Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cultural Masculinity/Femininity

Masculinity and femininity are social constructs that vary culture to culture. Dutch social psychologist Gerard Hendrik Hofstede is popularly known for his comparison of cultures based on several values, including power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, uncertainty avoidance index, long-term orientation versus short-term orientation, and indulgence versus restraint. A quick break-down of each follows:

-Power distance index: the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally

-Individualism vs. collectivism : degree to which people in a society are integrated into groups

-Masculinity vs. femininity: a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success

-Uncertainty avoidance index: a society's tolerance for ambiguity

- Long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation: he connection of the past with the current and future actions/challenges

- Indulgence vs. restraint : a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun

According to the Hofstede scale, the United states value for the masculinity dimension is 62 (on a 0-120 range). The highest ranking on the masculinity dimension is Japan at 95 and the lowest being Sweden at 5.

THIS LINK allows viewers to compare countries on all dimensions of the scale.

Seeing how the numbers compare country to country allowed me to make since of certain demographics of countries. For example, Japan’s high suicide rate is likely related to their high value of masculinity and competition. Sweden on the other is classified as having a feminine society, but the lowered pressure of competition and the acceptance of compromise, makes for a lowered suicide rate. See Clearly Cultural: Masculinity for more. 

Gay and Masculine

Something I've been thinking about over the past couple weeks is how homosexuality and masculinity work together. One of my best friends identifies as a gay man and often makes jokes about his own masculinity, but I have never perceived him as a stereotypical gay man. It's weird to me that being gay challenges or 'ruins' masculinity. It doesn't logically follow for me. I've alluded to this in our module about masculinity and sexuality, but one would think one boy plus another boy would equal more masculinity. But it does follow that it is more "natural" to be with a woman for a man, which would make the most "natural" masculine response heterosexuality.

I have been wondering where the feminine gay stereotypes arose from as well. If being gay already decreases someone's masculinity, did we as a society start associating other non-masculine things with being gay as a consequence? Or did this stereotype emerge on its own? Some gay men recognize their sexuality through a complete divergence from stereotypical masculinity. Others do not. But this does not make them any less attracted to men. Another one of my close friends who is a gay man admits that he is not attracted to openly feminine gay men. It's interesting to me how this all intersects.

Sexuality is a large part of our identities because it impacts our social interactions. I wonder if we will ever reach a point in which it does not detract from masculinity to be gay. However this would require the end of the ideal that hegemonic masculinity requires heterosexuality, and that homosexuality is the deviant sexuality for men while heterosexuality is the default. I don't know if we are on track to accomplish that any time soon, especially given the outcome of the recent election, but I think those are the obstacles that are in our way.

New Girl

Season 5 of New Girl has a story line in which one of the main characters, Schmidt, feels the need to prove himself as a man on the day of his bachelor's party. This episode ends with him and his friends being beat up by some rivals in the desert and then they all resolve to go home to chase their love interests. This show advances progressive ideals of masculinity when Schmidt's best friend tells him that 21st century husbands don't have to protect their wives to prove their worth. He points out to him that caring about what his wife eats, what they do together, things like that, prove his worth as a husband. I think that this is an important idea for masculinity.

I think we still have men who subscribe to the idea that men have to be the saviors of the damsels in distress to be true men. They feel the need to prove themselves tough and able to overcome challengers, thus qualifying as the manliest man. This reinforces the idea that manhood is based on dominance and power. But this fosters unhealthy competition between men and distracts from the actual important aspects of relationships, which Schmidt's best friend reminds him about. Men could use more support from each other to remind themselves that manhood ought not be about a power competition, but rather being true supporters of the people they care about.

DC Comic's Cyborg and Masculinity

Comic books are a bastion of the idealized male in popular culture- heroic, muscular, adventurous, violent, adored and dominant. Comics allow us to explore and change concepts of masculinity as we progress as a society and constitute some of the best modern mythology.

This article, about the comic book character Cyborg, deals  with the fact that his lower body was blown off and with that, his genitals. The article explores how his masculinity is affected by his amorphous genitalia (it even has racial overtones as one critic suggest that the black character was castrated to be non-threatening to white audiences). In a society where idols are made in inches, it is interesting to see those boundaries pushed and explored, at least in fiction.

The Price Gap: Car Insurance

When you think about money and the role gender plays, most people will reflect on the pay wage gap where women generally make 80 percent of what men are paid (Miller, 2016); but did you know, there is also a gap in the amount men versus women pay for car insurance? Commonly, males have higher car insurance rates than females.
Some of the factors insurance companies take into consideration when calculating one’s rates include their car, driving record, credit history, age, and gender – with gender holding more weight in younger drivers. Some of the influencers of the pricing gap according to the link provided, are “the types of cars typically chosen by men, the frequency of accidents among women versus men, gender-based statistics on risky driving behavior, and the average number of miles driven by women vs. men.”

