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A presentation examining gender in American society, and the influence of masculinity influence on social conceptualizations of gender and sexuality.

A presentation examining gender in American society, and the influence of masculinity influence on social conceptualizations of gender and sexuality.

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Lindner rhetoric-overview Lindner rhetoric-overview Presentation Transcript

  • Masculinity the Male Mask
    WRTG 3020 - Academic Research Project
    By Kyra Lindner
  • Introduction – What This Presentation Will Examine:
    Sex vs. Gender (An overview of sexual categories)
    Masculinity in American society
    A boy’s path to manhood
    Masculinity as a product of homosocial competition
    An article exemplifying these themes of masculinity:
    Kimmel, Michael. “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity.” Gender, Sex, & Sexuality: The New Basics. Ed. Abby Ferber, Kimberly Holcomb, Tre Wentling. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009. 58-70. Print.
  • SEX vs. GENDER
    Sex: a biological distinction, used to classify males and females, based on their reproductive organs.
    Gender: the social aspect of one’s behavior in relation to their biological “sex” i.e. what sexual characteristics does one typically display/express? Does he/she conform to the socially constructed categories of feminine vs. masculine behavior, does he/she behave in the “expected” way, based on his/her biological sex?
    Kimmel notes that the concepts of gender and sex are often falsely used interchangeably and oversimplified:
    “We think of manhood as innate, residing in the particular biological composition of the human male, the result of androgens or the possession of a penis…the reward…for having successfully completed an arduous [i.e. difficult] initiation ritual” (Kimmel, 58).
  • GENDER EXPRESSION
    Gender Expression: can be thought of as sets of characteristics, markers, behaviors, and traits that help individuals classify the “sex” of others, based on culturally dictated norms of gendered behaviors (i.e. behaviors that are thought of as predominantly male or female).
    Ex. An individual with long hair and breasts, wearing makeup and a dress… would be categorized as a female, based on the feminine components of her physical features and clothing choices.
    Gender Roles: a culturally dictated (i.e. socially bound) collection of behaviors relating to a “role”/ position, associated with a particular gender. For example, a nurse is assumed to be female and a pilot is assumed to be male.
    Gender roles:
    Affect stereotypical behaviors, attitudes/traits, and activities (i.e. girls wearing pink and boys wearing blue).
    Predict behavioral obligations and opportunities across and individuals’ life course by influencing other’s expectations of said individual based on gender.
    Masculinity: Characteristics associated with males, i.e. strong, tough, firm, smart…
    Vs.
    Femininity: Characteristics associated with females, i.e. kind, nurturing, pretty, weak…
  • DEVELOPING GENDER
    The father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, contends that to enter into adulthood we must divorce ourselves from aspects of childhood.
    To become a man, a boy must first reject his mother, separating himself from her and her love. This devaluation of one’s mother is only the first step in toward achieving masculinity, proving one’s manhood to other men by distancing one’s self from any signs of weakness…
    Freud argues, that boys eventually internalize this rejection of their mother, which later evolves into a generalized devaluation of all females (after all if one cannot value and respect one’s own loving mother… how could one even attempt to appreciate other women).
    Sexism is thought to arise from this maternal repudiation, as boys must systematically ensure that they have distanced themselves from their mothers by devaluing their maternal relationships.
  • “LEARNING” GENDER
    Masculine traits/behaviors - ex. Hitting a boy after he calls you stupid.
    Feminine traits/behaviors – ex. Crying after a boy calls you stupid.
    We “learn” gender through social interactions with others in our society, like our family, peers, and acquaintances…
    For example, if a young boy puts on his mother’s high heels and begins walking around the house in them, his father may ask why he is wearing girl’s shoes. The young boy may then realize that it is not normal/appropriate for a boy to wear these shoes, because his father immediately associated them with females making them unmanly.
    Kimmel argues that we learn what masculinity is by first defining what it is not, “we come to know what it means to be a man in our culture by setting our definitions in opposition to a set of “others”…above all, women” (Kimmel, 58). The concept of women as the “others” illustrates the idea that to be man one must not exhibit any female traits.
  • HOW A BOY BECOMES A MAN: ADOPTING THE MALE ROLE
    One does not have to act male or female i.e. do gender. However, society often pressures individuals to adopt and adhere to a male or a female role.
    As previously noted to become a man, one first must be aware of what traits and behaviors are considered “manly.”
    The culture of manhood is often taught to young boys by other men or learned through peer interactions.
    i.e. A father teaching his son how to fight, or a male friend explaining that boys don’t cry even when they fall down…
    It is the desperation for acceptance by other men that drives boys to abandon any feminine behaviors, to gain acceptance from other males and enter into manhood.
  • MAINTAINING MASCULINITY
    Masculinity is a struggle, somewhat of a façade. A real man conceals his feelings and shows no signs of weakness.
    Men often display material proof of their masculinity to other men to ensure their manly status.
    i.e. some very basic examples would be: cars, women, power tools..
    Being a man means “not being like women” (Kimmel, 62).
    There is even a website that depicts manly traits…(http://artofmanliness.com/)
  • MASCULINITY AND PEER PRESSURE
