Sweet 16: Feminine/Masculine

It’s our Sweet Sixteenth lecture this month! On October 27th, come and join us for beer, soup, and plenty of discussion about masculinity, femininity and constructions of gender. Masculinity expert Joseph Gelfer and feminist babe Ella Francis will be gracing the Garage—the extracts for their talks are below.

Future Masculinity—Joseph Gelfer

Masculinity, as shaped by both men and women, has a profound impact upon the world in which we live and functions as a core problem for social sustainability. Yet few people stop to question the forms of masculinity that have been passed to them, let alone construct a more conscious alternative. Future Masculinity will help both men and women understand how masculinity functions in contemporary society, and how it can be re-imagined for a sustainable future. Many of these problems are directly related to the historical social construction of masculinity: how is masculinity defined? how is masculinity asserted within society? By questioning this social construction of masculinity within our everyday lives, we can make massive changes to society encouraging a more sustainable way of living that can be enjoyed by men, women, children, and the world in which we live.

“Cunt”: the dirtiest word, right after “Feminism”—Ella Francis

While binary thinking continues to dominate the mainstream consciousness the “noble quest” for “equality” between the sexes is merely a farce. Equality, as it’s more widely understood in this context, “presupposes a point of comparison” as Luce Irigaray points out in the first chapter of her book Je, Tu, Nous. That point of comparison being men and positioning women as merely not-men. When I speak of women as not-men here I feel it’s important to be inclusive of trans women, trans men, people who are intersex, those who use gender neutral pronouns and males whose presentation is femme identifying. I cannot and would not speak for them but I feel it’s necessary to point out that so often the quest for equality excludes these people for the sake of maintaining the strict and oppressive binary of man/woman. The prevailing idea of masculinity as strong and femininity as fragile needs to come under scrutiny, concepts such as “reverse sexism” must be ridiculed and binary logic needs to be broken open to prevent continued exclusion and oppression.

When the discussion and debate on women’s issues is infiltrated by men it leads to further silencing of women’s voices. Slut-shaming, victim-blaming and anti-abortion are just some examples of the focus ignoring the empowerment in a woman’s control of her own body as she is silenced in order to make way for issues of morality and blame.

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