Blog 5: Feminism is for Everybody

Masculinity is a socially constructed identity which supports many ideas of what “a real man” should be like. The concept of masculinity has been around for many decades that it became a norm in today’s society that men are supposed to be superior over woman, not show their feelings, or always act tough in front of people, to name a few examples. This however does harm men, wether society realizes it or not.

Hooks gives her opinion on patriarchy right from the start of her article. She states how the system “insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females” (Hooks, 1). This shows that she believes she lives in a very patriarchal society where men are more superior compared to woman. Hooks mentioned that the American Perception to be a man is to constantly be in control. Hooks is convinced that in order to end male pain, there must be a stop to patriarchy.

In the article by Kimmel he begins by pointing out that masculinity is mostly about men not wanting to be perceived as gay from other people, so they therefore put up a front to show that they are not. This consequently damages the way men act and think since they try to act more masculine, “Constantly… checking the fences we have constructed on the perimeter, making sure that nothing even remotely feminine might show through. The probabilities of being unmasked are everywhere… even the most seemingly insignificant thing can pose a threat or activate that haunting terror” (Kimmel, 2).

In order for men to feel more comfortable in todays society, there are multiple possibilities. One of them being changing the way people view what characteristics are essential for a man to have. As an example, men should be tall, strong and muscular in order to be seen as masculine in society. There are also many other reasons such as stereotypes. Kimmel suggests that by removing the fear of homophobia, men should be able to act as they wish without having the terror of being called gay. He believes that men do whatever they can in order to be viewed as the most masculine person they can be.

If men redefine the meaning of masculinity, they can wear what they would like to without having a constant fear of making sure society isn’t perceiving them as gay, uncool, or not tough. This could also help in men playing whatever sport they like, being interested in different hobbies, pursue a various of careers and more. Men would be able to play sports such as dance or cheer that is usually seen as a girl sport. They would be able to not be ashamed at enjoying baking or making clothes as a favourite past time, men could not be afraid of wanting to become a nurse or a teacher since it is seen as being a women’s job and not a mans. With the change of how people see masculinity, it can boost the confidence of multiple men and change the way society expects men to act.

Blog 5 : Feminism is for everybody

Society’s expectations of men have always been a cause for pressure as males’ image is seen as one of power and control in most – if not all – cultures and is embedded in our every behaviour, thought and beliefs. Thanks to the passing down of such values, the idea of redefining masculinity has been put off for women to rise against sexism. The fear of failing the meeting of such social expectations has escalated within men and is an issue discussed in both Bell Hooks and Michael Kimmel’s texts.

Indeed, in Kimmel’s “Masculinity as Homophobia,” light is shed on this subject that is deemed taboo. He talks about how modern perception of feminism is entirely shaped by women, which ultimately does not take notice of existing men’s concerns. According to him, “[t]he great secret of American is: We are afraid of other men.” (p.147) What he means by that is that what men fear most is not their loss of power with the gain of rights for women, but rather the image they diffuse to others. From a young age, they are taught to learn what is adequate for boys from what is not, and to build on their own gendered lenses as they go on with their lives. They are taught to dominate others and to face challenges without saying a word. If they dare neglect their role, social exclusion may entail. Kimmel’s main idea behind that sentence is that not only are women bounded by social expectations, but so do men, and that is what prevents them from accepting the notion that patriarchy should be eliminated.

In the same order of idea, Kimmel also mentions that “feminism has tended to assume that individually men must feel powerful.” (p.149) What he means by that is that women have been so focused on their battle against the patriarchy that they have forgotten that males are not the cold-hearted figures there are trying to pass on and that their individual experiences vary from one to another. They are all expected to have all of the power but often forget that this is nearly impossible as there will always be someone at the top of the chain. If they were to redefine masculinity, this fight for power would not take so much of their time and energy, bringing them a lot of relief, and would ultimately redefine the relationship between men and women as a whole.

