Battle(star) of the sexes rises again
By Amanda Greever | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
How do I love thee, Internet? You are the fertile ground where idiots, misogynists and racists come to plant their seeds — and you never give up your bounty.
As I was perusing the web this year, I came across a particularly amazing — read: horrifying — rant by actor Dirk Benedict. In case you’re unfamiliar, this thespian was Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck in “The A-Team” and Lt. Starbuck in the original “Battlestar Galactica.” In fact, the latter, which was a blatant “Star Wars” rip-off, is this column’s impetus.
Benedict, writing for the May 2004 issue of Dreamwatch, addressed the re-imagined, and far superior, “Battlestar Galactica.” He addresses many concerns with the newer series, including many pointed comments directed at the show’s re-imagined Starbuck. While this might be a little confusing for the uninitiated, it’s downright perplexing for those few who have seen the show.
After all, Benedict’s character is a womanizer who smokes cigars and finds humor in the bleakest of situations. The re-imagined Starbuck, played by Katee Sackhoff, is a big fan of sex and cigars. She also finds humor in the bleakest of situations. Sound familiar. Maybe identical.
So, what are Benedict’s concerns?
The actor, railing against network executives and studio culture, seems to think that the earlier show was a victim of discrimination. He argues that executives were too concerned about the character’s sexual appetite, cigar smoking and devil-may-care attitude. After all, men and women sent him tons of mail, expressing their appreciation for this sensitive, complex portrayal of masculinity. I’m sorry. I jest.
It’s hard to give this man too much credit. Why? Take a look at this: “There was a time — I know I was there — when men were men, women were women and sometimes a cigar was just a good smoke. But 40 years of feminism have taken their toll. The war against masculinity has been won. Everything has turned into its opposite, so that what was once flirting and smoking is now sexual harassment and criminal. And everyone is more lonely and miserable as a result.”
Are you serious? I mean, c’mon.
Gender is a construct. Plain and simple. Society created these two opposing ideals: Masculinity and Femininity. We pitted them against each other. We made them mutually exclusive. However, they aren’t mutually exclusive.
Sure, God has made us different. I’d never argue that sex is a construct. We have men and women. That’s reality.
What’s not real is the way that society has forced gender roles and social norms upon these sexes. And, I don’t make this argument for women. I make it for all. Men are victimized by gender roles and social norms, as well.
Gender constructs force us to assume roles and responsibilities. They make us suppress innate desires and potentially act contrary to our own individual natures. Why? They deny nature. They deny gender’s dualistic nature. No man is wholly masculine. No woman is wholly feminine. We are both. Each and every one of us is a mixture of masculine and feminine ideals.
How many of you have met a man who possesses female characteristics? How many of you have met a woman who possesses male characteristics? All of you.
So, I don’t understand Benedict’s concerns about the re-imagined Starbuck. I think it’s a reactionary response founded in historical anxieties about female sexuality. Society is extremely uncomfortable with female sexuality. It scares people. I don’t understand it.
Why is it easier for people to think of women as either the Madonna or the whore? Why can’t a woman act like Benedict’s Starbuck without being subjected to harassment and persecution? Why must female sexuality be a threat to male sexuality? I don’t understand it. I really don’t.
Are we not human beings? Are we not creatures who long to live and love as our hearts command us? Are we not worthy of the same respect afforded to our husbands, fathers, brothers?
Hypermasculinity is sexist. Plain and simple. Hypermasculinity is sexist, because it serves as traditionalist propaganda, disregarding actual reality and nature. Gender isn’t a case of absolutes. No man is wholly masculine. No woman is wholly feminine. We are both. Thus, any argument that purports absolutes is intrinsically propaganda.
Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
Write Amanda at (email@example.com)