Tag Archives: masculinity

Gender and Super Heroes/oines

In light of Captain America’s soon-to-be film debut, I saw this article today on the Good Men Project:

“Captain America is the Best Man” by Mark D.:

As a longtime comics fan, I find inspiration in many of the superheroes whose adventures I read every month, but none inspire me as much as Captain America. Simply put, to me, Cap stands as an example of the best we can be. He embodies all of the classical virtues that are just as important now as they were in the days of the ancient Greeks, including honesty, courage, loyalty, perseverance, and, perhaps most importantly, honor (in particular, military honor). While I can’t be as strong or fast as Cap, I can hope to be as honest, courageous, and honorable.

(Although Mark D. argues that Captain America has moved beyond his jingoist, hegemonically masculine, and paternalistic roots, in a post-911 age these historic roots cannot be denied.)

And that’s great and all.  The guy seems just swell.

But it got me thinking – where are all of the honest, courageous, and strong superheroines?  Most of them are either crazy or can’t control their powers or they’re young with teenage troubles or sex on the brain. 

Literally I can only think of Xena.  Any thoughts?

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Drinks, Masculinity, and Sexuality

Jesus Christ, who knew that sodas were now being segregated by sex and gender?  I mean, I’ve always heard about alcoholic drinks being divided by gender (and sexuality for men) and have always hated the assumption that drinks were weaker and therefore more feminine based on sugar content and color.

On this thread, men not only argue that appletinis are for girls and Guinness is for boys, but go even further by arguing what shots are considered “girly” and what mixed drinks “manly,” regardless of the drink’s effect on your blood alcohol level.

This gender and sexuality binary is perpetuated in pop culture.  Case in point – Scrubs:

But now things are reverting back to the Stone Age, i.e. the 1970s and before.

Here’s the new commercial for Dr. Pepper 10, with the tagline, “Not for Women”:

As long as I’ve been keeping track, Dos Equis ads have always been marketed towards men, but here’s a new one comparing women to wild animals and men to hunters, with commentary from Jezebel:

And here’s an ad for Imperial whiskey from 1975, with the slogan, “Every man should have his own.”  Obviously talking about more than just liquor…

I don’t really know what to make of this.  At what age do drinks become gendered?  Are grape juice boxes more masculine than apple ones?  And is Dr. Pepper’s new tagline working, for a drink that I’ve always considered gender-neutral?

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The Good Men Project

The Good Men Project – a website about men that’s not sexist and heterosexist, for single men and fathers.  Check it out.  Here’s their about:

First, we’re try­ing to make the world a bet­ter place. Seri­ously. In that pur­suit, we give 25 per­cent of our prof­its to orga­ni­za­tions that help at-risk boys.

Sec­ond, we’re try­ing to rede­fine what a men’s mag­a­zine can be. Sure, we write about sports. Yes, we write about sex (although we do it with­out sell­ing sex). But unlike so many other men’s mag­a­zines, we don’t patron­ize or car­i­ca­tur­ize our audi­ence. We try to bring out the best in men, and we do that by pro­duc­ing con­tent that chal­lenges men to think deeply—and to talk about the things they don’t usu­ally talk about.

With a name like the Good Men Project, some folks assume that we’re going to tell men how to be good. This assump­tion has led at least one media critic to sug­gest that we might be a “con­ser­v­a­tive culty thing.” Oth­ers have called us “fem­i­nists” because, we sus­pect, we cel­e­brate, pub­lish, and appear to be very pop­u­lar with women. (Ms. Mag­a­zine said we are “what enlight­ened mas­culin­ity might look like in the 20th century.”)

We sup­pose we are a dif­fi­cult mag­a­zine to cat­e­go­rize, and that’s exactly how we like it. We’re not inter­ested in telling men how they should go about liv­ing their lives, nor are we intent on pro­mot­ing a cer­tain “image” of mas­culin­ity. We’re inter­ested instead in cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity where men (and the women who love us) can talk openly and hon­estly about their lives.

 

And here’s one of the many great articles from the website about Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter:

Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls by Hugo Schwyzer

Encour­ag­ing princess culture—however innocently—contributes to the sex­u­al­iza­tion of girls. Men can be part of the solu­tion to the ‘princess prob­lem.’

