by Max Barry

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This took me less time to fix the black market issue this time. Now I can rest assured that the economy is somewhat back to normal.

Daarwyrth wrote:It's really nice to read this, as I am glad I was able to give you the opportunity to speak your mind about the subject! I think you worded it nicely, the "low sense of gender identity", because I think that's the same for me. I simply don't see my biological sex as part of my personhood, as I am a person first and foremost, a person who happens to embody a male body. Yet that last fact has absolutely zero bearing on my identity as a person, and I also can't imagine how it could be a part of my identity.

Honestly, I always thought that should be the case??? I don't actually see how one's gender can constitute a central part of their personhood.

OK, before you launch an attack on me, let me clarify what I mean. I was born with female reproductive organs, raised like a girl (whatever that means), and I am currently comfortable in my own skin, meaning I happily call myself a woman and it feels right, soooo I am a cisgender woman in a nutshell.

But how much my sex and gender identity factor into what I do or how I feel in my day to day life? There are situations where the society seems to put in a special effort to make you aware of where you fall in that binary gender divide, so we can unfortunately not live like sex-less beings no matter how much we want to, people will bring it up. I can go about my life making ungendered decisions (or decisions that should in principle be unrelated to my gender identity), but I will be reminded of my gender. For example, after a night out with a friend, I'll want to go home walking through a certain alley, and she will raise her eyebrows and say "This is not a well-lit alley though and it is pretty late, are you sure you don't wanna walk on X Avenue instead?" A question that would have doubtlessly not been asked, had I been male. And voila! Just an example of a situation where my gender identity found me.

What does it mean to do things as a woman? Or as a man?

Is there a way to eat a hamburger like a woman? To play basketball? To carry an umbrella? To chew a gum?

My gut feeling is to answer 'no' to all these, but certain portions of the society would say 'yes' to them. That's my problem, I guess. I am 'psychologically androgynous' for the most part, but it is something that our supposedly modern society has not been able to overcome yet. I think I am pretty normal, though. It is the people who think there is a feminine/masculine way to carry an umbrella that are 'abnormal' and need corrective intervention or something like that.

Anyway, I hope you realize that my discourse here is in fact not related to transgender issues at all, though there may be thematic overlap in what I am saying to contemporary transgender issues. I think a lot of things are unnecessarily gendered in our society.

So when you folks say that you have a "low sense of gender identity" I cannot help but pause and think about it for a second. As a ciswoman, even I can say I have kind of a low sense of gender identity. And perhaps this should be the baseline for everyone, regardless of whether they identify as man, woman, or nonbinary. Having a very heightened sense of your gender identity feels weird to me.

I would like to cite this Economist article from 2017, the last paragraph of which had resonated with me. (By the way, when I first read that article when it was published, I felt that some aspects of it may be interpreted as anti-transgender, though I don't think any offense was intended. Just keep in mind that I do not claim to endorse everything the article says. I think I should re-read it anyway.)

http://web.archive.org/web/20180823142651/https://www.economist.com/international/2017/11/16/making-sense-of-the-culture-war-over-transgender-identity

(Posting the web archive version due to the paywall)

The final paragraph was:

Most people are comfortable with their gender identities, perhaps without having any strong sense of being male or female. Ms Shriver writes: “I have no idea what it ‘feels like’ to be a woman—and I am one.” As traditional and legal constraints on men’s and women’s behaviour loosen, that group may grow and, with luck, the number of children who feel stifled by their gender roles will fall. But there will probably always be a few people whose felt identities are at odds with what the world sees, and who will need to do something about it if they are to be at ease.

I fully agree with Ms Shriver here. She has succinctly expressed what I have been trying to say in this post. So while I definitely acknowledge the feelings of truly nonbinary people, some of us cisfolks are cis while simultaneously being unable to wrap their heads around what it means to strongly feel that they are 'males' or 'females'. Most of the time, I do not consciously think of it. And if I had been a cisman, I'd probably think of my sex and gender identity even less, because the fvcked-up society would consider me as the "default" anyway.

We finished the last match of Matchday 3!
Qualified teams were revealed now!
Those are:
The Champions League, Novian Republics, Apabeossie & Aberdoom joining:

Walfo, Arklanda, Einswenn, Solsevara, Saralonia, Indusse, Cuillin & Ukotrium.

Not to forget the best third positioned teams who advanced based on the criteria from the ranking table. In which we mention:
Islamic Holy Sites, New Skandenivia, Othenhiem & Nardin!

Knockout stage will start on June 21st at 15:00 GMT+1
I'll publish the matchups and other informations about the Knockout stage tomorrow.

For the disqualified teams, i thank you and appreciate your participation in this tournament and we greet you for the great performance you made!

