All posts tagged: masculinity

Colonialism & Man Boobs: Conquering the Feminized Terrain of the Fat Male Body

In Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest, Anne McClintock demonstrates how male imperialists repeatedly framed exotic lands as feminized terrains to be explored, contained, and dominated by masculine reason and violence. For example, she analyzes Jan van der Straet’s famous drawing, which “portrays the ‘discovery’ of America as an eroticized encounter” between “a fully armored Vespucci, [who] stands erect and masterful” and “a naked and erotically inviting woman” (p. 25-26). McClintock cites additional gendered metaphors of conquest, such as the language of “virgin” lands and territories, the female figures that donned ships’ prows, and even the mythical mermaids and sirens that filled the otherwise empty seas drafted by cartographers. Notably, McClintock argues that one of the motivating factors behind these imperialist actions was “a profound, if not pathological, sense of male anxiety and boundary loss” (1995, p. 24). McClintock’s argument finds an analogy in the study of male control over fat male bodies. In this scenario, the fat male body emerges as similarly feminized terrain, a land of the self that—based upon …

Labor Day Laments and the Masculine Glory of Groom’s Cakes

It’s Labor Day, which signals summer’s approaching end, as well as a seasonally-based, social ban on white clothing. [Though really, when are white pants ever a good idea?] This holiday also tends to mark the end of the summer wedding season, but I’ve got weddings and cakes on the brain because I’m head-over-heels in love with Cherry Levin’s recent article, “He Can Have his Cake and We Will Eat It Too: The Role of the Groom’ Cake in Southeastern Louisiana Wedding Receptions,” in Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture.  While I’m not sure the claim that the groom’s cake tradition is waining everywhere but in the south holds water, I greatly enjoyed the author’s analysis of the groom’s cake as a masculine detail within the otherwise ultra-feminine affair that is most big, white weddings. Levin comments upon the “visual and symbolic relationship” between the wedding cake—or “bride’s cake” if you prefer—as its towering tiers and feminine, frosted details mirror the bride herself, adorned with lace, tulle, and beading. Furthermore, she contends that “celebratory cakes communicate important messages …