In Bell Hooks “Understanding Patriarchy”, she talks about patriarchy and its presence in our daily lives. She expresses her opinion on why she believes that patriarchal masculinity is a big issue. She starts off by saying that patriarchy is present in almost all political and social systems and goes on to describe it as a system that insists that males are superior to everything and everyone that’s deemed weak and have the right to assert their dominance over them and continue to maintain that dominance through violence and psychological terror. She says that this is a problem because the patriarchal system continues to be passed down from generation to generation therefore teaching young girls and boys that they need to act and be a certain way in order to best fulfill the gender roles they were given at such a young age from parents but also from various institutions such as churches and schools. Girls have always been taught that their role is to serve, to be weak, to caretake and nurture and to be compliant whilst boys have always been taught to be served, to provide, to be strong and to hide their feelings. These predetermined gender roles make it hard for anyone to dare to act the way they want to and be the person they want to be and no one is doing anything about it simply because it’s become so common that it’s considered the natural way of life.
Throughout Hook’s text, she touches on the solutions to this problem. She brings up how we can start by allowing our children to choose whether they want to be authentically themselves or if they want to conform to the patriarchal system. Other than that, Hooks highlights how “blind obedience” is the foundation of patriarchy and the reason why it still stands today promoting the repression of emotions and the destruction of individual willpower amongst other things. She also shines light on how even women equally support the system even when men benefit most from it due to the fact that they don’t dare question or challenge the “false fantasies of gender roles.” therefore sustaining patriarchal culture. She stresses the fact that in order to dismantle the patriarchal system, we need to finally stop living in denial and realize that we need to challenge it and speak up about it rather than ignore it. She states that to end the spread of this system, we need to “[…] challenge both its psychological and its concrete manifestations in daily life.” rather than critique it without taking action.
In Michael Kimmel’s “Masculinity as Homophobia”, he addresses homophobia and how it relates to masculinity. He states that men’s biggest fear is to be ridiculed for being too feminine by others and he says that homophobia stems from this very fear. He talks about how men are afraid that other men will “emasculate” them revealing the fact that they are not as manly and macho as they would like to portray themselves leaving them not only ashamed but humiliated. In addition, he calls out friends and peers for also influencing men into feeling the need to constantly hide behind a mask where they need to always be strong, manly and hide their feelings as they too act as a gender police that threaten to expose them as feminine. These factors are what forces guys into gender roles where they have to maintain a persona and cover everything they do by talking, acting and adopting mannerisms that aren’t stereotypically feminine. Kimmel relates homophobia to the exaggerated efforts of men to abide by the traditional rules of masculinity including violence and sexual predation. He also states that part of men’s issue is that they don’t see themselves as beings who are powerful saying that they were taught to believe that they are “[…] entitled to feel that power, but do not feel it.” which also gives them a reason to want to gain more power than they already have even going to the extent of not supporting women’s efforts to level the playing field. It also encourages men to disempower others using discriminatory means like age, race, gender, class, sexual orientation and ethnicity.
Kimmel then goes on to end his text by stating that peace of mind and relief from gender roles will only come about “[…] from a politics of inclusion, not exclusion, from standing up for equality and justice […]” rather than avoiding the issue entirely. I believe that in writing this text, he wants to suggest that men shouldn’t be taught that it’s their role to dominate and assert their power over everyone. He also seems to suggest that people should be more open minded and less judgemental towards each other and their actions whether they are feminine or not so they do not feel peer pressured into being a person they are not and development characteristics that are stereotypically masculine or. He wants people to stop creating a social expectation of the type of man males need to strive to achieve because it instills insecurity that leads them to wanting more power by taking it out on people they consider lesser than them whether it’s because of different gender, class, sexual orientation. All in all the word masculinity has to be redefined so that men stop feeling the need to hide behind a mask and so they are finally able to accept themselves and embrace their qualities obliterating their insecurities against others.
One thought on “5. Masculinity”
It is true that almost all the societies have adopted a patriarchal structure. I think the only solution to change is to teach youger generations values such as open-midedness and acceptance towards others’ differences.