Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Photographer Jess T. Dugan challenges ideas about masculinity and identity in "Every Breath We Drew"

In her project titled "Every Breath We Drew," photographer Jess T. Dugan creates intimate portraits of people in their homes, exploring "gender, sexuality, identity, and community from a highly personal, intimate and humanistic point of view." As a photographer, I really appreciate the intimacy and vulnerability in her photos. They show a sense of introspection and make you question personal definitions of masculinity and sexuality. There is nudity in her pictures, but its non-sexualized and unashamed nakedness that isn't typically shown in movies or magazines. Her work creates a connection between viewer and subject. Here is a buzzfeed article about Every Breath We Drew that contains some of her pictures. The project has been ongoing for over a decade, and she has published a book of her photographs you can get here. Her work happens to be on display at Rollins College in Winter Park (25 minutes from main campus). You can find more info on that here. This is the cover of her book and one of the photographs in her project:

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Desperation to Sell- Is Objectification the New Norm?

Companies should not have to use desperate acts (like objectification) to sell their products. If the products works, and does what it says, it should sell itself. There is absolutely no need to objectify human beings to sell a cheap product. People all over, especially young kids are looking at ads and believing that if they “buy this product, then they will become something different: thinner, hotter, sexier, smarter (Tarrant, 50).” A hot topic is women being objectified in advertising. But, what about the men? Men get objectified just as much as women. Advertiser David Gianatasio from AdWeek calls the wide and growing use of male objectification, “hunkvertising.” I guess advertisers are lacking in the creative department if they have to settle on this to sell their products. I feel like we have fought (and are still fighting) on women’s issues, and for equality- are we taking a step back, again? Are we adding to the list of the many things that people need to fight to change? YES! Sadly, media is getting worse and worse, and having more of an influence on young minds more than ever. Here is a great site with a few examples of the objectification of men in advertising:

Photo. "Hunkvertising: The Objectification of Men in Advertising." AdWeek. AdWeek, 7 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

If You Think 'Straight-Acting' Is An Acceptable Term, You're An A**hole

Three days the Huffington Post posted an article called "If You Think 'Straight-Acting' Is An Acceptable Term, You're An A**hole" At first glance I thought the article header was a bit harsh because everyone is entitled to their opinion but as a gay male I have encountered this term multiple times and I finally came across an article that addresses this. 

What the author of this article states is "Being "straight-acting," for a gay man at least, is directly related to how convincingly he is able to present traditionally masculine mannerisms. The term is so markedly offensive because its very existence insists that there is a particular, instantly identifiable manner of being gay (defined by effeminacy)." To me I can affirm to this being completely true. In the gay community white masculine men are held on a pedestal knowing that all gay men want them because of how they act and how they look. Instead of being stereotyped as those stereotypical queen gays that are always portrayed they can pass off as heterosexual which is in turn fighting against a stereotype. To me it's absolutely fine to be a masculine gay man but what I have really seen with this is that a lot of gay men, like the author, purposely try to butch themselves up to try to be more appealing to other gay men. The true purpose of acting and showing a more masculine appearance is not really for oneself but just to attract more partners. In a sense you're not truly a masculine man as a man who is trying his hardest to be someone that gains approval by others. This is a sad event for me because as gay people we are constantly trying to fit into the heterosexist society we live in and a way we do this is by building a community for ourselves where we can be who we are. I think the "straight-acting" phenomenon is opening cracks and destroying our community as a whole by now dividing the feminine and the masculine men with the feminine men getting the less end of the stick. To me there is nothing wrong with being masculine and if that's who you are then that's great! What I'm saying is that we shouldn't have to act a certain way in an already marginalized community to not feel marginalized and unwanted within our community.

If you want to read the article yourself you can find it right here

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mikki vs. Joshua

This morning on the television show “The Doctors” two men were invited on the show after they had an “online feud”. The feud was between Mikki (a dad that took a video after he let his son buy a mermaid doll) and Joshua (a dad that made a video in response to Mikki and bashed his parenting style).

The hosts of the television show allowed each man to state his opinion, but tried to help Joshua understand a few things; mainly that his opinions have the potential to be extremely destructive toward children that are exploring their gender or sexual identity. The consensus between the professionals is that it is good to allow children to choose their own ways. There is NOTHING wrong with children choosing whatever toy that interests them!

“If we could nurture children for who they are, they will find their own paths.”- Dr. Mike Dow, psychotherapist

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Silent Epidemic - Eating Disorders Among Males

Eating disorders and the dangers they present are slowly gaining more attention. People are beginning to become aware of the warning signs and there are more resources out there for individuals receiving treatment. There is still an aspect, however, of eating disorders that has remained silent: eating disorders in males. It’s often seen as a “girl’s problem” and not something boys deal with, and this stigma only makes it harder for a man to ask for help. 
The idea of a man struggling with eating and body image goes against the mainstream ideal of masculinity, but it’s important that we start to talk about it. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 10 million males in the U.S. suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder. An important intersection is also the consistency of eating disorders in gay males; 42% of men with eating disorders identify as gay. 

These men's stories need to be heard. Evan Taubenfeld shares a personal and emotional story of his eating disorder and how he is beginning to fight for his health (Trigger Warning).

Why I Paint My Daughter's Nails

The general public may think of painted nails as a feminine thing, but one single father is working to change that. He regularly sports polished nails after his daughter provides him with manicures. He says that it has nothing to do with sexuality or gender, rather it has to do with being comfortable in one’s own skin and he does it to better raise his daughter. He also notes that men and boys are primarily the people who question why he does this. I believe this demonstrates just how uncomfortable men can be when someone exists outside their concrete idea of masculinity. This father understands that traditionally feminine activities such as painting nails are not inherently tied to gender; rather they are unnecessarily socialized to be associated with one gender. Normalizing the breaking of simple gender norms such as this could allow for a more flexible expression and understanding of masculinity.

Check out the video here.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Military: Is it Threatening Masculinity?

Women in the military is a hot topic lately. In fact, women issues in general is a hot topic. Is masculinity threatened by women in military? Military masculinity is pushed in the media as a male-dominated job. TV shows, movies, toys, and about 90% of military marketing show men as the face of the military. Could the fact that the military changing their standards to slowly include equality for women, challenge stereotypical military masculinity? Some people think so. Masculinity is not something that is strictly expected of men. Women can be masculine as well- and not be homosexual. “Masculinity is not the actual different between heterosexuality and homosexuality, but the linguistic acts of attempting to separate them (Reeser, 38).” Masculinity should not be something so feared by women and protected men. If we all just realized that men and women can both share the trait, and also succeed in the military, and stop harassing and fighting each other, maybe equality would not be such a complicated issue to resolve.

Here are some great links on the policies, changes and information about women in the military:

Reeser, Todd W. Masculinities in Theory: An Introduction. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Print.