So I wrote something a while back about homosociality. I’m now reading bell hooks’ article ‘The Imperialism of Patriarchy’ - in which she talks specifically about black women and the racism and sexism they have to endure. She quotes John Stoltenberg in her article - he’s an awesome male feminist - this is where it gets amazing…
The social process whereby people born with cocks attain and maintain masculinity takes place in male bonding. Male bonding is institutionalised learned behaviour whereby men recognise and reinforce one another’s bona fide membership in the male gender class and whereby men remind one another that they were not born women. Male bonding is political and pervasive. It occurs whenever two males meet. It is not restarted to all-male-groupings. It is the form and contact of each and every encounter between two males. Boys learn very early that they had better be able to bond. What they learn in order to bond is an elaborate behavioural code of gestures, speech, habits and attitudes, which effectively exclude women from the society of men… bla bla…. Therefore, men enforce a taboo against unbonding - a taboo which is fundamental to patriarchal society.
Yes, yes, yes and some more yes! Stoltenberg put a lot more of that into words than I could ever have. I’ve felt that strange impenetrability of male bonding before - in circumstances where I’ve tried to partake in a male conversation and wasn’t heard or regarded. I have always put this down to being rather introverted and non-confrontational. I’ve never really had a problem with it before - because inside my head, my brains are always ticking, and I’m secure enough in my own intelligence - and I know inwardly that if there is a cause worth fighting for, I will and must speak up. So I’ve always been fine with a quiet reserve.
But recently I’ve been hanging out with men a lot, and reflecting on past friendships I’ve had with men (especially men in groups), thinking about my brother and his friends, thinking about my brother’s relationship with my dad, thinking about Bradley and his friends… and some instances stood out to me. There have been times I’ve joined a conversations - and it wasn’t just a case of me barging in on a close friendship, which might have given reason for being unheard. They weren’t conversations in which any old outsider would have had a hard time participating - no, it wasn’t that. It wasn’t even dislike towards me or the urgency of a topic that needed to be quickly debated out before someone could join.
The only way - the ONLY way, I’ve found myself being allowed entry into some of these special male bonding sessions - is through hysteria. By that I mean, overexcited, loud, angry or exuberant (drunken) behaviour, that demands attention. Even then, I feel like it is because they have no choice. It is because I am the elephant stomping around the room. Men (typically but not always) possess this queer inner quietude that comes from the knowledge that even with restrained voices they will be heard. In these situations, I have to make myself the excitement factor - I have to exert myself into a frenzy.
And subsequently, that is how I will be seen. As unstable, as tumultuous, as, well, uncool. At the end of the day, I become uncool… Not that I particularly care about that last part. Similarly, with my close girlfriends, I will bond with them in this same excited fashion, and I know it pushes men out of the conversation, too. I find this a kind of backlash (which is not exactly healthy either, but better than nothing, perhaps?)
Also, to add to this, I know plenty of guys that don’t exercise this male bonding power thing. Wonderful, lively, happy men that genuinely care about female opinions and will dignify questions and debates with answers. In fact, even the majority of guys I know at least, are these kind of men, I’m very pleased to note.
The sickest, deadliest thing of all is my realisation that I have always been attracted to these male bonding types! These men that listen their heart out when it’s just us, but let a man join the conversation and suddenly I couldn’t be further from their centre of interest. Not that I should expect to be their point of reference to everything - that’s not what I mean. I should just signify somehow.
I am FUCKED UP, like really, I am FUCKED UP inside, and I am not the only one. I need to do some real soul searching here and go back maybe, do a little Freudian or maybe historical excavation as to why the hell I’m living out this nightmare. I know I’ve had a thing for superiority complexes in the past, but it’s not an excuse anymore. I have to balance…
so yes these are my musings for today.