This may sur­prise the read­ers of the Good Men Project Mag­a­zine, but we’re part of a prob­lem: the princess problem.

More and more experts rec­og­nize that “princess cul­ture” does great harm to girls. I don’t know how many GMPM read­ers also read Red­book, but it’s worth check­ing out this story: “Lit­tle Girls Gone Wild: Why Daugh­ters Are Act­ing Too Sexy, Too Soon.” In it, Peggy Oren­stein (the author of the new and impor­tant Cin­derella Ate My Daugh­ter: Dis­patches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Cul­ture), makes the case that a lot of the pre­ma­turely sexy behav­ior and dress we’ve all noticed is actu­ally rooted in some­thing we think is very inno­cent: the world of princesses.

You may balk—what’s sexy about a lit­tle girl in a pink princess cos­tume? But sexy, as it turns out, is not the same thing as sex­u­al­ized. Sex­u­al­iza­tion is not just impos­ing sex­u­al­ity on chil­dren before they’re ready and view­ing girls as sex­ual objects, but also valu­ing a girl for her appear­ance over her other attrib­utes. “Princesses are just a phase,” Oren­stein writes, but they mark a girl’s “first foray into the main­stream cul­ture. … And what was the first thing that cul­ture told her about being a girl? Not that she was com­pe­tent, strong, cre­ative, or smart, but that every lit­tle girl wants—or should want—to be the Fairest of Them All.”

This may be true, but how is it our prob­lem as men? Many—maybe even most of you who are read­ing this—don’t have daugh­ters. A lot of you aren’t dads at all. Whether you think lit­tle girls dressed up as Snow White are cute or not, what does the prob­lem Oren­stein describes have to do with you?

Well, for starters almost every man has—or will have—a lit­tle girl in his life. If not a daugh­ter then a niece, a lit­tle cousin, your buddy’s kid, your son’s friend from play­group. And if you care about the well-being of these girls, this issue of princess cul­ture and sex­u­al­iza­tion mat­ters to you. The bad news is, you may be part of the prob­lem; the good news is, you can be part of the solution.

♦◊♦

Thank­fully, most men aren’t sex­u­ally attracted to pre­pu­bes­cent girls. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a very strong response when we see a 6-year-old dressed up as cute as can be. For men, com­pli­ment­ing older girls and women for their looks is often sex­u­ally charged and likely to get you in trou­ble. But as fathers, uncles, and oth­ers notice, lit­tle girls of princess age rarely have the same cau­tion and sus­pi­cion about older men as their older sis­ters. Often trans­par­ent in their eager­ness for atten­tion and val­i­da­tion, they light up at praise. And no com­pli­ment is eas­ier to give than “You’re so pretty.”

Five-year-olds in princess cos­tumes are cute. But the prob­lem is that the com­pli­ments we give as fathers, uncles, and coaches have an impact on the self-esteem of lit­tle girls. As they grow up, they real­ize quickly (cer­tainly by age 8 or 9) that Cin­derella cos­tumes won’t cut it any­more. If they want to sus­tain the same level of atten­tion that they had when they were adorable first-graders, they’re going to need to employ a dif­fer­ent strat­egy: sex­i­ness. And that sex­i­ness gets our atten­tion all over again.

Wait a minute, you’re think­ing. I don’t leer at 10-year-olds in miniskirts. I don’t tell my niece that she’s hot. I wish girls would wait longer to be sexy! How am I part of this problem?

As Oren­stein and oth­ers point out, lit­tle girls take their cues about what is desir­able by look­ing at how boys and men respond to older girls and women. The father who lav­ishes ado­ra­tion on “Daddy’s lit­tle princess” but ogles high school cheer­lead­ers is send­ing his daugh­ter a clear mes­sage. The mes­sage is that the princess phase won’t last much longer, and if you want to grasp and hold adult male atten­tion, you need to be sexy.

This sex­i­ness has very lit­tle to do with sex, and every­thing to do with the crav­ing for val­i­da­tion and atten­tion. While all chil­dren want affir­ma­tion, princess cul­ture teaches lit­tle girls to get that approval through their looks. Lit­tle girls learn quickly what “works” to elicit ado­ra­tion from mom and dad, as well as from teach­ers, uncles, aunts, and other adults. Soon—much too soon—they notice that older girls and women get val­i­da­tion for a par­tic­u­lar kind of dress, a par­tic­u­lar kind of behav­ior. They watch their fathers’ eyes, they fol­low their uncles’ gaze. They lis­ten to what these men they love say when they see “hot” young women on tele­vi­sion or on the street. And they learn how to be from what they hear and see.

