Monthly Archives: August 2011

I’ve been wanting to talk about masculinity for a while

Specifically, about changing definitions/cultural understandings of masculinity and how it’s becoming slightly more okay in some places to be a man who is not “macho,” just as it’s becoming okay to be a woman who isn’t excessively feminine. I think both of these things are wonderful, but I think that the not-particularly-feminine woman is something we see a lot more often (particularly within the realms of people of color and/or low income groups) than the not-hegemonically-masculine man. But I’m one of those crazy liberals who wants to rip gender norms to shreds and promotes egalitarianism in partnerships and shit, so maybe I’m more attuned to this kind of stuff. I don’t know. I know that I want a man who isn’t afraid to have and share his feelings. Who can appreciate art. Who can cook and clean and will split these responsibilities with me when we’re on that grown shit level. Who reads. I don’t give a damn whether he likes sports or video games or if he can change a tire (though I’m not gonna lie, handyman-ness would be convenient). Who is at least somewhat fashionable. I guess what I’m hinting at is that I am attracted to “other” masculinities. Quiet masculinities. Some might even go as far as to call them androgynous masculinities, but I’m not really a fan of the “androgyny” movement because it seems a far cry from simply ceasing to associate certain traits with certain categories of the [far too narrow] gender binary. 
Okay I’m devolving into a tangent. Back to the point here. I’ve been wanting to talk about masculinity for a long time now, since that Sociology of Gender class I took last semester, and more acutely since a conversation I had with a very dear friend of mine a little over a month ago about what kind of a man he is. This conversation included me listing some of his traits that I think align to “masculine” ideals in quiet ways, and I had the sneaking suspicion that he felt unconvinced. It made me want to do something, because other masculinities shouldn’t feel illegitimate [nor should other femininities, other racial identities, other LGBTQQ identities, other anythings!]. And so the day after that conversation I clicked the “New Post” button and stared at the blinking cursor for a while, feeling totally uninspired as to what I wanted to say. I would start typing things and then delete them, and eventually I just deleted the post and figured I’d try again later.
But later never really rolled around, and I have come to realize that I just felt like it wasn’t my place to be trying to write about masculinity. And I’m not one to usually let myself be put in places, but it’s like, you know, there are few things I hate more than when someone who is not a Black woman tries to tell me about myself as a Black woman. Hell, I don’t always take to other Black women telling me about myself as a Black woman. So who am I to try to talk my way around and through something I can only ever be an outsider to? The first rule of writing is to write what you know. So I let the talking about masculinity thing go for a while. It was still something that I knew needed addressing, but I just didn’t quite know how. 

This man’s thoughts are a really good place to start.

I hate small talk.

You’ve never heard of my hometown and I know nothing about yours. Our majors are like foreign languages to each other. We might have a hobby or an interest in common, but it’s probably not going to inspire long in-depth conversation. You will, at best, make me chuckle lightly or do that laugh-like thing where I blow air out of my nose. I will smile at you, but in my head I am giving you major side-eye and wondering how to stop talking to you without seeming rude. The next time I see you, I will give you a high-pitched “Heeyyyy!” and maybe one of those fake hugs where you try to touch the other person as little as possible. Because now you have fallen into my least-favorite of relationship-zones. You are an
acquaintance.
I hate acquaintance-ships. I hate the superficiality and the asking “How have you been” when I don’t actually give a shit. I will feign sympathy if something unfortunate has happened, or tell you how awesome x-really-cool-thing-that-happened-to-you is, but…again, I just want to get out of there. It’s not really anything you did; I just don’t know you well enough to really want to have conversations with you. 
The problem, though, is this is a bit of a cyclical problem. I find acquaintance-ships to be so generally awkward that it’s hard for me to put enough time/effort into them for them to blossom into friendships. And it’s not that I don’t like having friends–I love my friends! They are the most important people in my life, always have been. They put up with all my crazy and I ❤ them for it. They’re also generally pretty great people. But like, I know that other people out there in the world are also probably pretty great, and that I might like to be friends with them. It’s just, this whole making-friends process…
If I could skip the painful small talk and introductory conversation associated with meeting new people and transition directly to comfortable repartee, I would make that happen. If there was a cerebro-type machine that plugged into your forehead and installed a fundamental understanding of every human being on the planet so I never had to meet another person, could know everyone on earth, could merge with the vast collective human spirit, I would purchase this machine obviously.” — Brad Pike, Thought Catalog 
Getting to know someone is generally something I abhor. Before Princeton, it’s not something I ever really had to do. I’ve gotten a little better at it since being here, but it still just makes me uncomfortable somehow. It’s easier in a college environment, I guess, where you’re around persons X, Y, and Z so often that you can kind of get to know them without a lot of the introductory awkwardness. But my days in this blissful environment are numbered. And out there is the real world, man, where people just have to move to new places and get to know people. So, like Brad, I am going to suffer through this awkwardness so I don’t become a …plant lady, I suppose (I don’t really do cats pets). Soon this, too, will be me:

