And About the Menz...

[Content Note: Patriarchy narratives; homophobia; misogyny; abuse.]

The proposal thread put me in mind of another thought that's been rumbling around my brainpan recently, another one to be filed under Patriarchy Ain't a Picnic for Men, Either.

I was recently watching an episode of Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell, and one of the cheftestants was talking about his parents, and how they'd been happily married until his mother died, and how all he wanted was the same kind of happy relationship.

He reminded me of some of the men in my life for whom a happy partnership is a priority, either because it was modeled to them by their own parents, or because they never had a stable, functional, safe family life growing up and want very much to create one in adulthood.

These are men we don't often see represented in pop culture.

There are slightly different narratives that disappear these sorts of men, depending on whether we're looking at representations of men partnered with women or men partnered with men.

Men partnered with men who prioritize a happy and enduring equal partnership are disappeared beneath the metric fuckton of homophobia and heterocentrism that means gay/bi men's stories are rarely told, unless they are tragic; beneath stereotypes about promiscuity, men who just want to fuck and have no emotional life; beneath stereotypes that equate gay men with stereotypes of damsels awaiting their rescue—blushing virtual-girls who just want to be swept off their feet.

Men partnered with women who prioritize a happy and enduring equal partnership are disappeared beneath similar stereotypes about promiscuity, often intersecting with stereotypes about men who fear commitment and/or men who refuse to grow up, and beneath narratives about men who will do anything to keep a woman, deceitful and manipulative and creepy and harmful and violent things, because we are meant to imagine the only sort of man who actively wants to share his life with a woman must have something wrong with him.

Men who want to be in a stable and happy relationship with a specific person whom they adore are disappeared by the presumption that romance is the purview of women, and women want to be rescued, or fix a terrible guy, so let us make eighty-seven biebillion romantic comedies with the conceit that love begins with stalking, or the tragedy of incompleteness, or a jerk who needs to be tamed, none of which have wide appeal among men (or women) who want to see people who look something like their emotional selves projected back at them, so then let us conclude that men hate romance.

Men are dogs, who don't want to settle down. Or: Men are weirdos, who want to control women.

The man who is a human being in search of an egalitarian relationship with a woman who doesn't need him to complete her doesn't exist in pop culture.

He's too boring, I guess.

But those men exist. The men who want to be happily married to/partnered with a specific person with whom they've fallen in love. The men who say that their wives are their best friends, even though they know other men will sneer at them. The men who think it might be kind of neat to be proposed to by their partners, rather than doing the proposing. The men who are romantic.

Iain is about eleventy times more romantic than I am. In every sense of the word. He is dreamy by nature, and prone to sweeping fantasies. He wanted the romantic proposal. I have given him thoughtful and personal and terrific gifts; I have written him songs. But he is the one who sent me a half-smoked cigarette. He is the one who, after twelve years, still gazes at me in a way when I'm not looking that made my friend Ari stop mid-sentence while we were chatting about nothing in particular and say, "Look at how he looks at you."

There are men who love their partners hard, who didn't rescue them and didn't have to be tamed. There are men who want to spend their lives with someone in a way that only women are supposed to want (and that all women are supposed to want, women who are disappeared, too, in equal measure, for the same reason if by different methods). And no one is more hostile toward these men than the Patriarchy, which demeans anything that suggests women are not prizes and property.

And anyone who might suggest the same, in words or actions.

If women are encouraged to want the Grand Gestures to feel like they matter, men are encouraged to make the Grand Gesture to feel like they matter, too. That they are men. That they know how to give a woman what she wants, irrespective of what they may want themselves.

It is another pernicious trick of the Patriarchy. Men are not meant to love women, not really. They are meant to make Grand Gestures in order that they may own them, may win their prize. They are meant to fuck women, and any man who may be less interested in sex than love is broken. Hardly a real man at all.

And men are not meant to be loved, either. Obeyed, feared, fucked, served. But not loved.

The love of an equal does not exist in the Patriarchy. Men are not supposed to love each other, and women are not men's equal. The Patriarchy doesn't care about love; it cares only for dominion.

So it disappears men who want more, to give more and get more. Who feel capable of love, desirous and deserving of it.

Love and dominion cannot exist in the same space.

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