I am ashamed you see, and the first and last impulse of the ashamed is to hide out. And where better for a man to hide out today, than in broad daylight, in the quick of this withering lucidity, this penitential publicity? It might perhaps be more natural to hide in, for where is there to hide outside, in broad daylight? But no, what it occurs to me to do, or represent what I want to do as being, is to hide out in masculinity. Shame is exposure: but a certain kind of exposure can be reassuring and defending. Being a man is real. I also know that ironic incognito - 'you won't get masculinity to stick on me' (and more of stickiness later on) - is the costless posture of first resort among many men writing on such issues. Will Self is one of the most recent recruits to the cause of this sulkily noncombatant masculinity.
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I cannot yet take masculinity studies as seriously as I promise i will in the end, for when I hear the word 'masculinity i can call to mind only clownish and poignant prostheses: shaving-brushes animals and cuff-links and collars and tie-pins and jock-straps and string-vests and. I cannot call any of this mortuary stuff to mind without thinking of it coming back in a suitcase from the hospital, with the teeth. Let me hasten to say that I hope nevertheless at all costs to restrain the comfortable envy of becoming-woman of which Deleuze writes. I envy women only the fact of their not being men, in the way i envy stones or sheep, and would regard the desire to be a woman, in me at least, as a compound disgrace, the crassest, most puerile expression of male ressentiment. 'i have been a man long enough, i shall not put up with it any more i read in the words of the done-for Moran. It has been a long time and one does grow tired of being a man, though perhaps not yet quite enough, in spite of all. And maybe, all the time, the condition of being a man, the imperative dasein, the being-stuck-with-being-a-man of being a man, is growing in its turn weary of us, and starting to look elsewhere for a living. Let us hope, without much conviction, that there may yet be leave for such as us to hope,. But if all else fails, as it assuredly will, there will always be the chance essay of keeping my head down amid all the flood of contemporary explication on the subject of man. For masculinity to be the subject of so much discussion (I am reminded of Virginia woolf marvelling, at the beginning of a room of One's Own, at the yards and yards of male-authored books on 'woman' in the British Library catalogue for it to have. But being outed as a heterosexual man also opens up avenues of escape, nooks of concealment, that look promising.
Guilt gives us the whodunnit, even with its fruit ever-present possibility of the youdunnit - oedipus Rex, the murder of Roger Ackroyd. Shame gives us The Trial. I have never been able to think of being a man except as a form of shame, though i am not angry. In this time of hormonal ebb, 'my' masculinity is but a battered kettle at the heel. But don't we all find it hard to take masculinity as seriously as we suppose. You must have noticed that there is now no word for the condition of being a man that doesn't have tucked into it a snicker at its bumptious presumption - 'masculinity 'manhood 'virility'? Even the seemingly bleached-out zero-degree word 'maleness sports a daft little swagger that 'femaleness' does not.
But you can tell i am not really ashamed of these things, or I would not be bragging about them like this. I am trying here to find a way of getting underneath this kind of nameable shame - which you will soon find I will want to class as precautionary guilt. No, unfortunately my shame does not come from the shivering apprehension that it is all my fault, and i am scornful of men (like me, and they are legion) who load up with this tumescent culpability. I want to think i mostly have not done the worst of the things women and men have had done to them by other men, though it would be a kind of relief if I had. But in any case, to be ashamed of a wrong, or one's part in it, in the way in which one might be abstractly ashamed of one's part in the history of slavery, or the potato famine, or the holocaust, is not really. Sadism, laura mulvey once wrote, demands a story. Masochism craves the demand for story, and guilt supplies both with the script they need. But there's no story and so no pay-off, with shame.
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I am ashamed of the business will-to-manhood involved in being a man. I am ashamed of the stupidity and selfishness and certitude and pettiness of being a man. I am ashamed of men's shoving voices and the sound of my own, of which I hear a lot. I am ashamed of the things men carry on agreeing to want and ashamed as well of what men have done, and what I believe being a man continues to entail doing, to women and to other men, and not just accidentally but systematically,. I am ashamed of all that is male in my sexuality, which is all there is of it, that pittance, all the way down, not far, to the bottom, and sorry for bringing. I am ashamed most of all of the violence that is inseparable from being a man. We boys and men grow up in an atmosphere and the expectation of violence.
Violence against women and female children is a visible horror and a scandal because, despite everything, we still know it to be exceptional. But the assaulting of boys and men is the default condition, ignored or even incited on all sides, because it is almost entirely undertaken by other boys and men. If this makes the whole thing look weirdly consensual, a fight club in which we slug it out between ourselves, within ourselves, it is because. To continue to recognise myself as the sort of being who has accepted these conditions of violence and agreed to identify with the givers of it, is to own up that it is too late to dissolve the essential solidarity between being a man. I didn't get where i am today without being a man and so have always had it coming to me, this shame i promise i'm coming to, and nothing but shame will do, at last, for that, for.