♦◊♦

This doesn’t mean that good dads shouldn’t let their daugh­ters dress up as princesses. It doesn’t mean that good dads, good big broth­ers, and good uncles should never, ever tell a lit­tle girl that she looks “cute” or “beau­ti­ful.” It does mean that those good grown men need to make sure that they’re also giv­ing her plenty of com­pli­ments that focus on her other qual­i­ties, like her intel­li­gence, her kind­ness, or her ath­leti­cism. But some­thing else mat­ters just as much: how we look at and talk about other girls and women.

Too many men do every­thing they can to pro­tect adored daugh­ters, nieces, and lit­tle sisters—while mak­ing lit­tle attempt to dis­guise their long­ing for other young women who aren’t all that much older than the child they cher­ish. Girls who are raised to see com­pli­ments as cur­rency quickly learn that if they want to keep their praise flow­ing in, they’ll need to do more to “earn” it. And too often, they learn exactly how to earn it from by lis­ten­ing to the words and fol­low­ing the eyes of the men they love and trust most.

 

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Men’s Health has a Feminist Blog

Say what!?

You heard me.  Men’s Health, the obviously titled magazine on men’s health, has added a section on feminism to its online blog.  The posts from this section are written by Kiera Aaron who seems intelligent, nice, witty, and understandable, unlike many commentators on the site.  She’s going to need a flak jacket to deal with these mofos.

If you need some karma today, go to the blog and add a supportive comment feminist blogger Aaron as she tries to make sense of feminism for many very unsupportive, unenlightened, and highly agitated men.

 

For those of you interested in profeminist men’s blogs or readings, check out:

The Takeback: Meditations on Masculinity, Politics, and Culture

Men’s Nonviolent Project

Feminist Allies

Bill’s Profeminist Blog

National Organization for Men Against Sexism

And please add some more if you come across any.  Please and thank you.

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Dinosaur Comics on what it means to say “Man Up!”

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Break free of the “Man Box”

I love this video so much.  First of all, because this semester I’ve read a hell of a lot about men – I’ve been researching the mid-seventies profeminist men’s movement in Rolling Stone.  And it’s really exciting to see many of the same discussions about masculinity more than thirty years later.  In the words of then associate editor of Rolling Stone, Michael Rogers, it’s as if men still feel as if they are an “overclass that ha[s] suddenly sailed dead into a powerful egalitarian movement.”

“While women in the past decade have developed a whole new series of devices to deal with sociosexual pressures, men have not.  Simply to mimic the techniques that work for women is to ignore the obvious fact that men approach the whole problem from precisely the other side.”

I’m here to tell you that Tony Porter is speaking truth to power.  Listen up, men!

At TEDWomen, Tony Porter makes a call to men everywhere: Don’t “act like a man.” Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other. His solution: Break free of the “man box.”

I would also like to encourage you to check out TED where this video is from.  This site has a wide range of speakers presenting on important global issues, WITH translations!  Here are some big names: Isabel Allende, Julian Assange, Bono, Richard Branson, Richard Dawkins, Eve Ensler, Jane Goodall, and toonnnss more!

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The Plastics at Morehouse

With all of the recent dialogue over homophobia due to the recent teen suicides, we need to have a better discussion about the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality.  In my most recent post on C. J. Pascoe’s Dude, You’re a Fag, I included a snippet from her section on the racialized contexts of the use of homophobia epithets.

One issue that she didn’t get into is the pressures of heterosexuality within the black community, especially for black men.  After reading Vibe’s article on the new dress code at Morehouse and how it affects transgender students, I felt like I needed to go read some bell hooks.

I initially heard about Morehouse’s changes in its dress code policy when I attended Agnes Scott College – an all women’s college not too far from Morehouse.

In our day and age, traditional femininity is devalued.  (More conservative) Parents expect their daughters to be born fragile, vulnerable, and domestic because they believe these characteristics are biological.  Parents, therefore, encourage girls to be more masculine – more powerful, more engaged in sports, and louder.  Women are lauded for having a balance of both characteristically masculine and feminine traits.

