For this project, I wanted to start a discussion
about masculinity, patriarchal manhood and
what it is doing to our boys and men.
Furthermore, I would like for this
presentation to be a call for change and
action from both men and women regarding
this very rigidly and statically defined,
patriarchal notion of masculinity.
With that in mind…
What is a real man?
To answer this question, most of us
cannot escape those static, rigidly
formed definitions of masculinity
dictated by imperialist white capitalist
patriarchy. Thus, this is what our
answers mostly look like:
Tony Porter’s Man Box
Do we actually define
masculinity in that way?
Crisis Facing Men:
In The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and
Love, bell hooks claims that the crisis facing men
is "the crisis of patriarchal masculinity" and that
it is both men and women who "participate in
this tortured value system (31, 33).
She goes on to argue that "patriarchy is the single
most life-threatening social disease assaulting the
male body and spirit in our nation...yet, most men
never think about patriarchy-what it means, how
it is created and sustained...there is no mass
concern for the plight of men" (hooks, 17, 30).
What the Current Notion does
to our Men
In this sense, our current notion of patriarchal masculinity makes
our men emotionless, violent dominators in a constant power
struggle. Not adhering to these very static definitions of
manhood would be shameful and embarrassing for men since
other patriarchal men and women would quickly enact rituals of
power that would make him get back in line. hooks tells us that
"men simply do not get that love and abuse cannot go together"
and then questions "why should they" since everywhere in our
media and our popular culture, the message is the same, where
there is intense passion, violence is almost inevitable (67).
In our top 20 movies of 2013, 14 had a singular male protagonist
and most of those protagonists were men going on journeys that
involved going to war, fighting a battle and appearing heroic by
fighting alone and away from home.
Men as sex-crazed:
“gotta have it”
If men aren't angry and violent, then they are portrayed as
men obsessed with sex and constantly on the prowl for the
sexual object that is woman. See Robin Thicke's music
video, Blurred Lines. OR any advertisement, billboard, tv
There is this perception prevalent in patriarchal culture that
men NEED to have sex extremely frequently. If he doesn’t,
he will be led to sexual violence and misconduct.
In our media and our society, the notion that 'he's gotta
have it' is so prevalent that we truly believe as hooks points
out that "a man deprived of sexual access will ultimately be
sexual with anybody" or he will "act out...go crazy" (78).
In patriarchal culture, sex is merely a way of reinforcing the
patriarchal male dominator model and in doing so
reaffirming male selfhood.
STATISTICS ON MALE VIOLENCE
According to a 2011 study compiled by the
U.S. Dept of Justice, 90% of homicides are
committed by men.
91% of gun-related violence was also
committed by men
95% of domestic violence is committed by
90% of childhood sexual abuse is committed
Terrence Real calls violence "boyhood socialization"
and argues that the way we turn boys into men is
through injury, by pulling them "away from their
own expressiveness" (60). He goes on to argue that it
is disconnection which defines masculinity.
bell hooks argues this point further, stating that the
"first act of violence that patriarchy demands of
males is not violence towards women. Instead,
patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in
acts of psychic self mutilation, that they kill off the
emotional parts of themselves" (66).
Patriarchy is violently
killing our men
Everyday in the U.S., men are more and more violent
(physically and sexually). They are the violent abusers of
themselves and others. According to nomas.org, 90% of
violent physical assault is by men. They are too often also
the killers of themselves and others: Over 85% of people
who commit murder are men. Patriarchy has not yet
satisfied, has not left them feeling whole and they've taken
to committing suicide in record numbers or otherwise
perpetuating and inflicting the pain they cannot express on
those deemed weaker.
And still, given our society's patriarchal definition of
manhood, violence is equated with a natural will specific to
men on the basis that there is a "biological connection
between having a penis and the will to do violence" (55).
STATISTICS OF MALE VICTIMS
STILL, males are 3 times more likely to be
murder victims than their female counterparts
1 in 33 American men will have experienced
sexual abuse and/or rape within their lifetime
1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of
Over 70% of men who are sexually abused do not
report telling anyone at the time it happened.
On average, men wait 22 years to tell anyone
else about the abuse (10 years longer than
And yet, they are men too.
But, these stories are
hardly ever told or seen…
Prison Rape Stories:
Even Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower (a victim of sexual abuse) is a
rarity. It should be noted that he deals with his problems by being overtly
violent to himself and others.
DOUBLE STANDARD FEMALE ON
In Wedding Crashers, Isla Fisher’s character literally ties him up while he's
asleep and when he wakes up tapes his mouth shut to stop his protests, and
the next day he calls it a "midnight rape". Yet he falls in love with her and
marries her by the end of the movie, and this is a comedy. They would never,
never dare film this with the genders reversed.
In 40 Days and 40 Nights the protagonist vows not to have sex or
masturbate during Lent. During said period, he meets and falls in love with a
girl. Just to be sure, he spends the last night of Lent chained to his bed, falls
In the Jim Carrey film Yes-Man, the protagonist promises to say yes to
everything. He is propositioned by an old woman who lives in his building,
and when he tries to say no, he is punished. Think for a second about how
this would be treated if the protagonist was a woman.
Almost Famous has a scene where a flock of 18-to-20-year-old girls have sex
with a 15-year-old boy, shouting "deflower the kid!" Consider how that
would be treated if the genders were reversed. –tvtropes.org
Men are still men,
even if victimized
We should be telling men and helping them
understand why 1 in 6 males are sexually abused
before the age of 16.
We should be telling them that over 70% of males
don't report abuse at the time it occurs and that they
should not be ashamed to.
Instead of calling Ed (who told his story in Victims No
Longer: Men Recovering from Incest and Other
Sexual Child Abuse) gay for being forced to give his
older brother blow jobs at the age of 10, we should
be encouraging more men like Ed to come forward
with their stories and do away with this notion that
men aren't men if they are victimized.
New Man CANNOT = Wimp
I grew up in a physically and sexually violent household, one in
which emotional terrorism was such a constant that when I finally
became an adult and didn't experience it on a daily basis from my
partner, I rejected him. He was not "man enough" for me. He was
too emotional and sensitive for me and that is exactly what I told
my patriarchal female friends who quickly understood my
dilemma and agreed that it was for the best.
What were the qualities deemed "not man enough"? Too
emotional? Empathy? A desire to talk problems out rather than
subject the other person to emotional terrorism, physical abuse
bell hooks explains this beautifully: "Once the 'new man' that is
the man changed by feminism was represented as a
wimp...dominated by powerful females who were secretly
longing for his macho counterpart, masses of men lost interest"
(112). WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO DO THIS!!
In his essay “Healing from Manhood,” John
Stoltenberg says that “loving justice more than
manhood, is not only a worthy pursuit, it is the
I hope this will be a call for change.
A call for Feminist Manhood over Patriarchal
A call for a definition of man that does not abuse, hurt
and kill men, women, children and themselves.