“In the end, meeting new people will improve my social skills and probably my overall humanity as well though I will hate every moment of it the way Voldemort hates love notes and birthday parties. It will be a harsh painful exercise, but I’ll get through it somehow. I have to get through it. From now on, the only people in my life will be new people.” Brad Pike, Thought Catalog

One thing about Irene really leaves a bad taste in my mouth

I know a lot of places are still under a bit of water, and a lot of people are still without electricity, but I think the Northeast tried to prepare for this as best we could. Buildings were sandbagged and boarded up, people raided grocery/convenience stores for all the emergency supplies imaginable, my local Home Depot sold out of backup generators even though they were going at $900 a pop, and mayors/governors everywhere told people to GET THE FUCK OUT. I mean, they evacuated the parts of New York City that were most likely to be seriously damaged–that has NEVER happened before.

But they missed a spot. No evacuation was planned for the prisoners on Riker’s Island. Every other barrier island was evacuated, as well as some low-lying inland communities, but the 12,000+ prisoners–most of whom are low-level offenders, not hardened criminals–who are trapped in cells on an island composed primarily of landfill were not granted the right to a fair chance of surviving the storm (had it been as bad as predicted). Though committing an offense temporarily takes away one’s right to liberty, it doesn’t mean we can disregard these people’s right to LIFE. Even the UN says that prisoners cannot be ignored in times of emergency like this. It disgusts me to see these people entirely neglected–our prison system is supposed to be a place to rehabilitate people, not to abandon them in cages while we protect ourselves. Prisoners are wards of the state, and the state has an obligation to protect them as it protects all its citizens. Their families should sue for like, the endangerment of their welfare or something. And this just goes to show how our prison system just doesn’t give a damn about prisoners anymore. Fucking animal shelters looked for people to take the cats and dogs in to protect them from the storm, but these human beings weren’t offered that same decency. You can’t mandatory evacuate people selectively, that a) defeats the purpose and b) constitutes abuse–there’s no other way to cut it. It makes me sick. 

“Today, make peace with the past, the things you’ve been through that have brought you to where you are.  Your face, your body, your posture are all reflections of the life you’ve lived.  Your resilience is a reflection of your beauty.  Reconsider the things you’ve associated with beauty in the past.  Renew your self-image. 

Today, stop comparing yourself to others and rejoice in yourself.  Life is heartbreaking to each and every once of us.  Since we never know what the next person is going through, we must remember to always be kind.  First with ourselves, then with our fellow man.  Beauty teaches us to see with our hearts.” — GG of Peace Love and Pretty Things

So I’m Taking this Class Called Diversity in Black America

And any of you who has been paying attention knows that recognizing and celebrating diversity within the nebulous group of peoples labeled “Black” in this country is a matter of utmost importance to me. We come from different places (or kind of from nowhere/everywhere), different socioeconomic backgrounds, we have different cultures, we have myriad interests and tastes–we’re just as multifarious as any other groups of people. [“Multifarious”: adj. meaning “having many different parts, forms, elements, etc. Studying for the GRE is a bitch.] Monolithic representations of our peoples are so last season, you know? 
So when I saw that Imani Perry, who is kind of my academic idol (young, hip, studies fabulously interesting things, gorgeous, fashionable, curly-hair-wearing, social-networking-like-a-boss), was teacing a class this semester called “Diversity in Black America,” you know I signed up for that with a quickness expeditiously. I’m more excited by this class than I have been by a class in a long time, and I’m hoping I’m not let down by it. 
I really really wish we were reading this, but as it doesn’t come out until two days before the semester starts, I doubt we will be. Whatever, I’m going to read it. Yes, I’ve become one of those people that reads scholarly works for/by/about Black people out of pure interest/for the fun of it. bell hooks is up next on my reading list, and this will be after that: 
 “If there are thirty-five million Black Americans then there are thirty-five million ways to be Black. There are ten billion cultural artifacts of Blackness and if you add them up and put them in a pot and stew it, that’s what Black culture is. Not one of those things is more authentic than the other.” ~ Touré, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: What It Means to Be Black Now  
“Post-Black” as a term doesn’t sit well with me, but from that tiny glimpse it seems as though he’s referring to Post-narrow-conceptions-of-what-it-means-to-be-Black, which I plan to spend every day of the rest of my life fighting for. And Michael Eric Dyson is an incredible orator, very orotund and impetuous (loud, clear, and passionate), as I learned at Yale’s 2010 Black Solidarity Conference. Maybe I’ll love it, maybe I’ll get pissed the fuck off become livid, but either way I’m excited to read this.

New Nickname

Greg called me “Curly Temple” this morning while we were making breakfast. I love it, and no matter what’s going on with him and my mom–they were being realllllllll friendly this weekend–I love that I had the chance to sit around the living room with him again like nothing had changed. I missed his teasing. I missed our discussions. I missed Scrabble. I missed…him.

And I really want that nickname to stick, haha. I might start using it as my internet pen-name. If the blog name/address changed, maybe that should change too.