Friday, November 16, 2012

Atheism+: In Which Talking Horses are Used to Discuss Intersectionality

Okay, I'm feeling a bit uncreative this week, so I'm going to be expanding on something that Natalie Reed posted to her Twitter here (yes, late, I know). Another SJ post, this time discussing how the narratives behind specific oppressions feed into one another. If you aren't interested, I'm sure you know the way to TVTropes by now.
The following material is flagged Yellow Level. It contains material that is disputed by some experts but accepted by others. Caution is advised when deciding whether you personally choose to believe it.
This week, I will be examining the Brony phenomenon and how it, or more specifically its anti-fans are connected to a social-justice issue. For those of you who don't pay attention to geek and fandom culture, the "Brony" community is the adult male fans of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" (the adult female community being "Pegasisters").

Of course, I will say that there are some legitimate criticisms. There's the legitimate criticisms of any fandom (obsessiveness; horrifying, awful,  and/or horrifyingly awful fanfic), and there's the specific legitimate criticisms of any adult fandom of a work intended for children (insistence on making the work one exclusively for adults, tendency to interpret the work in incredibly cynical ways), and there's the ones that are MLP-fandom-specific (look, just because she's got rainbow hair and stereotypically masculine interests...). But there are criticisms that aren't legitimate, and I will be exploring one here.

Specifically, I will be exploring the "stop watching cartoons for girls" criticism. This is, at its core, the idea that there is something "funny" or "disgusting" or just plain "wrong" about gender-deviant men. It is similar to the idea that there is something funny about a man wearing a skirt, or disgusting about a man with an effeminate appearance.

So, how does this tie into SJ, aside from PHMT? I'm getting to that.

Let's look at the underlying narrative behind "gender-deviance in men is bad". Or rather, let's look at several of them.

The Gender Narrative: In a patriarchal system, men are valued more than women. As such, the system places less value on a man who has interests or traits it assigns as "feminine" and/or lacks those it assigns as "masculine". In other words, a man whose interests include sewing and cooking, or that do not include sports, is considered worth less than a man whose only interests are running a Fortune 500 company, playing rugby, hunting megafauna with a suspiciously large cannon, eating raw meat, enjoying the company of several women at a time, and combinations of the above.

The Gender Identity Narrative: Of course, the ultimate expression of an "effeminate man" (in the ways that patriarchal and transphobic societies view the term "man") is a trans woman. Deviation from the "masculine ideal" is considered a trans* trait, and a transphobic society is, well, transphobic.

The Sexual Orientation Narrative: See the Gender Identity narrative, but read "trans woman" as "gay man", "trans*" as "gay", and "transphobic" as "homophobic".

Of course, this might not be the best example; given that it does not tie into racist, ableist (beyond "hurr hurr, girly stuff is r*****ed"), or  classist narratives.

Oh, and an administrative note: I might be taking an extended break from this blog. I've been having some computer problems, and I have finals coming up; so I'll be posting intermittently if at all. I should be back to regular posting by February at the latest.

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