I like to think of myself as a feminist, and I recognize that gender roles are harmful. That said, I still feel there might be room for some sort of “manliness” as a concept, if not under that name. This is up for debate, of course, since I recognize I’m subject to privilege-induced blindness. I’m thinking out loud so I can mull over and refine concepts.
The ironic thing is that I think feminism has raised the bar for mangrit, at least as far as I estimate it. The result for me is that the men who whine about women not being “feminine” by their standards are having their lack of “masculinity” exposed. If anything, the old definition of femininity as submissive and passive had a once-hidden backlash on masculinity: It’s produced a lot of snivelers who can’t deal with women as adults, on equal terms. Feminism encourages women to be strong in character, and I like that. I want higher standards, and I think having strong women in a society also helps encourage men to be strong.
The suppression of women was a handicap that kept misogynists from seeing how weak they really are. In a way, they were too busy fostering the appearance of “manliness” through the shallow trappings they forgot the core of growing into adulthood. The men who whine about feminists, throw out red herrings about their equipment size, accuse people of being trans, gay, or even just girly, and so on are being profoundly unmanly in my estimation because they neglect that core of maturity. It doesn’t matter how much muscle they have, how many triple baconators they eat, if they got six touchdowns in a single game, or if they pilot mecha powered by fighting spirit. It’s pointlessly hurtful. It’s defensive and weak. It’s intolerant. It’s speaks of an unearned sense of entitlement. It’s childish. That sort of thing puts my estimation of their mangrit into negative numbers, and the tough guy talk about athleticism and sexual prowess looks like a transparent attempt to hide from a sense of inadequacy, rather than a sincere expression of identity.
Moving on, to the core internal debate I’m having, is “manliness” as I’m attempting to define it just a cis-male-specific term for maturity or adulthood? Is it really necessary? Is it useful? Is there a better term that doesn’t implicitly diminish other, valid forms of adulthood? (Probably.) There are men out there who are “effeminate,” and I don’t want to imply disrespect, since I know intentions aren’t magically broadcast in words. I also don’t want to imply that being feminine is necessarily opposite or lesser. The same with androgyny and concepts that don’t align with the “classic” spectrum of male to female. Different people express themselves in different ways.
I’ve shifted my vocabulary and tropes before, and I know I’ll end up doing it again. Might as well be ready to discuss it.