Friday, December 8, 2017

Tef talk from Justin Baldoni: Why I am done trying to be man enough

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Violence and Masculinity

Are violence and masculinity tied together?  For some, the idea of masculinity means having dominance over something subordinate and for some subordination requires violence. From my experiences and observations, violence usually ensue after one feel that they have been tested or deemed inferior whether physically or mentally and that usually causes violence. In Ben Atherton-Zeman’s Men's Manifesto from the text Men Speak out he discussed a lot about learned masculinity and violence as part of securing a masculine image. The fact that no other men are challenge the idea of violence as part of masculinity, allows for cycles of abuse to occur, especially towards women. In the text Men Speak Out Zeman writes, “One of the reasons our brothers and fathers have abused their wives, girlfriends and partners is because we haven’t said, with a unified voice, that this not a “manly” thing to do.”(144) Men are not the ones saying abusing women to prove masculinity is not okay, which allows perversion and violence to persist. This may make it seem as though the two are tied, but they can be challenged and separated as we learn more about male fragility, develop new ideas of masculinity and seek to overall reduce violence as a precursor to dominance.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Creating Feminist Male Heroes

I came across this blog post while researching more on writing:
This blog post comes from an author, who shares their thoughts on creating protagonists that are feminists.
What struck me about this post is how nothing about their list is about male characters engaging in feminist discourse, nor is it about male characters speaking feminist theory or rhetoric. Instead, this is about the character trait used to construct male protagonists as people. I think this is immensely valuable.
Yes, being able to engage in discourse is useful, but when considering the landscape of fiction, especially fiction for young adult audiences, it's also important to consider how characters behave and present themselves. My first reaction to this blog post was that nothing about it was inherently feminist, yet upon further consideration I realized that yes it is.
When considering the landscape of fiction, male heroes follow a few general stereotypes, and we can find plenty of examples of toxic masculinity in media geared towards men. Video games and action movies have plenty, and when we consider this, we can see that there aren't many examples of positive male role models for young boys to be found in media that is specifically targeted towards them. In which case, subverting harmful tropes such as aggression, coldness, misogyny in male characters will help change the landscape. If we endeavor to show that there is more than one way to be a girl, we should as well provide boys with alternatives to normal masculinity, and show them that there are other more healthy ways of being a man. If we can associate more positive traits with masculinity by portraying boys differently, then maybe we can help undo the damage of toxic masculinity.

Hip-hop, masculinity and the black male youth: How does hip hop influence masculinity

I have always questioned what influence Hip-Hop music has on young men and their violent and  misogynistic personas, but it was not until after I watched Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes that I have been able to think about the music we listen to and its influences on male minds. Especially young and black male minds. Over the years I have noticed that though rappers, their clothes, and the beats of music have changed, their misogynist and violent lyrics and videos have not. Exploitation! Is the word that comes to mind when I think of hip hop and the black masculine community. Through the film, I am able to observe as the director/producer questions the music he loves and how it influences masculinity in the black community. When Hurt starts to describe what embodies the idea of manhood within hip-hop: be tough, be mean, be strong, have a lot of women by being a player or a pimp, dominate women (sexism)  and other men (power) usually through verbal or physical violence, have financial provision (to afford flashy things to appear to be in power), got to be in control of your surroundings especially through violence. From my understanding and observation, I believe that a lot of artist put on this façade to sale records at the expense of the youth and especially, the women in their community. Hip hop seems to exhibit hyper masculinity by making men appear violent, rude, sexist and dominant over anything and anyone within their spaces. This is being viewed by young black men who can not separate the music from their lives and end up become what they see in the hip hop videos and lyrics to prove and ensure their masculinity. I do not believe that violence, sexism and money are the basis of hip-hop, but I can not dismiss the fact that it heavily influences it.

Link to film:

