Miscellaneous Cool Links

1) Dar Williams’s When I Was A Boy is one of the most powerful anti-gender-roles songs I’ve ever heard– and it includes a bonus criticism of femmephobia:

And so I tell the man I’m with about the other life I lived
And I say, “Now you’re top gun, I have lost and you have won”
And he says, “Oh no, no, can’t you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I, we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I’m alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness.
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you.”

2) Charlie Glickman, a sex-positive educator, has a very interesting post on gender essentialism, masculinity and sex-negativity, critiquing those who describe sterotypical male fantasies as “what men want.” An excerpt:

Now, I’ll certainly agree that there are trends and commonalities among many men. And I also agree that those tendencies have caused and continue to cause a lot of serious problems. But the essentialist language that these two writers use neglects the experiences and the existences of gay men, bisexual men, and transgender men. It renders invisible heterosexual men who don’t fit within the dominant sexual paradigm. It ignores genderqueer folks and pansexual people, some of whom identify as men. It denies the existence of sexually submissive men, and men who don’t get turned on by the standard model of female attractiveness. By talking about “men” as if we all experience sexuality in the same way, both of these folks reinforce and reify one of the foundations of the problem that they’re trying to critique.

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9 Responses to Miscellaneous Cool Links

  1. Uncle Kvetch says:

    Dar Williams’s When I Was A Boy

    A beautiful song indeed — one that moved me to tears the first time I heard it.

    I’d just like to say what a pleasure it’s been to discover this blog…at a time when I can only expose myself to very small quantities of politics-with-a-capital-P without falling into utter despair, the discussions here are a truly welcome source of hope and inspiration. Thank you.

  2. f. says:

    Ahhh, I am so glad somebody called out that Natasha Vargas-Cooper article. It was such a steaming pile of crap.

  3. Jim says:

    f., the funny thing was that it was posing as an opposing view to a lot of feminst sex discourse, and ended up repeating some of the same errors when it came to borgifying and second-guessing, and thus objectifying men in connection with porn and sex in general.

  4. superglucose says:

    One of the weirdest things I’ve ever noticed about the whole ideal of “sexually submissive men”:

    I know absolutely 0 dominant men. 0 men who want to be constantly in control in the bedroom. The vast majority of men I know like it both ways: “How about tonight I tie you down, and tomorrow night you tie me down?” Most of the extreme submission I’ve seen is from mtf who are self-hating (not that all mtf are self hating, but the self-hating ones are the ones I see who are an exteme form of submission) or from women, I will not deny.

    So why is it that we have this paradigm of the “dominant man”?

    One other thing: I was trying to explain to someone why I was not specifically dominant sexually. For me, as a man, I’m expected to be in charge and in control all the time. The bedroom is an opportunity for a break. I’m expected to own and rule… and I would prefer to have an even mix of ruling and being told what to do. Or at least, a more even mix than is presented in my life: and I think most men would agree with me. I know most men I know do.

  5. Mousie762 says:

    You know what’s missing from this paragraph critiquing “what men want”? How startlingly often that stereotype turns out to be what women want men to want.

  6. @Superglucose, the term is trans women, not mtf… note the absence of any gendered reference to an illegitimately assigned gender in the first.

    Also, you refer to trans women or women and I don’t know where to begin with the 101 there…

    Oh, and the song is essentialism at its finest. Remember, girls don’t run or bike or like sports or video games or other girls, and little boys can’t be emotionally open.

    I loved non-contact sports, and went exploring for hours and kept up with my dad’s ten-speed on my big wheel when I was five (hated contact sports, any trust between me and the other people who might play them was broken before the idea even came up.) and dress up, though I don’t remember why I stopped playing with mom’s makeup or the pink dress in the closet that would’ve been great if I were an adult and wanted to cosplay as princess peach… (actually I think I tried to do the floating jump from Super Mario Bros. 2 a couple times in that thing, but I could be wrong…) When I was in first grade I and some other kids spent every recess during the spring building an elaborate water channelling system in the playground… and I may have been called a boy… I might have taken it on faith that I was a boy, but I never was, and I don’t think Dar Williams is unpacking anything here… she’s essentializing everything.

    This is one of those songs that sounds supportive, has a nice melody, but the more you hear it, the more uncomfortable it makes you. Kinda like this:

  7. ozymandias42 says:

    Valerie: I believe the idea of the song is that she’s a cis woman who used to be masculine (i.e., a “boy”) but had to become more feminine as she got older, and her guy friend was a cis man who used to be feminine (i.e. a “girl”) who had to become masculine, and it was a shame that they both had to give up parts of their personalities as they grew up. I mean, yes, it does conflate gender presentation and gender identity, but given that “When I Was A Gender Non-Conforming Girl” doesn’t really scan…

  8. I know what she’s trying to say. And I just think it’s incredibly sloppy imagery. And the commenters on the site are talking about their little boy-girls as though if one isn’t high-femme one isn’t really ‘girly’.

    Using boy and masculine as interchangeable when you’re trying to argue that boys don’t have to be masculine is what we call belying your own argument.

  9. SpudTater says:

    Allow some artistic license, please! Poetry and lyrics are supposed to be evocative, not logically correct.

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