The 2 articles this week talked a lot about race and masculinity. The first article, If Men Could Menstruate by Gloria Steinem, talks about how people of the white people have spent centuries trying to convince everyone else that being white makes them superior, especially white men. It goes into discussing the concept of how men would react to having a menstrual cycle. In reality, they would spin in to make it a trait that made them superior to women, even though it is seen as a weakness when women have it. My favorite line that really emphasizes how ridiculous the concept is “Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself – though probably only because they needed a good menstruating man”. It kind of shows that no matter the circumstances, men would spin it to make it seem like they were the superior gender, because they are already at the top in this patriarchal society and having a period wouldn’t change that.
The second article, Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body by Susan Bordo, talked about the history of mens fashion. I actually found this article really interesting with its discussion about how our view of masculinity and fashion really is centric to the cultures that we are exposed to. Bordo argued that “the idea ‘that men don’t want to look like they’re trying to be fashionable or sexy’ was rather culture-bound”. I think that this topic is a double-edged sword. If a man cares too much about the way he looks, he isn’t manly. However, if he cares too little, he is sometimes seen as a slob(all from the American perspective).We have somehow gotten to a point in society where if men care about fashion, they aren’t as masculine as men who don’t. I think that this is mainly an American thing that has come about in the past few decades, because in the past, men being fashionable was seen as something that was desired and showed class. Other cultures view fashion as a masculine trait, such as the French, Italians, and Spanish. Is it fair for us to judge other cultures for their desire to be stylish just because we don’t? Bordo says that “there are dangers in drawing broad conclusions on the basis of only those worlds with which one is familiar”. I think that this whole conversation can be boiled down to society trying to put people into boxes and trying to amplify differences that can be criticized. As if our society doesn’t already scrutinize enough over sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic background, etc., have we really stooped so low that the clothes people wear are a topic of debate? Letting people express individuality without criticism is something I hope we get to in the near future. There are too many serious issues going on today to be critical of someone’s masculinity based on the clothing they choose to wear. This will do nothing more than teach our youth that the level of masculinity they express through their clothing is something to be concerned about. We need to find things that unify us, not divide.