Kevin Spacey and Male Homosexuality In Society

As the struggle for LGBT+ rights continue, a topic of discussion that is come up is the various ways lgbt people experience discrimination in society, and the overall progress society has made in accepting lgbt people. One thing to always consider is how race and gender comes into play, how these other social aspects affect lgbt people, and in what ways these other "labels" add to the disadvantages people experience from society.
One thing I have noticed being discussed is how sexuality is being viewed in society. Many have argued that cis white men are becoming the face of the LGBT+ movement, while other sexuality and orientations are still being shunned much more by the rest of society. The argument is that cis white men are still closest to upholding the image of normative masculinity, thus society more readily includes or tolerates gay men who fit closest to the mold of traditional masculinity, compared to society's treatment of transgender people, queer women, and people of color.
While it's important to recognize cis privilege, male privilege, and privilege on the basis of race in order to analyze the power structures at play and to make the right steps towards equality, it's important not to slide down a slippery slope and make claims that any sort of "ultimate acceptance" for a marginalized community has been achieved.
Someone like Kevin Spacey and his recent actions show how easily threatened any sense of normalcy for marginalized people really is. Kevin Spacey tried to hide behind his title as a rich white man to shield himself from accountability, but at the same time he also came out as a form of distraction from accusations that he is a child predator. The reactions from gay men and other LGBT people showed that many were rightfully upset, because Spacey just through an entire group of people under the bus in order to try and excuse his actions. In doing so, he reinforces a negative, harmful stereotype that have harmed gay men for generations. The work that gay men have had to do to distance themselves from the stereotype that male gayness is inherently predatory was not easy, and yet in one statement Kevin Spacey threatened that progress completely by trying to equate the two.
I think that this shows that no one can claim any marginalized group's work is ever done, because the myths society creates against groups are so pervasive and harmful, and can indeed affect men too.

Positive Image Masculinity at Richmond College

I was researching The Man Box and trying to find something interesting to blog about when I stumbled across Richmond College's section of their website about "Authentic Masculinities." From reading it's a program they off to "help our students understand the impact of masculinities in today’s world." 

They had a whole section of The Man Box:
"The term implies a rigid set of expectations, perceptions, and behaviors of what is “manly” behavior. Because it is a hierarchy, Hegemonic masculinity marginalizes men who do not perfectly fit the description of a “real man.” Because no man perfectly fits the description, all men are limited by hegemonic masculinity through policing of behaviors seen as “violations” (Edwards & Jones, 2009)."

It was the information about The Man Box that lead me to their website, but I stayed for the section called "Postive Image of Masculinities." They go into a description about how to be a "real man" starts with discovering your best self. They also break it into three different elements of acting with sound judgment, demonstrating a generosity of self, and living with confidence. 

Thank you, Richmond College, for trying to help break down the walls of our hegemonic masculine society and helping make men into better people.

Sex or Gender: what influences masculinity the most?

It seems that everyone around me are having babies this season and every other season. I have had a lot of my friends invite  me to their “sex” reveal party or as they said it in the stone ages, “gender” reveal party. I was sitting at karen’s baby shower when her aunt leaned into me and said “sex reveal? Why not gender? What the hell is the difference anyway?” I answered to her and said that as the child grew into adulthood, it would grow into its own person and decide its own gender identity. I told her that the baby’s sex would be related to its genitalia and its social experiences and performances would influence its gender. I think I put it as simple as I could without confusing myself or her. She then looked at me and nodded, without saying another word. Six seconds later, she mumbled “this generation is so f***ed up. Sex reveal!” I ignored her mumbling and thought about what might have caused her confusion. Has the ideas of gender and sex definitions really changed that much overtime? It seems that the definitions of both have not changed, but people have become more mindful of the distinction between the two. Sex is more biological and anatomical while gender is based on social roles/ performances. It seems simple right!? Wrong! With trying to understand the the difference between sex and gender, I always wonder if either influence masculinity. Does genitalia or roles make you more masculine or a combination of both? If I have male genitalia am I more likely to be more masculine versus if I am treated and perform what would be traditional male roles. I feel like this is a question I feel fail to answer myself and understand. I strongly believe that experiences (I guess gender identity) make people more masculine, but as a woman I do not believe I truly understand what masculinity is aside from its basic definition. I always think about effeminate straight men. Are they not masculine enough? I found a few videos on the internet that gauged my question about and this one stuck out to me the most.

Phallus Obsessed Masculinity

See Article Here

I found this article really interesting. I wanted to blog about hegemonic masculinity and I wanted to blog about how it still affects us today so I was looking for more current articles and I found this one from October about phallus obsessed toxic masculinity.

It goes over the description of several different types of masculinity but says that is it hard to but masculinity into one category because it's "strong, brave, power-hungry, in control, unemotional unless angry or in competition – is just an expression of one hegemonic metaphorical form: penis-obsessed and power-hungry phallic masculinity."

Phallic masculinity has been a way of representing masculinity for centuries. The phallic art form has existed since ancient Greece and even earlier than that. "Phallic masculinity underpins the social formation of patriarchy. Yet its early manifestations were not equated with the lust for power that defines it today. The earliest phallic objects, found in southern Germany, are some 28,000 years old."