As for Hooks, in her text “Understanding Patriarchy,” she conveys a similar message with more focus put on how “patriarchy as a system remains intact, and many people continue to believe that it is needed if humans are to survive as a species.” (p.4) She goes on to compare both women’s and men’s perceptions of feminism to explain how this phenomenon persists. With women denouncing their role as victims, they also portray men as the main committers of such a social injustice. Only, they do not realize that they too are perpetrators of patriarchal thinking and that their fighting against sexism only makes men ” dismiss [patriarchy] as irrelevant to their own experiences” as they cannot conceive the idea that they too are victims of its sufferings. Due to this, they cannot work hands in hands to end patriarchy and instead maintain this lifestyle. Hooks finishes her texts by suggesting that” [t]o end male pain […] we have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy.” (p.5) By doing so, issues such as sexism and homophobia would slowly disappear since focus would stop being put on gendered beliefs, and would instead be placed on issues of equality. Traits deemed as feminine would stop being associated with sexuality and would thus stop the spreading of hate towards non-heterosexuals since men would learn to accept themselves and embrace their unique features. This could also influence racism as values would be revisited.

Personally, both these texts really opened my eyes to men’s experience with patriarchy. I have never given any thought to this subject and have gotten a better understanding of what it is like to be a man nowadays and of why it can be hard for some of them to take us, hardcore feminists, seriously. All in all, more focus should be put on men’s version of the situation so that masculinity can be redefined and real change start to occur.

Blog 5: Feminism is for all

No matter the civilization, men have always had to consistently keep an image of what a man should be. In most households, men are considered to be the jewel of the family this most mostly due to how society has dictated men’s role to be powerful and control. Therefore if some men didn’t portrait those characteristics they would be ridiculed and feel left behind. Due to those circumstances, many men had to force themselves into being strong rather than being something they wanted. Further doing the line leads them to be extremely unhappy with who they become.

In both Bell Hooks and Michael Kimmel’s texts, the power of patriarchy is displayed by demonstrating how scared men are to show any weakness when it comes to following a path who differs from being a man. Both texts show how being a “sissy” is being looked down upon by society and shamed for not being strong enough “be a man mentally” rather than express your emotions.

In Bell Hooks Understanding Patriarchy, the author talks about how “Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything…” She further this thought by explaining how boys are programmed from a young age to be more dominant and assertive rather than submissive. As an example, she shows the relationship with her older brother and how from the start, he was the one who “was allowed to play with marbles because he was a man” while she had to be a provider and supporter due to her being a woman. In this example Hooks showcases how both herself and brother are a victim of the patriarchal system, both gender suffered from not being able to show who they are due to predisposed gender roles. In Hooks’s case, the was put in her place by her father who told her “You’re just a little girl. When I tell you to do something, I mean for you to do it.” This sort of environment traumatized her and made her realize how the system was always against her. Which is the case for many people who challenge the male figure of a household.

In Michael Kimmel Masculinity as Homophobia, the author speaks on how men are afraid of not belonging in the patriarchal world. Kimmel focuses on men’s fear of being ridiculed for how they express themselves. He describes is as “The fear of being seen as a sissy dominates the cultural definitions of manhood.” This behavior can be seen from an early age when boys go to school and some are made fun of by the way they dress, act in front of other, emotional expressions and looking at your hands the wrong way. In consequence, this sort of attitude makes men bottle up their emotions and reduce the need to express themselves freely. In consequence, these social constructs don’t give power to men, they reduce men to feel powerless. Men cannot explore who they are, making it that most of them fall into the drowned pattern of a patriarchal society where they must have a job and provide without knowing what they are doing similar to mindless computer who are programmed to follow instructions without question.

To recap both points, Kimmel and Hook showcase how men are indoctrinated into the patriarchal society by being force to suppress their emotions and thought which oppose the latter. In result, most men life a uniformed of subject like sexism and feminism due to lack of familiarity in subject which attack patriarchy itself. But in recent times we have seen a change in mindset when it comes to male freedom of emotions, these days there is an increase in emotional awareness among the younger generation of boys. Most of them where raised in a way in which allows them to express themselves. The only way that men can redefine the meaning of masculinity is to break down old barrier such as not caring about issues like sexism and feminism, reducing the idea of expressing yourself is weak you should be a man a bottle your emotions up. If men allow other men to express emotions rather than belittle them then men would be able to redefine was masculinity should be.

