[Note: I am in the process of closing out the two blogs I created before this one and am transferring their contents here, so please bear with the sudden appearance of these “old” essays &cet.]
maskyə linitē noun 1. possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men. “a need for men to prove their masculinity through domination over women”
synonyms: virility, manliness, maleness, machismo, vigor, strength, muscularity, ruggedness, robustness; testosterone
[Note: There is no second definition, as far as Google is concerned.]
n. pl. mas·cu·lin·i·ties 1. The quality or condition of being masculine. 2. Something traditionally considered to be characteristic of a male. [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition 2000. Updated in 2009.]
“Contrary to the popular conception of how a man acts, there are different men, who act in different ways.” — Toddy (Robert Preston) in Victor/Victoria, 1982.
By Scott Ross
Although my basic persona is neither notably effeminate nor excessively “manly,” I have long been bothered by traditional notions of what constitutes masculinity. At base (so to speak) it seems to me that being masculine means having male genitalia. Anything else we say is just tradition — tradition created, I should add, by men — and stereotype.
A male can be sexy and alluring in any number of forms, and with any of a myriad of behavioral characteristics. There are big slabs of hairy, over-fed beef to whom I would not give the time of day, and little wispy “bois” who do everything but fly on fairy’s wings I want to take into my arms and have my way with as long, and as often, as they’ll let me. I’ve been drawn to humpy guys with developed chests and raspy voices, and to skinny, femme-y twinks the arcs of whose contours, from the neck to the hips, for all intents and purposes describe a straight line. There are bois with long, limpid hair who leave me weak at the knees, and guys with crew-cuts who almost make me want to bottom.
What makes me uneasy is the hyper-masculine — the strut and attitude that says, This is how a man looks, and acts, faggot. Fun for fantasy and role-play, perhaps, but in real-life, machismo is a crashing boor. And a pose, as much as the drag-queen who dolls himself up to look like Cher except that in her case, she’s playing out a conscious, gender-kidding performance — and she knows it, and wants you to share it, and enjoy it for what it is. In the case of the uber-male, what I see, aside from arrogance and condescension, is barely concealed horror, even if it’s far from conscious.
Such men can, if they are endowed with enough good looks and curves in the right places, attract plenty of erotic attention, but they’re as phony as a queer dollar-bill. It’s why so many heterosexual men are such eye-rolling bores — and boors: They live in terror of being thought (gasp!) feminine, are convinced every gay man who as much as crosses their paths is secretly slathering at their image, and dwell in perpetual terror of the erotic possibilities of their anuses. Why does it take so much persuasion by bright, open-minded women, to get their men to even consider an anal toy or a forefinger up their butts? “If I like it, I’ll be gay! I’ll be (ptttuuiii!) a woman!”
No, boys. Most of us fags don’t want to be women… although we may admire and genuinely like many women (do you?) and be comfortable integrating our twin-spirit gender identities. We like our cocks and our balls too much to lose them, thanks all the same. We like what they do, and what can be done with them. And it will perhaps further shock you to know that some of us — maybe a whole lot of us — don’t like being penetrated. We’re tops, not because we feel superior to bottoms, or because we’re terrified of being thought less than utterly perfectly wonderfully masculine, but because we’re physically uncomfortable with a penis in our rectums. Period. And, trust me, we’re not walking around with endless erections over your splendors. Get over yourselves.
And while we’re at it, narrow-minded queers can get over themselves too. No one says we have to be, or to look, or to behave, one way or another or another, unless we’re comfortable doing or being or behaving so. I don’t swish and I’m not sure I could camp if my life depended on it. I don’t say that with any pride, or implicit contempt for those who can, and do. It’s just a fact of me. If the fact of you is that you’re a little nelly, or even very nelly, so be it; I’m old enough to have lived through that awful “clone look,” and style, of the late 1970s and early ‘80s. It was a sexless, because over-sexed, bore, and it more or less permanently turned me off of facial hair. Especially mustaches.
My libido embraces all kinds and types of gay (and a few straight) guys. Some are athletic and toned, some are willowy and supple. Some look as though they’d fuck you until you could barely move, and some suggest by their looks and attitudes that they’d speak with pronounced lisps and wave their wrists around more than Bette Davis on a bad day. I love them either way. I love them in every way.
Meanwhile, I’ll let Blake Edwards’ Toddy have the last word…
Toddy: Contrary to the popular conception of how a man acts, there are different men, who act in different ways.
Victoria: I mean, as opposed to the way women act.
Toddy: I am personally acquainted with at least a dozen men who act exactly like women… and vice versa.
Victoria: But there are some things that are naturally masculine.
Toddy: Name one.
Victoria: Peeing standing up.
Toddy: There’s absolutely no rule that says a man can’t sit down.
Victoria: Men have Adam’s apples.
Toddy: So do some women.
Victoria: Name one.
Toddy: Nana Lanoux.
Victoria: Nana Lanoux? Who’s she?
Toddy: The last woman I slept with.
Victoria: When was that?
Toddy: The night before the morning I decided to become a homosexual!
Victoria: Did Miss Lanoux have a big Adam’s apple?
Toddy: Like — a — coconut!
— From the Victor/Victoria screenplay by Blake Edwards
All other text copyright 2013 by Scott Ross