I appreciated this article because it also went over testicular masculinity, seminal masculinity, and tender masculinity. Testicular masculinity is what it sounds like, as is seminal masculinity. They are all very similar the phallic masculinity. Tender masculinity is a way that masculinity is changing to be more tender and calm and welcoming. A masculinity that is catching up with the times. The final paragraph is a good place to end, "The ConversationThere’s an old adage that unless behaviour changes nothing changes. But unless the way we think changes, new behaviours tend to revert to type. New practices need new modes of representation, new ways of thinking. Constructing a more tender and adaptable form of masculinity is not a matter of winning, or of refusing to compete. Instead, we must learn to speak differently."

Masculinity in Children’s Disney Movies

Like many people, I grew up watching and loving Disney’s animated movies. Even now, at 21 years old, they are still a source of immense comfort and nostalgia!
However, as I’ve grown up and developed an understanding of the role media plays in our lives, I’ve tried to reexamine the media I’ve consumed. Of course, even my childhood favorites had to be examined, as I’ve tried to understand how my formative years have been shaped by the values and roles presented to me when I was small.
As a feminist, I thought I had to spend the majority of my time examining how women have been presented in our pop culture. Without a doubt, I’ve spent a lot of time considering Disney’s female characters and princesses; what values they represent, what messages they send to girls about femininity, beauty, love.
Yet I’ve spent so little time evaluating something that’s equally important, and equally worthy of discussion: masculinity in Disney movies. Once I realized this oversight of mine, I also realized that it’s not a topic that’s never come up. On the contrary, I’ve heard comments on “Disney Masculinity” often, mostly from men. What is the general consensus that I hear, though?

“Disney movies give girls unrealistic expectations.”

Expectations about what, I’d ask. Specifically, expectations about love and men. “You can’t expect any man to treat you like that”, they’d say.
I think a lot of criticisms of Disney are valid. We should always be examining how we present ideals of beauty, relationships, race, gender, etc to our children, and it’s undeniable that Disney is a powerful force in most of our childhoods. Disney often only depicts one form of love, one form of body type, one idea of beauty. For many, Disney represents a sort of status quo, a machine that spits out cultural norms and doesn’t do enough changing with the times.

However, the idea that Disney gives girls unrealistic expectations of men has rubbed me the wrong way for a long time, especially because it has been men that voice this opinion. It wasn’t clear to me at first why, but then it dawned on me that none of this was about, for example, criticizing women’s lack of agency in particular movies, nor was it about criticizing the idea that for women, journey and adventure must include romance. It wasn’t about criticizing how our culture is blasted with images of women who need rescuing, and while Disney has moved away from this trope, it has been guilty of using it. Women don’t need princes, certainly, but why is it that men are so adamant about these “princes” not being realistic? Could it be, really, that men have a problem with the way masculinity is being presented in Disney movies?
Because really, how is masculinity portrayed any better in media designed for boys? All the same harmful tropes still exist, women still get saved by men, and to boot rarely is there ever a rose-colored romance between the male protagonist and a woman he adores. Not the way these romances appear in Disney movies. In Disney movies, men are brave, heroic, daring, and charming, but are also sweet, kind, and wholeheartedly devoted to the woman they are in love with.
So, I’d like to know, what is it exactly about Disney heroes that girls should not expect to see in real life? When women criticize Disney, I hear them talk about the fast romances, passive heroines, etc. Men, on the other hand, seem to recognize that they don’t behave the way they’re depicted on screen. Masculinity doesn’t present itself as tenderhearted and romantic like it does with Disney princes. Male heroes for male audiences take the heroism but cut out any inkling of care or even common decency towards other women.

Yet, instead of recognizing toxic masculinity in our real, daily lives for what it is, some would live to instead shift the blame on women, and media coded “for” women. It’s women, then, who shouldn’t have all these idealizations. It’s women’s fault, for growing up with expectations. It’s never men’s faults, somehow, for failing to meet them, for not trying to be better. Because I really don’t think that Disney Masculinity is all that bad, in the sense that women should expect to have men who treat them well, treat them kindly, and treat them lovingly. If not all that, then what should women be expecting men to treat them like? And Why?

Men who rape

I came across this article which details the research done by a P.H.D. graduate candidate about men who commit rape. He set up a hotline in 1976 and posted an ad in the newspaper encouraging rapists to call in anonymously in the hopes that he could find some similarities between the many men who called in. Ultimately the group seemed to be more diverse than similar, though they seemed to have all started at a relatively young age. Even in repeat studies and surveys done it seems that a rapist will likely deny having raped though he will admit to having non consensual sexual interactions (a synonym for rape). It is seen in repeat studies that rapists do not think that what they are doing is problematic or wrong. These studies further show that there is not one type of rapist.

