men in trees

I’m about to say something that is completely taboo in both the mainstream and so-called progressive culture today, especially among intellectuals… Something so politically incorrect and so forbidden that I suspect that as soon as I type the words, the earth may open up and swallow me whole, hurling me into a PC purgatory more frightening than hell.

Saying these words is tantamount to social and academic suicide, especially among the “new Left.” But try as I might, I cannot hold my tongue. These words have been on the brim of my mind and lips for years, and I have to get them out. Are you ready? Progressive and “enlightened” and politically correct (PC) people of the world, are you sitting down. Here it goes: I…miss…MASCULINE…men!

Okay, wait…breathe. Take a minute… And let me take a minute to make sure I’m still here, and that everything is in one piece. Okay, my limbs are intact, I still have my sight…I’m looking outside my window, and no, the sky didn’t fall. And as far as I can tell, I’m still on this earthly plane. It’s hard to believe that I have not been stricken dead, for I have just used one of the most forbidden words in the English lexicon, according to the PC mafia: “masculine.”

As the postmodern obsession with policing language—borne largely but not solely from the movement in academia (in the Humanities and Social Sciences) towards postmodern paradigms and theories—evolved over the last two decades, the concept of “masculine” became anathema to all those who fancied themselves progressive and liberal (though not necessarily radical, and there is a huge difference). Much of the disdain for the term masculine comes from feminist and queer theory (which are two different schools of thought), where masculine came to be associated with oppressive and dominant traits and aspects in society that were traditionally treated as superior in a hetero-patriarchal system. While these theories made some important observations about power and society, etc., one social and cultural effect was to make it almost forbidden to use the word masculine, even as a descriptive term, unless it was used negatively to denote power, oppression, domination, violence, subjugation, etc.

As such, using the word as a physically descriptive term for men, or, as a (gasp!) favourable and even desirable male quality became practically synonymous with being intellectually backwards and archaic. Well, at least in heterosexual circles. Ironically, while the pejorative notion of the “masculine” partly grew out of queer theory, the male gay community is one of the only spaces where “masculine” or “macho” men are still celebrated and desired (or allowed to be) without shame. In the male gay community a whole spectrum of tastes and desires (from effeminate “twinks” to big hairy, masculine “bears” and “leather daddies”) exists, and the big, strong, hairy, rugged masculine man enjoys a comfortable and superior spot on that spectrum.

But in the heterosexual world one is more or less banned from using such “oppressive” and “essentialist” language and displaying such archaic tastes. While men who are attracted to men are free to desire and celebrate a more “old fashioned” kind of guy, women who are attracted to men do so at the risk of social backlash. Simply put, women are not supposed to desire or prefer classically masculine or rugged men.

Ironically, as straight men have become more “metro-sexual,” both gay men and straight women find it increasingly difficult to “differentiate” between gay and straight men, on the surface. How do I know, because I have had this conversation many, many times with both straight women and gay men (as well as from my own experiences). Now before anyone gets all bent out of sorts and starts hurling accusations of homophobia at me,  chill. Almost all of my male friends are gay and my two closest friends are both gay men. And they have all told me that when checking out guys, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to tell if the guys are gay or straight.

One reason is outer appearance and overall aura. While straight men are dressing and speaking in a more traditionally (or stereotypically) “gay manner,” many gay men are hitting the gym, showing off their hairy chests and walking around like uber-rugged hunks. This is not homophobia, gender bias or gender essentialism, etc. It’s just an honest  observation (anyone living in a big city knows what I’m talking about and knows it’s true) by a woman (and many of my gay and straight friends) that lives in a big city–where metro-sexual guys and effeminate skinny-jean wearing hipsters are everywhere–and misses the sight of rugged, scruffy “masculine” dudes. True, the bearded hipster lumberjack look has recently taken off, but there’s still sometimes a hint of the metro-sexual afoot in that.

Ok. There. I’ve said it! Is that such a crime?! Are women allowed to have tastes and comment freely and openly about those tastes?! Indeed, popular culture started to address this topic several years ago but it never gained much steam. Back in 2007, a much-less-known Katy Perry came out with a song called “Ur So Gay,” where she satirically laments being in a relationship with a metro-sexual straight guy who comes across “as gay” though he is not. While the song was not intended to be homophobic (it’s been described as satirical social commentary and “Queen of pop” Madonna even once called it her new favourite song), some interpreted it that way and there was some backlash. But the following year Perry came out with the song “I kissed a Girl” and her near brush with pc controversy was all but forgotten.

Anyway, maybe I’m a lone, “educated woman” in a politically correct prison,  err island, but I often miss the sight…and sound…and smell, etc., of old school “masculine” men.