Masculinities Mondays: 3rd Feb 2014

I’ve decided to start a little practice called Masculinities Mondays, in which I will collate a few of the previous week’s news stories relating to masculinities. The intent of this is to encourage more discussion (online, at home, with friends, at work, etc.) about masculinities and to support the reading of the news through a gender lens. If you come across any news stories that you think should be included in the next Masculinities Mondays, please send them through to me.

* This week, Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter in the New York Times about being sexually assaulted by her then foster-father, Woody Allen, when she was a child. The story brings up issues of victim-blaming and calls into question the role of the media and film industry in responding to, or otherwise implicitly condoning, such allegations of the behaviour of male celebrities. A related, but quite different, article ponders the double standard on drug-use, in light of the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman to a drug overdose.

* This weekend also saw the inaugural ‘Being a Man’ festival open in London. One of the speakers, Grayson Perry, outlined the goals for the festival: “We men ask ourselves and each other for the following: the right to be vulnerable, to be uncertain, to be wrong, to be intuitive, the right not to know, to be flexible and not to be ashamed.” If anyone went, I’d be very interested to hear your reflections. While such a festival would appear to be an initiative worth celebrating, most of the male commenters on the article call it ‘patronising’ and say that the festival essentially demonises men. In fact, many commenters seem to be immensely offended even by the concept of such a festival and the number of comments that have been removed by the moderators is telling. Some of the comments that remain illustrate – at least to me – precisely why such festivals are needed: “Key take-away: being a man involves doing what feminists tell you? What a ridiculous festival”…”Being a man, I think I’ll leave the self obsessed navel gazing to women”…”If the photo for this article [of artist and transvestite, Grayson Perry]  is an example of what being a man should be, someone please shoot me in the head… I don’t want to live.” *sigh* 
* The lovely people at Taylor & Francis Online have also decided to release the 25 most-read gender articles for FREE today, so quickly rush to check them out here. Sadly, as the struggle to shift the ‘gender = women’ mindset continues, only a couple of articles are about masculinities, but there’s still a lot of good stuff on there.
* Meanwhile, in Australia, the death of a young man as the result of a direct punch to the head (known in Australia as a ‘king hit’) has sparked a debate about masculinity, drinking culture and violence in Australia. Read some of the articles on this topic here, here and here.
* I also finally watched The Wolf of Wall Street this week (maybe I was a bit late onto the bandwagon). Although the film is ridiculously long, it has generated some interesting discussions about misogyny, martial rape, and the hyper-masculine culture of Wall Street culture in the 1980s. Whatever you may think about the film, it’s a good conversation-starter about masculinities and abuse of power.

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