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The latest issue of “men’s magazine” GQ focused entirely on “New Masculinity,” or as the publication puts it “the ways that traditional notions of masculinity are being challenged, overturned, and evolved.”
As far as many of us are concerned, the old masculinity was just perfect, but GQ has set out to change your mind. And what better authority offer a valuable perspective on masculinity than unfunny, female, man-hating comedian Hannah Gadsby.
In “Hannah Gadsby on Why Men Should Be More Ladylike,” the comedian offers a surface-level assertion that men should be more “feminine” and “ladylike,” characteristics she equates with being powerless, meek, and sheepish. In her attempt to bash men, she ends up revealing her true feelings about women, in what shapes up to be a strangely misogynistic tirade.
To give you a taste for Gadsby’s refined brand of humour, The New Yorker named her as having one of the best jokes of 2018.
“I don’t think even lesbian is the right identity fit for me. I really don’t. I may as well come out now. I identify—as tired.”
That’s it. That’s the joke.
In what appears to be an attempt at praise, The New Yorker describes how Gadsby spends part of her special “Nanette” actually explaining “how comedic tension works,” noting that “At times, the audience gets so quiet that it seems as if the sound mixer has turned the balance down to some kind of negative level.”
Gadsby begins her GQ piece by addressing “the men.”
“Hello, the men,” she writes, in what appears to be a sophomoric appeal to humour through either dehumanization, awkward phrasing, or a combination of the two. “My advice on modern masculinity would be to look at those traits you believe are feminine and interrogate why you are so obsessed with being the opposite.”
I would venture a guess that men are “obsessed with being the opposite” of women because they are set on living out the gender identity with which they most identify, that of a man. She later clarifies that she was indeed speaking directly to “straight white cis men.” How well would Gadsby’s comments be received if they were directed toward transgender men? Questioning why a transgender man is “so obsessed” with not being a woman would generally be considered extremely insensitive, and in some circles, even hateful.
“Because this idea that to be a man you have to be the furthest away from being a woman that you possibly can is really weird,” she continues.
It feels strange to even have to elaborate on why this statement is ridiculous, but in today’s world, such explanations are proving to be more and more necessary. Men are the complementary opposite of women. In order to be a man, you have to not be a woman. Because they are opposites. While both men and women are human and therefore share common elements of humanity, the “furthest way from being a woman” while still being a human is, by definition, being a man.
While GQ framed the piece as being one that would address “new masculinity,” Gadsby (surprise) simply attacks the value of masculinity altogether. “Why is everyone so scared of not being masculine?” she asks, before going on to ridicule “hyper-masculine man-babies.”
She then encourages men to look to “traditional feminine traits” and try “incorporating them into” their “own masculinity.” Again, what? Gadsby seems genuinely confused about the definition of masculinity, and how it relates to that of femininity. This is made even more evident when she goes on to encourage men to be “more ladylike” by tamping down their own confidence, or by refraining from sharing their own opinions.
Gadsby implies that confidence and opinion sharing are both masculine characteristics. What’s worse, she goes on to suggest that men “try pretending that you’re the least powerful person in any room and that no matter how hard you work you’ll never be the most powerful” and “Walk around like that for a couple weeks,” in order to become more in touch with their femininity.
If Gadsby thinks that women are the least powerful people in a room among men, then perhaps she is the one who needs to get in touch with her own femininity.
To imply that “incorporating” femininity into one’s own masculinity (never mind the oxymoron) would involve becoming sheepish, unconfident, less “bold,” and the least powerful person in any room, is the most blatantly sexist statement anybody has gotten away with publishing in any major publication in a very long time. But Gadsby’s words will be celebrated because they also happen to be bitter and anti-men.