Young boys, on the other hand, are expected to be born masculine, and any hint of femininity is perceived as homosexual, feminine, and therefore weak.  In saying, “Don’t be a sissy, don’t cry!” parents force their boys to continuously “accomplish” their masculinity throughout their lives as they feel that they constantly need to prove it to themselves and others.

Combine this incessant quest for masculinity with the issues of race and you’ve got a hell of an article.

Although it would be great if all Princess Boys could grow up in loving families with supportive schools, Morehouse shows more discussions are needed in how institutions help reinforce heterosexual masculinity.

Here are some excerpts from Vibe’s article “The Mean Girls of Morehouse.”  Read the FASCINATING story in its entirety here.

You should also check out the comments, where you can witness largely black men and women criticizing the actions of these Morehouse students because it reflects badly on the race.  Take, for example, this comment by Desiree, (1 of 234 comments) who stated:

If you dont know about Morehouse College, then you would not understand what the president is coming from… I go to Clark Atlanta University, which is right next door to More house College. What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (who graduateed and tought at Morehouse) say if his school all of a sudden had male students looking like women.
As black people we can not turn our cheek and let foolishness continue. We need to make our ancestors proud and be better for our future. I do not have a problem with gay men because they know what they want, men. I have a problem with Men looking like women claiming to be men and a gay guy looking for a women like man to be his boo, then find a female….
Posted 10-12-2010 01:27 pm
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And finally, some excerpts from the article:

WITHIN THE OPENLY GAY COMMUNITY AT ATLANTA’S MOREHOUSE COLLEGE, THERE’S A SUBGROUP: GENDER BENDERS WHO ROCK MAKEUP, MARC JACOBS TOTE BAGS, SKY-HIGH HEELS AND BEYONCÉ- STYLE HAIR WEAVES. CAN A MAN OF MOREHOUSE BE GAY? ABSOLUTELY. BUT CAN HE BE A WOMAN? MEET THE PLASTICS.

Diamond Martin Poulin, 20, teetering in strappy sandals with three-inch heels, steps into an eclectic clothing boutique in Little Five Points, a quaint cluster of shops and restaurants two and a half miles outside of downtown Atlanta. “Ooooh,” squeals Diamond. “What about this?” Holding up a white floor-skimming skirt with an eyelet hem, he swoons. The proprietor of the store looks up at Diamond, does a double take, and immediately picks up the cordless phone at the register. “There’s a man in here with heels on!” she whispers loudly into the phone. Diamond raises his eyebrows and continues browsing the racks. He shrugs when asked if the comment bothers him. “Isn’t it true?” he says, chuckling. “There is a man in here with heels on.”

Nibbling on sushi later that day, Diamond explains why he left after one year at Morehouse. A bastion for producing leaders in politics, community service and medicine, Morehouse College has long been viewed as the ultimate HBCU for young Black men, who are conferred with the mystique of being “Men of Morehouse.” Established in 1867 in Augusta, Georgia, as the Augusta Institute, the school counts such luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr.; financier Reginald E. Davis; School Daze writer/director Spike Lee; the late Keith “Guru” Elam of Gang Starr; and the late Def Jam exec Shakir Stewart among its graduates.

"Diamond"That pedigree is what brought Diamond (pictured left) to Morehouse, but he says the school’s social conservatism drove him out. In October of last year, the Morehouse College administration announced a new “appropriate attire policy.” The dress code stated that students, referred to as “Renaissance Men,” were not allowed to wear caps, do-rags, sunglasses or sagging pants on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events. But what raised most eyebrows was the rule about women’s clothing: no wearing of dresses, tops, tunics, purses or pumps.

The new dress code resulted in a flurry of media coverage, prompting Dr. William Bynum, Jr., vice president for Student Services, to release a statement to several news outlets: “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.” During a recent visit to the campus, the poet Saul Williams wore a skirt in solidarity.

“Morehouse wasn’t ready for me,” says Diamond, who has the word “unbreakable” tattooed on his collarbone and the acronym C.R.E.A.M (“Cash Rules Everything Around Me” coined by rap group Wu Tang Clan) wrapped around his right wrist. “I’m about freedom of expression. I’m about being whomever you truly are inside. I came to Morehouse because of all the historical leaders that attended and impacted the world so heavily. You know, I really wanted to follow in their footsteps. I don’t think Morehouse believes that someone like me—someone who wears heels and dresses—can uphold that reputation. But they’re wrong.”