I'm so sorry for mentioning you guys a lot.

For the latest results:


17 JUN - 19 JUN

G R O U P :: A
Walfo 5 - 0 Lugnan
Mintakaville Stadium, Mintakaville at 17:00 GMT+1 (17 June)
Insaanistan 0 - 0 Ardelark
Birelbeit Arena, Birelbeit at 19:30 GMT+1 (17 June)

G R O U P :: B
Einswenn 2 - 1 Islamic Holy Sites
Birelbeit Arena, Birelbeit at 17:00 GMT+1 (17 June)
Lannistter 0 - 4 Solsevara
Mintakaville Stadium, Mintakaville at 19:30 GMT+1 (17 June)

G R O U P :: C
Middle Barael 0 - 1 Indusse
Kasgard Arena, Kasgard at 17:00 GMT+1 (18 June)
New Skandenivia 1 - 1 Saralonia
Beteltares Stellar Stadium, Beteltares at 19:30 GMT+1 (18 June)

G R O U P :: D
Cuillin 0 - 0 Velaland
Beteltares Stellar Stadium, Beteltares at 17:00 GMT+1 (18 June)
Othenhiem 1 - 2 Ukotrium
Kasgard Arena, Kasgard at 19:30 GMT+1 (18 June)

G R O U P :: E
Novian Republics 3 - 0 IR Pygania
Crystal Stadium, Meissa at 17:00 GMT+1 (19 June)
Nardin 0 - 3 T.C.L
Friends'Park, Rigel at 19:30 GMT+1 (19 June)

G R O U P :: F
Aberdoom 5 - 0 Central Antarctic Peninsula
Friends'Park, Rigel at 17:00 GMT+1 (19 June)
Rep. Of Yucatan 0 - 2 Apabeossie
Crystal Stadium, Meissa at 19:30 GMT+1 (19 June)


Lugnan - Walfo - Insaanistan - Solsevara - Islamic Holy Sites - Einswenn - Lannistter - Saralonia - Indusse - Middle Barael - New Skandenivia - Ukotrium - Velaland - Cuillin - Othenhiem - The Champions League - Pygania - Novian Republics - Nardin - Apabeossie - Central Antarctic Peninsula - Aberdoom - Republic of Yucatan
Read dispatch

Frieden-und Freudenland wrote:Snip

I think that everything you have written makes a lot of sense, and it puts my own thoughts on the matter into perspective. Of course, situations like the example with the alley should absolutely have no place in our society. A woman should not be afraid to walk the street alone, or to pass through a dark alley. Yet you are correct that society has the idea of a binary gender system so deeply ingrained that it will come up or be brought up sooner or later. I mean, corporations still try to brand and sale products specifically catered to men and women, while all that's different about the product is the packaging. I will never forget how a guy in high school was utterly gobsmacked that men don't have to use "for men" shower stuff and deodorants. "But does it even work then?" was his question, which was amusing at the time, but a little sad if you think about it.

Yet thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter, they've been a very valuable addition to the discussion, I think.

Daarwyrth wrote:I think that everything you have written makes a lot of sense, and it puts my own thoughts on the matter into perspective. Of course, situations like the example with the alley should absolutely have no place in our society. A woman should not be afraid to walk the street alone, or to pass through a dark alley. Yet you are correct that society has the idea of a binary gender system so deeply ingrained that it will come up or be brought up sooner or later. I mean, corporations still try to brand and sale products specifically catered to men and women, while all that's different about the product is the packaging. I will never forget how a guy in high school was utterly gobsmacked that men don't have to use "for men" shower stuff and deodorants. "But does it even work then?" was his question, which was amusing at the time, but a little sad if you think about it.

Yet thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter, they've been a very valuable addition to the discussion, I think.

Thank you. I cannot help but think about these issues and feel resentment at the foregrounding of one's gender, especially if one is female.

This is going to be somewhat random, but not unrelated to the issue at hand.

I recently bought a skirt. A nice, summer-y midi skirt with sunflowers printed on it. I quite like it!

You may wonder what is notable about that. I'll tell you why it is important: I haven't voluntarily worn a skirt since when I was 10 or so, except as part of a compulsory school uniform. After the 9th grade, my high school even allowed girls to wear black pants instead of gray skirts as a school uniform, and that's when I stopped wearing a skirt altogether.

Except for the occasionally light-fabric dresses I wore at the beach in summer, I was a woman who always wore pants.

Funnily enough, since our idea of clothing is strongly gendered, some people could have called me a 'tomboy' on the basis of my repulsion towards skirts. (Never mind the hunky Scottish 'highlanders' that run around in kilts and reek of unadulterated masculinity, according to a certain genre of romance novels that I have obviously never read but uhm, overheard while friends were talking.)

