Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rethinking Masculinity

   Often throughout this course, I've been thinking on ways to solve many of the problems masculinity creates.  How can we do this by allowing men to keep things about their identity?  Now I'm not saying that we should try to keep sort of the negativity with those traits, but we can we do create a new identity for men while still the uniqueness of their sex.  What are some of the things could masculinity keep that can allow for a healthier environment.  Because in the readings masculinity can't even be defined by certain physical traits because those are culture specific?  Which breaks this down even further.  Should we value gender expression any different because as men, women, anything in between or completely different we all identity as something.  How we express that is completely different.   Should the struggle in the future to promote non oppressive forms of gender expression, and what could that look like?  I guess time will only tell.

Prison Industrial Complex

  Something that comes up quite often in the news when the legislative cycle becomes active again we hear a few words: education, healthcare, and  corrections.  One of those things contributes to many systems of racism, violence, and brutality in this state and it isn't education or healthcare.  Why I speak about this is because of Privatized Prisons.  Now why is it a problem to privatize prisons?  It makes crimes and turns them into profit for any given company, this is because the majority of these contracts make it so that they have to have a occupancy rate that's close to 90% at all times.  This makes them lobby the state government to target some of the people who are the most disadvantaged in society and make sure to target them for insanely little things which does two things.  It prevents them from having a voice in society by preventing them to vote to change these laws and it creates a school to prison pipeline to many of florida's youth which only continues the cycle of violence. 

Trans* Health Care

I got into activism around Trans* issues after two of my closest friends came out as Trans* roughly around the same time.  Normally I don't really touch on this subject too often, but lately the subject has been coming up around the subject of health care and equal access.  Because of how the standard of care for trans folks (WPATH) is structured up until recently, most Trans* people can't have access to hormones without going to therapy for about a year.  Granted they recently changed that, but because it, it causes a lot of stress on most people going through the process because for some reason adults can't make their own decisions about their own bodies.  Some places called informed consent clinics due exist which allow Trans* people access without going through the vast amount of counseling that's required which saves them time and money.  Sadly this doesn't exist in the State of Florida right now, so the problem of access comes up quite often, and since there's no one to tackle this issue in this state it becomes pretty difficult for Trans* folks to be even be able to live in this state.

Supreme Court to Hear DOMA/Prop 8 Case

Just a bit of an update on that.  One of my hobbies is constitutional law, and I wanted to give a brief analysis on the upcoming case.  Basically it's looking rather good for striking down DOMA as it stand right now considering Justice Kennedy was the swing vote in Lawrence v. Texas, but it's not so clear what the ruling will actually bring.  They have an opportunity to bring a rather wide interpretation to the DOMA case which I see as the least likely thing to happen because of a few factors.  One being that Justice Roberts would probably also swing in favor of striking down DOMA as it stands because he would be able to assign who writes the decision of the court.  Which would result in a 6-3 ruling, and he would probably go for the interpretation that government can't discriminate, but as it currently stand he'll probably leave it up for the state to decide.  There's also a off chance that he might just make a wide interpretation allowing the marriage equality on a national level, simply because the supreme court doesn't like hearing the same case twice, and it  will come up again if the likely outcome of the case would happen.

Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act is up for renewal in Congress.  Many conservative republicans are against the act, some claiming that it promotes divorce and man-bashing.  The current issue is that Joe Biden wants to extend the act to include same-sex couples, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants.

As of yesterday, it has been reported that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will agree to renew the act if they exclude some rights to Native American women who are victims of violence by non-Native American men. 

The rate of domestic violence, rape and murder of Native American women is horrifying.  And the fact that anyone can look at the statistics and try to deny these women human rights is appalling.

You can read more here

Who's to blame for violence against women?

This is a clip from Fox News where a debate about gun control turns into a discussion about women protecting themselves from violence from "larger, more powerful" men.  What I find scary about this clip is that the only female involved in the discussion states that women need to "make better decisions" to avoid violence.  The focus is about how women bear the responsibility of protecting themselves, not on how men should not be committing violence against women.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

TEDtalk on Gender Dysphoria

The Video

Alex gives a rather informative lecture on the gender continuity that even though I didn't post during the discussion of queering masculinity I feel gives an adequate education on what it's like to be transgender through the lecture.  The subject of Gender hasn't really been touched on to recently by the TEDtalks excluding the TEDxWomen conference would actually touched on several subjects of sexism in online communities.

