Male Friendships and the Culture of Toxic Masculinity

Last week we got into a side discussion on the differences between male and female friendship. I looked into English media on the topic and quickly found a lot of complaints on what makes male-male frienship difficult. American culture is particularly hard on men IMO, but how about Taiwanese culture? How does male friendship work in Taiwan culture?

An American cultural contempt for male friendship
The contempt for male friendship is a cultural failure on an epic scale. That contempt is everywhere. The friendships between women in popular culture are the source and choicest fruit of their maturity. At the end of Frances Ha, Frances glimpses her old friend across a crowded room. "Who are you making eyes at?" somebody asks. "That's Sophie. She's my best friend." …
For men, it's just the opposite. Male friendship on any given sitcom, is a retreat into thoughtlessness, crudity. The Big Lebowski hilariously painted male friendship as an extended and colossal fuckup. The Hangover movies turned it into a series of epic degradations. But … the greatest buddy movie of them all is Dumb and Dumber. Men get together onscreen to be idiots with one another.
To mature as a female person is to mature into female friendships. To mature as a male person is to mature out of male friendships.

The Limits of Relationships

Limits are boundaries. A boundary is a marker between two different states of being.
Tonight we're going to explore the boundaries of relationships.


There's one kind of boundary, between the the classifications of the kind of relationship a person has with us, for example, what's the difference between a lover, a girlfriend/boyfriend, or a wife/husband? That one's easier to answer than asking what's the difference between a casual friend, a good friend, and a best friend, right? That one's a lot harder to define, but why?


There's another kind of boundary, which has something to do with how you like to live your life, and the ways in which you feel comfortable doing things and being with people. On a broader level these boundaries could be created by morals or ideals, culture or social convention, but on a personal level they could also be created by beliefs or feelings, or even learned behaviours.

Sometimes a boundary is invisible to our own selves until someone crosses it; suddenly you know it's there, and it's real! Also when someone does push that boundary, your perception of them changes, and maybe your perception of yourself changes, too.


What makes you see a person differently...

...in a good way. Do you have any stories about a person showing something to you about themselves and afterwards you like them a whole lot more?

...in a bad way. Do you have any stories about a person who crossed a line with you and you couldn't think of them the same way after that?


Let’s Talk Colonization

It could be argued that Taiwan's culture today is a product of many years of colonization. This book “How Taiwan Became Chinese” discusses how Taiwan’s initial colonization was by the Dutch, using Chinese settlers. This book’s introduction also argues that while the European powers were colonizers, China was not. However for much of its thousands of years of empire, China used what in English is called a vassal-state system.

So let’s talk colonization. Is there a material difference between colonies and vassal-states? Is cultural expansion and takeover an inevitable part of globalization? Is globalization under capitalism any different than globalization under empire?

The Wikipedia article argues that Chinese expansionism over the centuries, or “The traditional Chinese international structure” was “different from many other systems developed in other parts of the world.” So Chinese expansionism was different than European expansionism because “it was premised on the belief that China was the cultural center of the world and that foreigners were "less civilized" or "barbarians.”” This sentence entirely ignores the fact that Europaen expansionism was predicated on exactly the same belief. I wonder if any expansionism is not based on the belief in the originating culture’s superiority?

These are just some of the questions these articles brought up for me. What questions do they bring up for you? Let’s talk about it on Friday :DD