Blog #6: Feminism is for everybody

In Bell Hooks’ “Understanding Patriarchy”, she exploires the influence of patriarchy on our society. Patriarchy is so present in the daily life such as in education, institutions and religion, of people since their young age that we don’t even see the abnormal anymore. People have been tought that ” […] male are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.” Indeed, older generations learnt through religion that God is a man and created Adam to naturally rule the Earth and created Eve to suport him in his quest. Older generations then teach their children the mentality that man should be in control of the family, protect his nation, and values such as the man should be strong and be able to use violence. Children have been taught a scripted and presetted image of what a man should be through fear and violence. Hooks expresses the idea that the society has already adopted partiarchy and that this is the only “natural social order” of things, and that punishment such as death applies to anyone refusing to obey the man’s rule. The problem is also that women also adopted this way of thinking: some single female households would raise their children with more emphasis on patriarchal values than ordinary households.

In Michael Kimmel’s “Masculinity as Homophobia”, he exploires the close relationship between masculinity and homophobia. Kimmel portraits masculinity as being defined by homophobia, which is ” […] the fear that other men will unmask us, emasculate us, reveal to us and the world that we do not measure up, that we are not real men.” Men fear that their weaknesses would be discoved, therefore seen as flawfull and less than a man by others since the expectation of a man is raised so high by the society. Men’s fear creates a sense of self-shame, since ” […] the recognition of fear in ourselves is proof to ourselves that we are not as manly as we pretend […]”. The author states that men are living in the shame of feeling the fear that people will one day find out that they are not the “perfect” image of the man they try so hard to be; fear to be found unmanly and not deserving of the male status. Because men feel the fear of being discovered by their peers as being feminine, they put a front such as changing the way the behave, the way they talk, what emotions they show to others, their manerims, etc. Kimmel concludes his thesis with the statement : ” […] homophobia […] keeps men exaggerating all the traditional rules of masculinity […] Homophobia and sexism go hand in hand….” Indeed, for certain men to feel “manly”, they need to reject all that is feminine and exhibit toxic behaviours towards women.

Hooks suggests that the success to stop patriarchy lies in both men and women, she states that “Dismantling and changing patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together.” Indeed, Hooks states that the society should let people tell the truth about patriarchy: that the male figure holds the power he should not have over other people and that mothers and fathers should tell their children that patriarchy is the word that describes the rigid and unforgiving system of this society, where men are idealized so the future generation would later not be in denial of it and not be unwilling to make changes. The author emphasizes on the importance to let the next generation be aware of the negative effects partiarchy has on both genders, because boys need to recogize first that they have been “brainwashed” to behave only as they have been told to and to exhibit violence to dominate over women, then they can make changes to the society when they grow up, such as accept other men that do not confirm patriarchal norms and teaching their children that men should be able to exhibit emotions.

Kimmel suggests that men should not be taught that they are entitled to have all the power other others and over women, so that they would not feel anger of not having the power they were promissed when they are older. The author also suggests that people should stop being gender police towards other people and to let everyone be themselves. It is the pressure to appear “perfect” and “manly” to others that pushes men to shape themselves into someone they are not; if there is no social expectation towards men, then men would not feel the need to restrain themselves. Men should also be encouraged to express their fear to others, so they would realize that many other men feel the same and that their fear of being seen as feminine is unecessary.

I think men should be encouraged to make their own definition of what a men should be, instead of being taught be their parents or by the society. They should be their own person, instead of trying to pursuit an image they can (probably) never achieve. If parents insist to teach their boys what it means to be a man, I think they should pass down values such as a man is a person that is free to show emotions, that recognizes gender equality and that is open to other people’s differences while not be influenced by their judgements. By promoting those values, I think future men would be more open minded to male diversity and gender equality; therefore racism, homophobia or sexism would be significantly reduced in the society.