Doing Masculinity Through Humour
In this video, If Guy Best Friends Acted Like Girl Best Friends, two men act out what is supposed to be typical “girl” behaviour. Here, girls are body conscious, vain and insecure. According to this video, girls’ friendships are unhealthy and overly intimate. The men in the video are dressed in masculine clothes but they use “feminine” voices and bodily gestures. The joke is femininity itself. The act is only presented as funny because the men don’t fully embody femininity.
The meaning of this video is very different when viewed through the social construction of gender. Sociology research by Candace West and Don Zimmerman shows that people “do” gender through our bodily practices. Society expects us to act, dress, talk and think of ourselves as either male or female. Our gender is supposed to be expressed physically. We are made to fit into a binary, rather than finding our way along a continuum with alternative gender expressions. So men taking on behaviours perceived as feminine is viewed comically (or alternatively as bizarre or threatening). There’s nothing inherently female about being close with your best friend. The femininity performed here is not especially representative of women – but rather a particular type of “girl” that is clearly identifiable as female. That’s how gender steretoypes work.
In this amusing sketch, the men are actually doing masculinity in order to poke fun at girls. Men acting out intimacy draws laughs because that’s girl stuff! What if they were just two cis-men* talking closely using their regular voices and gestures, having fun taking photos of one another and sharing their emotions? Would this be considered funny? Would it be subversive? Would it be strange?
*Cis-gender is a gender (subjective and meaningful personal identity) that matches the biological sex a person was born with. #sociology