How masculine are you?

// 21 March 2008

It’s A Man’s World is a book about men’s ‘adventure’ magazines from the post war period, a mostly unwitting document charting rampant misogyny, rape fantasies, homophobia (and also homoerotic comics, often involving Nazis) and racism.

How do you even choose what to tackle here?! Well, this quiz, taken from the pages of something called ‘Real’ from 1954 is such a bold statement of what underlies some of the myths of masculinity in our culture, and pours such an awful lot of cold water on those fantasies of domestic bliss from that period, that I couldn’t resist. If you want to know how feminism benefits men, and how patriarchy hurts them, look no further:

It’s a long quiz, but here are some notable questions:

3. What is your chief sexual outlet?

a) women (non prostitutes)

b) prostitutes

c) masturbation

d) other men

It should come as no surprise that the fuckers who wrote this test gave a score of zero to any readers who answer ‘d’.

5. How long are you about to continue during intercourse?

a) Two minutes or less

b) two to five minutes

c) more than five

And then, mysteriously:

7. How much hair is there on your head?

a) full head

b) it’s thinning

c) completely bald

You actually get zero points for answering ‘a’. “Brutes” are bald (no joke, the term applied to men who score 90-100 on this quiz – followed in descending order by “real he-man”, “good man”, “man, all right”, “a man, but not by much”, “weak sister” and “scratched”).

20. Which of the two choices do the following words make you think of?

TRAIN a) travel A) engine

DEVIL b) tempt B) hell

DESPISE c) dirt C) coward

MACHINE d) sew D) engine

FRESH e) flirt E) meat

I particularly like how the sophisticates who wrote this have cunningly indicated the ‘correct’ responses with a capital letter.

OK, so this dates from some time ago. But I thought it was an interesting example of how men’s adherence to masculinity has been hysterically policed. It’s all set out there – ‘real men’ don’t sew, hate dirt or sleep with other men.

Comments From You

witchy // Posted 22 March 2008 at 3:51 am

Well I shan’t be buying that book but I’d seriously like to see the quiz….

Catherine Redfern // Posted 22 March 2008 at 10:49 am

Are you sure this isn’t a parody? It sounds too ridiculous to be true.

Redheadinred // Posted 22 March 2008 at 12:32 pm

Men have the privilege in society, but it must be pretty hard being a man when you’re presented with that sort of rubbish. It’s more acceptable for a woman to be lesbian than a man to be gay, and that’s not fair.

Steph Jones // Posted 22 March 2008 at 5:20 pm

I can only presume they score highest points for being bald because the onslaught of baldness in men is usually caused by higher levels of testosterone/androgens in the male (although it also has a strong genetic basis) – and so, lots of testosterone makes you a ‘real man’, er right?

Its all rather scary… and I don’t doubt that when some of the content was originally published, considered very ‘true’ – actually, some ‘truths’ I still see written, or overhear to this day rather disturbs me… usually cringeworthy, but just occasionally, worrying! Like the bloke sitting opposite me on the train the other day reading the Daily Mailicious and an article about a ‘sex change soldier’ – “You can always tell darling, can’t ya?” – I just hadn’t the heart to ‘out’ myself…!

Yunus Yakoub Islam // Posted 22 March 2008 at 7:24 pm

“‘real men’ don’t sew, hate dirt or sleep with other men.” If you add “simultaneously” to that sentence, then I might agree!! Seriously, this survey also says a great deal about constructions of feminity – i.e. presumably ‘real’ women sew etc. which is a binary to maleness. Hence, no epicenes – arguably one of the ‘gender images’ of the 1960s.

Julie // Posted 22 March 2008 at 8:10 pm

Gay men do suffer homophobic oppression in our society. But I do not believe that it is easier for lesbians than gay men. Society is more willing to accept that a man can be gay, than a woman but only because we still find echoes of the victorian view that “gay men are a threat, but lesbians somehow do not exist.” You will still find some people who believe that lesbians “just have not found a good cock yet,” or “that they just hate men”, or “that they’ve had bad relationships with men and so choose women.” People are more likely to believe that gay men really do fancy other men. This is because capitalist society devalues womens’ sexuality and our choices. We are often viewed as being “sexy” not “sexual”, as objects, not active subjects. Lesbians experience the double oppression of sexism and homophobia.

Redheadinred // Posted 23 March 2008 at 2:35 pm

‘You will still find some people who believe that lesbians “just have not found a good cock yet,” or “that they just hate men”, or “that they’ve had bad relationships with men and so choose women.” People are more likely to believe that gay men really do fancy other men. This is because capitalist society devalues womens’ sexuality and our choices. We are often viewed as being “sexy” not “sexual”, as objects, not active subjects. Lesbians experience the double oppression of sexism and homophobia.’

Absolutely true! That makes my blood boil, too. What I was thinking of was the actual act. People don’t seem to think ‘lesbian sex’ is as ‘bad’ as ‘gay sex’. At least, not from what I hear day-to-day. Most of my heterosexual female friends talk of having fancied a girl at some time or other, but not the boys. They are afraid it’ll make them look unmasculine. It’s definitely true that lesbians are seen as invisible by alot of groups, such as those fundie christians who go on about gay men but not a mention of gay women. I already get a whole lot of stigma for being a single woman as well as a feminist, and many, many people *think* I’m a lesbian, so I still get that ‘you hate men’ stuff fired at me. I’d hate it if I were in a loving relationship with a woman which was seen to be some kind of wank-fodder performance for the men.

I reckon they ask if the man is balding because if he still gets all those women whilst he’s getting on a bit in years he must be a reaaalll stud. Puke. I wonder if women from the 50s read their husband’s magazines?

Leigh Woosey // Posted 25 March 2008 at 3:34 pm

It strikes me that something to add to the feminist agenda would be to make ‘Man’ and ‘masculine’ terms of controversy- to begin and promote debate over what those terms mean now and should mean in future.

In the 80’s and 90’s the, possibly insincere, reinvention of male identities into sensitive new age guys was thoroughly derided as a real ‘SNAG’. Soon after FHM and Loaded exploded onto the newsstands, bursting with glossy photo shoots of minor (and sometimes major) celebrities fawning in their underwear, contrasted with solid male fashion shoots and odes to toolkits, cars and getting pissed.

So today what encouragement is there for men to abandon the legacies laid out in the book Jess has posted about? What new meanings are offered to replace the old ones behind the words ‘Man’ and ‘Manly’? I can only think of these two excellent projects, but how are they given media exposure? Do they feature at feminist gatherings and marches?

Feminism must approach men at least as directly and persistently as it approaches women because it is us, the men, who have to be convinced to abandon our support, witting or unwitting, of a patriarchal society.

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