24 January, 2017

toxic masculinity

i'm currently both watching and reading the expanse. it's a very good series, finally something sci-fi i can sink my teeth into. when you read and watch simultaneously, it can bring out problems all too clearly but the tv show seems like a solid adaptation of the books except for one thing: the male characters in the tv show are continually whipping out their dicks and waving them about (figuratively, not literally - that would make it an entirely different sort of tv show). there is constant testosterone-fuelled posturing and if not outright violence then at least the threat of violence is never too far removed. in the book, the same characters cooperate; in the book they act as if they were living precariously, one wall between them and the vacuum; in the book they talk things out, carry out orders, and might, at worst, mutter under their breath. but in the show each move forward is accompanied by such rich outpourings of testosterone it's a wonder anyone can breathe. i started watching the series before starting the book but even then i found the men's attitudes puzzling - why this bristling barely-suppressed rage at anyone and anything? why this inability to work together towards a common goal? is this really the way human beings would act in space?

i have written here before about the way television portrays feminine strength as essentially humourless bitchiness. think PMS all in extra big capital letters and you've got what tv execs think a strong woman is like. i'm glad to see that more and more television shows have gotten over this - think good wife, where female characters are shown as strong and funny and kind and confused and sometimes bitchy and sometimes emotional: all the things that make one human (imagine that! a woman who is also a human!) it's not perfect, but there does seem to be more writing that catches many of the nuances of full personhood.

i haven't really noticed the male portion of the equation until recently - if ever you think feminism is irrelevant, think of the ways that popular culture teaches both young men and young women to act. at its most 50's nuclear family basic women are to be coy, quiet, uninterested in sex, interested in relationships, caring etc. etc. men are to be aggressive, sexually and otherwise, uninterested in cooperation and all about their ego. sure, this is a gross oversimplification, but watch enough television and you will see these stereotypes play out again and again. if feminism is partly about letting women be all that they actually are (complicated humans!), it is about letting men do exactly the same. i do wish the writers of this really rather excellent show had taken a page out of the book, and let the men focus on getting the job done, rather than having to prove, again and again, just how macho and tough they are, while the world around them falls apart.


Zhoen said...

I'm having a hard time coping with all this male/female division, too. Shiva is dancing, and who knows what comes next.

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