One must learn masculinity before they can do it

Thinking about the idea of masculinity, I always think about my little brother that is the only boy with tons of sisters. I remember when I was younger, I would think that because my sisters and I were not masculine enough, our feminine behaviours would influence my younger brother into homosexuality. I was very young and naïve and feared an unknown. As I got older and went off to highschool, I did a lot of research on gender and sexual identity. In tenth grade, I wrote a research paper for my biology course on how men and women may learn to do masculine and feminine things despite biology. Throughout my research, I learned a lot things I thought were common sense. What is masculinity and how can it be done? I asked myself those two questions as I searched the web and thought of my younger brother. After my research, I concluded that masculinity entails any characteristics that would be associated with the male sex or gender depending on what discussion you are having. Okay, I thought I had a grasp on the concept of masculinity. With further research and understanding, I learned that performance plays a part in the idea of masculinity. The concept of “doing” masculinity comes after one has internalized what the idea of masculinity is. The idea of gender roles popped into my head. What could I do to make me more masculine so I can use that to influence my younger brother and make sure that my feminine traits did not influence him. I learned that even though my brother is surrounded by women, him and societal influences would be the ultimate determinants of how “masculine” he would be. He would need to learn what masculinity means in our western society before he could do “masculine” things. In our society, what makes a male masculine is his dominance over others through violence, control and other hegemonic ideals. These do not sound like something i would want to teach a younger male to make sure he is masculine. I have attached a link to a very interesting article that shares what it means to be masculine and how one must do a certain way in society to secure his masculinity.

Uchiha Itachi: Dissecting the Intersections of Masculinity as They Have Permeated Global Culture

Content Warning for: gore/violence, Naruto spoilers

As we know by now, gender-related issues (especially misogyny) affect the entire world, not just our society, and with that it is important to note that there are of course going to be many similarities in how toxic masculinity, for example, manifests itself in multiple cultures. In watching one of my favorite shows (Naruto: Shippūden), I have noticed several cultural similarities between misogyny in Japan and the United States.

Today I am going to focus on one of my favorite characters from the show, a young man named Uchiha Itachi. The reason I choose to focus on him is because he grew up in an environment that (to me) screams patriarchal ideals and put pressure on him to uphold "traditional" masculine roles. The Uchiha clan makes up the police force of Itachi's village, and his father is the chief. He was born into an elite clan known for its exceptional fighting skills and overall power, and he himself was considered among the most gifted of the members in his lifetime.

Throughout the show, it is referenced (sometimes explicitly, sometimes subtlely) that Itachi does not understand why gender-based assumptions are placed on him, and that he wishes to uphold his own ideals as a persxn rather than as "a man". Many expectations are placed on him, like that he is supposed to contribute to "protecting" his family (what men are supposed to do; what boys are raised to do). Since being a good fighter is seen as more manly/more acceptable for males, and Itachi is blessed with skills to the level that he is referred to constantly as either a "genius" or a "prodigy", generally masculine characteristics are often either assumed of him or otherwise expected from him, despite his personal distance from such notions. It appeared to me from throughout the entire show that Itachi never understood gender roles/expectations; he just saw people as people.

It was imposed upon him from the time he was a child that he, a male, must protect his family through use of physical force, so he dedicated his life to honing his fighting skills in order to follow the path he was allowed to take. This was in order to both keep his loved ones safe and do his due diligence as the police chief's eldest son. Truth be told, he never wanted to fight in the first place, but the rigidity of the system ruled by toxic masculinity surrounding him left him with no choice.

By the time he was 13, he had learned a great deal about the world and about love, and his love had grown to be shared with his entire village, rather than just his family. As he grew, however, his family planned to stage a (what would definitely be violent) coup d'etat in order to gain power in their village. Because his father was leading this "revolution", Itachi was expected to serve as his right-hand man, because that was his duty as a son and as a man of the Uchiha clan. Caught between his village and his family, he was forced to make a choice as to which side of the carnage he would be on. Manipulated by these gender norms (which, to me, seem reminiscent of male gender norms I've seen my whole life in the U.S.), his options were to either help commit violence on a mass scale against an innocent village with whom he shared his heart, or turn on his own family and shed their blood instead. Essentially, it was a choice between turning on his family or help to start a war which would result in far more casualties (of people who were innocent as opposed to the Uchiha, who were seeking blood to gain power).

The fact that masculinity put him in this place to begin with, that any of this was expected of him, that masculinity's desire for power (especially through physical violence) was responsible for so much bloodshed is something that rings universal to me. Though this is fictional and though this is a Japanese show, this reads to me as a global issue. The template is toxic masculinity and the ink used to fill that template in is the blood, sweat, and tears of people masculinity claims as its victims.

