Tag Archives: men

Familiar Men in the Toxic Masculinity Conversation


Laurie and Debbie say:

The #metoo conversation, instead of disappearing, is expanding to cover many related topics. Discussing rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape culture demands a discussion of masculinity–the toxic masculinity that creates these disastrous stories, and an exploration of alternatives.

While Laurie was taking the photographs for Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes, Debbie and her collaborator Richard Dutcher were working on writing the text for the book. All three of us spent five years engaged in examining masculinity from a wide variety of perspectives. Fourteen years after the book was published, those conversations are finally showing up in the mainstream news:

The eyes are clear, focused, expressive. These men are there, present, alive. They engage with each other, they engage with the camera, and they engage with the viewer. These men are not merely their hardened shells; there is somebody home, they inhabit their bodies. These are men you could know, men whom you would want to know.

“That … is resistance to traditional norms. Thesei men invite you in to their world; they do not keep you out. They open doors; they don’t build fences.”

Michael Kimmel, from his introduction



Paul Kivel, in Men’s Work, encourages people to think about masculinity as a tightly constraining box. The rule of being masculine is to make sure that you always appear to fit inside the box, because everyone is always checking to make sure that nothing sticks out. Everything masculine is inside the box. Everything outside the box is one of three things: female, weak, and queer. … So many men spend an awful lot of time and energy keeping all of themselves inside the box.

–Debbie and Richard, from “To Be a Man,” in Familiar Men



No aspect of being male is more complex or, perhaps, more determined by the [masculinity box] than sexuality. Who you have sex with, when, and how, as well as who you tell, when, and how, all have very strict guidelines. The first of these seems to be that you aren’t supposed to even think directly about the guidelines; you learn them in your body by watching and copying other men and you defy them at your peril.— from “To Be a Man”



Power is based on the projection of power, and real male bodies unerringly repudiate that projection. I think novelist Dorothy Allison said it best when she remarked that she thought the penis was the original source of the literary concept of irony, that something so small and vulnerable could be accorded such impressive powers. To see a penis is to know that it couldn’t possibly be a phallus.

Jonathan D. Katz, quoted in “To Be a Man”

In the United States in the beginning of the 21st century, simply being a man is bad for your health and your lifespan. Women statistically live longer than men and stay healthy and functional for a longer percentage of their lives.

— from “To Be a Man”



As far back as I can remember, I’d always known that Real Men don’t have asses. They walk all seized up, or run the risk of being accused of being a wimp or a faggot. It made my back hurt and it made my soul hurt, just so I could try to be a Real Man. Real Men have strong arms and chests and maybe even legs, but they don’t have bodies. After all, you can’t have a body if you don’t have an ass.

I began to explore new ways to move. The roadblocks I had to get past were amazingly deep and subtle.

Charlie Glickman, quoted in “To Be a Man”


Grandfather and Grandson


Dickanatomy, Dickonomics, and Dickfuturology

Debbie says:

Even when I’m screening for good Body Impolitic fodder, I rarely find three great links on any one topic … and when I do, it’s not usually male sexual organs.


First, Diane Kelly at Throb reports on a genuinely new anatomical discovery.

… no one knew much about how the lymphatic vessels were arranged underneath the skin, which limited treatments for swelling and increased the risk of complications during surgery.

So in a wince-inducing imaging experiment, Yan Liu and his colleagues at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China built a map of the penile lymphatic system using MRI images captured from volunteers who agreed to have a medical contrast agent injected under their foreskins.

The results, published in the Anatomical Record this week, show that lymphatic vessels in the glans and foreskin form a network across the upper surface of the penis before merging to form larger vessels that send fluid into lymph nodes embedded in the groin. The network isn’t connected to the erectile tissues in the center of the penis, suggesting that those tissues have their own independent set of lymphatic vessels.

Then, Alana Massey at Medium has some scorching things to say about “dickonomics” on dating sites (especially Tinder), and how women who have sex with men can think about choosing among possible partners.

Dick is abundant and low value. I had gotten my new motto amidst the worst break-up of my life. Shaken to my core by the degrading insults my ex had hurled at me but also mourning the permanent departure of some poetically good dick, I was spending a day mindlessly refreshing Twitter and reading up on how to spot sociopaths. I came across two tweets from Madeleine Holden, a lawyer and writer who regularly entertains the Twitter masses with her unapologetic analyses of toxic masculinity and her praise of amazing female-identified people:

1 G-bMq6iDoaXX7W2xdh61AwFor all its faults, I still find Tinder delightful. I’m now 29, and I set my upper age limit to a reasonable 37, my lower age limit to a rather scandalous 23. No one can address me without my consent, which I can withdraw with an unceremonious “Unmatch” at any time. … But I’ve found enough value on Tinder to keep going, swiping and unmatching bad profiles out of my life at the first sign of unreasonable expectations. Their corner of Tinder is a dark place, dense with hapless souls who didn’t realize that the centuries-long period of dick overvaluation is over.


Finally, George Dvorsky at io9 has entirely too much fun imagining “the penis of the future,” which is, among other things,

  • disease resistant (“a high-tech penis could be implanted with bio-sensors that detect specific foreign pathogens, alerting the rest of the body to their presence,”),
  • shape-shifting (“Ideally, men should be able to change the smoothness of their penis, or its surface structure. Penis 2.0 should be like an on-demand French tickler, with modifiable ridges, grooves, and bumps to enhance the sexual pleasure of the receiver.”) and
  • internet ready (“Once your dick is online you’ll be able to participate in virtual sex. … With the enhanced, Internet-ready penis, no external devices will be required. You could also use your bluetooth-enabled penis to track and transmit biometric data and other statistics to an online app. … Oh, and a connection to the Internet will also allow you to update any software that’s resident in your upgraded penis.)

You’ve heard of the “internet of things”; this is the “internet of schlongs.”  Read the whole thing, some of which is serious and all of which is entertaining.

Thanks to hitchhiker for the dickonomics link.