Shame is bottomless, there is far too much ever to tell of it, and so it holds its tongue. To speak of shame is to prolong or exacerbate. I am ashamed of being a man; i am ashamed to speak of this shame, and ashamed of the need I feel to do so, which i accordingly pretend is a gratuitous and shameful pretence, a need for which there is really no need. Speaking of it, speaking of any shame, from within it, is nauseating; it is infection, infliction, insult, sullying, insolence. Shame is never so shameful as when it owns itself.
This is why we are determined that people should own up to their guilt, but put strict limits on the speaking and display of shame. People are to be shamed, but their shame is not to be countenanced; allowing yourself to be shamed, is in itself shameful. Shame is a dose to be gulped, not a state to be faced. Still, i am though. Statements of this kind seem to call for rosters of reasons and remedies. What is there to be ashamed of in being a man, my son? Well, though my shame has no definite causes (I am going to say a little later that no shame does it does have attributes and occasions. I am ashamed, for example, of the advantage of having been a man, and of its arrogant privilege and prospects.
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Women must be men, in order to be real women, and all the men must too, the the only difference being that men can be counted on to come a cropper at it and thus body forth the failure of being a man. Anyone can be a man, in fact, everyone must be a man, there's no choice but to be, for anyone but me, with any luck, if there's any justice, so help. The Cretan statement 'i am ashamed of being a man' is as self-falsifying as the statement 'i am dead'. It is out of the question to be ashamed and in the same breath to say you are. The moment that you can say you are ashamed, you break free of shame's suffocating clasp and start puffing the pungent whiff of imposture, even though you are now exposed to the new, but only minor shame of having plan distorted your shame into intelligibility, shame. You have in fact taken on one of the many 'masks of shame' so finely described by léon Wurmser. Properly, innocently shamed people have no words at their disposal, with which to clear their muddied names.
Beinan let it at once and without fail be mother known. I am ashamed of being a man. Whether I have grown ashamed of being a man, or merely grown aware of always having been so, i do not yet know how to tell. Why be ashamed of being a man? To ask the question is to answer. To be a man is more and more to be - to be able to be, for it appears to be a power as well as a predicament - a disgrace, to be disgrace itself. Men are spent-up: masculinity is a crashed category, the very name of ruin. How queerly all this coincides with the fact that it is now compulsory to be a man, for all. All must strive for, and to be, the phallus, and size, as every advertisement coyly sniggers, matters.
To be honest, being a man has always been a bit of a gamble, and has always involved jeopardy, the risk of falling short of being a man. Now, however, there is a swelling certainty that to be a man is in and of itself to fall short. Secondly, i will briefly review some of the thinking about shame, especially in its relations to guilt that has been done in philosophy, psychology anthropology and sociology during the last century. I will suggest that, where shame tends nowadays to be seen as a moral emotion, and to be discussed as an ethical problem, its reach is larger than this. I will argue that shame is not only to be thought of as a moral prop or provocation, but a condition of being, a life-form, even, and will offer a brief, wild phenomenology. Thirdly, i will suggest that male masochism is not so much the expression of shame, as an attempt to exorcise it, by turning shame into guilt and thereby taking its measure, and making it expiable. Fourthly, i will consider the power of shame, suggesting that it has possibilities beyond those traditionally claimed for. Doubtless, one can die of shame, as Salman Rushdie has said; but, stranger than this, it seems one can live of it too.
Deleuze, and so. Here, 'a man' names a principle, a force, perhaps even force itself for Deleuze. It names blockage, formalization, dominion, man 'insofar as man presents himself as a dominant form of expression that claims to impose itself on all matter'. 'woman on the other hand, and impeccably as usual, means the opposite, for 'woman, animal, or molecule always has a component of flight that escapes its own formalization'. Perhaps what this slogan means, therefore, is that to write is to be unmannned, meritoriously to unman yourself, by taking flight into the condition that Deleuze calls 'becoming-woman though he is careful to specify that being a woman in the first outsiders place would not mean. Here, i will try saying that to write is not to free oneself from the shame of being a man, or not, at least, but for sure, if you are this one. Writing might also be a way of meeting with shame, a coming in to male shamefulness. I have surprised myself by wanting to be able to conclude that male shame, or my kind, is less to be regretted than one might at first think. I will say this.
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The Shame from of being a man. Steven Connor, this is an expanded version of a paper given in the. Gender and Sexuality seminar series, Institute of English Studies, 30 november 2000. A shortened version appeared in, textual Practice 15 (2001 211-30. I being a man, ii shame and guilt. The body of Shame, stigma, aversion, iii shame and Masochism. Iv the force of Shame 'it makes women feel like to cry and die said Chhunni-ma, 'but men, it makes them go wild.' 'except sometimes his middle mother muttered with prophetic spite, 'it happens the other way round.' (Salman Rushdie, shame as for himself, though. (Samuel Beckett, watt ) 'The shame of being a man - is there any better reason to write?' wonders Gilles.