“We respect the identity and choices of all young men at Morehouse,” Dr. Bynum said via email. “However, the Morehouse leadership development model sets a certain standard of how we expect young men to dress, and this attire does not fit within the model. Our proper attire policy expresses that standard.”

Diamond now attends American InterContinental University, majoring in fashion marketing and design. “I want to, like, teach at Parsons. Or you know, maybe even in London—who knows?”

“I was in the cafeteria, and I had on this cropped hooded sweatshirt. So my stomach was out,” he recalls. “I had on a nice pair of jeans and some sandals. And this boy, a football player, said something that sounded like ‘faggot.’ Before I could even stop myself, I threw my plate of food at him. That’s not even my style. I’m more of a middle-finger kind of person. We ended up yelling at each other for a few minutes, but nothing really came out of it. He could have hit me, but he didn’t. But he didn’t have to. I was already hurt and embarrassed.”

While Diamond insists he’s happier at AIU, his tone and demeanor suggest that he wishes he’d had the opportunity to prove his worth at Morehouse. “I wanted to go to an HBCU,” he says, dipping shrimp tempura into soy sauce. “I wanted the whole African-American experience. I thought it would be a beautiful thing.”

After leaving Morehouse, Diamond would return occasionally to see friends at the school and use the computer lab. Earlier this year, after the new dress code was enacted, he was asked to leave by school security officers. “I had my Nicki Minaj-style Chinese bangs,” says Diamond, a defiant twinkle in his eyes. “I showed them my ID from AIU. I didn’t go to the school, so the dress code should not have applied to me. But they wanted me off campus anyway.”

Kevin Rome, Ph.D., Morehouse class of 1989, is the former vice president for Student Services for the College. He says that people like Diamond are a small minority of the students at the College, and shouldn’t make up such a large percentage of the press the school has received about the appropriate attire policy. “There are nearly 3,000 students at Morehouse, and maybe three that [the ban on women’s attire] applies to. We’re giving such a large influence on a minute population. It’s not representative of the school.”

This is not the first time Morehouse has had to deal with controversy surrounding its gay community. In November, 2002, Morehouse student Gregory Love suffered a fractured skull after being beaten with a baseball bat in a dormitory bathroom shower. A fellow student, Aaron Price, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and served seven for assault and battery. The attack was reportedly prompted by what was thought to be a sexual advance from Love.

Diamond believes he’s a trendsetter. While the population may be small now, he sees the gender benders as a growing group. And as for the future gender benders at Morehouse, Diamond is hopeful. “Even though I’m gone, the Plastics are still represented at Morehouse,” says Diamond. “And I think as time goes on, the administration will have to accept the different types of men enrolled. They need to look to the future. It didn’t work out for me, but I put in the work for people like me to come to Morehouse….”

Read on, friends!

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Dude, You’re A Fag: Compulsory Heterosexuality in the Making of Masculinity

This was taken from a paper submitted in my Sociology of Gender class.  Hope it breeds some interesting discussions!  Check out this fantastic article by Michael Kimmel, sociologist and historian of masculinity, for his analysis of the recent gay suicides.

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Zach Harrington

On October 10, 2010, National Coming Out Day, another homosexual teenager, Zach Harrington, took his life after a night of repeated bullying.  Harrington’s tragic death is part of a larger trend of recently publicized homosexual teen suicides as the result of bullying.  Publicity surrounding their deaths has helped spread awareness about the issue of violence in schools and has given hope to thousands of homosexual teenagers through such aid organizations as the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project.

News articles and websites repeat their names and stories: Justin Aeberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi…yet, despite the obvious pattern of predominantly male aggressors and victims, discussions have focused on homophobia as the root of the attacks.

By examining the homophobic harassment these young men endured at t

he hands of mostly white heterosexual men, it becomes apparent that heterosexuality, masculinity, and power are linked.  The use of homophobic epithets, physical violence, and sexist remarks by white heterosexual boys serve as a form of gender policing to reinforce masculine dominance.

