Photographer Paul McDonald is possessed by two things. The first is a set of mysterious and intimate medical slides found by chance at an auction and carried with him ever since; and the second is the very concept of masculinity.
While we discuss and debate our diverse cultural and personal constructions of masculinity, it’s worth bearing in mind that the evolutionary evidence also suggests a certain fluidity. What it means to be a man has changed, across history and prehistory, in both cultural and biological terms.
As much as we shape cartoons in our image, they shape our concepts of ourselves. This is why animated television is such prime territory for understanding our relationship to the concept of fatherhood.
At the edge of Lake Burley Griffin I could see Parliament House across the water, and in the distance I tried and failed to make out the view I’d seen posted on Twitter: hundreds of pink paper hearts planted in the lawn reading “All Love Is Equal”.
“No man I’ve ever met compares to Sam in terms of maleness.” Nevertheless, Shepard’s self-consciousness is such that traditional US masculinity is often scrutinised – even satirised – in his drama.
What is it about a man working to the point of exhaustion, and in some cases death, that we deem heroic?
The idea that I am approachable, friendly, trustworthy—all seems suddenly in direct competition with my physicality.
It is not the brutality but the acts of normalcy and of kindness—corrupted though they may be—that make Spector a terrifyingly real character.
I look typically masculine in the Western sense—tall, bearded, bald, built—but my behaviour, attitudes and actions don’t fit others’ expectations of this man. I’ve made changes to avoid this, and have become a contradiction.
To get true equality when it comes to availability of contraceptives, men have to be asking for it, even paying for it.
He is only a ‘real man’ in my eyes because he stopped making excuses and did the hard work of coming face to face with his deepest, most painful wounds.
There is only so far an assumed identity, let alone one that transgresses gendered cultural norms, can take you.
How little the line between ‘ironic’ and ‘actual’ misogyny matters. Joy at the denigration of somebody else is, after all, one of the few emotions acceptable within a hypermasculine state of mind.
In ‘micro expressions’ of masculinity, the role or the perception of ‘effort’ is important. The paragon, the most masculine, is the man who can enact himself upon the world without even trying. As such, to even admit to thinking about masculinity in this way feels on some level like weakness, as though if I was a real man I wouldn’t have to.
For the progressives who have been rocked by the Trump election, who thought that this version of white privilege and proto-masculinity was buried, the past is present. It is ugly and furious, and for the first time in a long time, it feels like it’s in control.
Intellectually, I understand that it’s healthy to express emotion. I’ve read Brené Brown. I’ve watched Inside Out. I get it. But it’s hard to express emotion when I’m barely conscious of feeling it.
Phoebe’s Fall, and the emerging genre it is part of, raises questions about the public who feast on the undeniably gripping stories, and the voices we cannot hear in these podcasts—those of the victims, mostly women, most likely killed by men.
Jimmy is, of course, fictional, but as a character he reflects (albeit sometimes exaggeratedly) a broader cultural problem. That we don’t know what to do with male vulnerability.