Posts Tagged ‘radical masculinity’

Radical Masculinity: Reinventing Our Icons

March 12, 2010  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

“Have you seen the Dockers ads?” someone asked me recently at a conference, after I told them I write about masculinity. “A friend told me he liked those ads, because he is so unsure of what it means to ‘be a man’ right now. Everything has changed. There are no icons pointing men where to go, what to be like.”

I hear this frequently, and I have asked myself this often, too, in my own personal identity development process of coming to a female masculinity as butch. Where are the feminist men? Where are the radical depictions of masculinity? Where are the examples of health and strength and skill and honor that I can admire and emulate? Who can I look to? Who will be a mirror showing me my reflection so that I can push myself in the direction that best fits me? I speak to this when I talk about depictions of healthy relationships in the media, too—where are they? What does that look like? Where are the heterosexual couples with men treating women with respect, value, care? Where is the equality? Where are the conscientious, thoughtful dads?

Things are changing. That is my entire premise of this series of articles on Radical Masculinity: that we are at a precarious time, in transition, finally studying what it means to “be a man” in this culture, much like feminists and gender scholars have been studying femininity and women in the past forty years. Underneath the question of what it means to “be a man,” as queers and butches and trans and genderqueer folks are also asking, is what it means to be masculine. The concepts of masculinity have changed, and is still changing, and while there is no singular meaning (like perhaps the fictional version of the nuclear family and breadwinner in the 1950s), I’m finding that there is no shortage of masculine icons.

Read the whole thing over at my column on Radical Masculinity at Carnal Nation: Reinventing Our Icons.

Masculinity Icons: Happy Birthday, James Dean

February 8, 2010  |  miscellany  |  11 Comments

Today, February 8th, James Dean was born in 1931.

I’m working on a piece for Radical Masculinity about masculinity icons, particularly American icons (though I do have some plans to explore masculinity in other places too, in other columns).

James Dean comes up frequently as an icon, both as a traditional icon of American masculinity and as a personal icon. Take a look at the James Dean Lives tumblr for more photos and information about him, if you’d like. Good stuff over there.

I’m gathering ideas and statements for my in-progress (and vastly overdue) column currently, so I have a question for y’all: Who, in your opinion, are traditional icons of masculinity? Who are your personal icons of masculinity? What kind of traits do these icons portray? What kind of traits do you think icons of masculinity should portray? What makes someone (a guy, a cis-gendered guy in particular) a butch icon, or a radical masculinity icon, or a traditional masculinity icon?

I love pondering this stuff.

Year In Review On Sugarbutch: 2009

January 19, 2010  |  miscellany  |  5 Comments

Remember when I used to do monthly roundup posts? I only did the first three months of 2009, which I actually kind of miss. Perhaps it’s something I’ll bring back.

So: what happened in 2009 here on Sugarbutch?

I’ve been dating Kristen, and in fact we were together all of 2009. Some of the dirtiest Kristen stories are here grouped together, though most of those occur in the first half of 2009, before my particularly difficult late summer and started playing with Daddy/girl play. I guess I wrote a little too vividly about Kristen, at times, because I got enough snarky comments and emails that I finally wrote some clarifying statements about what she represents in on getting girls off.

At the end of the year, I started giving Kristen homework, which prompted some questions about our d/s dynamic. I’m still working out the details on

(I did actually sleep with a few other girls aside from Kristen in 2009. Early on in the year, when we were starting out, our relationship was open. And, in the spring, Kristen and I had a threesome, which I did not write about here. I had hoped it would be our first of a few … but perhaps 2010 is the year for that.)

Aside from Kristen …

I won some awards in 2009! I got TWO Lezzy awards, for Best Gender Bender Blog and Best Sex/Short Story/Erotica Blog. I was also named to the Top Sex Bloggers list of 2009 for the second year in a row!

I launched Top Hot Butches in June, and that exploded in both good and painful ways. I initially included about a dozen trans men on this list, and that was a fairly poor choice, so I took them down, and wrote why I did so in on removing trans men from the Top Hot Butches list. I also contacted or was contacted by many of the trans men on the list, and in the end about half of them remained on the list (the other half I have not been in contact with; I did not hear from any trans men who were included on the original list saying that they wanted to be excluded).

After I went on a particularly transformative tantra retreat, I lost my job in July, though it didn’t officially end until September, when I was on administrative leave for the last few months of 2009. That meant that July and August were particularly I’m using the few months of cushion to launch my freelance work, which will be graphic design (like flyers, postcards, business cards) and web design (banners, ads, blog headers, blog templates) and writing.

I wrote a series called My Evolving Masculinity out of some of the difficulties and growing of the summer. Part One: Introduction, Part two: Yin & Yang, Part Three: “Daddy”, and Part Four: Personal.