Are fraternities going too far?

College campuses, like University of Michigan, have seen a rise in toxic Greek life behavior, more specifically within their fraternities. The degree of hazing seems to be sending more men to the hospital after serious injury with that specific university citing more than 30 hospital transports during one game weekend. Why is it that men haze one another in a more violent way than women? This year alone there have been deaths at Florida State University, Louisiana State University, and Texas State University that occurred due to fraternity hazing. This idea that men have to be tough in order to be cool seems to play a large role here. In order to make it into a highly sought-after position in a fraternity it seems as though eighteen-year-old college students must prove that they can drink incredible amounts of alcohol and withstand large amounts of torture. It appears as though there is a “tough guy” mentality that runs deep in fraternities across the US and students are dying due to it's perpetuation.

 Colleges are suspending Greek life. Don’t expect the ban to last.

Who owns the guns in the US?

As I get to know more men in their twenties to forties I realized that many of them own guns. Not only do they own guns but they have had their guns either on their person or in the car at some point in time while I was out in public with them. Comparatively, I cannot name a single female I know who has a gun license let alone carries a gun. Upon looking up gun ownership in the US, I found an article from Pew Research Center that states that males make up 62% of gun owners in the US. It also went a little further and pointed out the differences in the way men and women approached gun ownership. It seems as though the majority of women own guns strictly for protection whereas most men also cited recreation as a reason why they might own a gun. Most men tend to have their guns loaded and readily available in their home while less than half of the female gun owners indicate that they have their guns loaded and available at home. Men are also more likely to get their first gun at a significantly younger age than women. This research indicates that men are more involved gun owners when it comes to going to the shooting range, carrying their weapons, and watching television about guns. For most male gun owners this seems to be almost like a lifestyle as opposed to a method of protection. 

Pew Research Center: How male and female gun owners in the U.S. compare

The story behind male rompers?

Image result for male romper meme 

The male romper craze that has been happening has anyone to took the time to see that rompers are worn by prisoners for decades?

Can a Man be Securely Masculine and a Feminist?

I love discussing topics of femininity with both my father and my uncle. My uncle is very open when it comes to discussions on feminism and what the benefits of the movement means for his wife and future daughters. My father on the other hand is a complete misogynist with six daughters. My uncle and father are always having arguments about the millennial generation and their “new world issues” as my father calls them. Last weekend, the topic of men, masculinity and feminism came up. My father was telling my uncle that any man who supports feminism is a sissy (that would be the english translation of what he actually said) and has no business in a man's world. So my question to myself, my family and my friends and coworkers was “can you be a masculine man and still support feminism?”. The responses that I receive from my “millennial friends contained “yes” answers and my older, more conservative friends and family members were not having it. They are the ones who believe that the less masculine you are, the likelihood of you being a homosexual is extremely high and homosexuality is a sin and a disease that will end the world. Yes, conversation with them can get really shitty. Anyway, it seemed that the consensus varied between generations and more liberals seemed to consider men who were okay with being labeled feminist were being more masculine than those who refused to acknowledge the movement. My answer to my question is yes. I believe that being a feminist has nothing to do with anyones masculinity. Playing the role of an ally keeps men who support feminism more informed, in my opinion, and actually builds on to ideas of what makes a man masculine. Those who are very much secure with their self as men can benefit from and support the movement without ever being bother by what will diminish them as men because their masculinity is not tied to who they ally for. I did some web searching and found an article that jumps straight to the point of why men and feminism make a great pair.

Drake Speaking Out Against Sexual Assault

During a time when victims are coming out and naming their sexual assailants, there seems to be a silence on behalf of people who may have witnessed these actions and not spoken up. This is not the case when Drake stopped his concert to confront a man who groped a woman in the crowd. A man who thrives in the hip-hop scene does not let the industry’s tendency to accept sexism as an excuse for him to look the other way. It appears men and women appreciate Drake for being so willing to speak up. Men play a role in putting an end to sexual assault in that they can speak up and stand up for victims. Perhaps someone like Drake actively speaking out against sexual assault will give other men the confidence to do the same as well.

Professional athletes and their sexuality

The first openly gay athlete in a North American professional sport was Robbie Rogers. He initially came out when he was 30 years old after he had announced his retirement. At the age of 30 announcing our sexuality to the world becomes something that is not only a personal but international spectacle. After his said fear and shame of his sexuality that he hid from the rest of the world he felt comfortable releasing this information after his retiring. The many differences that professional athletes are faced with regarding sexuality shape professional sport culture today.