The truth is, I did not like skirts because the society shamed me for wearing them. I could only wear them in a "certain way," and if I wasn't willing to do that, I could not wear skirts without disapproval.

I remember a time by the seaside in my hometown, I was 9 or 10, it was summer and I was wearing a dress. I happened to meet a very extroverted classmate of mine. She was not a particularly close friend, but she was very chatty, and came up to us (me, my mom and my grandma) and talked with my mom and grandma enthusiastically, like a chirping bird. Incidentally, she was wearing a denim mini skirt.

Anyways.

At that age too, I was essentially a free-spirited girl who acted however she wanted, and didn't give a darn what the people thought of her. And honestly, I didn't know much about the full scope of what society thought about girls and what "decent" behaviors it expected from them. In my own sheltered world, I hadn't gotten a taste of women's oppression yet, I believe.

So while we sat there and listened to the birdy girl chirp about her preteen life, I sat there in a cross-legged position. I didn't think anything was wrong with it. Until my classmate left and went to her parents. This is when my mother turned to me and scolded me for not sitting in a "proper" way. It turns out if you sit in a cross-legged position while wearing a dress, people can see your panties, and this is a no-no. Only whores do that.

I was shocked. Remember, I was still a preteen, very much unaware of my gender, blissfully ignorant of the consequences of having the labels 'male' or 'female' perpetually attached to your identity. If you asked me, I'd say if was "funny" if someone's underwear was visible, perhaps. I wouldn't find it "improper" or "immoral." And I could not, for the life of me, comprehend why anyone would like to look at the panties of a little girl, and why I was supposed to take charge of guarding myself by hiding my panties from everyone's sight. It's not that I was displaying intentionally (I mean, LOL) but I didn't understand why I should pay extra attention to never even let people catch a glimpse of it accidentally. My mom said "Look at your friend, she knows how to wear a skirt. You are reckless about these things." It hurt. Not because I recognized being wrong. On the contrary, because I knew deep down I was right and I resented my rightness not being acknowledged. This was an important moment for me to recognize something that would haunt me forever - a first encounter with the chains and shackles of being a woman. Such a seemingly insignificant memory that lived in my brain to this day. I don't think I will ever forget it.

If a man is interested in peering at a preteen girl's underwear, he is sick, plain and simple. And the appropriate behavior for this man would be to just turn his head if he happened to catch a glimpse of that, if the girl happened to accidentally show her underwear. But it is never the man's fault. The assumption is that men will look. They want to look at you. They want to grope you. And they want to rape you if they get the chance. This is the normal(!) way of things. It is your responsibility to guard your honor (!) as a woman. Hence the interminable 'What were you wearing?' question asked to rape victims.

If you are a man, the phrase 'dress code' means probably something very different to you. Have you ever felt judged and humiliated for the way you wore your pants, your shirts, your shoes?

As a woman, you do.

I had to choose. I would either wear skirts/dresses and subscribe to the rules that govern how to wear them (e.g., don't bend at your hips to pick up something you dropped, lest a man sees your panties for a second; instead bend at your knees, crouch to the floor, pick it up, rise again; etc.) or I would wear pants like a man and walk and move as freely as men do.

You know the choice I made.

What changed now? Why did I buy a skirt?

I guess I am just slowly trying to make peace with the little girl inside me, to whom being a girly girl was so unbearable she didn't really allow herself to be a girly girl. She'd rather be badass and independent. Not a girl who walked in gingerly steps to guard her skirt, but a girl who walked in big strides, opening her legs like a pair of compass.

I find myself in a different context now (leaving Turkey & my family surely helps!) and somehow feel that I can be both girly AND badass... maybe my decision to purchase a skirt is a reflection of that. I also bought a cute dress, though I haven't had an occasion to wear it yet. More girly stuff to come to my wardrobe in the near future. Stay tuned.

Frieden-und Freudenland wrote:I fully agree with Ms Shriver here. She has succinctly expressed what I have been trying to say in this post. So while I definitely acknowledge the feelings of truly nonbinary people, some of us cisfolks are cis while simultaneously being unable to wrap their heads around what it means to strongly feel that they are 'males' or 'females'. Most of the time, I do not consciously think of it. And if I had been a cisman, I'd probably think of my sex and gender identity even less, because the fvcked-up society would consider me as the "default" anyway.