While the main goal of these projects is to prevent suicidal teenagers from taking their lives, dialogue about their harassment has revealed how commonplace homophobic bullying actually is.  After spending a year at a California high school, C. J. Pascoe, in her book Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School argues that in using such homophobic epithets as “gay” and “fag” towards other heterosexual males, straight boys “repudiate the specter of failed masculinity” and reinforce their masculinity and power over other men, homosexuals, and women.

By interviewing male and female students, along with teachers and school officials, Pascoe shows how this process of masculinity is not only harmful to homosexuals, but all members of the social order, as it prevents the development of multiple masculinities, genders, and sexualities.

Although these hypermasculine actions have been identified as virulent homophobia or dismissed as “boys being boys,” Pascoe’s work reveals how institutions are integral in influencing young adults to embrace these traditional gender norms and heterosexism, as this praxis of masculinity is reinforced through school rituals, pedagogy, discipline, and the ignorance of the damaging effects of bullying.

Chapter 3: Adolescent Male Homophobia

In this chapter Pascoe shows how the fag trope is used as a temporary identity to police heterosexual masculinity.

Its fluidity is powerful enough that boys police their behaviors “out of fear of having the fag identity permanently adhere and definitive enough so that boys recognize a fag behavior and strive to avoid it” (Pascoe 54).  Students responses to the use of “fag” clearly demonstrate the performance and accomplishment of gender, as boys “performed” male effimancy for laughs but quickly reinforced their own “correct” masculinity (Pascoe 61).

When called a fag, a boy immediately thrust the fag “hot potato” onto another boy to reaffirm his own masculinity.  Pascoe states that “gay” is gender-neutral and regularly deployed by both girls and boys against both people and inanimate objects.  The use of “fag,” on the other hand, demonstrates a gendered homophobia which equates effeminacy with powerlessness.

Racialized Contexts of “Fagness”

Although male students were quick to define faggotry and label others as faggots, Pascoe reveals how its definition was racially-specific depending on its context.  According to white boys, “fags cared about the style of their clothes, wore tighter clothes, cared about cleanliness,” and danced (Pascoe 60-61).

Although African American boys privileged stylistic dress and were renowned for their excellent dance skills, the fag epithet did not apply to them.  Pascoe interestingly compares the treatment of the openly white, gay dancer Ricky to the African American dancer K. J.  While both were very talented and both carefully crafted their dancing outfits, K. J. was lauded by the crowd for his obvious connection to hip hop, while Ricky was ostracized for his “faggness” (Pascoe 76).

Pascoe insightfully notes, “Precisely because African American men are so hypersexualized in the United States, white men are, by default, feminized, so white was a stand-in for fag among many of the African American boys at River High” (Pascoe 71).  Despite blacks’ limited use of the term “fag,” Pascoe states that African American boys were punished more frequently for engaging in fag discourse (Pascoe 76).

Chapter 4: Compulsive Heterosexuality

Pascoe argues that when boys sexually objectify, sexualize, or simply flirt with girls, they are reinforcing their own heterosexuality and protecting themselves from the fag hot potato.

By discussing how they could manipulate girls’ bodies, to “break their walls,” make them fart, orgasm, or defecate, as well as their actual physical manipulation of girls bodies through teasing or flirting, boys demonstrated dominance over the world around them (Pascoe 86).  These stories bolstered gender stereotypes of women’s bodies as out of control and reinforced men’s objectification and master over women.

Conclusion

More than ever, Dude, You’re a Fag proves deeply relevant to our current dialogue of homophobic bullying and the resulting teen suicides.  Less than two weeks before Harrington committed suicide he had spoken at a public hearing to declare October his city’s gay history month.

Although Harrington imagined more acceptance from the hearing’s adult attendees after years of being bullied by young boys, the council meeting quickly became “a place where the same sentiments that quietly tormented him in high school were being shouted out and applauded by adults the same age as his own parents.”[4] Nikki, Zach’s older sister who also attended the meeting, stated:

“‘When we talk about our feelings in a hypothetical way and we send our toxic thoughts out in a public setting that way, they will affect people in a negative way…People need to think about the things they are saying and ask themselves, ‘Is this right?’”[5]

Harrington’s case reveals the ultimate consequences of allowing such heteronormative and sexist performances of masculinity to continue in high school—after receiving years of positive feedback from other males and having their sexism and homophobia ignored or reinforced by school officials, young continue this toxic cycle of masculinity on into adulthood.