Awareness is one of those things that's rather important to the Trans* community, because not a lot of people are even aware of their existence within some LGBTQ groups which blows my mind.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Modern Threats to Manliness

Even though I already made my 5 contributions, I really wanted to share yet another Cracked article I had been reading for my own leisure. It deals with how certain things affect testosterone production in men and how many habits that we have may be detrimental to the production of this chemical thereby reducing our ‘manliness’. It is a humor article but it does cite its sources and while the information itself is medically interesting if you particularly like the subject of hormones, I think that the most interesting part is what the humor inadvertently displays. Many jokes are cracked that a lack of testosterone is threatening, to the point where diabetes seems like it may be worth it. It also illustrates many stereotypes and notions of manliness. For example, it talks about how low carb diets and high protein diets are definitely manly but reduce testosterone. It’s interesting to see the countless ways in which the article simply assumes that there are certain things unrelated to our sexuality (such as preference in food) that go hand in hand with our masculinity nevertheless.

The War on Men

This is an article on Fox News’ opinion page by a woman who speaks about how feminism has actually hurt heterosexual relationships. The article cites polls that show that males have decreased their desiring for marriage while females have increased theirs. The article says that males crave their rightful place as the head of households and simply want to provide for their families because that’s their nature.  One of the more notable parts to me was when the author mentioned that through feminism, women have gotten off the pedestals they were convinced they did not have in order to topple men from their own, leaving them with no place in society. I think it is interesting to see that people still believe that inherent to masculinity is the dominance within a heterosexual relationship and that males simply lose their place when confronted with an egalitarian proposition. It was also striking that the author noted that many males complained that women aren’t women anymore. Patriarchy has some very blatant benefits, but could it really be that so many males are happy to knowingly give women the shorter end of the stick (though the article argues that women get a different but equal place) in order to preserve these benefits? I find it a bit insulting toward men and it troubles me that some people still view masculinity in this light and even worse, applaud it.
I share this article that I very much, as I suspect a lot of you will too, disagree with because a lot of the time when dealing with gender issues in most classes. We tend to mostly read literature that favor feminism but I think that it is important to hear an opposing view, if for nothing else, to exercise our critical thinking muscle.

female masculinity

Finally, I would like to share this beautiful 
montage of female masculinity by Meiko Elias.  

Another video discovered via research that I failed to share earlier-lol! I find these women incredibly brave to enact their gender as they see fit and are most comfortable with.  Initially, I thought that drag kings were the only women to completely immerse themselves into the posturing, dress, and style of the brand of masculinity we see in this video.  

However, these are not simply "butch women"- they are women who gender identify as this particular construction of masculinity: 
amazingly beautiful and infinitely courageous.

Masculinity in Disney

Unsure as to why I have not been sharing my research along (lol) I thought this student project surrounding masculinity in Disney films should be shared here. For me, I have been so fixated on "undoing" the effects of unattainable images that my nieces get from these films, that I have rarely focused on the masculinity viewpoint as it concerns my nephews.  Nonetheless, I have become more aware of the socialization of my nephews as of late and was researching this a few months ago.  The creator and narrator of the short points out that in the end, these films wind up "leaving many boys feeling physically inadequate and emotionally detached".

note the bodies of all family members: the daughter is super thin the mother is shapely 
the father is huge and the son is following suit

the importance of not dismissing violence against men...

It is easy to get caught up in the fact that heterosexual men are statistically more likely to be the perpetrators of violence domestic or sexual violence. However, I feel it is really important to point out that men can be the victims of violence by women and gay or transgender men and women can be the victims of violence by other men and/or women as well.  Most often, this is sexual abuse by women to boys- not that it is statistically common but it is real and does not lessen the pain and destruction that boys (that grow into men) experience.  Men are less likely to report domestic violence or if they do, they are often not taken seriously on the grounds of acting "like a woman" or "not being man enough" to "handle your woman" or any other stereotype of hegemonic masculinity. As feminists, I think it is our duty to not be dismissive of these men and their experiences. Here are some sources for men who are dealing with the fallout of sexual abuse as a child or otherwise and domestic violence.

Why We Need to Reimagine Masculinity via @newsweek

Misogyny in Rap Music

On Being Inspired...

The film "War Zone" by Maggie Hadleigh-West really inspired me to confront men on the street about how they treat women, both in regard to myself and other females. This weekend I went out to one of the local bars and vowed to respond to and acknowledge remarks made to me and other women by strange men.