I guess gender isn't something you "feel" out of nowhere. The moments when I "feel" a gender (or a lack thereof) are all moments when I have to interact with other people somehow. There's the example I mentioned with the child when I was 14, but I can remember when I was 7 in school I had to choose between playing with the girls and playing with the boys, and I felt like I didn't fit with either of them (Though of course I didn't attribute that to gender, I was 7 I didn't even know that word). When I'm in my bedroom staring at the ceiling I don't feel anything strongly gendered either. To quote my favorite communist, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains”. Except this metaphor makes gender seem like a chain, so maybe not the best quote.

But I do mean that gender is a lot more of a factor in one's life when their individual decisions and preferences don't match with the status quo. Like, I don't think that little girls who wear pink dresses and play with dolls more get reminded that they're girls as much as the ones who dress "like boys" and play soccer or something. You could live and die being cis and seldom having to think about gender at all (especially if you're male and don't have to deal with a world specifically tailored for not-you), but a trans person would have a lot more trouble escaping that subject and the annoying metaphysics of gender that come with it, hence just embracing it as a defining part of their identity.

This doesn't always have to be negative. In my earlier little story I was happy because I felt very exterior to "masculinity" and "femininity", and for a short moment I had that feeling validated by someone. So in this moment, I was actively feeling not a gender.

I think I was going to have a big conclusion about the social aspect of gender but I'm crushed right now, so I'll leave that for someone smarter than me.

EDIT: oh and you posted a good follow up while I was typing. I don't have the energy to respond to it as well but rest assured I read it and I'm very happy for you and your sunflower skirt!

Ransium wrote:Thanks for all the congratulations for sitting around doing nothing!

*while having a cool flag

Frieden-und Freudenland wrote:And if I had been a cisman, I'd probably think of my sex and gender identity even less, because the fvcked-up society would consider me as the "default" anyway.

I completely agreed with everything you said (and said very well) up until this final sentence. I'm not taking issue with the fundamentally sexist nature of society, but men are also presented with a stereotype to which we're supposed to conform, and not conforming can be hard.

I've never for a moment questioned my masculinity but just as you described I have no idea what it means to "feel like a man." I have no aptitude for or interest in football, engines and tools. I can cook and as a parent I was always determined that once breastfeeding had ended there should be no fundamental difference between the mum role and the dad role. In many settings I gravitate towards female company because I can't really take part in "manly" conversation. Most of the time this doesn't bother me, but there have certainly been times when it has made me something of an oddity or an outsider, and especially when I was younger that could be difficult. If something was broken and I couldn't fix it, or in financial difficulties when I struggled to provide for the material needs of the family unit, it felt more of a failing for me than it would have been for a woman, as did my inability to simply stoically cope. Internalising that pressure became a contributing factor to my anxiety and depression.

In my country suicide is the second greatest cause of death in men under 40, behind road accidents. The majority of those completed suicides are totally out of the blue for the people left behind - they don't follow therapy, medication or a visible struggle. For many men admitting that they aren't managing is literally worse than death. Culturally, that's just bizarre.

I think a society that pressurises people of any gender to conform to arbitrary standards hurts all of us. Forcing girls and women to behave like princesses is an obvious form of oppression but in your example of the visible underwear it was your mother and grandmother who were enforcing it. Many obnoxious males are driven not so much by an inherent desire to subjugate women as a need to appear to conform to the masculine "ideal." There will be no winners in this until everyone can leave peer pressure in the playground and simply be the person that they are. My feeling is that things are changing, but slowly.

Quick post just to let everyone know that the submission period for Cartographer applications has now closed, and that the government will be in touch when we have more information about the cartography business!

Uan aa Boa wrote:I completely agreed with everything you said (and said very well) up until this final sentence. I'm not taking issue with the fundamentally sexist nature of society, but men are also presented with a stereotype to which we're supposed to conform, and not conforming can be hard.

Fair enough. Apologies for that, I didn't mean to invalidate anyone's feelings or to say that men aren't harmed by toxic masculinity.

But expectations about gender roles are a separate issue from my point about 'defaultness' of the male gender. (I realize that the place in my post where I made this I would not be aware of my gender if I was a cisman comment has obscured the intended connection of that statement to this issue. At any rate, I expressed multiple gender-based resentments all at once.)

Essentially, male privilege goes unnoticed, precisely because men are seen as the default gender. For example, in my example about walking down a dark alley at night, a man would not be made aware of his gender, unlike a woman. There are many situations like that. For example, a woman applying for a job may be asked about her plans to get married and get pregnant (even though this probably violates an anti-discrimination law depending on which country you live in) but a prospective male employee would not face the same question, because, well, taking care of the kids is the woman's problem.

Each time someone tells us that we cannot or should not do something, because we are women; we are unnecessarily reminded of our gender. Men can occasionally hear similar admonishments (e.g., "You are not supposed to cry, you need to stay strong, you're a MAN!"), but I think on average there are fewer instances like that.

