Macho Men Die Early: The Destructive Rules of Traditional Masculinity

One of my biggest problems with the Transgender Borg collective is their instance on reifying gender to the point of using adherence to stereotypes as a basis for classifying people as male or female.  Indeed the whole ideology of the Transgender Borg is far more restrictive and repressive than anything I had to deal with during the late 1960s and 1970s.  So much so that I consider all the reifying of gender and substituting it for “sex” to be highly reactionary and anti-feminist.

No matter how one post-moderns the ideology of transgender it is dependent upon there being rigid gender roles assigned on the basis of sex in order for the idea of identifying with those roles and performing those roles makes one a man or a woman, rather than defining sex based on having a penis or a vagina.  The Transgender Borg are as guilty of moving  the fence  around to make people with penises women when it suits them and shifting to the assigned at birth status to deny post-SRS women female status when it suits them.

The more rigid the gender role requirements of a society the greater an opportunity for genderqueers to transgress those roles.  Because of this genderqueers have a self interest in maintaining rigid gender roles which are almost always detrimental to women.

As a feminist I am committed to putting the interests of women first.

Ending the reification of gender is however in the interests of both men and women.  Particularly of gay men and lesbians, however ending of the reification of gender is not in the interests of the Transgender Borg Collective.

From Alternet:

One of the defenses of the macho ethic is that it encourages men to be tough to protect their families. Even if that were true, you can’t protect if you’re not there.
The Good Men Project / By Hugo Schwyzer
May 8, 2011

A study last month revealed a truth many of us have long suspected: men with “macho” attitudes are more reluctant to seek health care—and as a result experience shorter life expectancy and greater medical problems—than men who hold less traditional views. According to the Rutgers University researchers, men who believed in rigid gender roles (like the idea that women should be homemakers while men work) were 46 percent less likely than their more progressive peers to seek out vital life-saving preventative health care.

We take it for granted today that women outlive men, forgetting that in pre-modern times the reverse was often true. Death in childbirth was more common for women than death in war was for men; in many societies there were more widowers than widows. Think of the wicked stepmothers and single fathers who are ubiquitous in the Grimm fairy tales, and think about what must have happened to Cinderella’s mom. Women have only consistently outlived men since the advent of modern medicine not much more than a century ago.

Men aren’t dying earlier because their bodies are inherently more frail than women’s. Men die earlier because of poor lifestyle choices, most of which are rooted in the destructive rules of traditional masculinity. Two of the most basic of those “man laws” or “guy codes”:

  1. Don’t display weakness
  2. Take risks

As any insurance agent will tell you, young men are more likely to be reckless behind the wheel and to die in the resulting accidents. They are also more likely to be murdered, to commit suicide, and to overdose. These statistics hold true across racial and class lines. And though we live in a culture that often sees men as more expendable than women, the chief culprit in so many of these untimely deaths is the demanding macho ethos. From small boys “double-dog-daring” one another to jump off roofs to drag-racing teens, that ethos insists that “real men” are heedless of their safety. The toll in blood and heartbreak is incalculable.

Statistically, men take fewer overt physical risks as they transition into middle age. But aging men aren’t immune from the pressures to live up to the guy code. Where once they proved their toughness by driving fast or playing violent sports, they now measure their manhood by their willingness to ignore pain and other signs of illness. As this new Rutgers study has shown, there’s a direct correlation between the degree to which a man clings to these outdated and destructive rules and his refusal to take care of himself.

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Chaz Bono vs Camille Paglia

Back about 15 years ago I though Camille Paglia wrote essays that skewered things that needed skewering.  But by her third book her pretentious egomania  was showing through.  Then a half dozen years or so ago I saw her on Book TV and said to Tina, “She can’t get a complete sentence out and is licking her lip like she is cranked out of her mind on either coke or speed.”  I’ve seen enough wired people in my life to say that with at least a little authority.

For me that was her shark jumping moment.  I’ve never taken anything she has said since seriously.  It is all sort of crazy babble.  Further she has trashed numerous women who are far more worhty of being listened to than she is.

So I’m not surprised at her trashing Chaz Bono.  Camille has gotten old and irrelevant and will do anything  to get back in the spotlight.

Some one needs to tell her she’s full of bullshit, not very attractive and needs to put a sock in it.

From the New York Times:

The Reluctant Transgender Role Model

Published: May 6, 2011

AT the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, I wheedled a ticket to “Becoming Chaz,” a documentary about the sex change of Chastity Bono. Having long admired the Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato World of Wonder productions — slyly edu-taining films like “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and oodles of just-louche-enough-for-reality-TV shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — I anticipated their usual mix of human interest, alternative lifestyle and salacious tabloid.

This unflinchingly personal film, which will have its premiere on Oprah Winfrey’s network on Tuesday, details Chastity Bono’s journey from her spangled childhood in rhinestone pantsuits on “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” to a more recent two years in her televised life: Chastity, now Chaz, invited cameras to witness the searingly intimate experience of his gender transition.

Chaz, 42, and Jennifer Elia, his longtime girlfriend, must navigate his hormone injections, mood swings and personality changes, and live through a medical procedure that is part of the process of making Chaz a legal male in the State of California: he undergoes “top surgery” and has his breasts removed.

The operation is so graphic, and such a commitment — physically, emotionally and financially — that as a wincing viewer you come away with a palpable understanding of how unendurably he must be suffering in his body to want to have his own sex characteristics amputated.

Yet despite being a lifelong liberal from San Francisco and friendly with a number of transgender people, I found the film as unsettling as it was inspiring.

I came away forced to confront a whole swag-bag full of transphobias that I didn’t know I’d had. So I went to Los Angeles to talk to the filmmakers, and to Chaz himself.

Just sitting on a couch with Chaz at his publicist’s office is a consciousness-raising experience. He’s an affable, candid, pudgy, regular guy: very sweet, very comfortable in his skin, jeans, navy blue polo shirt and simple boots. His look might seem deliberately invisible if not for his hair, which he shapes into an excellent controlled pomp that could be described as Office-Casual Elvis.

At this point in his transition, Chaz is in his “second puberty,” a six- to seven-year process of hormone injections. The medical technology for genital reconstruction surgery (masculine genitoplasty, for a transgender man like Chaz) is still too new, expensive, imperfect and risky for him to opt for “bottom surgery.”

“I am in a holding pattern,” he said. “The payoff just isn’t quite enough. I wish I had a penis, but I am O.K. for now.”

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In case people haven’t noticed lots of actual transsexual people are saying stuff like, “I’m not a role model”

The collective mindset demanded by identity politics runs counter to the very personal reasons folks take hormones, have various surgeries altering their primary and secondary sexual characteristics. We do it for ourselves not to be part of some sort of collective identity.