Blog 5: Masculinity

Masculinity has always been around. Men have constantly been pressured to act a type of way. Masculinity also called “manhood” has always remained set with the characteristics of being strong and unemotional, but mostly superior to women.  Masculinity also defines the place of men in society, the one’s who are known to get judged if they don’t behave the way society expects them to be; though. Since forever, both genders have roles and expectations. For example, the boy is the one who   is not supposed to show any feelings and the girl can show as much as she wants because she’s the girl. This had brought a lot of inequality to both genders.

In “Masculinity as Homophobia “by Michael Kimmel, the author explains how homophobia is the basis of our social definition of “manhood”. He states that men are so scared to act “sissy” in public because if they do , they are a “ faggot” .They are scared to dress , act and talk a certain way, in fear that someone is going to think  that they are gay . I find that absurd that a man can’t act unmanly without being judged. This is a problem that occurs for most men that leads them to think they aren’t masculine enough. They are forced to hide a part of themselves to please the world. Kimmel mentions “our efforts to maintain a manly front cover for everything we do. What we wear. How we talk. How we walk. What we eat. Every mannerism, every movement contains a coded gender language.” Reading this, I never realized how men have so much expectations just like women and they are never talked about . Every gender should act the way they want, dress the way they want and what someone eats should not define their gender. It’s ridiculous!!!!The author really declares that the definition of masculinity should change and I think the same because so many guys hide the way they feel because of how society is going to react .

In the reading “Understanding Patriarchy “by Bell Hooks, the author talks about the definition of patriarchy. Firstly, patriarchy is a word that some people still don’t even know its real definition.  Hooks defines it as a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything, especially females. Throughout the text, she gives many examples of situations that she lived through because of the concept of patriarchy. What struck me the most is when she was explaining that she wanted to play a game with her brother where marbles where involved. Her brother told her that it was a boy’s game, but she still insisted. This brought her to get beaten up by her father because she’s “just a little girl”. The fact that a young girl can’t play a game, as if it’s made only for one gender is something that shouldn’t even be intervened.  This was a traumatic event for her, but it also opened her eyes to see that violence and authority is how patriarchy was thought and still is.

The definition of masculinity should change as it brings social issues like racism, homophobia and sexism. Yes, we have always lived with these kinds of matters, but it is mostly because men don’t stand up and they yet ,hide how they feel. It’s okay to be emotional, it’s okay to be gay or to wear a pink shirt.  All of these things are okay and doesn’t define “manhood”. Unfortunately, we are in a “male dominating” society in which both genders have many expectations. If more men would have an open-minded mind, we would be in world with less sexism and maybe no homophobia!

Alexia Ighekpe

Blog 5: “Be a man!”

Kimmel describes the American manhood as being afraid of other men, and I couldn’t agree more. The fact that boys are taught from young ages to never be the weaker one just shows them there’s shame in being unmanly. Kids will fight to see who’s the sissy of the group and then shame that participant. Being one of the strongest also brings a sense of power. If the child cries, he’s a sissy. If the child runs back to his father crying, then he might also receive criticism from his father who was also raised with the same set of negative rules. It’s no surprise there’s always negative effects on the adult that stems from that childhood and no surprise that these rules continue on. Why would a father want his son to be such a sissy; wouldn’t he want him to toughen up and be a man. In adolescence, our peers will become the greatest influence to us and these same peers become “gender police”. Boys will be scared of being unmasked as feminine. A norm will be set down as to what’s tolerable and what’s not, and whatever doesn’t follow the norm will be judged. Arguably, the only way to fix the problem would be to rip out the roots of the problem: get rid of the imposition of these negative rules upon children.

Another root of the problem is simply the political system we live in and face every day. The patriarchy basically insists that men be the more dominant sex and basically overshadow women in many ways. It then gives this power to dominate “over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence” (Hooks 1) These ideas of dominance actually stem deeper than we think. For example, there’s the idea that God gave men the innate power to rule over women. The women should follow, not question. “They were taught that God was male. These teachings were reinforced in every institution they encountered– schools, courthouses, clubs, sport arenas, as well as churches. Embracing patriarchal thinking, like everyone else around them, they taught it to their children because it seemed like a “natural” way to organize life” (Hooks 1). If we just use a little bit more critical thinking and just reassess how much we want the patriarchy to be part of our lives, then maybe we wouldn’t have toxic masculinity.