And geez, even facing the bitter reality of buying your first bra in your early teens is quite something. All of a sudden you learn that even your nipples are sexualized and they cannot just be seen by people.

Just a long laundry list of things to do or not do, just because you were born as a woman. If there are any sane women in the world, it is actually a miracle. I don't know how we can keep going despite all this, to be honest.

Uan aa Boa wrote:

In my country suicide is the second greatest cause of death in men under 40, behind road accidents. The majority of those completed suicides are totally out of the blue for the people left behind - they don't follow therapy, medication or a visible struggle. For many men admitting that they aren't managing is literally worse than death. Culturally, that's just bizarre.

I know you are definitely the expert on this thanks to your job being related to it, so I won't contest anything here. There may be (or indeed, must be) ongoing research about the precise causes of these suicides, but I am unfamiliar with that line of work. Gendered expectations could play a role in depression, but also in men's tendency to not seek help. (Actually, probably more in the latter than in the former, because I think it would be bizarre for men to be overall more depressed about sexist expectations than women are. But I would totally expect them to face more pressure regarding externalizing their feelings compared to women.)

Uan aa Boa wrote:

Forcing girls and women to behave like princesses is an obvious form of oppression but in your example of the visible underwear it was your mother and grandmother who were enforcing it.

They were following the "right" way of doing things according to what the society dictated to them. To be fair, I am unable to offer a male perspective on the issue here, because I grew up without a father. What would my father's attitude have been if he had been there on that day? Would he have disapproved of my underwear showing? If he did, would he speak to me about it?

My third-party observations about this suggest to me that men choose to be silent about these female issues even if they disapprove, but may use women as 'go-betweens' to enforce these rules. So if I did something that my father found improper, he could go to my mom and say to her "tell your daughter not to do X like a whore!" and she would have passed the message on to me. At least this is what I imagine it would have been like to have a conservative father around.

I find this conversation to be very interesting. There are a few threads I'd like to pick up on:

Once, I was in a restaurant with my mother. I was just at the early stages of puberty, probably age 13 or 14, I was at my absolute fattest (see my post from a few days ago), minus facial hair, and the way my body was, I had collected a much, much larger amount of chest fat than boys normally would. And I also had an absolute mess of shoulder-length hair, to boot. The waitress referred to both my mother and me with full and simple confidence as "ladies" throughout the entire time at the restaurant. We maintained straight faces in the moment and laughed about it throughout the experience when she was away. My mother has many [self-inflicted] defects, but she's cool like that. It's didn't really bother me at the time, and it's not something that I've dwelt on, but it highlights how I wasn't just "one of the guys." As the years went by in high school, I sort of vacillated between being rather happily and unashamedly effeminate or masculine-lite, so to speak, and also burning with longing to be one of the deep-voiced, masculine, wire-thin guys like so many of them were in my class. Never fitting in, usually not even really wanting to, but also sometimes wanting to be able to just be "normal."

As the years have gone by, I have lost a huge amount of weight (for my initial size), my voice has become significantly deeper, and my beard is thick (but maintained short, never fear!). I'm not sure that I know "how it feels to be a man," since that's all I've ever been since I reached maturity, but I do like being a guy. While I openly and publicly like and dedicate time to things that are not traditionally masculine (flowers, for instance), I'm also happy to be a man, and I don't feel as though I'm partially female or anything. I'm not good at having the masculine "guy talk", like Uan aa Boa mentioned, but I also see those things as so extraneous to the matter overall that it doesn't matter.

Frieden-und Freudenland wrote:If you are a man, the phrase 'dress code' means probably something very different to you.

*painful flashbacks to school and growing up*

Yeah, "dress code" mostly means that I have to wear four times the amount of fabric that I would have to if I were a woman, and that I am therefore dying of heat and sweating (and being self-conscious about sweating, and therefore doing it more on cue), while the women around me get to enjoy the 30C degree weather, the sunshine, the summer, or else complain about how cold they are in the winter.

"Dress code" also meant that I had to cut my hair, which meant the world to me growing up, because "boys don't have long hair." But the girls could do whatever they want: long hair, medium hair, short hair, dyed hair, natural hair, straightened hair, curly hair, etc. But not me. They made me cut my hair, and I will resent them forever for it. Damn that high school.

