A thread to discuss masculinity

Okay, so nuke this if it is a terribly insensitive idea. I just thought maybe it would be good to have a space for people who identify as male to have a space to process the modern world without derailing conversations/making non-male users have to endure our bullshit. I kind of thought of it as a positive thing though; a place to inform and challenge each other, taking the ethos that we need to police ourselves.

Maybe we can quote examples of inappropriate posts in here as well, so it can be highlighted?

Just on a personal note, recent revelations are making me think that certain things I used to use to define myself are actually pretty negative. So it would be good to build up an identity again that doesn’t rely so heavily on my privilege

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Could be a good idea I guess. I don’t mean to dig anyone out here though, but I can’t be the only one that’s a little tired of men being shocked by the whole patriarchy thing? Like, the whole “oh my god that’s horrifying” thing. Just feel like it’s stopped being an appropriate response to stuff, just looking at it and saying how awful it is.

So I suppose what I’m saying is I hope that we can all move beyond the point where we just express our negative reaction to how bad toxic masculinity/male privilege is, or whatever.

There’s probably space in the world for men to specifically ‘theorise’ openly about how masculinity (possibly but not necessarily their own) is constructed, and how this informs power relations both amongst men and between men and women & non-binaries. But self-examination shouldn’t descend into self-loathing I don’t think - it’s a bit of a cop out.


Do you think there can be such a thing as “positive masculinity”? Before recent developments, before I realised I was connected to this to a greater extent than I realised, I was toying with the idea in my head. But potentially it’s just another form of reconciliation… accentuating positives rather than tackling problems.

Really good post though, I’ve been thinking personally, when I start a new job in March, it’d be good to try and seek out other guys who may understand some of this stuff…and try and do a strength-in-numbers tackling of workplace sexism. Nothing major, just take the slack off non males a bit. An issue for me is courage, and standing up to people without back up

There is such a thing as positive masculinity I think, like my dad was a good role model mostly. I mean he taught me how to box and the basics of fixing a car - like “traditionally” masculine things - but he always emphasised the non-meathead aspects of this stuff, etc.

But I think mostly the general societal view of masculinity is very poisonous and frequently destructive for men and women alike tbh.

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Perhaps these things shouldn’t be regarded as “masculine” anymore though…and opened up to a wider audience (just in terms of developing going forward…I’m not having a go at your dad!)


Oh sure, I mean he taught me and my sister the same stuff, bit of boxing, fixing random shit, etc, so we didn’t think “oh that’s a MAN’S thing”, even though society views them as “traditionally” manly jobs. So I guess that’s what I mean by a positive kind of masculinity (although I guess my dad actually neutralized the “masculine” element so we just thought of them as handy skills to have).

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Yeah agreed. There are traditionally “masculine” things that are totally acceptable and harmless…but there’s no reason why they need to remain “male-oriented” anymore.

Idk, the more I question it, the more I think that positive masculinity will always revert to stereotyping.

Then it’s down to people like you, me, and others on this board to challenge this stereotyping rather than passively accept it

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I mean, we can’t erase gender, so you have to believe in the possibility of masculinity’s transformation to something that’s not oppressive, or even emancipatory. But, as you kind of touch on a bit, the idea of ‘positive masculinity’ contains contradictions. Masculinity inherently dominates, so inherently inculcates particular power relations which depend upon subordination and ultimately oppression.

So positive/emancipatory masculinity is an impossibility even though we have to believe in it as a possibility because we can see in the real world, right now, how better masculinities are brought into being. We can therefore try and envision what it would look like to have masculinity sort of work in harmony with justice. In that sense it’s kind of like what Derrida says about justice itself - it is “therefore always to come in the future, it is never present… Justice – this is undeniable – is impossible (perhaps justice is the “impossible”) and therefore it is necessary to make justice possible in countless ways.” (actually that’s a quote of someone explaining Derrida on justice in this article https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/derrida/).*

Like making justice possible in multiple ways, we can transform masculinity in multiple ways. One way I guess is through the sort of ‘shock therapy’ that’s gone on in recent weeks. Another way is the sort of straight-faced discussion we’re having right now. Other ways are through play, which is pretty important imo. This could be linguistic, just subverting masculine norms of how to communicate oneself, your views etc. Or it could be social or sexual. ‘Play’ is a really strong transformative tool because it’s creative and it’s imaginative, and through its un-seriousness it gives room for experimentation that takes a part of something’s meaning and twists it into something that can be repackaged to have a very different meaning. I mean, that’s a foundation of a lot of kink play innit.

