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Set to Explode: On masculinity and death

My best friend died at twenty years old. He, like so many males, was set to explode; a bomb of manhood with a wick as short as impulse. He was taught only one game: breaking boundaries. In the end he broke his own. Game over. Masculinity is killing us all. In men’s endless drive to prove themselves as real men, they must break boundaries as a matter of course. “Don’t do that” is simply an invitation. Each inhibition crossed is a further affirmation of manhood. There’s a reason why a certain major firearm company’s main marketing ploy revolves around convincing men that, without these guns, their “manhood cards” will be revoked. Like bombs, men don’t simply hurt themselves when they explode, but also whoever happens to be nearby. That’s...
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No penis = no power: The worst we could do to Rob Ford is emasculate him

A cartoon in today’s Toronto Sun shows a castrated Rob Ford. While I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to Ford’s castration, this cartoon is indicative of society’s unquestioned belief that penises equal power. What’s the worst we could do to Rob Ford? Emasculate him. Rob Ford’s sense of power and his absolute certainty that he not only deserves but is entitled to his position as mayor, as well as his belief that he can behave however he wishes and should not be challenged, is firmly rooted in his male privilege. That we believe that to strip him of his power is equivalent to castration signifies our cooperation in this system that privileges masculinity and see power as a decidedly male domain.  ...
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Gavin McInnes thinks male violence feeds babies, explains to women what women think

Throw a little gasoline on the hipster sexism fire, folks — co-founder of Vice magazine* and “Godfather of hipsterdom,” Gavin McInnes threw a misogynistic tantrum on Huffington Post Live during a discussion about contemporary masculinity on Monday. Little known fact: Gavin McInnes is not only a scientist and knower of all facts, but he can SEE INSIDE OUR BRAINS, ladies. And what does he see? Misery. McInnes drops so many truth bombs in the discussion that it’s hard to know where to begin, but his basic premise is that male aggression is natural and that feminism has made women miserable by forcing them to pretend to be men. You know how we all do that? Yeah. Well now we can stop. “You’re welcome” – Gavin McInnes. It’s weird because...
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Learnings from talking about ‘healthy masculinity’

I’ve been pleased that my essay “How Talking About ‘Healthy Masculinity’ Is Like Talking About ‘Healthy Cancer’” has been generating a robust conversation online. Though I’ve responded here and there to questions and comments that have come up, I’d like to pull together what I’ve learned from following the conversation. The first thing I’ve learned is that though most people seem to have read the piece pretty accurately, others have completely not. For example the title: It’s intentionally a teaser provocation, and I expected it could lead some to think they were about to read an article that equates masculinity with cancer. In fact that’s not at all what the piece says or does; the title is a blatant bait-and-switch. The piece actually continues a theme from Refusing to...
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John Stoltenberg on manhood, male supremacy, and men as feminist allies

This interview was originally published in french on Isabelle Allonso’s website and was translated by Sporenda. Q: “Refusing to Be a Man” was first published 23 years ago (1990). Do you consider that since its publication, the message of the book has inched its way somewhat in the mainstream, or is it still marginal? I’ve been very heartened by the renewed interest in radical feminism, which—as I can see now on social media—is international. I always intended the ethical framework of “Refusing to Be a Man” to be congruent with radical feminism’s critique of gender as a hierarchy—and that critique definitely seems to be catching on, especially among young activists. Q: In  1994 you published a book entitled “The End of Manhood.” Do you consider that we are indeed...
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Why talking about ‘healthy masculinity’ is like talking about ‘healthy cancer’

I understand—I really do—why a lot of people raised to be a man are seeking a gendered sense of self that is separate and distinct from all that has been called out lately as toxic masculinity. These days a penised person* would have to be really clueless not to notice all the manhood-proving behaviors that have been critiqued as hazardous to well-being (one’s own and others’). However much that penised person accepts the mounting critique of standard-issue masculinity, he might reasonably be wondering what manhood-authenticating behaviors are exempt from it: What are the ways to “act like a man” that definitively keep one from being confused with “men behaving badly”? Or, put more personally: What exactly does one do nowadays to inhabit a male-positive gendered identity that feels—and is—worthy...
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Was Danny Brown sexually assaulted on stage?

