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How ‘big dick energy’ translates into an era of gender fluidity

A discussion of masculinity and lack thereof

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How ‘big dick energy’ translates into an era of gender fluidity

Whether it’s through the discussion of daddy issues, race, hairs on your chin, or the size of your genitals, the Vice interview panel, “Be A Man,” interrogates what it is “to be” in a world where gender is no longer a “predictable” concept. 

The identity distribution of panel participants seems to touch either end of the spectrum: from a nonbinary TikTok influencer, all the way to a God-fearing, cowboy hat-wearing man. 

While the extreme differences between some of the panelists is impressive, the distribution of participants doesn’t really seem to evenley highlight identities that fall in between these “poles,” given most of the participants were heterosexual cis men. 

Just by initially judging that fact at face value, I questioned whether we really needed to hear what heterosexual, cis men think about gender. But throughout their discussion, the way that they responded left a breadcrumb trail indicating how the larger system of gender has affected them. 

“There have been increasing trends in how ‘to do’masculinity,” Daniel Nolan, UW sociology graduate student, said. “The pro is that that’s created a cultural tool kit that’s much wider. So people can experience that as liberating, [whereas] traditionally masculine people tend to feel constricted.” 

Nolan later explained how the sociological term, “nomos,” illustrates the system of explicit rules — such as gender binaries — that bind people to the social constructs humans have created. 

For those who have been on the outside of these gender constructs, there is a newfound feeling of liberation with the widening breadth of possible identities to employ. 

While, at the same time, those who have used traditional social codes to their advantage don’t want to let go of the predictability of gender “nomos.”

As you could predict, when the panel continued, there emerged a prominent theme of discussing how we validate gender through biology, using it generally as justification for the gender binaries and their role in it. 

One member on the panel also moved the discussion to the double standard of women having to fear being assaulted walking alone in the dark. 

“As a man, you’re more likely to fend off someone attacking you. As a woman, not so much … So, that’s why we have things like mace, tasers, or a gun,” a participant in the panel responded. 

To this comment, I immediately thought, “Thank god I have mace and tasers, that’ll definitely compensate for my genetic inferiority.” 

Constantly, survival of the fittest is used to explain some kind of superior morphology or genetic composition. Maybe “big dick energy” has gone too far.

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An excess of testosterone or muscle is used to explain some existential, inherent aggression, making their survival skills more exceptional. When it comes to autonomous women, we describe her physique as maladaptive and weak. 

Therefore, our solution is to give her mace rather than asking ourselves why we continue to excuse a culture of masculine, hyper aggression.

“Any time that we agree on a clear line that separates people — it’s completely made up,” Nolan said in reference to these genetic binaries.

This part of the panel discussion reminded me of the recent gendered athlete arguments. 

In one popular case with the International Olympic Committee, sprinter Ewa Kłobukowska was used to define an arbitrary standard for gender.

When the doctor discovered she had “one chromosome too many,” she was prevented from competing (even though the chromosome difference didn’t give her an advantage to the race), and was thus declared “not a woman.” 

Whether it’s through SAT or androgen level testing, it seems that we’re constantly trying to quantify qualities of humanity that are unquantifiable, subsequently using it to determine people’s value or place in the world. 

In an ideal world, we could be any version of an identity we wanted without judgment. Meanwhile, it’s up to us to reconcile that judgment by allowing new spaces, norms, and systems to streamline and empower those identities. 

While gender is a concept we’re constantly deconstructing and learning about, it’s important to also take into account people’s unchangeable life experiences. 

Though I would’ve wished for a more diverse pool, the “Be a Man” panel is still a step in the right direction. 

Conversations like these allow us to learn more about how people differently employ their gender toolkit, depending on the intersectionality of their identities. 

Reach contributing writer Sarah Newman at Twitter: @SarahNewman25

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(1) comment

More Inclusive than Thou

I do not think that I have heard one thing good about masculinity in more than 20 years.

Be honest and genuine in your interpretation and reflection of my post.

What is the only descriptive term that precedes the noun "masculinity"?

Personally I find this disgusting.

Of all of the many forms of hatred, it is always that which is done in the name of goodness that most repulses me.

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