***Statistics provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ***
•71% of all car accident-related deaths in 2012 were males.
•The number of drivers who died in a fatal car accident was 50% higher for men than women in 2008.
•Men are much more likely to have been under the influence of alcohol in a fatal crash. In 2012, 38% of fatally injured male drivers had BACs of over 0.08%, as compared to 20% of fatally injured female drivers.
•Seat belt use was observed in 88% of female front seat occupants, as compared to 84% of male front seat occupants.
•In 2012, 23% of male drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were speeding at the time of the accident, while 14% of women involved in fatal crashes were doing the same.

The reality behind the numbers-
What are these numbers really saying? They are simply reflective of the increased risk-taking behavior and importance placed on shallow values aspects of masculinity. At a young age, the social approval (or pressure) that comes with having a car, especially a nice one, obviously proves dangerous for the measure of one’s masculinity is usually determined by peer groups.
I understand the maturity component my parents often spoke of that came with having a car. Not giving in to social pressures to drive and act recklessly may be the difference of life or death on the roads, and the price gap in insurance reflects that males generally are more likely that females to be irresponsible.



Joe Rogan

You may have seen him on Fear Factor or commenting on UCF, but Joe Rogan is most successful as a podcaster and comedian. Three of my male friends listen to his podcast regularly. Three might not sound like much, but given my circle of friends, it is a decent ratio. What is interesting is that, much like Rogan, there are many social issues in which these men could be considered progressive. But when it comes to the area of gender, they could not be more ill-informed. There also seems to be a coherence of thought that underlies the Rogan's of the world, Bernie Bro's, and the Alt-Right. All seem to hold different views on everything from economics to race to the drug culture. The underlying misogyny and myth that masculinity is under siege are astonishingly homogenous.

Rogan has made his way into the upper echelon of the comedy world while not being very funny. His ending bit to his most recent special is a mediocre joke that hides its transphobia behind the easy to target Kardashians. To be clear, if he were a real comedian, I would have no problem. Good comedy can be transgressive across all borders. Males like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Burr, Louis C.K., Doug Stanhope and Patrice O'Neal all crossed bounds, but all were hilarious and thought provoking. This is not good comedy. This is the same "man box" b.s. wrapped in a package people feel they can applaud. This historically oppressive thinking masking as humor.

Biblical masculinity.

Masculinity is a learned behavior; we “act” it out in ways we are taught or exposed to whether it be via media or family, etc. Some people, like myself, try to find answers via the Bible. I began wondering how having a worldly understanding of concepts such as masculinity may or may not match up to what is explained in the Bible.
Without much thought, I would have said being a man according to the bible is about being able to provide for one’s family, heterosexuality, and positivity towards helping those in need. However, after reading this article, I realize the “masculinity” is deeper than that.
First and foremost, masculinity is based on values so much deeper than just one’s anatomy. The point is made that “God is the ultimate example of true masculinity yet the Bible tells us He has no physical body.” It is something often forgotten or at least easily overlooked. Biology determines our sex, but gender is one’s own concept of themselves. Therefore, masculinity and femininity are not constrained to the bonds of sex; the scale is so much more than just black and white.
Now to continue. The working definition of masculinity provided in the article is from the book Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson: “True masculinity is the humble, glad assumption of God given responsibility.” In other words, being a humble and willing servant of God’s will is the true measure of one’s masculinity.
Though masculinity is “not just tied to anatomy,” we must still take into account that males and females are still different. We are equal in the eyes of God in that we were all created in His image, but we are biologically different. Taken straight the article: “We have different desires, different ways of communicating, and different ways of dealing with issues. You can see this in kids. They do not have to be taught these tendencies, they just are.” One-way male is biologically different from females is that by nature, men are cultivators: “God has wired us to take care of things, make them grow and be productive. This is inherent.”
However, when the natural desire to cultivate becomes too consumed with the ways and measures of the worldly things, then mans (humans) focus is not on cultivating to please the will of God but on to please his fellow human. Money, cars, women become of the measurements of masculinity instead of what the Bible says. Also, the “fear of being mislabeled or attacked” is another obstacle one must face when making the decision to be masculine in the eyes of the world versus the eyes of God.

