Elizer 1
Ariel Elizer
Denise Spivey
HUM3321-20
November 20, 2012
Power of the Gender: A Social Aspect
Debate on the subjec...
Elizer 2
girlfriend, Oz is the jock on the lacrosse team and Finch is the complex, cultured male.The group
is close friend...
Elizer 3
embarrassment onto the boys, each ashamed that someone with lower social ranking now holds
more experience in com...
Elizer 4
female gender in its entirety is ‗othered‘ throughout the film, primarily for playful and humorous
purposes. Ther...
Elizer 5
appearance, pretending to be her twin brother, Sebastian, and enrolls into another high school in
hopes of playin...
Elizer 6
weakness allows for questioning the wholeness of his sexuality (Davidson, 149). Intending to
reestablish control ...
Elizer 7
Advancing the display of objectification of women, Justin plays the tough guy in front of
his homosocial group of...
Elizer 8
gives the homosexual male a higher ranking, placed above the heterosexual male. After Peter
meets Sydney, the two...
Elizer 9
Works Cited
Bird, S. R. "WELCOME TO THE MEN'S CLUB: Homosociality and the Maintenance of
Hegemonic Masculinity." ...
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Power of the gender

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Power of the gender

  1. 1. Elizer 1 Ariel Elizer Denise Spivey HUM3321-20 November 20, 2012 Power of the Gender: A Social Aspect Debate on the subject of gender is classified as unavoidable; a topic that has been—and will continue to be—argued over. Adding to its controversial value is the aspect of gender associated with ideology,a reflection of society‘s dividing expectations. The public attitude can be very well understood by means of film: a parallel to the real world in its exemplification of reality by means of symbolism. Through film, a deeper outlook on human relations is born, a means of analyzing essentials that may otherwise be undermined.Two specifically chosenfilms correspond with the themes of acceptable masculinity, directly supporting particular critical assessments of the concept of gender. Emotional detachment is a noticeable obligation among heterosexual males that desire to fit in with others of the same social standing.Competition among the individual males, as well as sexual objectification of women, is present in the description of conventional masculine manners (Bird, 159). Hegemonic masculinity is preserved through the practice of gender ideologies in male homosocial friendships, by ways of maintaining their dominance over women. The 1999 production ofAmerican Pie surpassed any and all social boundaries, ignoring limitations,to tell an entertaining story about a group of teenage boys dealing with the obstacles and classic fundamentals of high school years. The plot is centered on the senior year of several main characters. Jim is the sexually awkward adolescent, Kevin is a boy with confidence and a
  2. 2. Elizer 2 girlfriend, Oz is the jock on the lacrosse team and Finch is the complex, cultured male.The group is close friends with Stifler, a selfish and unruly jock that does as he pleases. The movie takes direction when the four boys decide to make a pact to lose their virginity before high school graduation. The film exhibits emotional detachment as an imperative to masculinity and its continued existence. Stifler makes fun of Oz for abandoning his tough-jock identity and joining the vocal jazz group at school. After listening in on a choir practice, Stifler yells at Oz in disgust to man- up, implying that his behavior is unacceptably feminine.This instance reinforces the generalization that singing is only for women, as it reflects on personal feelings and intimacy, two notions that conflict with the ideal male persona (Bird, 163). Oz reassures Stifler that his only intention is to scope out the hot females of the group, in the hopes of finding a sex partner to fulfill his goal. In doing this, Oz proves that no emotional attachments exist in his endeavors, and he avoids being displaced from his group of friends.Even if Oz is looking for a relationship beyond physical activity, he understands that it is useless to go against the norm. The basic principle of social structure presumes that violations of these customs ―do not result in an alteration of the norm but instead result in the exclusion of the violator‖ (Bird, 163). That being said, the few variations in a group do not stand a chance against the majority ruling. Contestingbetween members of the group, through acts of competition for dominance, categorizes heterosexual masculinity of hegemony. It is important for each member of the group to prove that he is better than the rest in any way possible, even if his words or actions are untrue. The pact among the boys was made after learning that Sherman, a geeky, unpopular kid, supposedly lost his virginity to a hot girl at one of Stifler‘s parties. The shocking news brings
  3. 3. Elizer 3 embarrassment onto the boys, each ashamed that someone with lower social ranking now holds more experience in comparison. A game is set in place, a race between the boys as each one strives to prove they are better than the others. By the end of the film, the groupdiscovers that Sherman‘s story was actually a scandal, as he was lying about his sexual advances. The unveiled truthsignifies the importance ofcompetition of masculinity, and how far some are willing to go to achieve highest recognition. Finch also challenges the competition, as he pays a girl named Jessica to spread a rumor that he is essentially a highly skilled sex demon. When a girl turns down Stifler‘s invitation to prom because she is waiting for Finch to ask her, the competition between the two boys is escalated. Revengeful, Stifler slips laxatives into Finch‘s drink and the rivalry unfolds into a humiliating episode for Finch. Upon witnessing his gross behavior, the girls are now repulsed by Finch, and Stifler gains superiority. Finch is given the demeaning nickname of ―shit-break‖ from Stifler, until the very end of the movie when Finch‘s actions trumps the entire competition between the two. On the morning after his own party, Stifler finds his mother and Finch lying down together in his basement, and he comes to the horrifying realizationthat the two had sex the night before.Stifler will forever be haunted by this undeniable truth, as Finch proudly claims power over his competitor. Objectifying women, typically in a sexual manor, plays an active role in homosocial groups, by furthersummarizing the qualities of heterosexual hegemonic masculinity. It correlates with the competitiveaspect of male dominance. As evident in many circumstances, males use a fixed form of degradation of the opposite sex to achieve a higher standing (Grossman, 140). The
