April 20, 2010

"Real Men Make Stuff"

I've only read The Art of Manliness blog a couple of times, lacking a Y chromosome as I do, but its author said an interesting thing today that got me thinking:

Boys are consumers. The problem is that men aren't outgrowing this passive role. Instead of creating, they go on consuming. They may not depend on Mom and Dad anymore (although sadly, they often do), but they're still dependent on stuff for their happiness. Consuming clothes, movies, video games, cars, parties, fast food, and even travel to make them happy.

The word "passive" was what stood out to me - maybe it's because I've been reading the Tao Te Ching for class, but to be "passive" equates to "feminine." Which is interesting, because when I think of DIY culture and anticonsumerism I tend to think of traditionally "feminine" activities - sewing clothes, knitting, cooking.

So what sort of things does Brett McKay think men ought to be doing to create instead of consuming?

"A hobby where you're working with your hands, art, music, working out in your own backyard."

The first being pretty broad, obviously, but in the video the quote is pulled from seems to mean either cooking homemade pizza or building a mud hut shirtless in your backyard.

This reminded me of the dichotomy between Make magazine and Craft magazine. Both are run by the same company with the same DIY ideas, but Make is all bold colors and electronics and robots and Legos, while Craft is cute and pink with knitting and flowers. Even the tech projects are girly, like an embroidered speaker birdhouse and a sewing machine that automatically matches thread color. (By the way, I want one of those SO BAD. But I digress.) Craft magazine's print edition folded, so only Make is printed.

Am I overreacting in seeing all this as a valuing of certain kinds of DIY over others? McKay wants men to create more so that they'll be less passive and more manly, but he - and magazines like Make - certainly don't seem to suggest that men go out and learn to knit, because feminine DIY things are also associated with a kind of passivity.

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