Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The intersection of rights and community

Will Wilkinson -- last seen going to bat for the nutters bringing guns to town hall meetings -- has an excellent point here.
To my mind, too little attention has been paid to reconsidering ideals of manhood in the age of equality. Since I was a teenager, I’ve found old-school machismo pathetic and somehow irrelevant to the problem of becoming a man. Without even knowing what or why it was, I was heavily influenced by gay culture, which provided me, and many other straight young men, a wide variety of templates for manhood that are at once unmistakably masculine, playfully ironic, aesthetic, emotionally open, and happily sexual. ... And the virulent homophobia that remains in most American dude subcultures has cut most young men off from the possibility of modeling their manhood after any of the delightful variety of types available to the homophile. And that really doesn’t leave them with much to work with. Most Americans these days seem happy enough to see women succeed as high-achieving go-getters. And who doesn’t love Tim Gunn? But most of us have not yet given up on oppressively restrictive, strongly normative conceptions of hetero masculinity.
We (I speak as a white, hetero man) extend rights to others not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it expands the frontiers of what it means to be a good, happy person. People who want to restrict rights need to think hard about why they want to make it more difficult to be happy in this world.

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