  4. 4. Elizer 4 female gender in its entirety is ‗othered‘ throughout the film, primarily for playful and humorous purposes. There are, however, specific instances in the movie that portray the high degrees to which a heterosexual male will sexually objectify a woman in order to verify his authority. Kevin‘s girlfriend, Vicky, accuses him of only being with her because he wants sex, after shefeels uncomfortable by Kevin‘s persistence of going further in bed. Kevin struggles to repairthe relationship, telling her everything she wants to hear, knowing that his social ranking may be jeopardized if he breaks his part of the group‘s pact. He is indeed successful, and eventually has sex with her on prom night. Although Kevin has true feelings for his girlfriend, he still sexually objectifies her as merely a tool in his expedition to fulfill a promise to his boys. A heterosexual male of the group may influence another to commit to the degradationof women based on a scale of male dominance.Stifler—the boy who arguably partakes in the mostsexual objectification of women—convinces Jim to set up a webcam to film the beautiful exchange student that he is pursuing, so that all the boys can watch her. In exposing this girl, she is represented as nothing more than an object of sexual pleasure for male benefit (Bird, 166). At first, Jim seems reluctant to comply, but after considering his poor sexual reputation, he agrees. He goes along with the plan, assuming he will ultimately be ostracized from his group if he does not, whether resulting from going against the masculine norm or lack of competing for a higher ranking. She’s The Man(2006) is another substantially meaningful film that depicts hegemonic masculinity through assumed gender conformities. Viola is an independent, determined soccer player who desires to prove the equal ability of females to males. She changes her physical
  5. 5. Elizer 5 appearance, pretending to be her twin brother, Sebastian, and enrolls into another high school in hopes of playing soccer to show off her true talents. Emotional expression between heterosexual males is explored in their respectful homosocial environments, and is considered frowned upon in a hegemonic masculine society. Viola, in pretending to be Sebastian, attempts to secure her masculine identity by asking her roommate, Duke, to choose one girl out of two that he wouldmost rather see naked. Duke becomes frustrated and immediately asks ―Sebastian‖ why he talks about girls in such graphic terms. Viola is surprised by his response, and realizes that Duke is more sensitive than she presumed. He confesses that he wants a relationship to be more than just physical, and wants to be able to hold a meaningful conversation with a girl. After realizing he just displayed feminine- like behavior, he threatens to hurt ―Sebastian‖ if he tells anyone this secret. Duke would rather hide his true emotions and accept the ideal masculine traits, than become a violator of his group‘s bylaws. This exhibits the concept that it is not necessary for every male in a homosocial group to be sincere in his actions in order for hegemonic masculinity to be continued (Bird, 167). In more general terms, guaranteeing maintenance of a practice does not always requiretruth. Competition among the male characters throughout the movierepresents the value of powerheld by each member, and the extent of hisworth relative to the remainder of the hegemonic group. At a local carnival,Duke and Justin—Viola‘s ex-boyfriend—get into a fight when Justin rages with jealousy after witnessing Duke kissViola at the kissing booth. Duke teases Justin about being a sore loser and throwing a pathetic tantrum at the previous soccer match where their teamsplayed against one other. Duke‘s exposure of Justin‘s showcase of
  6. 6. Elizer 6 weakness allows for questioning the wholeness of his sexuality (Davidson, 149). Intending to reestablish control of the situation, Justin throws the first punch and Duke tackles him to the ground, causing a big scene at the carnival. There is no definite winner because the fight is soon broken up, but clear indication of each male determined to be the best, signifies competition in the homosocial group. ―Sebastian,‖ as impersonated by Viola, uses objectification of women to successfully promote her social standing and be accepted into the homosocial group of heterosexual males.Her friends from back home set up a plan of action to better her reputation. Duke and his friends are seated at the campus restaurant when ―Sebastian‖ walks in as part of the scheme, and two hot girls—one after the other—come up to him, beggingto get back together with him. These two girls are really Viola‘s friends from back home, pretending to be obsessed exes, hopelessly in love. ―Sebastian‖ shows no sympathy towards the girls, nonchalantly turning them down and encouraging them to move on. He even slaps one‘s rear end as a goodbye gesture, concluding his demonstration of sexual objectification of the two females. The girls were shown to be nothing but sex objects, emphasizing how easily women can be replaced. After watching the event in awe, Duke and his friends excitedly invite ―Sebastian‖ to come sit with them, urging him to share his strategies in successfully manipulating the opposite sex. ―Sebastian‖ is only allowed into the group after he establishes the low value he places on women in respect to men. The generalized sexual desires that men associate with women establish an unfair advantage of a group against a single, female individual (Grossman, 138). The masculinity of a homosocial group requires all members to follow the traditional mindset of women as male playthings.
