Masculinity. Giddyingly Other, infuriatingly inflexible, it was a mystery scented by my father’s cigars and Pantene hair tonic as he sat, in residence, with The Daily Telegraph on the loo. He trumpeted to the world that only child born female was “as good as a boy, my son and my daughter”. By this subtle language and other more bitter instances, the message was slammed into me: men first, women second-best, as-good-as.
The one time we didn’t fight was when we watched Westerns and war movies. I had scant time for my Hindu dad’s bullshit heroism, his lurking Islamophobia and bullying. I never let him see me cry, if I could help it. We were a pair of stubborn bastards.
I guess I still am – thanks, Daddy.
Despite growing up with the dregs of machismo, I loathe the hyped term ‘toxic masculinity’. To me, it fastens manhood to hate politics and tells little boys they are harmful before they’ve committed the inevitable crimes of patriarchy.
The Demented Goddess has always stood against identity politics. In our view, we need a wide variety of voices to heal the gender rift without screaming and scoffing or pretending that big boys don’t cry.
So, in issue 19 we present a haunting new piece by brilliant debut author Wendy Erskine on the uncertainties of mothering a boy-child; dark electronic trinity, Carter Tutti Void on negotiating leadership in a male/female musical collaboration; a heavyweight punch-up between myself and visceral and transcendent writer, David Keenan. Hip-Hop artist Nur-D, whose sad-sunshiny voice of the fat nerd calls out the defensive machismo of black rappers, talks to our Resident DJ, Caoimhe Lavelle.
Meanwhile, Caoimhe’s soft-n-tough mix for this issue will have you prancing and posing in crusty black leather to those Mystery Girls (Pete Burns & Julian Cope), New Order, that other stubborn Artist, Prince and, of course, The Cure.
There is no ‘masculinity’ without ‘femininity’ – both can be flexible performances, masks we shred, or fully occupy with grace and respect for the Other, who is also necessarily, biologically and spiritually, us. That’s why I love the gender-fluid cabaret porn films and photography of Tim Best, our cover star, a continually self-revealing, self-making artist.
Love on ya,
Editor – Twitter @calcourtesan
Cover photo of Tim Best by Tim Best.