**If you have an encouraging message you would like to share with teenagers via the It Gets Better Project, click here.**

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21st Century Masculinity: The New “Macho”

My current research on Rolling Stone magazine is on their coverage of the Men’s Liberation Movement!  Which makes this Newsweek article pretty exciting.  The photos included with this article are from Newsweek’s timeline of male ideals in American history.  Want to learn more about men’s history?  (Yes, they have a history, and no, men’s history isn’t American history in default)  Read Michael Kimmel’s Manhood in America: A Cultural History.  Hope you like it!

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by Jesse Ellison and Jessica Bennett, Newsweek, September 20, 2010

If the stereotype of the macho man is the whiskey-drinking, womanizing Don Draper, then the popular perception of “feminist” is an angry, militant, man-hater—decrying the patriarchy while she burns her bra. It’s a cliché that, for decades now, has pitted the Marlboro Man against Rosie the Riveter, labeling women who rally behind men as antifeminist, and men who support women as weak, or worse. But even Gloria Steinem knew—back before women were even allowed to write at NEWSWEEK—that it was going to take both sides of the gender coin to achieve true parity. Testifying before Congress on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970, Steinem proclaimed that one crucial aspect of women’s empowerment was “a return of fathers to their children.” “Women’s liberation,” Steinem declared, “is men’s liberation too.”

Family Man: 1910-1945, The nation's first fatherhood movement grew out of the factory-floor malaise, as thousands of men tried to "manufacture manhood" in their sons--to help them prepare for a heartless market, and avoid being feminized by nothing but mommy-time. Part of the solution: a new masculine space in the home, "the den," christened around 1905. Walmsley Brothers / Hulton Archive-Getty Images

Forty years later, women are further along than we were in Steinem’s day—we’re tipping the scale at 51 percent of workers; we make up the majority of college graduates, M.A.s (and now even Ph.D.s), and we are the primary or co-breadwinners in most American households. But we still have trouble penetrating the highest echelons of the corporate world, and no matter how many hours we spend trying to close that gap, we remain burdened by domestic life. In 2010, there are still precious few stay-at-home dads; housework and child care are primarily still “women’s work.” And while we may have superpowered washing machines and delivery from Fresh Direct, we still do double the chores of the men we choose to live with.

All of this is why, even in 2010, we must take the advice of a feminist of yore: women still need men to prosper. We’re not talking about Mr. Cleaver bringing home the bacon—we need men so that we can excel at work, to level the playing field at home. We need them as dads, partners, and cheerleaders—from the classroom to the boardroom. So let’s retire the tired old “battle of the sexes” war cry—equality should never have been a zero-sum equation.

Muscle Man: 1910-1945, With the frontier closed and women beginning their long push into the workplace, men obsessed over Tarzan, cowboy literature, and bodybuilding, even if they were sitting in offices all day. Eugen Sandow, a precursor to Charles Atlas, was the first fitness guru for men. Hulton Archive-Getty Images

There are practical reasons why we should rally behind each other’s causes. If men are concerned about American prosperity, there’s a solution: women! Countless studies prove there’s a correlation between the number of women on corporate boards and achieving a better bottom line; McKinsey estimates that the United States could increase GDP by 9 percent if we achieved true equity at work. (At a time when economists worry we’re losing our economic edge, who wouldn’t be swayed by these arguments?)

The same goes for parental leave. It’s no coincidence that Iceland has the most generous paternity-leave program in the modern world—three months!—and also, the smallest wage gap. These things go hand in hand. And no, it wasn’t a raging man-hating feminist who pushed the legislation through—it was a male prime minister, who recognized that Icelanders of both genders would benefit, and not just in the short term. The reasoning? As more men take time off to care for their children, the burden of parenthood no longer falls on women alone. Ultimately, employers will stop looking at young, fertile women and thinking, why bother investing? We’ll all be equally worthy of investment.

In today’s economy, the industries that have long been female-dominated—teaching, nursing, and so on—are the ones that, in the coming years, will grow the most. Encouraging men to “man up,” as our colleagues put it—and enter these fields should be something we all push for. Because just as corporate boards benefit from diversity of thought, so does every workplace. Recent research from the London Business School suggests that productivity levels go up when men and women work in tandem—in part because gender parity counters the idea of groupthink, and reduces the sprouting of likeminded groups that defend ideas that may be ill conceived.