  7. 7. Elizer 7 Advancing the display of objectification of women, Justin plays the tough guy in front of his homosocial group of boys, assuring male preeminence.In one of the first scenes of the movie, he admits to Viola that she is a better soccer player than most of the players on his team. When confronted about it in front of his teammates, Justin denies ever saying it. Aggravated, Viola begins to protest, but he instantly enforces his dominance over her by demanding an end to the discussion. Regardless of whether Justin was sincere when discussing Viola‘s talent in confidence, he chooses to obey the hegemonic norms of his group to avoid being ‗pecked‘ in the pecking order between the males (Bird, 167). Partaking in the norms will ensure that the male maintains his status in the homosocial group. The stability of any argument is defined not only by its supporting ideals, but also by its opposing viewpoint. In counterargument to the themes of the articles and the two films, it can be concluded that society is slowly, but surely, growing away from the traditional, hegemonic male identity. This idea is shown through film today, as strong relationships between heterosexual males are pronounced as ‗bromances,‘ the term having a positive connotation. The fact that the word ―romance‖ is incorporated, self –explains the difference in this friendship from the norms of homosocially-encouraged masculinity. An example of a bromance is clearly exposed in the movie I Love You, Man(2009) by the relationship between the groom-to-be Peter and newfound best man Sydney. Peter overhears his fiancé concerned about his lack of male friends. Without any friends to be potential best mansfor the wedding, Peter seeks advice from his homosexual brother. By asking for help from someone outside of a heterosexual male homosocial group, Peter‘s actions reveal the existence of a different kind of hegemonic masculinity, one that does not guarantee objectification of women, through competition or any other means. This event
  8. 8. Elizer 8 gives the homosexual male a higher ranking, placed above the heterosexual male. After Peter meets Sydney, the two grow very fond of each other, and end up becoming great friends. Their relationship includes expression of emotion and personal issues, and allows for behavior that contradicts the assumed, perfectly masculine performances. This type of friendship proves to be something that is desired among others, as it prohibits dishonestly and inspires gender identity to be reevaluated among relationships, an alteration that could better society as a whole. Overall, illustrated within film and critical assessment is the idea of hegemonic masculinity, its perseverance stemming from male homosocial friendships, in which there is a practice of gender conformities in correlation with their dominance over women. The interactions among males of these groups convey the recurring themes of what it means to be masculine. Emotional detachment is necessary to confirm a non-feminist façade, a self- proclamation of manhood that is shared with the rest of the group. Tensions between males validate the level of competition for higher classification in their social structure. It is common for competition to involve sexual objectification of women, which stands as another requirement of heterosexual males intending on joining the homosocial group. The fear of exclusion if these norms are violated is what regulates the conservation of hegemonic masculinity as a product of ideology. As this may demand that true identities be hidden, more recent relationships among males suggest a more peaceful hegemonic structure. Close and expressive friendships among males are newfound, positive feedback conceptions, an honorable opposition to the traditional hegemonic masculinity. The accumulating interest in such promising relationship formations indicates potential for a reassessment of gender standards.
  9. 9. Elizer 9 Works Cited Bird, S. R. "WELCOME TO THE MEN'S CLUB: Homosociality and the Maintenance of Hegemonic Masculinity." Gender & Society 10.2 (1996): 120-32. Print. Davidson, M. "PHANTOM LIMBS: Film Noir and the Disabled Body." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 9.1-2 (2003): 57-77. Print. Grossman, Julie. "Film Noir's "Femme Fatales" Hard-Boiled Women: Moving Beyond Gender Fantasies." Quarterly Review of Film and Video 24.1 (2007): 19-30. Print.

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