I wrote a particularly vulnerable piece about what it’s like to come inside your lover as someone strapped on, and a piece asking, “is it a trans characteristic to wear a cock?” about cock-centricity and gender identity.

Apparently I didn’t write all that much on femme identity in 2009, but I did write a rather long, thorough piece On Femme Invisibility that I like quite a bit. I was also published in the Femmethology! Dacia recorded an mp3 version of my Love Letter to Femmes, and I kicked off the Femmethology blog tour.

I kept writing the Sugarbutch Star stories, but only wrote four out of five. In theory, there is one more coming, which I have started by not finished.

I tried to step up my posts on sexuality, bdsm theory, and domination and submission, and wrote some things I quite like, such as Sadism & the Study of PainHow do you get a dominant to dominate?, and Yes, No, and Consent.

Some more miscellany, from Sugarbutch and me around the web …

  • I curated the 15th Carnival of Sexual Freedom & Autonomy, which was my first major curation for a carnival, and I quite enjoyed it. I asked some specific questions about sexual freedom and sexual autonomy, and many different folks responded with beautiful essays on their own blogs. This was a lot of work, but I loved curating and recruiting and pulling various essays all together.
  • I launched MrSexsmith.com! This will be a place to keep track of my upcoming events and projects, outside of Sugarbutch. A portfolio of sorts.

  • I started a few different tumblr logs, but am focusing on one now: mrsexsmith.tumblr.com. The working description is something like “the personal media collection – images, video, songs, quotes – of Mr. Sinclair Sexsmith. Often featured are ribbons, pigtails, fishnets, lingerie, butches, and radical masculinity.” Generally, it’s all sorts of media and images that I like. The latest photo is currently featured over there in the sidebar.

  • I got a booking company! Phin Li Bookings is now representing me, and I am so thrilled to be doing more workshops and speaking engagements through them. What’s that? You’d like to bring me to your college or community center or local queer group? Well gosh, I’d love to! Let’s be in touch. You can find out about some of my workshops over on PhinLi.com and contact Seraphin of PhinLi Bookings, LLC at (646) 418-5152 or bookings (at) phinli (dot) com.

Other big news! Oh yeah, I write a column now!

I started writing for Carnal Nation in October, a column called Radical Masculinity. This is a major accomplishment, and a goal that I’ve wanted for a long time. I LOVE Carnal Nation and I love my editor, Chris, over there, and the pieces we’ve published so far are some of my favorite things I’ve written. I’ll always

I wrote a couple other things for Carnal Nation first, including being on their Perv Panel, which is on a hiatus. I wrote various pieces of advice, but I’m coming stronger to not really thinking I will pursue being an advice columnist. I like it, but I really don’t have time to get everything done that I’d like to as it is.

Oh yeah – I wrote product reviews, especially for sex toys. I think that might be a separate post, though – a roundup of all the products I reviewed, or a list of my favorites, might take a little time.

Whew! That’s a lot! Did I miss something? Also, what would you LOVE to see here in 2010?

Radical Masculinity #3: When Men Wear Skirts

December 31, 2009  |  essays  |  7 Comments

… is up at Carnal Nation!

A little taste of what I discuss:

One of my basic tenets of gender is the deep belief that gender should not dictate one’s personality. Personality traits are made up of hobbies, interests, and activities; one of the classic ways we police gender in this culture is to require that men only do “manly things” and women do “womanly things,” and when a man does a womanly thing, we get all up in arms about it. Ask my sister’s boyfriend: he’s a cop, the man carries a gun for goodness’ sake, but when he started growing sunflowers, he got teased incessantly by his best friends and coworkers alike. Someone—anyone—is extra quick to criticize when one of the activities we like to do is outside of our gender assignment.

Yet it is more socially acceptable for a woman to cross over into seemingly masculine hobbies than for a man to cross into feminine ones (at least at the amateur level—men still dominate fields traditionally seen as “female” such as cooking, baking, and sewing at the professional level, but that is a slightly different topic). The advances that the various feminist movements have made in the last 100-plus years have made it more acceptable for a woman to get really obsessed with NASCAR racing, or World of Warcraft and video games, or pro-wrestling, or environmental engineering, or the stock market, or any of those other supposedly “masculine” interests and hobbies. She may be insulted for these interests, she may be called a dyke (equating her gender identity with sexuality), but she has support. She has other women who have gone through this, she has documents, she has a feminist history to call upon to tell herself—and others—that she can like these things and still be a “real” woman.

However, if a man wants to grow sunflowers or bake cupcakes or learn how to needlepoint or host fancy dinner parties or make greeting cards, there are consequences: the people around him, friends and strangers, will police his hobbies, words, and actions around things seen as “unmanly.”

