Whether it’s an ode to niceness offered in a rap song or through a play inspired by construction workers, four young men reflect on positive ways to incarnate a new masculinity for future generations.
By Maxime Beauregard-Martin
Dominique Sacy has fun too – sometimes without even thinking about it – taking apart the image of traditional masculinity in his writings.
His slam “Gentil team” (Nice Team), made-to-measure for his poetry show Le Tinder Chaud (The Hot Tinder), sounds like the complaint of a too-modern man in a hetero dating universe.
“The idea came to me after two different women told me at the end of our date that it wouldn’t work because I was too nice,” he says. “Afterward, I didn’t think that was a generalized feeling. In her essay La théorie du cumshot, Lily Boisvert takes apart, among other things, the theory that nice guys can’t get women, and that doesn’t surprise me. But I’m still criticized for my niceness.”
The author recites his verses, a smile in the corners of his mouth, before declaring his allegiance to the “doux team” (the mild team) loud and strong.
“I didn’t intend to write this specific slam, but I’m happy that people are interpreting it as a condemnation of toxic masculinity,” Sacy says. A big rap fan, he tries to set fire to all the hidden codes that stem from toxic masculinity: “Most rappers spend their time crowing about their sexual conquests or their material goods. Using the same musical style, I’d rather promote other things entirely, like mildness, niceness and openness to others.”
Masculine for Masculine
According to producer Sony Carpenter, 26, even gay relationships are poisoned by a sort of toxic masculinity. Society imposes a role on all men to play, and gays can’t escape it.
“When you’re homo, you don’t have access to the complete privilege of traditional dominant masculinity,” he argues. “It generates a very complex relationship with masculinity, one linked to a desire to correspond to society’s expectations. Ultimately that can create internalized homophobia, and violence within the community. Because even as an oppressed person, you can end up acting as an oppressor.”
It’s sufficient to scan through dating app profiles of gay men to see this in action. Some write phrases like “masc for masc,” “no fem,” or “hors milieu” (which means outside of the gay community).
Carpenter says: “When you think about it, it’s very violent to exclude people with feminine habits that don’t correspond to our image of a man.”
It’s a behaviour this former Abitibi resident admits practising when he moved to Montréal and avoided hanging out with effeminate people. “I came out quite a few years ago, and people from my region always told me that they don’t like gays, but that I’m okay. I was flattered. But basically, what they were saying was that they validated my identity because I didn’t have any behaviour they found feminine.”
So if the feminist movement has paved the way to a more egalitarian society, it’s also up to men to refuse to behave the way society dictates that they should. For the benefit of all, starting with each one of us.
First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 29, no. 6, août (August) 2021, pages 10-11