Saturday, December 10, 2011

On Toronto's men and masculinity (or lack thereof)

Christie Blatchford is an irascible, reactionary columnist for the neoconservative National Post newspaper. (A friend of mine once aptly described her as the female Don Cherry.) And she's written another one of her typically awful pieces, this time about how Toronto men (and boys) are not properly manly. Rather, Toronto is a "city of sissies".

I could pick it apart, piece by piece, and complain at length, but I'll just grab a couple particularly hilarious parts:
"Do not mistake this as a plea for head-banging in sport, a defence of bullies, or a veiled anti-gay message."
However, that's exactly what she is doing. Blatchford criticizes bullies explicitly, sure, but the column itself becomes her endorsement of bullying - because she is herself being a bully. In the column's initiating incident, she is "mortified and appalled" at the sight of adolescent boys hugging, and proceeds to mock and deride the people whose policies she blames for causing this offense. She calls these men "delicate, slender, and arch", "delicate creature(s)", and "fey". Subtle, sure, but this is bullying.

And as for it not being a "veiled anti-gay message"? Well...
"It is possible to be a gentle and kind man without speaking in a soft, sibilant voice that makes all sentences sound to my ear as though they were composed entirely of Ss.", it's not a "veiled" message. It's actually pretty obviously homophobic. Why rely on a stereotype of gay men, and use it pejoratively, in order to illustrate the point that something is wrong with straight men?

But what, might you ask, are men supposed to act like?
"I know men have feelings too. I just don’t need to know much more than that. On any list of The 25 Things Every Man And Boy Should Know How To Do, hugging is not one of them. Killing bugs is. Whacking bullies is. Kissing is. Farting on cue is. Making the sound of a train in a tunnel is. Shooting a puck is. Hugging is not."
So men are supposed to kill, whack, fart (on cue), sound like a train (what the fuck does that even mean?), do sports, and avoid emoting. Basically, Blatchford think that a properly masculine man should have all the complexity and depth of Homer Simpson.

Well, I'm glad that's settled.