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TOPIC: masculinity

Society

Federer And Nadal, Or The Privilege Of Being Celebrated For Crying

The picture of the two tennis stars holding hands and crying has already become iconic. Is there a risk that we are glorifying the gesture of two privileged, heterosexual, white men? Or can it also show a way forward for men to show vulnerability?

-Essay-

I have no doubt that the photo of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal holding hands and crying in front of the world during the Swiss player’s farewell to tennis will be remembered as one of the images of the year — or even the decade. It is extremely powerful on many levels.

From a symbolic point of view, it offers a great opportunity to move those who saw it. How many of us cried along with them? We saw two idols and, at the same time, great sport rivals overcome with emotion.

Why waste such a powerful image, such a tender moment, because two privileged, heterosexual, white, multimillionaire and European men are starring in it? On the contrary, that is exactly why the image provoked such a strong reaction: because these athletic, hyper-idealized, ultra-competitive, strong and confident men don't usually show such vulnerability, and we don't know when they will do it again.

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Papá, Papá, On Repeat: Are We Men Ready For Fatherhood To Change Our Lives?

How many men are willing to change their lives when they become fathers? For Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra, becoming his son's main caregiver showed just how difficult caring for a child can be.

There is a moment on Saturday or Sunday, after having spent ten hours with my kids, that I get a little exasperated, I lose my patience. I find it hard to identify the emotion, I definitely feel some guilt too. I know that time alone with them improves our relationship... but I get bored! Yes, I feel bored. I want some time in the car for them to talk to each other while I can talk about the stupid things we adults talk about.

This is what a friend tells me. He tends to spend several weekends alone with his two children and prefers to make plans with other people instead of being alone with them. As I listened to him, I immediately remembered my long days with Lorenzo, my son, now three-and-a-half years old. I thought especially of the first two-and-a-half years of his life, when he hardly went to daycare (thanks, COVID!) and we’d spend the whole day together.

It also reminded me of a question I often ask myself in moments of boredom — which I had virtually ignored in my life before becoming a father: how willing are we men to let fatherhood change our lives?

It is clear that the routines and habits of a couple change completely when they have children, although we also know that this rarely happens equally.

With the arrival of a child, men continue to work as much or more than before, while women face a different reality: either they double their working day — maintaining a paid job but adding household and care tasks — or they are forced to abandon all or part of their paid work to devote themselves to caregiving.

In other words, "the arrival of a child tends to strengthen the role of economic provider in men (...), while women reinforce their role as caregivers," says an extensive Equimundo report on Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighting a trend that repeats itself in most Western countries.

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Invisible Work: The Weight Of A Family That Men Don’t See

A father’s role is not to help the mother out, but to take on the “mental load” of knowing what needs to be done.

Last winter in Greece, I ended up spending several full days with Lorenzo, my now three-year-old son, because he had been sick and could not attend daycare. My wife is the main breadwinner in the house and I am the one who gets to leave behind work in case there are emergencies like that.

When Lorenzo got better, we went to a café in the outskirts of Athens. I envisioned a win-win situation where I could have a break — eat lunch, check emails, answer some messages — while he could play in an area designed for children — with a ball pit, tables for drawing and painting, a book corner… how important it is to have such spaces!

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Mightier Than The Sword

"What am I supposed to do with this, Dottoré?"

I have a patient who’s in great distress because of a physical peculiarity of his.

"Gennaro, did you know that in Ancient Greece, heroes, kings and all important men were said to have a small penis? Greeks associated small penises with moderation, one of the indispensable qualities of manhood — and therefore of a warrior. In contrast, a large penis symbolized the inability to manage impulses and act with intelligence and decisiveness. Actually, elderly men were often depicted as having large penises."

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Ideas
Lux Lancheros*

Political Fashion In Latin America Leaves White Men In Suits Behind

Politics has always been associated with image. This is especially true in Latin America, where white men in suits have dominated the field for years. But a new generation of women are shaking up politics — as well as how female politicians are expected to dress.

During "The Great Male Renunciation," toward the end of the 18th century, men stopped using refined forms of dressing in order to be taken seriously, leaving conspicuous consumption of clothing and ostentatious dressing to women. It was an attempt by the bourgeoisie to leave behind all the decadent vanity of the overthrown aristocracy.

Men flaunted their power through the clothing their female counterparts wore, though they themselves could not aspire to that same power. Men could no longer dress extravagantly and had to moderate their "feminine impetus", unless they wanted to be considered weak and frivolous. That is why many women at that time who wanted to succeed in “men's” professions had to dress in a masculine way (like French novelist George Sand), with some going as far as pretending to be men.

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Jordan
Marta Vidal

In Jordan, A Safe Space For Refugee Fathers

A group in East Amman gives men from Syria and other conflict zones an opportunity to open up and talk through the many ways they struggle.

AMMAN — Each week, a group of 15 or so refugee men meet at a community center in East Amman and sit in a circle. They laugh and cry together while sharing stories they always divide into two phases: before and after the war began.

War and protracted exile have stripped them of their traditional roles and identities as protectors and financial providers for their families. This group is a safe space in which they get to be vulnerable. They realize they're not alone — but most importantly, it's a chance to be heard.

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Switzerland
Nic Ulmi

The Complex Relationship Between War And Manliness

Gender, virility, violence and fear: warmaking has long been thought to have a very specific and masculine identity. But a French researcher has shown that it's not so simple.

LAUSANNE Back in the 19th century, young French conscripts who passed the army's physical would attire themselves with a lapel pin they'd bought for a few cents, inscribed with the words "Fit for the ladies." A sticker would sometimes accompany it, showing a private fondling a prostitute's breasts.

"This was true in all Western European countries in the 19th century," explains French historian Fabrice Virgili, whose research for the past 20 years has consisted of studying how wars have influenced relationships between men and women.

"With the arrival of universal suffrage and of compulsory military service that replaced a formerly professional army," he explains, "so too appeared an equivalence between being a citizen, being a warrior and a manly man, including with regards to sexuality."

Still, considering armies and wars as showcases for triumphant masculinity would be too simple. Virgili believes that the truth is instead more complex, more paradoxical and more subtle. Between World War I and today's drone wars, the representation of manliness in war has progressively changed, for two primary reasons.

"In 1914, soldiers were men and men only," he explains. "Woman were excluded from the front. But little by little, a certain number of women got closer to it, not just as nurses but also as drivers and ambulance women. From that point, the male monopoly on war started to dwindle."

The second factor is that the image of the alpha male boasting his weapons received an unprecedented reality check. "The heroic, fearless warrior still lives in propaganda, but we notice that it corresponds less and less to reality," the historian says. "When they're at war, all men have their body and their psyche bruised."

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