    Our peers – the gender police:
    Kimmel depicts the reality of peer issued penalties for violating gender norms by illustrating a scenario in which boys are asked to look at their finger nails to see if they are dirty or not. The boys that stretch out their arm palm facing the floor are penalized for exhibiting feminine behavior, whereas those who curl their fingers into their palm and hold hand with their palm toward their face are applauded for their masculinity.
  • SAVING FACE
    How can a man save face if his manhood is questioned?
    No men proclaim their innocence louder than the guilty - (anonymous quote from CU professor)
    Men fear “being ashamed or humiliated in front of other men” (Kimmel, 64).
    Fear of disapproval from other men can sometimes push men to desperately ensure their masculinity by criticizing or comparing themselves to effeminate or female “others.”
    Sexism (a chauvinistic oppression of women) and Homophobia (discrimination against homosexual individuals) often act as tools to protect one’s masculine status.
    If being a man is defined as anti feminine behavior, then distancing one’s self from any female behaviors and exaggerating one’s masculine traits are ways to prove one’s manhood.
  • BREAKING THE RULES – THE SOCIAL PRESSURES OF MANHOOD
    As Kimmel notes, this battle for perceived manhood never ends “to admit weakness, to admit frailty or fragility, is to be seen as a wimp, a sissy, not a real man” (Kimmel, 63).
    Psychologically speaking this constant battle takes a toll on the male psyche. Men consistently express higher rates of substance abuse, Antisocial personality disorder, suicide completion, and are less likely to seek help for mental health related issues.
    Many psychologists and medical professionals argue that the American cultural gender norms, requiring men to repress emotions and conceal weakness, are to blame for this disorder gender disparity.
    * (The WHO has interesting information available on gender disparities within the realm of mental health - http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/ )
  • WHAT MASCULINITY “SHOULD” BE – MEDIA INFLUENCING MANHOOD
    If “masculinity [is] a constantly changing collection of meanings, that we construct through our relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with out world” (Kimmel, 58).
    What aspects of social culture influence our understanding of masculine behavior?
    Media images… that individuals are exposed to shape interpretations of masculinity.
    The media reinforces characteristics of the ideal American man: Jackson Katz’s documentary Tough Guise illustrates the media’s obsession with manliness and the exaggerated portrayals of uber-males that perpetuate extreme gender stereotypes.
    Here is a short clip of Katz’s analysis of violent imagery as the epitome of manliness in Hollywood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3exzMPT4nGI
    (Even children’s films are often critiqued as perpetuating unrealistic masculinity ideals, by depicting hyper masculine behaviors in countless films, such as Disney classics… Images of masculinity in the media - Disney Movie Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CWMCt35oFY&feature=related )
  • HOW DO YOU KNOW? – MARKERS OF MANHOOD
    “What men need is men’s approval” (Kimmel, 63)
    Kimmel notes that men are constantly subject to scrutiny from other men, and as “manhood is demonstrated for other men’s approval” men must always keep their emotions and any feminine traits… in check (Kimmel, 63).
    Men implement “markers of manhood” to display their status to other males, material representations of masculinity i.e. other males requiring men to display proof or evidence of their manliness.
    Examples Kimmel gives:
    wealth, power, status, sexy women…
    This façade of manhood, based on
    material/visible goods creates an environment
    based on competition between males for the
    most prized possessions:
    I(mage : http://www.google.com/imgres?q=rich+man&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbnid=SJ8GoKJyO-rWpM:&imgrefurl=http://www.irvinehousingblog.com/blog/comments/the-rich-feel-they-missed-out-on-the-recession/&ei=hdybTdqzBY2CsQPHkdX6Aw&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=429&oei=hdybTdqzBY2CsQPHkdX6Aw&page=1&tbnh=154&tbnw=133&start=0&ndsp=34&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0&tx=80&ty=58&biw=1440&bih=786 )
  • Brannon’s Summary of Manhood
    Psychologist Robert Brannon’s Summary of Manhood (1976):
    1.) “No Sissy Stuff”: One may never do anything that even remotely suggests femininity. Masculinity is the relentless repudiation of the feminine.
    2.) “Be a Big Wheel”: Masculinity is measured by power, success, wealth, and status. As the current saying goes, “He who has the most toys when he dies wins.”
    3.) “Be a Sturdy Oak”: Masculinity depends on remaining calm and reliable in a crisis, holding emotions in check. In fact, Proving you’re a man depends on never showing your emotions at all. Boys don’t cry.
    4.) “Give 'em Hell”: Exclude an aura of manly daring and aggression. Go for it. Take risks.
    (Kimmel, 62)
  • CONCLUSION
    Kimmel’s opening quote selected from Of Mice and Men essentially sums up the entirety of his message “[All men] are scared of each other, that’s what. Ever’ one of you’s scared the rest is goin’ to get something on you” (Kimmel, 58).
    Masculinity is a culturally relative term (i.e. the traits/behaviors… associated with manhood vary by culture, and change over time).
    Fear is a driving force behind the pressure on males in American society to display masculinity.
    In order to gain acceptance within said society one must first learn the guidelines that dictate male behaviors.
    If one’s masculinity is question one must defend their role, often by denouncing others or exhibiting hyper-masculine traits…
    This scapegoat style of affirming one’s masculinity perpetuates the exesting chauvanistic gender norms within American society, and “relief from gender struggle, will come only from a politics of inclusion, not exclusion, from standing up for [gender] equality and justice, and not by running away” (Kimmel, 69).