*I would say that I’m sure someone like Judith Butler has said a lot about this, but I wouldn’t be the person to ask unfortunately.

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So what about the possibility of erasing the idea of “masculinity” altogether? In your first paragraph you made a point about gender being an unavoidable certainty…but do we have to ascribe each gender certain characteristics? Beyond obvious physical differences, I’m wondering if we have to group things by gender at all…other than in a social sense (for example, as a white, cishet male I should be looking to use that privilege to elevate those less fortunate).

So what i’m gathering from this (although I’m probably simplifying it greatly) is that you’re advocating a sort of “harm reduction” approach? That masculinity, because of it’s inherent power relationship, can never really align with justice, but a more enlightened approach can at least get us part way there.

As for your last point…I’m probably very conservative when it comes to “play”, so perhaps greater exploration of it would open my mind somewhat. Though perhaps the fact that I get enjoyment out of studying to be a male nurse, and the reactions that sometimes get from people who still see it as an aytpical job choice.

Again, really informative stuff. if you’ve got any particular sources that you think would be good for a relative novice like myself I’d be really interested.

100%, but I guess I’m just outwardly processing the idea that trying to tie my identity to my gender isn’t a good idea…which is where my initial thought around “positive masculinity” came from.

Quite like a podcast called the art of manliness.

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As a man, I hate the concept of masculinity as I knew it. It made me feel like shit as a teenager and not being the “right” kind, and as an adult it is something that is used mostly by cunts to hid behind.


This nails where I am with it, tbh.

My own masculinity is far removed than the masculinity of the majority of people I know. - and I am more than comfortable with my own masculinity. That wasn’t the case 3 year ago though.

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How do others feel in their work environment? Do you notice much abuse/exploitation going on, or any discussions between other guys that over step the mark? How do you feel about confronting it, are there things that make it easier/harder?

My current work environment, it’s encoraged to pulls shit like this up. I did pull a couple of guys up shortly after I joined when they talked about making a woman who was a grade above us ‘bleed’ whilst they ‘fucked her silly’. I told them that was a) reprehensible given they were both apparently in loving relationships and b) reprehensible given they were talking about another human being.

Did it change their attitude towards women? I don’t know, quite honestly. But I felt perfectly okay confronting it. I felt, that if necessary, it would be really good test of the company’s equality and diversity process if pushed forward.


It’s good to hear about that ethos, I hope I have similar experiences in the future. Also, even if it didn’t change their views…at least a message has been sent out to say that kind of thing is unacceptable.

I was talking with someone the other week who said they wished instead of a “me too” campaign, there was a sincere and sober “I did” campaign - whereby it wasn’t the females having to bring up the injustices, and then maybe analysing why they’d done those things and how they hope to/have improved.
I briefly thought about making it a thread on here but thought people would hate it or turn it into a joke.


Pretty much the reaction I thought this thread would get, tbh. Thankfully not the case!

“I have” certainly…I think my most frequent crimes are making gendered assumptions, but I remember one time when I said to a girl “and people say you’re just a big pair of tits”. Still recall her look of shock. It was awful and I rightly feel very guilty

Good thread, I definitely feel like challenging the way gender is constructed is something I could do with learning a little more about as it doesn’t really feel like there’s anything approaching a consensus.

I remember watching a talk on toxic masculinity recently and I was struck by the fact that no one in the room could actually settle on a definition of what masculinity actually was. All there were were vague allusions to masculine archetypes. I don’t however see this as necessarily a bad thing in that I think this ambiguity it’s paving the way for “alternative masculinities” to emerge and be embraced.

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