This story is pretty all around gross. Trigger warning for grossness, k? Because we’ve yet to hear from Danny Brown on the whole incident, aside from his bragging on Twitter, it’s hard to say exactly how everything went down or what the context was for Brown getting a blow job from a fan, on stage, at a recent show in Minneapolis, MN. The story’s getting a lot of attention, not just because it’s kind of a, let’s say, “salacious” story, but also because rapper, Kitty Pryde, who is on tour with Brown and witnessed the incident, is “mad as hell” that people aren’t calling it “an actual sexual assault.” Some further context (this is an account from someone in the audience): I was right behind the girl and saw...
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INTERVIEW: Meghan Murphy on rape culture, Steubenville, & masculinity

I was a guest on Vancouver Co-op Radio’s The Rational on Tuesday evening talking about rape culture, Steubenville, masculinity and an article I wrote recently: The Steubenville rape case: This is masculinity. Thanks to Riaz Behra, who interviewed me. You can listen to the full interview here:   Podcast: Play in new window | Download...
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The Steubenville rape case: This is masculinity

Two high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty of raping a 16 year old girl on Sunday. They were both convicted of digitally penetrating the victim, and one was found guilty of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The allegations against the young men, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, came after a series of photos, videos, texts, and social media posts were brought to light last August. One photo showed the victim “lying naked on the floor at a party, with semen from one of the defendants on her chest.” Another, widely circulated, showed the two young men carrying the passed-out girl by her arms and legs. Mays and Richmond have been sentenced to at least one year in juvenile jail, but...
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But what about the men? On masculinity and mass shootings

“But what about the men?” It’s a question that’s been largely avoided by the mainstream within the context of mass shootings. The recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut sparked thousands of conversations across the continent about gun laws, mental illness, and violence. And sadly, we’ve been here before. We’ve had conversations about access to guns – the victims would still be alive today, after all, if there were no gun. We’ve talked about the need to better address mental illness in North America – about how people need access to services and treatment. With proper support, potential perpetrators could get the help they need before it’s too late. And what about the media? We see violence all the time in movies, video games, and on television. Have we become so...
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Interview Archives

Interview archives: Older men/younger women relationships: Is age really just a number?

This interview was recorded in July 2011 and originally aired on Vancouver Co-op Radio.   In this episode, Meghan Murphy explores the older man/younger woman relationship with guest, Hugo Schwyzer. We’ve all heard or seen the cliche that is the middle-aged man who, maybe post-divorce, seeks out a much younger woman; but whether it be to start a (new) family or simply to pump up his ego, the ‘creepy’ factor remains intact. While some may want to present this kind of relationship as ‘natural’ or as some kind of biological imperative that is applicable to men in particular, we must ask whether or not it is indeed ‘natural’ and why it is that we continue to get that creepy feeling about middle aged men who pursue relationships with women...
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Don’t much care about the men: Man problems edition

What about the menz is weighing on me this week. So everyone’s talking about how *gasp* men and boys are dealing with body image issues. Due to a recent story in the New York Times, the CBC’s Q did a segment yesterday morning looking at boys who were overly focused on working out, asking whether or not the issue of boys “reshaping their bodies and fitting a muscular ideal” should be getting more attention. Douglas Quenqua, the author of the Times article, writes: Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. He goes on to write: Just as girls who count every calorie in an effort to be thin may do themselves...
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Not my Nigel: On mothers, sons, responsibility, and denial

After reading a piece, published back in 1989 by Sonia Johnson called “Rearing Nice Sons Can’t Change the World“, I started thinking about mothers, sons, male privilege and what’s sometimes referred to as the ‘Not my Nigel‘ defense. In the article, Johnson points out that, while we love to wax poetic about the very important role mothers play in this world, they are relatively powerless in terms of effecting change on a systematic level and, therefore, have little influence over whether or not their sons turn out to be entitled misogynists. She writes: Patriarchy tells mothers unctuously that we are very important and have much influence, but its behavior speaks louder than its words. Of all persons in patriarchal society, mothers have been set up to have least credibility....
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