That's OK, I'm not offended - someone had mentioned the 'hit-and-run' thing in a previous comment, and I get why that might be annoying. Maybe the 'one-on-one' thing might be good. However, I do like to hear from lots of posters, and its a bit frustrating for others who can't reply I would think...we'll see how it goes! Just saying, it might take a while for replies, my brain can only go so fast!
Here's my reply to 'healthy masculinity' (apologies for the length! the system even logged me out whilst typing it...)
I'm not sure how one defines "Healthy Masculinity" - but surely, it's a socially defined value. Let's take "healthy". It's one thing to define this as applied to statistical averages. But the word 'healthy' also exists in our language as implying a value judgement. Healthy = positive/good. So it becomes an issue, not only of scientific conclusions, but also of ideology.
A note on the scientific method: Gonzo, and a few others here, seem to be making the argument that 'hard science' has proven the 'gender construct' argument false. (I'm not sure what you mean by 'hard science' and 'soft science' - the terms have different meanings depending on the context of the argument. I'll assume you mean the physical sciences, unless you correct me.) In order to accept the scientific method as the only or best authority, one must understand science as progressing - that is, progressively increasing the sum of human knowledge. This seems to me to be what you're saying: "social constructionists are wrong about gender, and science will prove it."
Historically, science has been wrong before about the differences between the sexes (see, for example, formerly respectable branches of science now re-classified as pseudoscience: phrenology etc). This should be enough to at least give you pause lest you become hubristic. To accept the current consensus (although I'm not sure there IS a consensus, I suppose you could argue this is due to PC suppression) one has to have faith that today's scientists *have* learnt from the past, that their methods are the least fallible, that they are, on balance, objective etc.
Let's assume we can do all that.
My main issue is not with the FINDINGS of science. It should be allowed to investigate such things. There is IMO the possiblility of such a thing as 'the truth of human existence' and we should try to investigate this without political interference as far as possible. This is an ideal. As we've seen with the creationism vs science debacle, there are forces at work in this society that seek to paint science as just another faith. Whilst I DON'T accept this (because science works on evidence) even Richard Dawkins points out that science's strength is that scientists don't tend to say that they have "proved the truth about something." Instead they tend to say that, looking at all the possible evidence, they present the *likeliest explanation.* That's why, if contradictory evidence becomes available and overwhelms the previous evidence, refutes the previous conclusions, the discipline is well able to withstand it - science is always aware that today's conclusions can become tomorrow's hypotheses. In short, the scientific method may well be the best method - but we must remember, it is not infallible.
Gender as construction: the consensus here seems to be that scientific findings have been rejected by feminists and/or gender constructionists. I think it is not so much the scientific studies or results they reject, but rather the interpretation of those results. Firstly, I don't know any theorists that argue biological sex is entirely a social construction! (Can you give me a HT if you do, because I sure think *that* would be an interesting read!) The one I can name as coming closest to this is Judith Butler - from what I remember, she wasn't arguing that there are no biological differences between men and women, but rather that we cannot escape the fact that how we interpret, talk about, even think about those differences is shaped by social conditioning. Whether one thinks this is fair or not, accurate or not, it is a fact that our society 'polices' the genders - if gender roles were natural, then why would we need to do this? The focus of such theorists' work tends to be on analysing how and why gender/sexuality is constructed within the culture, therefore. I think it's perfectly reasonable and valid to investigate this.
Secondly, the issues of whether and why gender roles are constructed relates to politics insofar as politics legislates on groups.
I think, as human beings, we have more in common than we do separating us. But I don't seek to deny difference. I quite like gender, I'm not at all sure I'd want to be rid of it: variety is the spice of life, hey? The question for democratic politics, though, is whether everyone gets listened to. Who does not have a voice?
One of the things that progressive anti-racist work has taught us is that its dangerous to deny difference. 'Colour-blindness' may in fact have the effect of eliding and silencing voices which DO speak of difference. I am not advocating 'gender-blindness' for precisely this reason.
It IS my experience, and considered opinion at this time, that differences in gender roles are largely due to socialisation, not biology. However, I do recognise that others feel differently. At this time, I don't think we can answer the question how far biology is destiny.
I think legislation which sees no difference in gender, therefore, can elide the voices and experiences of those who do. But I also think legislation which recognises differences can be inherently problematic when it comes to deciding how that difference is applied to groups. I think you, Mr Bad, and most others here might be in agreement with that point at least. That's why the argument over masculinity, or femininity, is so damned important!
To take an example: stands2p, on this thread, names 'courage' as one of the masculine virtues. I'm not disagreeing with you that it has played out historically as a 'masculine trait' - but I really wonder how this can be proved, scientifically, to be innate to men. (I'm not assuming that you think that, stands2p, BTW - I can't tell from your post.) Mr Bad, Dr E, anyone, care to speculate?
Some quick points responding to specific comments here:
Dr Bad - you said "our society has gone feminine and thus values all things feminine"
Really? What's the basis of this belief?
Dr E - the points you raised about 'the mature masculine' - this is interesting. I'm not too familiar with this sort of literature - is it related to the mythopoetical men's movement (Robert Bly et al)?
Mr X - you mentioned the case with Dr Money, a truly tragic case. I saw the BBC Horizon doc on this, and the most shocking thing, IMO, was that they decided to remove the
boy's testicles thus denying him the basic human right of reproduction. You may already be aware of this, but the reason his penis was damaged was due to a botched circumcision.
Bluedye/Shiva - re:stoicism vs talkativeness. Yes, stoicism is a pretty much undervalued and misunderstood philosophy. The word has come to mean something slightly different in common currency today. Intriguingly, there's often arguments about how far talkativeness/emotional restraint relates to national character - I seem to recall the British newspapers regularly discussing it viz. whether Americans are more 'open' vs the British "stiff upper lip" and so on, particularly around the death of Princess Di.
TBQ - the post where you discussed men and the need for safe spaces. I agreed with everything you said in this comment. Have you ever read "Self-made man" by Norah Vincent? The other comment, where you differentiated between gender traits and values (sorry, I'm not sure how to get the blockquotes) - well, here we have it. If everyone thought that way, i.e., didn't ascribe value judgements to traits, and *really meant it* I doubt there'd be half the problems we've got today in the world.
OK - well, I'm off for now (cup of tea). I'll try and get the post up about my take on feminism later tonight or tomorrow, in my intro thread.