all women were bigger and stronger than you
and thought they were smarter
women were the ones who started wars
too many of your friends had been raped by women wielding giant dildos
and no K-Y Jelly
the state trooper
who pulled you over on the New Jersey Turnpike
was a woman
and carried a gun
the ability to menstruate
was the prerequisite for most high-paying jobs
your attractiveness to women depended
on the size of your penis
every time women saw you
they’d hoot and make jerking motions with their hands
women were always making jokes
about how ugly penises are
and how bad sperm tastes
you had to explain what’s wrong with your car
to big sweaty women with greasy hands
who stared at your crotch
in a garage where you are surrounded
by posters of naked men with hard-ons
men’s magazines featured cover photos
of 14-year-old boys
tucked into the front of their jeans
and articles like:
“How to tell if your wife is unfaithful”
“What your doctor won’t tell you about your prostate”
“The truth about impotence”
the doctor who examined your prostate
was a woman
and called you “Honey”
you had to inhale your boss’s stale cigar breath
as she insisted that sleeping with her
was part of the job
you couldn’t get away because
the company dress code required
you wear shoes
designed to keep you from running
And what if
after all that
women still wanted you
to love them.
You know, Peeta’s unconventional masculinity is as relevant for traditional gender subversion in The Hunger Games as Katniss’s unconventional femininity.
It’s a bit annoying to see everyone and their mother praising Katniss for being such a unique action female hero, and then hearing those same people making fun of Peeta for being a weakling and a ‘sissy’.
Yes, Peeta paints sunsets and bakes cookies and frosts cakes. He is sometimes/usually unarmed and needs Katniss’s protection. He needs saving at several points across the story, and eventually he is captured and needs rescuing.
So what? Just as Katniss can be dextrous at archery, an assassin and a leader in combat, while retaining her kindness, humanity and selflessness, Peeta can paint, bake, and not be a traditional male action hero and still be the male lead and romantic hero of the story. He can still be sexually alluring for Katniss and capable of extremely heroic actions, while needing rescue and baking cakes.
And if you can’t see how relevant it is for this story and for a younger generation to understand that traditional and media-approved masculinity is also a social construct/imposition, as restrictive and reactionary as enforced traditional femininity can be, then the joke’s on you.