Suburban Playboy: 1960-1980, The Self-Made Man returns in the image of Playboy magazine, "the bible of the beleaguered man." Joe Suburbs replaced his suit with a smoking jacket, restocked the den with Danish modern furniture, and dreamed of swinging. At the same time, gay men, black men, new immigrants, and the gender-blurring hippies expanded the mainstream notion of masculinity. Bettmann-Corbis

Welcoming men to traditionally underpaid professions could also serve to boost average salaries in those fields, making them more competitive and better able to attract top-tier talent. It could also be a crucial step in closing the wage gap, which, of course, won’t help just women. As more women become the main breadwinners—we’re in a “mancession,” remember?—equal pay means more for everyone.

So let’s embrace the new macho, throw our weight behind men who want to make a change, and get back to the forgotten principles of the original women’s movement, which put men’s progress hand in hand with women’s. “The only way that we can resolve these issues is for both men and women to join together,” says historian Barbara Berg. “You can’t liberate only one half.”

Forty years ago, Gloria Steinem said that women’s liberation would also be men’s. Today, maybe it’s the opposite: that men’s liberation will be good for women.

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AskMen.com’s Great Male Survey 2010 Edition

Full article here.

Who exactly is the modern man? You might be surprised, after hearing the results of AskMen’s 2010 Great Male Survey, held in collaboration with Cosmopolitan magazine’s Great Female Survey. It turns out that as we enter the second decade of the 21 st century, the modern man is actually more traditional than most of us would expect him to be, and surprisingly more old-fashioned in his values than his female counterpart.

See the results of the “Great Male Survey” at AskMen.com

Over 85% of men still believe in the institution of marriage, with 1 out of 3 males stating that they would not pursue a relationship if they felt their partner didn’t have wife potential. Men also ranked “having a family” as the No. 1 status symbol, above having a “high profile career.”  On the flip side, more than half of the women surveyed insisted that they do not feel pressured by family or society to tie the knot by a certain age, or even at all. Also of note, 85% of the women said they would be comfortable being in a relationship with a man who has a lower income than they do.

See the results of the “Great Female Survey” at Cosmopolitan.com

Despite all this, 4 out of 5 men still believe that they should pay for all dates, for the duration of the relationship or at least until it’s established. On the other hand, less than 25% of women said that their partner should always pick up the bill.

See AskMen.com’s take on the “New Masculinity”

While men and women are becoming more and more on par in terms of salary, we’re still negotiating what that means in terms of our personal relationships. Should a man pick up the bill more than a woman? Is the rent divided in half? Maybe it’s not about money after all and more about opening the door. Despite how far we’ve come in terms of equality, there’s always an argument to be made for chivalry.

Other Survey Highlights

  • Prenups are more important for younger guys. 20% of men under the age of 29 think they are either very or somewhat important, versus 10% of guys over 29.
  • Twice as many women, compared to men, have admitted to cheating on their partners. However, more than two times as many men than women would cheat on their partners if they could get away with it.
  • Only 1 out of 5 women would dump their partner if they became fat. Men, on the other hand, show no such restraint with nearly half admitting their disdain for up-sized girlfriends.
  • The majority of men are still uncomfortable about their partner friending exes on Facebook, with 34% absolutely against the idea and another 26% only ok with the idea if they have met the ex before.
  • 1 out of 3 guys have met a woman online.
  • Nearly 40% of women report that their boyfriends or husbands are “not very often” or “never” romantic, yet 75% of men claim that they are romantic consistently.

Endorsed by Ipsos, AskMen’s Great Male Survey was conducted over a two month period and  is the biggest online survey of what it means to be a modern man today – what’s changed, what’s new, and what remains the same.  With over 100,000 respondents, the third annual GMS gives insight into the male perspective on a range of topics including dating & sex, lifestyle, and timely world issues.  This year, AskMen has also partnered with Cosmopolitan.com, who have asked their female readers similar survey questions in an effort to understand where males and females differ in opinion.  Full results from the Great Male Survey 2010 can be seen at: http://www.askmen.com/specials/2010_great_male_survey/and findings from the Great Female Survey at http://www.cosmopolitan.com/great-female-survey.

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