Real men deconstruct manliness

Pub date July 25, 2013
WriterRebecca Bowe
SectionPolitics Blog

There was an interesting moment at last night’s Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club’s Annual Dinner and Gayla, when Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, all dolled up in a hot-pink feathered boa, reflected on Pfc. Bradley Manning’s “manliness” during his award acceptance speech on the gay whistleblower’s behalf.

When Manning, who sometimes reportedly self-identified as female and went by Breanna, courageously exposed government secrets, it exemplified what “a real man” would do, Ellsberg said. Yet when Lyndon B. Johnson (disastrously) vowed to forge ahead in Vietnam, it was partly because he feared being seen as “an unmanly man,” he added, all of which throws into question the very concept of masculinity. Earlier this year, Ellsberg and his wife, Patricia, joined the Bradley Manning contingent of the San Francisco Pride Parade to represent Manning following the heated debate over the Pride board’s decision to rescind Manning’s Grand Marshal appointment.

Meanwhile, deconstructing what it means to “be a man” is apparently becoming a thing. On a different end of the spectrum, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, surpassed her $80,000 target on Kickstarter for a film delving into the “crisis” surrounding masculinity. The pitch starts with a clip of the Newsoms’ blond, blue-eyed tot, Hunter, while mom questions whether he’ll grow up to be “caring and compassionate” or “a depressed, disconnected portrayal of masculinity.”

We dig the concept and all, but jeez – was it really necessary for an affluent celebrity married to one of the most powerful men in California to use Kickstarter?