*the article provides Bible verses to back up some claims


Masculinity in Saturday Night Fever

I recently rewatched Saturday Night Fever because it became it available on Netflix and it was listed in Ebert's "Great Movies II" essays. I was struck by how dichotomous the concepts of masculinity are in the film. On the one hand, the title character is a high-heel wearing, looks obsessed, preening disco dancer. On the other, he is a misogynistic, gay bashing, working class prototype of the man box.

Most people remember the film for its soundtrack and dancing. But it is worth watching to see how pop culture affects concepts like masculinity at any given time. It is available on Netflix.

Here is a trailer- Saturday Night Fever

Here is a link to an article discussing the masculinity of it- Saturday Night Fever and the Social Construct of Masculinity

Toxic Masculinity

ast summer, two young football players in the Ohio town of Steubenville carried the unconscious body of a local girl from party to party, violating her in ways you’d probably prefer not to think about. (I’m not pretending this incident is merely “alleged,” because there’s video and this column isn’t a court of law.) Today, she’ll face her attackers in court for the first time. It’s a brave act, as she surely knows she’ll not only be facing down the boys who did this to her, but also the adults whose jobs it is to blame her and call her a liar. Only she can know what will make this sacrifice worthwhile: Is it enough for her to be heard in court? Will it only be healing if the boys are convicted? Whatever it is she needs, I hope she gets it. 


What’s the matter with men? For years, the media have delivered the direst of prognoses. Men are “in decline.” Guys are getting “stiffed.” The “war on boys” has begun. And so on. This summer, The Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin went so far as to declare that “The End of Men” is upon us.
There’s certainly some substance to these claims. As the U.S. economy has transitioned from brawn to brain over the past three decades, a growing number of women have gone off to work. Men’s share of the labor force has declined from 70 percent in 1945 to less than 50 percent today, and in the country’s biggest cities, young, single, childless women—that is, the next generation—earn 8 percent more than their male peers. Women have matched or overtaken men as a percentage of students in college and graduate school, while men have retained their lead in alcoholism, suicide, homelessness, violence, and criminality. Factor in the Great Recession, which has decimated male-heavy industries like construction and manufacturing, and it’s no wonder so many deadline anthropologists are down on men. But while the state of American manhood has inspired plenty of anxious trend pieces, few observers have bothered to address the obvious question: if men are going off the rails, how do they get back on track?
Without an answer, some men have turned to old models and mores of manhood for salvation. Rutgers University anthropologist Lionel Tiger, for example, wants to reclaim “maleness as a force, as a phenomenon.”

"Manning Up": Men May Overcompensate When Masculinity is Threatened by Deborah Back

From the old Charles Atlas ads showing a scrawny male having sand kicked in his face to sitcom clich├ęs of henpecked husbands, men have long faced pressure to live up to ideals of masculinity.

Societal norms dictating that men should be masculine are powerful. And new University of Washington research finds that men who believe they fall short of those ideals might be prompted to reassert their masculinity in small but significant ways.

Published last week in Social Psychology, the research sought to understand how men respond when their masculinity is threatened, and looked at two specific strategies they might employ: playing up their manliness and rejecting feminine preferences.
The study found that male college students who were given falsely low results on a handgrip strength test exaggerated their height by three-quarters of an inch on average, reported having more romantic relationships, claimed to be more aggressive and athletic, and showed less interest in stereotypically feminine consumer products.

Masculinity Has Proven Itself Deadly: Uncovering the Trauma In Men After Baton Rouge Police Shootings

Masculinity Has Proven Itself Deadly: Uncovering the Trauma In Men After Baton Rouge Police Shootings

The suspect in the fatal shooting of three Baton Rouge police officers, Gavin Long, had a  consciousness reportedly steeped in what it means to be an alpha male. Long was the publisher of a blog, “Convos With Cosmo” that totes itself as the world’s foremost authority on “alpha-preneurism.” While various news organizations and Long’s own writing show he was certainly concerned with social justice and the recent killings of unarmed black men by police, his ideology on masculinity is one we must be concerned of as well. It is an idea of masculinity that is not only deadly, but it induces trauma as men come into themselves. We’re taking a look at how those ideas on masculinity begin and what can be done about it.  

This article first appeared on Alternet and is reprinted by permission.

 “The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘be a man,’” —Joe Ehrmanncoach and former NFL player

Afraid to Victimize Men


Related image     Too many people are surprised to hear that men can get breast cancer. Why? The fundraisers are pink, anatomy confuses the audience, the issue is romanticized around, "saving the tatas." So then if a man is diagnosed, he not only has a terrible disease, but also a stigma to carry and the fear of not being a real man.

