, or culturally determined? And is it even “real”?
Sometime back, I came across an intriguing double bind.
I found it in the comments section of some feminist website, on an article written by a man about his enjoyment of pegging (i.e., when a man lets a woman shag him with a strap-on). Some male commenter had insulted this writer, and called him less than a man.
But then, the feminist readers of the website piled onto this commenter. And they all had the same attack line for him:
“What’s the matter, are you not man enough to take it up the butt?”
It’s a fascinating rhetorical device. Either you agree to receptive anal sex, which has profound effects on the male psyche (anecdotally, men who receive anal sex become more feminine, moodier, and bitchier), effectively making you no longer a full ‘man’... Or you don’t agree to receptive anal sex, in which case you are ‘not man enough’.
This double bind got me thinking: what is masculinity, anyway? How do we define what is or isn’t masculine? Who in our society holds the right to craft these definitions, women or men? Is masculinity decided by the society, by the man, or by something else?
The answers will intrigue you, I think.
And don’t worry – in the end, we’ll address that feminist double bind attack too, and show how a firm concept of masculinity makes attacks like these run off you like water.