What Men Dare Do! "O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"

24Nov/102

Dan Savage’s Straight Box & Male Feminist Strategies (h/t to Jeff @ Feminist Allies)

With a hat tip to Jeff at Feminist Allies: Dan Savage recently spoke about the "man box" for cis, straight men.

Now, Dan Savage gets a lot of crap from feminists sometimes, usually because he can insensitive on a number of issues (sexual assault victims, weight for instance).  And though those aren't inapt criticisms, I do admire Dan for generally acknowledging the criticism and correcting himself.

But I did want to write briefly about the "man box," and how that kind of rhetoric can be used to reach men.  Dan is correct in noting that men are constrained by a lot of expectations about what "men" are supposed to be like.  We're supposed to do certain things and not do other things (things that women, gay men, and other non-cisgendered persons).

There's an appeal to not having to act like the archetypal alpha male, and I think that if male feminism also framed itself in such a way, men might come to it more easily.  Few men are able to perform in such a way that aligns themselves properly with gendered expectations.

Savage perhaps explains it best in the context of sexuality.  Because unlike a lot of things that we can be cultured to accept or perform, or things that we can make conscience choices to adopt and perform in order to better align ourselves with a societal gender expectation, we have little control over our sexual desires (another frequent topic of Savage's writings).  So with sexuality, where we have little control over our own desires, we find (in Savage's context) that men are very frustrated.  But if we move beyond that into matters where because we have more conscience control, such as how we dress, what we like to do and such, and also realize that we're not bound by societal gendered expectations, I think we can persuade a lot of men that they would be happier as feminists.

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