Well, as fate would have it I was spoken to by males I didn't know. Some said, "hey girl!" or "hello beautiful", and the occasional "hey...hey...HEY!" to get my attention. To their surprise, I reciprocated their cat-calls with exactly the same language and attitude that they initially directed towards me. I responded with, "hey boy!" and "what's up lil' mama?"...their faces were priceless. Men really detest when women do not adhere to the precedent placed on socialized silence. They expected passivity in an area usually reserved for shy smiles, frowns, or a frustrated blush. I saw another woman being harassed by three male individuals who were all trying to get her number at once, yet, she did not appear to know them. I took her aside and said, "you should give them more information than they truly expect, just start talking about menstruation, ovulation, or any-ation for that matter." I didn't stand around long enough to watch the outcome, but I hope it helped.

Here is another article that discusses cat-calling's irritating effects by Emmie Mears:

She aptly sizes up the harmful effects these types of remarks made towards women and girls in a PG-13 post  that I think all of you will find horrifying but very very informative.

Boys and their Toys

While making dinner the other night, my son was at the table playing with his latest toy obsession - Lego Ninjago.  After a quick battle, he turns and says "It's a shame you aren't a boy Mom so you could play with Legos like me."  Needless to say, after I picked up my dropped jaw I responded with "What makes you think that I can't play with Legos because I'm a girl?"  His reply "Well, there aren't any girl Ninjagos."

Later that night, my husband listened to my "rant" as I wondered what it would be like if "girl" shows had more fight scenes in it and superheroines were not only a side note to the popular superheroes.  I love anime, even though I am well aware of their distorted images of male and female bodies, and I find that women are not seen as inferior to men when fighting in anime and it is not uncommon to see a male fight a female, even though the Japanese culture is extremely patriarchal.  What if the content of "boy" shows was replaced with the content of "girl" shows how differently socialized those kids would become?  What if instead of resorting to fighting, the boys talked to each other to work out their problems and if girls were told to combat problems with physical strength?  Since the female body is often portrayed as weaker than a male body, what would the impact on girls be to see buffed female bodies that were confrontational?  Would men still be the main perpetrators of violence?  I wonder....

Touching and insightful Domestic Violence Presentation by Marianna Rader

Them Gays Documentary by Theo Ferguson

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Not Without My Daughter

Not Without My Daughter is a 1984 film. It is based on a true story and I recommend you all to watch it.

Here is the trailer for it =)

Domestic Violence PSA's around the World

Domestic Violence for both men and women are common.
Here are a few links that show you how each country reacts to domestic violence.

Domestic Violence PSA from Wales

Keira Knightly for Women's Aid

Australian PSA

What's Wrong with Sluts?

I was reading an interesting article on "Slut Walks" by columnist Melanie Phillips who writes for the website . She wrote a riveting article concerning the stigma attached to women who dress in a "provocative" manner. Slut walks are a response to the idea that women ought to be held to a double standard to men in regard to what they wear. I think Phillip's cheeky piece is a wonderfully balanced social commentary on a very real problem in America. A woman should not be blamed for her own rape for simply wearing clothing. Furthermore, there is a precedent set on teaching women how to NOT BE raped and by far less literature and awareness teaching men how not to RAPE.  Here is the article below:

Would you let your kid gender-bend for a day?

What Would You Do? is a series that acts out scenes in front of unsuspecting people to see how bystanders would react. Typically they deal with a whole series of social justice issues such as racism or poverty. I stumbled upon this video in which they have a little boy ask his mom if he could be Belle for Halloween because the male characters tend to be too violent and the mom refuses. It is interesting to see that most bystanders actually side with the mom. The bystanders also had a tendency to comment on the fact that you have got to intervene on these behaviors while they are young so that they don't become habits. It was a bit chilling, knowing what I know about gender to see regular people enforcing it in such a blatant manner. It was also interesting to see how the reactions subtly change when the role is reversed toward a girl who wants to be Spiderman.
If you have the spare 7 minutes, I think it is well worth it to watch this video.

Trophy Wife

We all either know a trophy wife or secretly may even want to become one. 
I heard about Sandy Riccardi through a friend but never actually saw any of her work. 
She is a comedian and I have to say she is quite hilarious.

She wrote a song called "Trophy Wife" which is sung through the Trophy Wife's perspective. If you have 3:21 seconds to spare, I definitely recommend this video.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Hey everyone, there's a movie on Netflix instant-watch which I would completely recommend. It's called Mansome, it was made by Morgan Spurlock who you may remember from the documentary Super Size Me. Its lighthearted and features many comedians. It deals with men's struggle to define manliness, especially as current times have ushered an era where it is constantly being redefined (like with the metrosexual movement). It includes interviews with experts and men with varying opinions on the matter.
Here's a trailer!