And even to this day, I feel "boxed in" by men's clothing. We held graduation outside for the pandemic. It was about 31C (of course), in the full sun. The women, of course, had sleeveless dresses that came halfway down their legs (or less), and tiny little open-toe shoes. The men, of course, were in long pants, socks, dress shoes, dress shirt, sport jackets, and many wore ties (but not me). That system enrages me. Why can't I wear a tank top and shorts and sandals? No, clothing that amounts to that is only considered dressy if you're a woman. If you're a man, you simply have to cover all of your torso, all of your legs, all of your feet, and all of your arms. And the "variation" is that you can die from heat stroke in a light blue jacket instead of a dark blue or black one. Woah, hold me back! Maybe I want to wear a dress. Maybe I want to have my legs and arms and half of my chest out, and talk about how "beautiful" the weather is.

I realize that from missing pockets to inflated prices to the curse of too many choices, there are significant flaws and problems with women's clothing. But men's clothing is also terrible, in many circumstances, and it affords virtually no variety, choice, or accommodation to the temperature. And when it comes to hair, makeup, etc., it's also a straight-jacket for men. When I was growing up and had acne, I would surreptitiously acquire some foundation, concealer, etc. to hide the acne, but of course, "boys don't wear make-up." That kind of thing always pissed me off. It's like, "maybe I can do it, and it can just be my thing, and I'm not pushing it off on anyone, and everyone else can go fvck themselves?"

Frieden-und Freudenland wrote:Never mind the hunky Scottish 'highlanders' that run around in kilts and reek of unadulterated masculinity.

