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


Who You Calling Boy?

Patrick Califia, in his article, Manliness discusses his own ideals of what it means to be a man after transitioning from female to male at the age of 45. Spending the majority of his life as a woman but identifying as a man, he expresses the ways in which he has come to define masculinity.

According to Patrick, his own concept of masculinity is much different than the one in which society has come to know. Even now, Patrick expresses his concern of being a “man.” He explains, “My gender dysphoria has had more to do with feeling that there is something wrong when other people perceived or treated me as if I were a girl. Not wanting to be female, but not having much enthusiasm for the only other option our society offers.” (Califia, 435). He goes on to discuss his relationship with the idea of maleness and the ways in which he had grown up in a way that made him oppose anything that had to do with masculinity. He explains how he almost feels like a “stranger” to either category of man or woman.

This idea of what it truly means to be a man or a woman made me think about what other people think of this concept of “masculinity.” That’s when I found this blog:

This blog explores the many concepts of masculinity. Many people post all sorts of thoughts, ideas, videos, and other articles all relating to what it must mean to be a man in today’s society. Topics include female masculinity, concepts of masculinity in the media, domestic violence, and all kinds of ideas of what it means to be a particular gender. What struck me most about the blog was the vast array of masculinity being discussed. Some had to do with sexuality, some with violence, some with more feminized versions of masculinity, and some even had to do with the types of food men are supposed to eat to be more “manly.”

Going back to Califia’s article, his own experience of transitioning into a man was extremely complex as well. His father had extremely stereotypical standards of what being a man means which initially drew him away from becoming a man. Califia shares his experience of who he identifies as today as almost a combination of his life experience as others identifying him as a woman as well as his desire to be seen as man today. He also expresses his positive experiences of his father’s masculinity in his life as well.

This blog shares many negative, yet also many positive images of masculinity as well. This just shows that the concept of gender is much more complex than most people imagine. We are all different beings and we all grow up and learn about who we want to be in different ways. There is no actual true “masculine” just like there is no actual true “feminine.” Therefore, using labels to describe ones identify is not enough. Instead, it is important to focus on our own histories to explain who we are. 

Miranda Fencl