Head on over to Carnal Nation for the whole thing.

An Emasculating Truth

December 11, 2009  |  miscellany  |  3 Comments

Update: This documentary is part of the recent ad campaign by Dockers about masculinity. I tweeted about these ads recently, Sociological Images has a good article on it too.

Bitch Magazine has a good post about the film, and I’m supposed to be running my last minute errands and getting ready to go away with Kristen for the weekend, so I can’t spend a lot of time fixing this post.

I did think the film’s perspective was a little questionable … Sounds like there might still BE a movie, but it’s clearly got a secondary agenda: aside from being sponsored by Dockers to some degree or another, it’s attempting to police masculinity as something fixed, limited, and engrained, and puts absolutely no value on the range of accepted masculine expression.

Man, this Dockers campaign is making the rounds, huh? I’ve got lots to say about it. But ack, I gotta go! I’ll be away for the weekend, but don’t worry, I have a couple posts set in my absence, so there will still be Sugarbutchery for you to read. Be back Tuesday.

A new film on masculinity, An Emasculating Truth, has just released the trailer. I have some skepticism about the perspective that this film takes, based on the clips in the trailer, but I am looking forward to seeing it.

Seems like there are a lot of people writing and thinking about intentional, radical masculinity these days! Or perhaps it’s just that I’ve stepped up my noticing of it, so it seems like there’s more. It’s a big, significant issue, and I like that there are more perspectives on it all the time.

Radical Masculinity: How to Make Masculinity Stop Hurting

November 11, 2009  |  essays  |  No Comments

It’s up!

My second Radical Masculinity column for Carnal Nation is titled How to Make Masculinity Stop Hurting. Here’s the beginning:

radical-masculinity-hurting-big

My dad’s best friend died last week. Heart attack. He was 60, barely older than my dad, not old enough for his heart to give way. They’ve been friends for 35 years, longer than I’ve been alive. I got a heartbreaking email from my father about how they met, where they’d traveled together, and his favorite joke (What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything).

In his eulogy, his son wrote that he was “a devoted family man, one who extended the term to cover a great many individuals, supporting and caring for those who needed him.”

And I thought, that’s radical masculinity.

How does one learn how to be that? How do you grow up into a masculinity, a maleness, an adult manhood, despite this culture’s obsession with bad boys and lunkheads, to be a caring protective provider, to make effective, positive changes in this world, to build something that will last, to be generous with your heart and mind and love and time?

Traditional, limitational masculinity says don’t talk about your feelings. That masculinity says be strong all the time. It says a “real” man is tough, and the worst thing you can be is a sissy, a pussy, a girl, feminine, weak.

Radical masculinity says: I am listening. Who do you want to be?

Read the whole thing over at Carnal Nation, and read my other pieces there, too.

Suggestions or requests for the third column are very much welcome! Got any good ideas? What were your favorite parts of the first two that I could perhaps expand upon? Anything about masculinity that you’ve been dying to hear my opinion about? Please do let me know.

A Manifesto for Radical Masculinity (on Carnal Nation)

October 12, 2009  |  essays  |  3 Comments

I’ve got a new column on Carnal Nation called Radical Masculinity, and the first one went up two weeks ago. Here’s an excerpt:

Remember back in the Spring of 2009 when two young boys committed suicide within a week of each other, both eleven years old? Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Massachusetts and Jaheem Herrera of Georgia were both being subjected to unbearable anti-gay bullying at school. Whether or not these boys were actually gay, using homophobia to police masculinity is practically the oldest trick in the book. In the aftermath of these suicides, and in the discussions that ensued on the Web and in print, there was extensive lip service given to gender and the inevitable complaint that boys have it so hard, that feminism has stripped men of their manliness, that men don’t know how to be men anymore, that we’ve got a Crisis In Masculinity.

That might seem like anti-feminist rhetoric, but I agree with it—at least in part. I agree that masculinity is changing, for some in dramatic, drastic ways. I have witnessed and observed cultural changes around the masculine and male gender roles which are shifting, yes, as a direct result of the recent feminist and other gendered social change movements.

Read the whole thing over on CarnalNation.com.

The premise of this first article is to introduce some of the concepts of this so-called “crisis in masculinity” and my perspectives on them. I think there’s some stuff brewing behind changes and evolutions in masculinity, and I want to tease them out. I also had a pretty tough time coming to my own masculinity, but I feel like I have come into my own, and I want to attempt to explain how that worked for me and how I adopted a masculinity that was both intentional and actively works to not be painful or hurtful, to me or others.

It’s a really complicated topic and I’m looking forward to exploring it. The second column is in progress – they’ll be monthly. If you have any particular requests for topics I should explore, I’d love to know.