Isn't He Lovely: Farewell and Further Reading

Cristen Conger
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feminist ryan gosling wearing crew neck striped shirt and a blazer saying "hey girl, my eyes are up here."Alas, it’s time for the “Isn’t He Lovely” guest blogging series to come to an end, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the past eight weeks as much as I have. Writing about male body image and masculinity in popular culture in its many incarnations has been challenging, since I obviously don’t have a first-person perspective on that experience, but it’s been enlightening too, to say the least. Along the way, interviews with experts Hugo Schwyzer, Amy Sueyoshi, Yashar Ali and Michael Boroughs were indispensible for filling in any blanks I had and raising more questions about masculinity and manhood that had never occurred to me, precisely for lack of that first-person perspective.

Although I touched on topics from the deleterious effects of the hypermasculine prison culture to boys’ ideal body image to Asian American male sexuality, there are still issues that I didn’t get to explore. For that reason, I leave you with an Isn’t He Lovely Reading List to, hopefully, keep us all curious about what’s happening with regard to modern masculinity and from that, learn how to more effectively open up conversations about gender and equality with more actionable results. From personal experience, male friends are often interested in and excited to discuss the differences between the biological sex and the social constructs of gender, but they rarely initiate those conversations because they don’t know the language to use or whether their opinion is even welcome. For that reason, I think it’s critical to keep these conversations about modern manhood going and contribute to the ones already happening out there.

I didn’t have a chance to delve into male fashion as much as I had wanted. The following two links offer some compelling food for thought on race and male “prep” style. First, Threadbared examines why the Guardian fretted over Mexican-American criminals endangering the Ralph Lauren brand:

The incongruity of this “Mexican outlaw” donning the symbol of American prep leads Ditum to conclude: “sometimes, the market gets away from the marketers.”

Cord Jefferson at The Awl also wrestles with the moneyed white-ness of prep branding:

I like Barbour jackets a lot, and Tod’s driving moccasins. I even like “Nantucket red” pants with a crisp white shirt and a blue blazer. But, as a person of color with no family crest of which to speak, I wonder if I should.

Will Leitch at New York magazine asks when a male professional sports star will come out of the closet publicly:

“Something has happened in the last year,” says Jim Buzinski, co-founder of OutSports, an advocate for and chronicler of gay sports issues for more than a decade. “It’s almost like homophobia is no longer considered cool in sports.”

Amanda Marcotte, writing at the Good Men Project, explores How to Make a Critically Acclaimed TV Show About Masculinity:

“If you want to make a critically acclaimed drama, you need to build up a patriarch, preferably in a highly masculine environment, and then start to peel away his certainty about the way the world works and what it means to be a man in this world.”

And just to prove that I’m not the only one out here pondering what it’s like for men these days and the messages hurled their way about how they’re supposed to conduct themselves in this topsy-turvy time, William Leith at the Guardian ponders whether a ‘new man’ has emerged and what he looks like:

These days, as a man, someone is always giving you a message. And the messages are mixed. They’re confusing. Be a man. Man up! But also: get in touch with your feminine side. And: for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t get in touch with your feminine side! Be strong, bordering on feral.

Questions and comments are welcome as always. If you’re interested in picking my brain about a particular male/masculinity-related topic, feel free to contact me. And even though this series is ending, you can catch me chatting away about gender, sexuality and all things vagina-related on Stuff Mom Never Told You.

From feminist Ryan Gosling on my behalf, it’s been fun, y’all!

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5 Comments Have Been Posted

I really enjoyed this series.

I really enjoyed this series. Thank you very much!

Photo credit?

I'd love a photo credit, link, or permission asked for use of the image in this post. Thanks!

This was such a great

This was such a great series-- it's so important for feminists to talk about how patriarchy is bad for everybody, not just women. Way to go!

I will miss this column!

I will miss this column so much! I have tried for years (with varying levels of success) to convince men that feminism helps men too, and this series provided me with facts and insight to really go further with that argument. Thanks for your work and I hope you will appear on the Bitch pages again sometimes!


Thanks Cristen for a fun and entertaining series. And thanks for the great reading list - you covered a lot and it's exciting that there's even more to explore!

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