A Conversation with masculinity about Masculinity

Masculinity and Femininity sit across from one another with a table between them. A French press of coffee and two cups sit atop the table. They look at the French press and Femininity finally decides to plunge it down. Femininity pours each of them a cup and they begin to sip.

Femininity: Hey. You ready?

Masculinity: So what’s this about? Isn’t this a blog post?

Femininity: Yes this is a blog post. We are in the blog post.

Masculinity: Right now?

Femininity: Yes. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre had enough funding for us to share this coffee and for Catherine to write it all down.

Masculinity: Cool. Why?

Femininity: Listen. I needed to talk to you. We needed to talk to you. All of us femmes. Some of this may land hard with you, but it’s super important.

Masculinity: Whoa. Okay.

Femininity: I know, right? Difficult conversations are…well…difficult. Like, I had to paint my nails, put on some lipstick and wear the most “don’t fuck with me” shoes I could find for this moment. So let’s just take a deep breath and begin, okay?

Masculinity: Okay.

Femininity: You see, we don’t feel safe. No matter what your gender representation, femininity is a dangerous thing. Throughout history, us femmes have survived rape, poverty, and slut-shaming. Add to that things like being of-colour or trans or differently abled and you got yourself a triple-decker bullshit sandwich, you know what I mean?

Masculinity: But –

Femme: The threat of our powers of intuition, of sexual prowess, topples colonial structures of ownership and gender in ways that society must silence it.

Masculinity: Wait a minute. This has nothing to do with me. Not all masculine of centre folks are bad. Don’t stereotype us! Not sure if you saw on facebook but my status read “Stop catcalling! Dudes, we can do better.” They notice Femininity is taking out a nail cutter from their purse. Wait. Are you even listening to me?

Femme: I’m cutting my nails.

Masculinity: Huh?

Femininity: I. Am. Cutting. My. Nails. I would rather cut my nails than listen to you revel in your own self-congratulations.

Masculinity: That’s a bit harsh.

Femininity: You’re right. Let me reframe so that perhaps you will listen. They put away their nail cutter and reposition themselves. Not all masculine of centre people do acts of misogyny every day. There are allies who wake up each morning and choose to battle their default asshole within, who choose to surround themselves with people who will check them if they go into default asshole mode and openly acknowledge when they have done so without asking for femmes to do the homework to get them there. Perhaps you are one of them. But think of this: It has now taken a total of 120 of my words in this paragraph alone to ensure that your feelings will not be hurt over the course of this conversation. Does that seem fucked up to you?

Masculinity: Oh god. I am one of them.

Femininity: Yes. You are one of them. All masculine people wake up misogynists. All white people wake up racists. It’s what you choose to do throughout the day that makes your actions part of your allyship. It’s what makes you part of the change. Are you ready to embark on the adventure of allyship?

Masculinity: Hell yes!

Femininity: Excellent. High fives. No gold stars. Let’s go. Around the world, thanks to colonization, acts of body celebration (from belly dancing to twerking), adornment (from makeup to jewelry) and agency (from sex work to childcare) are seen as invitations to victimize the very bodies that dare to be feminine. So let’s think of ways in which you masculine of centre folk continue to victimize us femmes.

Masculinity: Sure. They look around confused.

Femininity: See anything?

Masculinity: No.

Femininity: Exactly. You are carrying nothing. Your wallet, your water bottle, your phone are in my goddamn purse. My back hurts every day carrying your shit around. Carry your own damn shit.

Masculinity: But then people will make fun of my man purse.

Femininity: What’s wrong with that? And why is carrying things on your own ridiculed by attaching feminine qualities to it? Those supposed man purses came out in the 90s and let me tell you something: everything in the 90s was fucking gold. Hip hop. Fresh Prince. Hoop earrings. And man purses. Bring them back. Make them stay. Because I’m not carrying your shit anymore. And here’s another thing: No more asking you for approval.

Masculinity: What does that even mean?

Femininity: I had some asshole tell me they expected me to introduce my partners to them like some sort of masculine approval process. If you all want to puff chests and lock horns, do it in the woods far from us because we have shit to do.

Masculinity: Guilty. I’ve totally done that before.

Femininity: And while we’re on the subject of shit femmes have to do, I want you to ask yourself why femmes are always running the show.

Masculinity: Yeah. Why are they?

Femininity: Because they are expected to. We are expected to plan, fund and execute things like events, daily schedules, meals, childcare, then to clean up your shit afterwards. Does that seem fair to you?

Masculinity: Absolutely not. You’re right. Like, I know once I drink this coffee I can just leave it here and you’ll take care of it. I assume that’s okay, and it’s not.

Femininity: No it’s not.

Masculinity: Then why don’t you say something?

Femininity: Why do we have to? I seriously can’t fucking stand it when masculine folks say shit like “I would do this if you just told me.” Why is it our job to manage you?

Masculinity: You’re right. I gotta man-up.

Femininity: Really? Man-up? As if men are so put together. So independent. So hardworking.

Masculinity: Fuck. This world is so twisted.

Femininity: Now you’re onto something. They think for a minute. Take a sip of their coffee. One deep breath. Okay. Here’s a hard one to discuss. And I want you to know it takes a lot out of me to even say this because us femmes are taught to never question, never fight masculine people. And remember that when we say masculine of centre, we mean masculinity of any gender representation, whether you are trans or cis gender. Are you open to hearing this?

Masculinity: Yes.

Femininity: Violence against us femmes has to stop. Now. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen my fellow femmes get harassed, get sexually assaulted, get shouted at, humiliated in public and private spaces, emotionally abused. You name it. I have seen it.

Masculinity: I’m sorry.

Femininity: And when we call it out…when we finally have the strength to say something out loud…it’s like our allies drop like flies. People silence us. Ignore us. Sometimes people tell us we are transphobic when we are accusing someone who is trans masculine. But violence is violence. No matter who the person is.

Masculinity: True say, I can feel myself questioning you. Doubting you. And I hate that about myself. I just want to acknowledge it and name it because it is fucked up.

Femininity: You are a real being, no matter what gender you are. No pretending. You are real. You know so many femmes who hold that for you. That make love to you in ways that support your identity and how you present yourself in this world. We have taken bullets for you. Kissed your wounds gently. Fed you. Listened to you. Housed you. Don’t play dress up with your daddy’s misogyny. It is just that: a coat you can put on or take off. So you decide, every day. Do you wear the coat or not?

They both hold hands in silence.

Catherine Hernandez

Catherine Hernandez is playwright, performer and award-winning author. She is the author of M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book (Flamingo Rampant) and Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp Press). She is the Artistic Director of b current performing arts.

Read all posts by Catherine Hernandez

4 Responses to A Conversation with masculinity about Masculinity

  1. Danny B says:

    AWESOME!!!

  2. Michelle says:

    Loving this so today. I’m at a point where I am so so tired of explaining. I really resonated with the part about “Then why don’t you say something”. Argg. Why should I fucking have to. Pay attention!

    Thank you!

  3. Michael anne says:

    <3

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