Like the writer of the blog, The Rawness, it took me a second to realize that the swaggering stud in the blue jacket above is a woman. And, following the Rawness' lead, I've juxtaposed that photo with the typical hipster couple below. The male below doesn't have a fraction of the bravado or force of the woman above. He's literally in the shadow of his mate, and despite the stubble, seems emasculated -- neutered. Mild as warm milk.
As Ricky Raw points out, it's rare in bobo or even boho crowds to see any guy exuding the cock-of-the-walk insouciance and traditional masculinity of the woman above (let alone the style). He goes on to say:
I have no proof to back up this claim, but I bet that Allison Michael Orenstein, the dapper dan butch in the first photo, is the more hardcore lesbian while her mate, kissing up on her cheek, Simone Saint Laurent, was probably straight for much of her life and got ”turned out” by Orenstein or a butch similar to her. The reason I assume this is because of what a butch lesbian who excelled at “converting” straight women once told me: that metropolitan straight women, living in this world of feminized bobo whimpsters, are getting so starved for traditional masculine swagger to activate their primal lust triggers and make them feel safe to be a submissive woman that they’re even increasingly willing to turn to another woman to get their dose of macho swagger. This butch claimed to me that the sensitive wuss has been the biggest boon to her lesbo recruitment game, and looking at the two pics I believe her.He ends up with some advice for his male readers -- basically, butch it up like the lesbian and learn a few skills every man should know.
This is good as far as it goes. And if more boho/hipster fellows took the recommendation, the world would be a better place.
I'm all for trying on masks and poses. When it's done consciously, with originality, it can be wholly artful and stuff of true rebellion against the conformist mass. I think of the public poses of Quentin Crisp, Gerard Nerval, Patti Smith, Robert de Montesquiou and so on. What people mistake for sincerity or naturalness is often just an excuse for laziness. "I am who I am." Right -- putty in the hands of your parents, your friends and the milieu you never thought to question.
The poses, once adopted, harden into habits.
I haven't thought much about gender behavior for a long time. For one thing, I'm butch enough -- not butch as in bullfighter/boxer/bouncer/ macho, but within the narrow context my day job and my filmmaking, I'm macho enough.
For another, self-presentation becomes less of an issue as you age.
But: Is it masculine to worry about looking masculine? The real men I've known tended to focus more on character or moral qualities rather than presentation. That is, they were focused on mastering skills, on demonstations of bravery, on stoicism. On humor, too -- you'll never hear more jokes than on a blue-collar worksite.
Essentially, it's a question of virtue -- virtue in the old Roman/Latin sense of the word, which my dictionary tells me is "virtūt- (s. of virtūs) maleness, worth, virtue, equiv. to vir man (see virile )."
So, to amplify rather than dispute Ricky Raw, I think anyone who wants to butch it up should focus on qualities like bravery, chivalry, and toughness and let the swagger extend from that. Remembering, too that you tend to become what you pretend to be.
Male. Or female.
(both the photos are from New York magazine).