Blog #6: What Men Fear more than Feminism

Masculinity is one of the main issues that men have and also one the main issues that is taboo for men to speak about. It is the double standard for men; how women have them. It’s acceptable for woman to cry but men cannot or else they are considered weak. It’s acceptable for woman to speak about their feeling but men aren’t encouraged to do so because it would make them look sensitive. The stigma around men and their masculinity has risen a fear within men; the fear of humiliation or the fear of failing to meet expectations, for example.

According to Michael S. Kimmel’s article “Masculinity as Homophobia”, manhood is equated with power over women or power over other men. Men are taught to thrive over this feeling of “power” or “dominance” from a young age. They are taught to prove themselves when someone challenges them. The majority conclude that violence is the way to go, as they use their peers as gender role models. It is said, in the article, that violence is a marker of manhood which is supported by the willingness and desire to fight. The need to express violence can be linked to men’s drive for domination or power, sort of in a way of conquering. An interesting conclusion was brought up in Kimmel’s article:

Men’s feelings are not the feelings of the powerful, but of those who see themselves as powerless. These are the feelings that come inevitably from the discontinuity between the social and psychological, between aggregate analysis that reveals how men are in power as a group and the psychological fact that they do not feel powerful as individuals. They are the feelings of men who were raised to believe themselves entitled to feel that power, but do not feel it. No wonder many men are frustrated and angry…

Masculinity as Homophobia by Michael S.Kimmel

I do find many factual points within this conclusion. First of all, I do believe that the root of men’s frustration comes from their upbringing and has been etched in their psyche. The pressure of always being the strongest emotionally and the physically, the breadwinner, the most responsible, the leader, can take its toll on any individual – men or women. Second of all, men are promised a feeling of power ever since they can remember. Also, it is all they’ve seen; within their own households, in movies, in books and it’s even what’s taught to them at school through history. In light of all of these points, the feelings of frustration and anger can now be justified in some ways. In addition, many exclude themselves or find an escape to keep the feelings of frustration, anger and fear at bay.

bell hooks links patriarchy with male dominance in her article “Understanding Patriarchy”. hooks believes in the dismantling of the patriarchal system and she believes its a job for both men and women. She defines patriarchy in her article as:

Patriarchy a political-social system that insists that males 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

Understanding Patriarchy by bell hooks

hooks’ article does not attack men for this system and way of thinking. She simply lays all the problems that both genders need to solve in order to find equality and equity.She shares her own stories on how patriarchy has presented itself in her personal life, among her family. She talks about various childhood memories and includes religion. bell hooks described patriarchy as to be a system that was leaving her out of things she wanted to be part of. She makes the link that her brothers wouldn’t be bothered by the patriarchal system because it privileged them. It privileges men and penalizes women. However, it is as much the women’s fault as it is men’s fault. In many parts of the article the author gives examples of how it is both genders responsibility to break the social norm; i.e. marriage and culture. In addition, she breaks down the system itself. She explains that the system needs male dominance in order for it to function. As a result, it leads and supports sexist violence. Which leads to the last point, the feminist view on patriarchy. Many feminist have been hurt and oppressed for many years by male domination encouraged by patriarchy. A resulting factor of that pain would be the misinterpretation of men by feminist work. Being fed up by the treatment they have received, they painted men to be the bad guy and that was the end of the story. Nonetheless, hooks did not stand for it. She highlighted a chapter named “” in her book “‘ by describing it as such:

I stressed that feminist advocates collude in the pain of men wounded by patriarchy when they falsely represent men as always and only powerful, as always and only gaining privileges from their blind obedience to patriarchy. I emphasized that patriarchal ideology brainwashes men to believe that their domination of women is beneficial when it is not…

Understanding Patriarchy by bell hooks

bell hooks’ covers many diverse sub-subjects regarding patriarchy as well as calling out both genders.

How could men redefining the meaning of masculinity in their own lives have an impact on larger social issues such as sexism, racism and homophobia? After reading both articles, I believe if we take down the social norms that men must be the dominating gender or the most powerful gender; we leave room for emotional and psychological growth. If men were able to talk openly about their feelings in a safe environment – just like women can – we would not be in the same place. Men should not grow up with the pressure of having to be the absolute strongest and toughest nor should they grow up with a sense of entitlement that they’re are owed power and respect. It should be something earned for both men and women.