*pupils dilate; a few tiny beads of sweat form on forehead*
Yeah, never mind them. I'll handle them...

~~~

In all seriousness, though, I'm glad to hear that you're reclaiming skirts for yourself, and on your own terms FuF. I hope that feel confident to take these things and make them your own. The process of redefining things that used to be an artifact of repression into something that symbolizes your own freedom and autonomy is a wonderful thing. While I myself have not branched out to traditionally female clothing, I have had very long hair for years now, and I hope that my long hair outlives the school that made me cut it.

Uan aa Boa wrote:I completely agreed with everything you said (and said very well) up until this final sentence. I'm not taking issue with the fundamentally sexist nature of society, but men are also presented with a stereotype to which we're supposed to conform, and not conforming can be hard... In many settings I gravitate towards female company because I can't really take part in "manly" conversation. Most of the time this doesn't bother me, but there have certainly been times when it has made me something of an oddity or an outsider, and especially when I was younger that could be difficult. ...[M]y inability to simply stoically cope. Internalising that pressure became a contributing factor to my anxiety and depression.

In my country suicide is the second greatest cause of death in men under 40, behind road accidents. The majority of those completed suicides are totally out of the blue for the people left behind - they don't follow therapy, medication or a visible struggle. For many men admitting that they aren't managing is literally worse than death. Culturally, that's just bizarre.

I think a society that pressurises people of any gender to conform to arbitrary standards hurts all of us... Many obnoxious males are driven not so much by an inherent desire to subjugate women as a need to appear to conform to the masculine "ideal." There will be no winners in this until everyone can leave peer pressure in the playground and simply be the person that they are.

You are quite right. At risk of sounding like one of those wacky men's rights people, I think it needs to be recognized that despite the overall structure of society that has historically benefitted men and continues to do so in ways, it's also not the case that men had the stronger hand in every conceivable way. In some limited areas, men were and continue to be at a disadvantage. Many of us psychologically suffer for either not expressing emotion, or else for being labelled as weak, effeminate, etc. We suffer because we're supposed to just magically "be strong" and "handle" things, but we're often dying inside in one way or another, unless we make the decision to burst out and then no longer be "one of the guys." Men are desperate for male companionship, but are unable or afraid to show any tenderness or kindness to each other. Male friends "bond" by pretending (?) to be cruel to each other. And while much of it is self-reinforcing among men, until quite recently, much of those expectations came from women, as well. And it is quite, quite easy for a man to lose sight of the bigger picture and to feel like in this world, they do not really matter much or have much of a role, if they haven't been able to realize their career aspirations, meet some financial target, or secure a wife, should they want one.

None of this is to say that men "have it worse" than women, but merely to point that simply being in the stronger position doesn't mean that there aren't unique struggles and difficulties. It's much the same as how rich people aren't automatically happy or self-actualized, or how athletic and conventionally beautiful people aren't immune from issues of confidence and self-worth. And oftentimes, it seems like men are blamed for "toxic masculinity" in much the same way that the Republicans blame minorities for "causing their own problems," but are simultaneously not willing to do anything to help address those problems. If our general society were more invested in helping men with their own issues, that would have positive ripple effects on wider society, much in the same way that empowering women has greatly contributed to the overall success and merit of our civilization. Just because there is an overall greater set of challenges facing women due to historical momentum that still plays out in the living world, does not mean that men are perfectly set up and that they do not have problems themselves, even to the extent that in some limited contexts, women have had the better part.

^Incidentally, in light of what Uan and I said, I feel like I'm lucky to be gay. My different feeling towards men than most guys have has enabled me to break out of the barriers and to reject many of the stereotypes of "toxic masculinity." Nobody's going to insult me by saying I'm not masculine enough; I'll laugh at them and own it. And I've mastered the [necessary] art of being warm and outgoing without indicating any sort of interest. And minus the potentially problematic aspect of attraction, the women in my life are my rocks. I've always been found to be "safe," to use the word that women have directed at me, about me. I wouldn't trade in being gay for the world, despite the challenges that come with it. It's...wonderful, honestly, in many ways. It's been a bit of a struggle, but sometimes, I feel radiant like the sun.

Ruinenlust wrote:snap

I wanted to add something but everything you wrote is just really good, especially that last paragraph of the FuF response. Your experience with make up and hair sounds a bit similar to mine, so that part hit home too.

However, now that I know that you have both long hair and a beard, I'll have to imagine you as the stereotypical western version of jesus from now on.

Uan aa Boa wrote:In my country suicide is the second greatest cause of death in men under 40, behind road accidents.

I am really sorry if this is insensitive because I know this shouldn't be my takeaway, but what country is that? I don't imagine there are many countries where that is the case and I think they would have to be near my region of the world (which has the world's highest suicide rates + traffic deaths).

The New Dynasty wrote:Good guess, but I live in a bumf*ck overseas territory — and I think I am the only person who plays NationStates here.

(Hint: We are not part of Argentina, no matter how much this fact makes them mad.)

Once my main nation reached 100, its economy has never gone down — even when confronted with the same issues and choosing the same options that severely decrease the economy on my alt nations.

Yo that is cool I never met someone from the Falklands

Frieden-und Freudenland wrote:Fair enough. Apologies for that, I didn't mean to invalidate anyone's feelings or to say that men aren't harmed by toxic masculinity.

No apology needed. I'm trying really hard not to come over like one of those equilist-not-feminist, all-lives-matter types who want you to know how hard it is to be in the intersection of the most privileged groups. Check out the NSG feminism thread for some really whiny examples of that. There's no doubt that the pressures on women are greater. There's truth in the saying that women have to be twice as good in order to be taken half as seriously while being expected to tick a whole page of boxes that never apply to men.

For a random example, the advertising industry seems determined to tell you that your bodies are somehow disgusting and need to be contained. I know only too well what a typical man inflicts on his underwear, but you're expected to buy liners? Somehow you're so foul that even your panties need protecting from you? Wouldn't just washing them be enough? And then menstruation is massively stigmatised when, as some wit observed, if men had periods they'd boast about how often and how much.