      Essentially, the same thing happens when rape is a story told with a template of a woman as victim, man as perpetrator. Statistics do not eliminate the percentage of men who do not offer consent but are forced anyway. The language has to stop, framing men as constantly sex-driven creatures with instincts to dominate, because then the group of men that are victims, stay in shadows.

Why I had to kill my sister to defend our family's 'honor'

*Trigger warning: Extreme violence
Mubeen Rajhu, who killed his sister Tasleem.Photo: AP 
LAHORE, Pakistan — For two months, over the thunder of machines at the steel mill, the men taunted Mubeen Rajhu about his sister. Even now, they laugh at how easy it was to make him lose his temper. 
Some people had seen Tasleem in their Lahore slum with a Christian man. She was 18, a good Muslim girl, out in public with a man. Even though the man had converted to Islam out of love for her, this couldn’t be allowed.
“Some guys got to know that his sister was having a relationship,” says Ali Raza, a co-worker at the mill. “They would say: ‘Can’t you do anything? What is the matter with you? You are not a man.'” 
Raza can barely contain a smile as he talks about the hours spent needling Rajhu. 
Modal TriggerImageNeighbors of Mubeen Rajhu, who killed his sister Tasleem, talk about the murder in Lahore, Pakistan.Photo: AP 
“He used to tell us, ‘If you don’t stop, I will kill myself. Stop!'” Raza says. 
He raises his voice to compete with the sounds of the coal-powered mill, and workers blackened by its dust gather to listen. They too smile. A few laugh at the memory of Rajhu’s outbursts. 
“The guys here told him, ‘It would be better to kill your sister. It is better than letting her have this relationship,'” Raza says. 

Don't Blame Men for Hillary's Loss


I see, "Women failed Clinton" on one station, "Men prove they're sexist by voting Trump" on another. Let's fact check that.

Percent of women that voted Clinton: 54%
Percent of white women that voted Trump: 54%.

She had the minorities, but not the majority of white women. For some, Trump confirmed the dynamics they assume to see in gender scales. For others, she wasn't relatable. But with so many protests, so few accepting, "the way things are', I'm optimistic they won't stay. More than this, I am specific in saying Trump is one man, not all men, the same way Clinton couldn't represent all women.

International Men's Day

"There is no monopoly on suffering."


     November 19th marked International Men's Day, this year focusing on male suicide. Men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women and this day attempted to bring awareness to depression and mental health concerns. When we study masculinity, we understand the dimensions, but hardly link them to the most serious consequences. I have heard women studying feminism discredit the struggles men endure as nothing. However, this lack of encouragement for them to express how they feel, to admit to losses of control, is dangerous. In all areas of sexism, are biggest battle is stopping the dehumanization of others, so for this holiday many feminists protested, I say, support all through their struggles and everyone becomes stronger.

Image result for international men's day

Tyler Curry's The Strength in Being a Feminine Gay Man - A must read for all minorities.

Tyler Curry is a freelance columnist and fiction writer; who created “The Needle Prick Project”.  He updated his October 2013 blog, “The Strength in Being a Feminine Gay Man”.  Curry highlights the strength of gay men because the more feminine he is, it is extremely hard to escape physical attributes. The gay movement/community even pushes forth what he states as “the most handsome, athletic and masculine men in the leading roles”. These are the most chiseled, scruffy-jaw lined faces forward for everyone to see. The real strength can’t be seen on the forefront of the LGBT or on the cover of magazines. It is the gay man that can learn dance moves quickly, who had had to suffer bullying in school, who’s most beloved friend was a bedazzler and whose voice or feminine walk has cause him to suffer emotionally – who had real forte.
A great article on strength that can be applied to any minority group. Read the original article in the Huffington Post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tyler-curry/the-strength-in-being-a-feminine-gay-man_b_3896302.htmlhttp://www.Huffingtonpost - The Strength in Being a Feminine Gay Man

Nathan, Unspoken Hero

Today, I sat at work faced with computer trouble. You know how the day starts, running late, 30 degree temperatures, no coffee or caffeine to get you started, frost covers the windshield and then you forget your phone.  Can you say late??? Then to solidify another Monday for the week, my computer doesn’t work properly. Computers do not care who repairs them, male or female, after an hour of troubleshooting, I only wanted it fixed so that I could start my day. Lucky for me, I received a call from computer support.  I wasn’t fortunate enough to talk to Nathan, but someone else in my section received help from Nathan. The person’s hard drive crashed which meant, after troubleshooting with Nathan online and they had to work together in person to request a loaner while Nathan worked his magic.

