Blog 5: Feminism is for everybody

Briana Panaccione

Men have had their role in society dictated to them their whole lives. For a very long time, dating even further into western civilization, men have been given roles and were each expected to assume those roles whether it was true to who they are or not. They were not given the free will to do as they please, or think as they please; they were given expectations that for a long time were forced upon them; the outcome is in todays society because a patriarchal way of living has now become the norm.

We often don’t speak of the pressures that were put on by men or why men have been given authority or if they truly even want it. Most people defend feminist and say that women should be equal to men, women should have the same power as men, and so much more. However, although women have been put through sufferings that should have never existed, it is still very important to understand who we are criticizing, is it men, or is it the patriarchal role that society for a long time has put on men?  Bell hooks and Michael Kimmel have written documents clarifying this issue and opening people’s eyes to the reason why men have been portrayed this way. They stories make us realize that men have gone through hardships as well which caused them to have internal conflicts.

Bell hooks article called “Understanding Patriarchy” really opened my eyes. If I hadn’t read the text I wouldn’t have realized what men went through and I wouldn’t have thought of how to understand why men have been giving these roles. Bell Hooks talks about personal experiences in her family; her dad once beat her because she didn’t comply to the “girls” expectations of society. She explained how her brother was more passive and sweeter, whereas she was more aggressive; they were both forced to change who they are in order to be a proper man and women at that time. She mentions that a man was suppose have no emotions, be the leader of the house, be aggressive and tough, but not all men are born with those characteristics. When someone is forced to act out of their character, they create an inner conflict in which they don’t understand which can cause mal behaviour. For example, Bell Hooks explained how men have so much pressure to maintain power and authority, therefore when they feel as though their lacking control over their families, they may act out in abusive or sexually violating ways to reinstate their power. So, although their actions are very wrong, it is still extremely important to understand why they become like this and what we are trying to change. We have been so accustomed to this patriarchal lifestyle that some people don’t want to change, Hooks says how women even unconsciously input a male dominant role with their children.

Men have been brainwashed since the beginning of time; this reasons for why society is the way it is and makes us understand that the man is not the issue but rather it is the societal expectations of how a man is supposed to be that we need to change.

Michael Kimmel talks about a very similar story as Hooks. He explains how men have been harshly judged which makes them scared of other men, scared of being called a sissy, or scared of being judged as homosexual. He says how there have been so many insults and judgements on men that they don’t feel free to be who they are and instead try to comply to what people think men should be like. Men act out in violence because it shows aggressiveness and strength. If we didn’t have these expectations for men, then they would feel free to be who they are and to show emotions. He also explains how the definition of man has been so manipulated that people don’t all support relieving the social disapproval of gays, men of colour, women and etc., because it would lessen the definition of what it is to be a man which would make them more insecure.

From the aid of these articles, I understood that a man could be liberated when we stop all our expectations of what we think a man is supposed to be. We are brought into our lives to be who we are and have our own experiences; there should not be any character distinction between a man and a woman. We are who we are, if a man is more gentle, passive and warm hearted then it is okay. If a woman is aggressive and carries authority in the household, it is okay. Qualities exists for everyone to share. It would be very hard and it would be a very long process to change the worlds view on gender roles since it has been instilled in our minds for a long time, but, slowly if we change the way we think and be more accepting, men would feel relieved from social pressures and women equality with men will prevail.

Redefining the definition of masculinity will liberate us all. If there are no expectations of what a real man is supposed to be, then everyone will be seen as equal; a guy won’t be seen as less of a man by the color of his skin or so on but instead will be judged on who they are as a person. With no expectations of men, men can be who they are, and women will feel freer to be who we are. With no social gender roles, I am sure people will be more welcoming and understanding and not judge others for immoral reasons. We weren’t born in this world with the mind set of discriminating others and knowing we had to have certain traits. We are born clueless and end up developing a personality, so if we are being nurtured with the thoughts of everyone is equal and having no expectations, then people can be who they naturally are to the core.

Blog 5: Masculinity is not always right.

After reading both of the articles, a lot came clearer to me. Masculinity is not exactly what I thought it was, in fact it is more, it has deeper meaning and is different from the one I knew. As a girl, masculinity meant for me, men having power and being in control.  But I realized it’s more of a mind manipulating, men have several rules they have to go by, otherwise they could be called “sissy”, “faggot”, etc. In the articles, Bell Hooks and Micheal Kimmel give us the real definition of what masculinity means. By their own experience and what they have lived, we can see that there is always another side of the story. Bell Hooks tells us about her childhood and how her father used to treat her. Micheal Kimmel on the other hand explains that it’s not easy to be a man in a world that expects a lot from men.

What if we have abolished this patriarchal mindset decades, if not centuries ago? What would be the difference when it comes to how men act in this modern society? It is becoming less and less obvious but in the past, the male characters, such as the father and brothers, are the dominant rulers of the family. According to Hooks: “my brother was taught that it was his role to be served; to provide; to be strong; to think, strategize, and plan”, while the women in the house are in charge of taking care of them and serving them. That was the mindset that ruled families for years. However it is wrong, patriarchy made young boys believe that they have to be hard, violent and fearless and to always hide feelings or emotions as it is a girly manner, while young women are taught to be soft, gentle and never use violence in any circumstances. However, if this mindset wasn’t around today, or if fathers wouldn’t force such ideas into their sons minds, men wouldn’t feel pressured about who’s the most dominant and manly out of everyone. Also, more and more men might even support the fact that showing emotions, feelings and your true skin isn’t such a feminine aspect when it is in fact for everybody.

Micheal S. Kimmel tells us about certain problems men face while growing. He explains how they are surrounded by difficult rules. And power is not something they choose but they have to apply it so they can be following masculinity in the right way, he says: “our imperfect analysis of our own situations leads us to believe that we need more power, rather than leading us to support feminists’ efforts to rearrange power relationships along more equitable lines”. Men have to be careful with everything they do so they don’t be called “sissy”, for example, the way they talk, the way they walk, even with the simpler thing like checking their fingernails, everything has to be perfect. As Kimmel says:“making sure that nothing even remotely feminine might show through”. Homophobia doesn’t mean they don’t like gays but more afraid of being called gay. And fear for them makes them ashamed, because of how they are not supposed to show any feelings, so fear is proving that they are not manly as they have to.

 In the end, I think I was mistaken in thinking that all men do is spread their control over everyone. They are actually hiding behind those masculinity rules they have been taught. And the chances for them to show the real them, are very little. Because to them, they prefer hiding than being judged.