As a teenager I had some close female friends who were also in the fast stream headed for top class universities. I remember being somewhat awed by their determination to excel in academic terms, curate stunning CVs for application purposes and simultaneously maintain their appearance and wardrobe at great expense and effort, manage to walk gracefully in heels, and acquire the skills of a domestic goddess. Naively I thought they were subject to self-inflicted pressure because it seemed obvious to me that they'd still be wonderful, gorgeous and clever if they allowed themselves to chill out occasionally. I guess it didn't seem quite so simple to them, trying to take the traditionally male world by storm while still achieving in traditionally female terms too. One of them is now a partner in a civil engineering firm, but she notices that somehow it's her and not the male partners who will end up responsible for welcoming and entertaining visitors. However good you are at calculating the tensile strength of load-bearing cables, that's still a caring, and hence feminine, role.

I have a genuine question about the point you made on walking down a dark alley. No dispute that it sucks that you have to think about that in a way that I don't, but how would you feel about me offering to walk you home? It seems to me like the right thing to do, because rightly or wrongly you do face a risk that I don't and I'm a helpful kind of guy. Assuming you knew me well enough to be confident that I wasn't myself a threat and that I wasn't going to expect anything in return, would that be welcome or chivalrous/patronising/patriarchal?

Kyratistani wrote:I am really sorry if this is insensitive because I know this shouldn't be my takeaway, but what country is that? I don't imagine there are many countries where that is the case and I think they would have to be near my region of the world (which has the world's highest suicide rates + traffic deaths).

I'm in Scotland, but much of northern Europe has similar statistics. It's actually worst in Scandinavia despite those countries routinely scoring highest on various happiness metrics. It may well be that there's a correlation with the lack of daylight in the winter.

Ruinenlust wrote:*pupils dilate; a few tiny beads of sweat form on forehead*
Yeah, never mind them. I'll handle them...

Sorry to disappoint, but Outlander aside, in the actual Highlands kilts are formal wear. If you see someone rocking the long hair, kilt and combat boots look they're probably a tour guide. Older and more conservative folk will look at them like you might look at a guy wearing a tuxedo jacket over a Metallica T-shirt. It does not pay to wear a kilt in a way that makes the old guard think you're taking the p1ss. Fun fact - now that laws on carrying a knife are somewhat more stringent you can buy a fake sgian dubh that's just a hilt that clips on to the top of your sock.

I know what you mean about the dress code, by the way. It always struck me as absurd that it's embarrassing if two women arrive at a function wearing the same outfit when every man in the place has done exactly that on purpose.

Also, light bulb moment! I have just discovered that you can click and drag to expand the box you type messages in so that you no longer feel you're reviewing a long post by peering at it through a letterbox. I may be the only person on NS who didn't know that, but it's a bit of a revelation.

What a topic. Joy to read. Here come my 5 cents on this men-women thingy:

In my life, I historically stick to more "female circles" and fewer, random, pretty much educated/cultured "male circles" (school, university, job, etc) I have never really faced all this toxic masculinity issue around me and my world since there, in said world, weren't any clear and open cases of discrimination of women. I've heard stories here and there online but didn't see the scale of the problem. And then the new chapter of life began where my daily outfit consisted purely of a military uniform. I lived with conscripts from all over the nation and they were of all the [dare I say] classes and education levels, from relatively ignorant villagers to fancy gurus of style from the capital city. And that was the time when I faced toxic masculinity in action.

Most of the clear discriminative [yet verbal-only] cases happened during the rest time when the squads were watching music TV channels which, as y'all probably know, promote all those "sexualisation of women" issues. Observing young men hungrily looking at semi-naked girls on the screen and discussing related things out loud felt quite disgusting, no less. Women were seen just as flesh for sexual needs satisfaction. I am pretty sure many of those "brave machos" are way less successful in their sexual life in civilian mode than they've been trying to display among the fellow soldiers, however, they displayed another message for me: it was normal to have such conversations, commentary and overall take on women. They all could discuss it as if it was essential part of daily agenda, as if it was a regular routine topic for them, and as if they have been living in such mindset out there in civilian world.

This is related not only to sexualisation machine of the music industry but also to daily life of the mentioned folks. Their current, ex, or future girlfriends and wives were pictured in an absolutely unequal way of coexistence. In many, way too many different talks and conversations these guys expressed their life views that are more than just outdated and medieval. And this was worrisome for me. I sometimes asked them questions about why do they have this attitude, and how about some respect and equality in families; or how about just treating your girlfriends with respect and love instead of toxic masculinity and clear division of housework obligations. Some of them didn't get my questions, and some of them just couldn't find a proper answer (apart from "that's how it has to work in normal families").

A lot of opinions about girls (well, and gays as well: any male group living together for long time cannot avoid this topic either, especially in such socially undeveloped country as mine) were what I call scripted. Nothing original, sometimes their opinions were just repeated word-by-word phrases from the bible of stereotypes. I am pretty sure such book exists otherwise how does this wast majority of people cite each other with such impressive accuracy. Whichever scene happening on the screen in the soldiers' entertainment room there is one, always-the-same reaction, be it a topless girl ("woof, I'd had her hard"), gay couple ("lol f**s, [insert scripted opinion of what should be done with them]"), new stylish dance of a popular singer ("cool one, gotta learn these arms moves and repeat it till the next trendy dance happens") etc etc. This all is like mantra, they tell it to themselves and to the people around, and if you don't react the scripted way then others get to look at you with suspicion or simply condemn you or make fun of you. I was secured from being made fun of due to my physical age (way older than all of them) and, in some seasons of the service, my higher position in the hierarchy; but this didn't save me from seeing and hearing all this dritt.

Apart from treating girls like just a flesh, the toxic masculinity was expressed in displaying some "masculine habits" and commentary on things. A super basic "contest of coolness" in a male-only group which, however, was cooled down a bit by strict military rules of life. Also it was fun to see female seniors to bring the most vocal machos back on earth when the latter played muscles too hard; the opposite case when fake surface masculinity was getting completely destroyed by women.

///

And then I ended my service and got back to civilian life, back to normal equal communities (including my workplace where there wasn't any kind of discrimination both for men and women) and my circles of people where one's personality goes above one's gender.

Did...did I start another deep discussion? All I did was quote Daarwyth guys, chill.

(jk, it's actually really insightful and im learning a lot. Like Uan said, I've never "felt like a man", more or less I was just born as one and I don't really have a problem with that. I was also gonna make a quip about my depression being related to pressure from society, but it really wasn't. It was just me having an absolutely earth-shattering existential crisis.)

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