My friend and I were talking about hard bodies, which are normative in US culture.

Hardbodies Poster
Do you think it's feminine when a guy works out a lot to get a hot body?

She told me her theory that they are normative because US culture is pro-masculine in such a way that everyone has to perform masculinity in some way.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/We_Can_Do_It%21.jpg/464px-We_Can_Do_It%21.jpg

A feminine man, I was looking for a photo of a wimpy vegetarian in Birkenstocks shopping at an organic grocery store and being otherwise overly sensitive. But I was basically picturing Todd Louiso's character from High Fidelity. In this shot it looks like he's trying to appear more maculine. // The original conversation that led to this train-of-thought was about the Whitney Houston movie The Bodyguard, which I haven't seen but it came to mind as an example of perhaps a beautiful man being chased by a successful woman. But, still not having seen it, I speculate that there will be some point in the story where the man takes charge of the romantic pursuit, in order to maintain his attractiveness by recovering his masculinity.

I don’t know if I agree with that thesis or not, but it got me thinking about how a pro-masculine culture might be reflected in the economy, in the utility functions, and what an alternative on that dimension might look like.

 

So obviously, Estadounidenses work out; "Fitness is a $19 billion industry"; those who don’t are shamed.

image
http://boomstickcomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Jorge-Garcia.jpg

But hard-ness might be reflected in utility functions in other ways as well.

  • preference of work (“I worked my #rse off to get where I am today”), busy-ness, regimens, organised workspaces, getting things done, goal-setting, achievement
    Larry Wall is disarrayed, chaotic, relaxed, embraces stillness, but I think he comes off as perhaps a bit of a feminine hippie.
  • a preference for doing over not-doing (or maybe doing over being-done-to)
  • a preference for hard-force over soft-relaxedness soft causing
  • shaming of laziness, softness, sloth, people who are too relaxed or don’t work enough, people who aren’t busy, have no career, have no ambition
    http://voicesofglass.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/the-manatee-a-symbol-of-peace-tranquility-and-effeminate-wonder.jpg
  • a preference for my-own-space over shared-space
  • a preference for working hard, even if it’s to the point of overworking (overworking is actually kind of a compliment)
    "Work, work, and more work, and I expect it shall continue to be so." OK, obviously it's not _only_ US culture that preferes busy-ness to not-busy-ness.
  • a preference for individualism over communalism
  • a greater need for personal space (people stand relatively far apart from each other)
  • "I wish I could spend more time with my spouse and kids, but I’m too busy running this business empire!”
  • "I wish I could take a real vacation, or for longer”
  • Confidence, competence, winners, power over gentleness, flabbiness, passiveness, meekness, passivity, sensitivity.
  • creative destruction, building things, knocking them down, refurbishing, rebranding, striving for better, striving for more.
 

What about the alternative—what would a “soft” economy look like? Well, besides performing services and producing goods for each other, people can give utils to each other directly with

  • sex —the most obvious example of pure hedonic pleasure, uncounted in GDP, and “being good at it” (for men) may have less to do with a Big Man with a Big Dick, and more to do with openness, acceptance, creativity, curiosity, playfulness, sensitivity—characteristics which can be somewhat opposite to the Hard Body No Sleep Driven Successful macho man model
  • hugs
  • touching
  • softness toward each other
  • compliments
  • massages
  • Tumblr Likes
  • conversation
  • listening to each other
  • playing games together (think “childrens’ games” — why are they for children?)
  • sitting next to each other
  • holding hands
  • communicating that “I accept you as you are” or “I care what you think” or “I think you’re awesome”

(and equally they can harm each other with innuendo, bickering, hurrying or harrying each other, glares, invocation of rank/status, backhanded compliments, body language, and other perhaps “feminine” moves).

Somehow I got to think about Odo from Star Trek.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/00/Odo.jpg
In at least one episode, the others of his shape-shifting race want him to return to live with them so they can all shape-shift into a goo and flow around in each other’s beings and experience each other. Which is one idea of Heaven. But Odo (a hero on a US TV show) wants to keep exploring, penetrating the cosmos to greater lengths. Maybe a “more feminine” economy, though, would look more like that. People touching each other, lazily hanging out,

I think there’s a reason that “California Buddhism”
http://img.ehowcdn.com/article-new/ehow/images/a08/35/h9/listen-buddhism-working-out-800x800.jpg
http://www.colourbox.com/preview/2703073-381234-a-woman-at-peace-and-tranquility-in-a-beautiful-landscape.jpg
looks like finding peace on a marathon instead of this:

http://sanaakosirickylee.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/happy-fat-buddha1.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-NnE1p0ttWgY/ToP6C9oWS4I/AAAAAAAACTY/NP2ZhEIhjOA/s1600/IMG_3854.JPG

Look at that fat guy! He’s just sitting there! So, but what do you do? I mean, what do you do, do?

31 notes

  1. mango-rotter reblogged this from isomorphismes and added:
    [[MORE]]
  2. tatterpig reblogged this from isomorphismes
  3. mylifeisborromean reblogged this from isomorphismes and added:
    interesting read. Again not positive how much...propositions, but it’s
  4. jadeashlee reblogged this from isomorphismes
  5. kmstraus reblogged this from isomorphismes
  6. davidaedwards reblogged this from isomorphismes
  7. nerveslikenylon said: What it’s actually about, whether people realise or not, is a status display; “look, I can survive so comfortably that I have all this spare income for a gym membership and enough spare time to achieve this nonsense physique”
  8. warcellusmallace said: G. Rattray Taylor talks about this and how societies go through ‘matrist’ or feminine phases and ‘patrist’ or masculine phases. People tend to be classified like this too depending on which parent imprinted them more heavily.
  9. intothecontinuum said: ^^^ util
  10. isomorphismes posted this