Ok, let’s first suspend the convenience factor, the fun of raining down from high places, and the creative outlet of spelling your name on a wall. There is a definite advantage when it comes to relieving yourself outdoors for men that must be the envy of all women, I know it is for my wife and daughter. That advantage is lost, however, once we are indoors except for possibly at a urinal, which not all men have installed in their homes.
Any man who’s woken up in the middle of the night and tried not to turn on the bathroom light knows that accuracy can be a problem or the unfortunate woman who has needed to use the bathroom shortly after. A morning Bonner is as just as difficult to control the stream and hit the target. Imagine a fireman’s hose at full power and then let go of it while the house is still on. Those of us men considerate enough to clean up after our target shooting has gone awry, no the inconvenience of such miss haps. Yet from our early years, we are taught by our mothers and fathers that “Real Men” stands up to pee.
In fact, there are all sorts of inventions designed just so this practice can happen. Toilet bowls are widened to give men extra space in the target. Lights around the rim to illuminate the landing pad are a personal favorite of mine. Some janitor somewhere must have invented urinals, being tired of cleaning up after less than stellar sharpshooters. Big troughs installed in sports stadiums to aid in our overconsumption of alcohol and testosterone have to be my least favorite. All this is to maintain masculinity for men. I also don’t get the whole fear over transgender bathroom usage or why we even have separate bathrooms, which are just constructs invented to reinforce our current power structure. But I digress.
Toxic masculinity takes many forms and is practiced by both men and women. In my last post, I briefly mentioned the fetishization of darker Black men versus their light skin counterparts. While researching that post, I stumbled upon Fiq The Signifier’s YouTube channel, where F.D. Signifier speaks on topics relating to Black media. Signifier’s video “Black Men and Colorism on Screen” takes a thought-proving look at the roles of Black men on television and in movies based on the darkness of their skin. This leads me to think of books and if the same colorism is happening in what we read as in what we watch. So what did I find?
Well, a quick internet search revealed a mixed bag when it comes to title covers. The covers featured men and women of different shades of brown, but no one I would consider dark brown or black. Some of the same colorism characteristics from the screen can be seen in the title covers. For example, the women are mostly lighter than the men, and interestingly, the interracial covers are favored heavily by white men with a Black women. So while it might not be taboo for a white Prince Charming to pursue a Black woman, it is still tableaux for a black male suitor for a White woman. The one example I did see was “Blitzed” by Alexa Martin, a fellow writer of color from my hometown of Colorado. I have not read the title, which is the third installment in a series revolving around the “Colorado Mustangs” NFL team. Further propagating the stereotype of black male athletes and white women. Same-sex romance is not exempt from some of the same colorism in its suggestive covers. In Finding Joy, Desta Joy Walker returns to Ethiopia after his father’s death, where he meets Elias Fikru, a native. Great premise and I’m sure a good story, but looking at the cover, it is obvious colorism, and some whitewashing is at play.
A record About 19% of new marriages are interracial couples according to the Pew Research Center and Gallup has pole with 93% of White Americans and 96% of Non-White Americans approving of interracial marriage. It is also impactful that in the same report Boomers had the greatest shift in opinion from a time before Loving v. Virginia was decided by the Supreme Court striking down laws outlawing interracial marriage. These shifts in views are not just a black and white issue similar statistics reported concerning Hispanic and Asian. Hansi Lo Wang in his article, “Steep Rise In Interracial Marriages Among Newlyweds 50 Years After They Became Legal” reports that, “More than a quarter of Asian newlyweds (29 percent) and Latino newlyweds (27 percent) are married to a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. Those rates go up even higher for those born in the U.S. — to 46 percent for Asian newlyweds and 39 percent for Hispanic newlyweds.”
The economic power of interracial couples is also at an all-time high, and politically while more democrats think interracial marriage is good for society compared to a much smaller group of Republicans, it is notable that in the same poll, those same republicans said that interracial marriage didn’t make a difference either way to society an according to Wang’s same article. So when it comes to love and marriage, are authors out of step, or is the publishing world still pushing an obsolete narrative? Shouldn’t people of mixed ethnicity be demanding more accurate reflections of their lives in today’s media? More importantly, shouldn’t creators be more responsible for the narratives, stereotypes, and tropes they reinforce when it comes to skin color?
While getting men like myself to sit down to pee may never happen even though some studies believe it is better for our health. The idea that peeing standing up makes you more macho is as ridiculous as the colorism at play in today’s romance novels. Masculinity has nothing to do with the color of your skin or how you go to the bathroom. Rather, how you treat yourself, your significant other, your children, friends, and your family proves more of your manhood than any patriarchy litmus test of color.