I must caution you that the person requiring help wears his prejudice on his sleeve. Nathan is the last person he will be kind to. Today, Mitchell needed Nathan and had to look past his lavender paisley printed bubble top and cable knit leggings. Mitchell had to be nice and work with Nathan. Today, Mitchell saw Nathan as a person who was superior to him because Nathan had the knowledge and expertise to fix Mitchell’s computer. Yes I smirked all day, because for a short window of time, Mitchell was forced to set aside his prejudice, shake Nathan’s hand and be nice to him. At the end of the day, Mitch acknowledged that Nathan is alright, he’s smart and knows more about computers than all of the others in that department.

I labeled Nathan, the hero of the day, he fixed Mitchell’s system and collaborated to fix my computer. This may not seem like much of a victory, but in my work environment, we won the last leg of a marathon.

Merriam-Webster's Definition of "Femininity"

Merriam-Webster’s Definition of “Femininity”

Ali Segel was looking for submissions to use in her zine assignment when she discovered Merriam-Webster’s definition of “femininity”.  The example sentence the dictionary used said: “She managed to become a female CEO without sacrificing her femininity.”

Segel uploaded this picture to Twitter and stated, “I decided to tweet it out because yeah, that’s nuts!,” she told Cosmopolitan. “Can you imagine: ‘He managed to become a CEO without sacrificing his masculinity.’” Merriam-Webster responded to her tweet apologizing and removed the offensive example.

At the end, Segel screenshotted her Twitter conversation and quoted “When u use ur femininity to change the dictionary”

In my opinion, Segel definitely made a great change in terms of reaching out to Merriam-Webster to remove the sentence. However, I do not understand the severity of the sentence. I definitely believe a better sentence could have been used as an example for the word “femininity”, but I am not understanding the entire harm in the sentence. I honestly feel bad for not seeing it. Would someone respectfully mind clarifying or giving their opinions on this article? Thanks!

Can Men be Feminists?

Can Men be Feminists?

Someone might have previously touched on this topic, however I this is an ongoing argument in feminism. I would love everyone’s feedback on this topic. Personally, I never questioned the role of men in feminism because I have always believed feminism applied to men, as well as women. In the words of bell hooks, “Feminism is for everybody.” All men should be able to be a part of a movement that promotes gender equality. Feminism benefits men in more ways than people may think. Feminism is about dismantling patriarchy so men do not have to continue to be told how to “act like men.” With feminism, men would not have any type of power over woman and would not have to be pressured to be the “man” society tells them to be. In reality men are the greatest allies to the feminist movement because they are able to use their privilege to reach out to other men and inform them about the feminist movement.

This article is from Brian Klocke who explains his viewpoint on why men cannot be considered “feminists” http://nomas.org/roles-of-men-with-feminism-and-feminist-theory/

I believe Klocke makes some very valid points in his article. I guess the main issue is if men should identify as feminists or "anti-sexist"? At first, I didn’t understand the differences between these. My initial answer was “Yes, of course men should be feminists. Male feminism implied both that women must be taught by men how to win their rights. I can agree that men cannot remove themselves from their power and privilege in relation to women. Feminists do not want to be told how they should perceive their own oppression by the dominant group who cannot relate to it. There are men who start to become patronizing when they believe they know more about the movement than the people who started it.

What are your opinions on this? Can men be feminists or is it better to call men "anti-sexist"?

Masculinity in Fairytales

       Walt Disney is world renowned for coming up with creative ways to retell old stories such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. These movies are very popular with children especially in their formative years when they are developing a gender identity and a conception of what gender roles should look like. Quite a bit of research has been done about the limited and damaging scope of Disney's understanding of femininity in these movies. But what about masculinity?

       Masculinity is constructed as the antithesis of femininity; there is no spectrum for gender, either a character is or isn't. For instance Prince Eric from "The Little Mermaid." He is a sea-faring and adventurous prince who is completely carefree and at ease in his skin. In contrast, Ariel - the female protagonist who is a princess and the daughter of the King of the sea- is constantly yearning for something better a little bit of freedom which she can only find with a man's permission. It is an idea that is reinforced in many of the classic Disney movies: that a woman is only made “complete” when she successfully marries a man. In “Beauty and the Beast”, Gaston is the prince that all the women in the town want. This popular, attractive male character is rude, rich, respected, and “manly” in the eyes of the townspeople. The beast on the other hand, has the kind, timid heart, but due to his unattractive appearance, those qualities are never recognized in the eyes of the townspeople. Even though it is the beast who ends up with Beauty in the end, the hardships he had to endure (and the lack of hardships faced by the prince) just because of physical appearance could easily be seen as undermining the importance of inner beauty. 

Image result for beauty and the beastImage result for the sleeping beautyImage result for aladdinImage result for hercules