Music of Masculinity

pull up a chair

I recently did a couple of posts in my music series about The Rolling Stones. It started me thinking about the role music played in my teenage year. How what I listened defined what I believed was masculine. In all footage I’ve seen of The Beatles there is nothing but screaming, swooning girls – no boys. In fact pop rock music fell into those two camps – most of it was in the girls camp. The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits were for girls, The Rolling Stones, The Who were for boys. Donovan: fem; Bob Dylan: masc. Boys who like music too much were suspect – girls could sing along – boys couldn’t – lol. 

The Stones ‘Satisfaction’ was clearly about getting laid, The Beatles “I want to Hold Your Hand’ was clearly about holding hands period. Hand holding was safe for girls. The Stones were never innocent & many of their songs were clearly misogynistic i.e. ’Under My Thumb’ or were calls to violence ‘Street Fighting Man’ – these were the proper role models for real boys – real boys wanted more than holding hands. They wanted action, or revenge. Never mind the fact that by the time they recorded ‘Street Fighting Man’ they were millionaires not revolutionaries.

So how did this resonate in my life at the time? The sneering misogyny & objectification of girls (rarely were they women until they got to the Honky Tonk) was masculinity defined. I felt I would never be masculine enough, aggressive enough, daring enough to live in the reality of their songs. They sold a myth that I saw as reality – much like the Hollywood fantasy that the love of the right person would give you reason to live.

I don’t even think I found the Stones sexually attractive – even then there were rumours that Mick was a bit bi – I had a buddy who said he’d have sex with Jagger but, to be honest, I found Jagger to be too lizard like for me. Speaking of lizards I my first pop jo sex fantasy was the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, then Foxy Jimi Hendrix, but I digress.

I’ve blogged about growing up with out any real role models in a culture that had distorted sense of gender that I ended up with my own distorted sense of masculinity. Pop music of the time merely echoed that that distortion – real men were Born to Be Wild whereas faggots like me could only dream about it.

Rolling

 

Stones 

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Elevator

Elevator  

the elevator door opened

there was a woman

alone

she stepped back

to let me enter

I didn’t get on

I let the door shut

so she could continue

her ride alone

I live a relatively insular life – social distancing was fairly easy for me even before covid19 made is culturally appropriate. My social interactions are limited to clerks & fellow travellers on the recovery road. That being said I am aware of the complexity of gender relationships, of the cultural context of masculinity, femininity, race.

I’m not sure what sparked this particular moment. The pācittiya spoke to not being alone with a woman & this is where it lead me. For the monks I suppose it was to keep them pure, untainted by temptation – because, clearly men cannot control their sexual urges & avoidance is the only solution. The same sort of reasoning was behind sexually segregated schools.

Rather than men having to exercise restraint just keep the bait out of sight. If they should get at it, it’s not their fault, it’s biology etc. For me some of this comes from our the dichotomy of our sex-o-phobic culture. Look but don’t lust – lust but don’t touch. If you don’t touch what’s your problem?

I’ve heard female friends talk about not feeling safe just walking cross the street after dark, feeling paranoid getting in an elevator with a male they don’t know. I’m glad I don’t have to live in that persistent undercurrent. I can’t remember the last time I was in an elevator.

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