Manliness, Masculinity, and Liam’s FTM

In the article Manliness, Patrick Califia describes his transition from female to male at the age of 45.  Califia’s definition of masculinity is different from what he considers to be the societal norm.  He attributes this to his identity as a female to male transgender person. 

Califia takes issue with society’s definitions of masculinity because he feels as though he doesn’t fit in these categories.  He says that he has a reluctance to embrace manliness because his father would beat him when he didn’t conform to femininity.  Califia’s article talks a lot about how he feels like he doesn’t fit in society’s categories.  For example, he says “In a world where women are supposed to feel and men are supposed to act, I stand in the middle and comprehend what both of them are doing, and why. But I remain a stranger in each of these territories.”

In this short youtube clip, Liam discusses masculinity and what it means to him as a FTM identified person going through transition.  Liam is similar to Patrick Califia because he doesn’t fit the normal mold of masculinity.  In the video he talks about how he doesn’t know how to change the oil in a car (or much about cars in general) which is considered to be a masculine trait.  Liam also mentions sports and how that seems to play in to masculinity.  He says that not liking sports makes him less masculine in some people’s eyes.  One of the comments on the video is also interesting because it is from a “straight dude” who hates sports and says that he can get away with his opinion because of how he looks (6’4 and 350 pounds).  I find it particularly interesting that this commenter can get away with not liking something that is generally considered masculine just because his physical appearance is overly-masculine. 

Both Liam and Califia have their own ideas about what constitutes masculinity and I think it’s interesting to see how they are alike and how they are different.  Both the video and the article specifically mention that knowledge about cars is something that screams masculinity.  Both also specifically mention that changing the oil in a car is something that is considered masculine and that their lack of knowledge about this subject doesn’t make them less masculine than someone who does know how to change the oil in a car. 

 The article and the video do a good job in showing that masculinity is subjective.  Each person has their own ideas about what is masculine and whether or not people should conform to this norm.  I think both pieces help the readers or viewers to think about masculinity in a way that they might not have thought about before. 


-Jalyn Phifer