Whenever I hear the question ‘What Is A Man?’, I see the Four Tops flying around a night-time skyscraper scene, sporting white tuxedoes. I have no idea if this video exists in reality.
The author went to extraordinary lengths to disguise herself as a man, went and lived as one, then sought to answer the question asked by Levi Stubbs and co.
Without wishing to second-guess the book’s conclusions, it seems that there is no such thing as unadorned manliness: it, as much as prancing around in a purple overcoat with a chrysanthemum in one’s lapel, is a persona used to negotiate social circumstance. Denunciations of Brokeback Mountain for corrupting American symbols of manliness (the Rape of the Marlboro Man, no less) are ultimately doomed, themselves a symptom of the cracking façade of ‘being a man’.
Last night on Eastenders, the directors sought to illustrate the feminisation of mob boss and all-round nasty piece of work Johnny Allen by putting him in a Beverly Sisters-pink cashmere sweater. This was in sharp contrast to the traditional black leathers worn by the simian Mitchell brothers.
Er, that’s it. A disparate collection of thoughts. I can’t be bothered trying to order them manfully. Oh, and here’s a piece on castrati.