Let’s face it, it took a while before homosexuality was accepted, but why is that? “Homophobia 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. We are afraid to let other men see that fear” (Kimmel 147). This is important to know as homophobia goes hand in hand with sexism. As a society, we have built very strict, sets of negative rules men must follow in order to be men. This always leads to an exaggeration of all the traditional rules of masculinity. If you open up about your feelings too much, it’s gay. If you take care of your appearances too much, you’re gay. If you don’t act sexual with women, you’re gay.”Our efforts to maintain a manly front cover everything we do. What we wear. How we talk. How we walk. What we eat. Every mannerism, every movement contains a coded gender language” (Kimmel 148). And with this thought process there’s always a fear of humiliation that forces men to stick to their gender roles and follow them almost blindly. It’s almost scary to know we’ve intertwined sexuality and gender, and it’s scarier that it won’t be untangled very easily even if it’s something necessary.

On another note, Kimmel points out that “manhood is equated with power—over women, over other men”(Kimmel 149) . Which explains why violence is the most evident marker of manhood according to Kimmel. Men are taught that they must be willing to fight or rather desire to fight. We’ve all heard that he must protect the family, therefore he should fight. However, power comes in all shapes and forms. It can also be seen through jobs and higher positions. It’s about a drive for domination, power and conquest. Once again, fear plays a factor. The more power, the more fear arises within the man. He’s scared of losing what he has. He’s scared of not being manly enough to keep his position. This is something we can work on: “Feminism as a set of theories both explains women’s fear of men and empowers women to confront it both publicly and privately” (Kimmel 149). So not only should men be aware of this problem, but women need to also show how much it affects them.

Blog 05: Masculinity is questionable

They are afraid to be called sissies because that would make them weak in other words feminine, it’s one of their fears, “men fear being ridiculed as too feminine by other men”. For men violence is cool as well as being tough and having strength is their goal, therefore when a person calls them a sissie it’s as equal as calling him a faggot, because faggot does not apply to the homosexual experience, it’s a label to make them feel ashamed. That is another fear that they have, being ashamed. If they were called a sissie or a faggot they could not tell anyone about it in order to find a solution or get help to overcome the label that men give to one another. Also, they must learn not to care what others say, as in the opinion of other men about a guys masculinity should not be questioned or label from “not at all sissie” to “the biggest sissie”. 

I find it funny how women always complain that we are trained at a young age until we get married how to sit, how to act, how to talk, how to eat and the list goes on, yet men have the same struggles. They’re just better at hiding it. In the class “Sociology of Men and Masculinities” the teacher asked how do you know if a man is homosexual and some ladies responded, “a man is gay if he really cares about her, (another said), she knows he’s gay if he shows no interest in her, if he leaves her alone. The response the women gave are not logical, since not all guys need to have a sexual attraction to all girls they talk to or see. This shows that guys have a lot of expectations to fulfill as much as girls do. As for the other comment by the woman that if they do care a lot they come of as feminine but what if he is a kind, nice guy. Women also labelled men by stating that if they care too much they are feminine, as if men should not care because that is the job of a women, to care a lot of others, when in reality it is very touching when a guy asks about you and actually cares, that is a sign of interest, other than sexual attraction. 

Women are portrayed as weak helpless beings whereas men are portrayed strong and dominant, this leads to patriarchal beliefs, “Patriarchy is 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”. This mindset is enforced by religion too, since God created men and women were created to help him. I honestly hate the ideology that women cannot do what men can. It frustrates me that women are only seen as nurtures, who enforce what men say and follow their lead and that men only know how to be violent in the patriarchal world. I applaud to those few men brutally who grew up in this world abused, yet were able to resist the brainwashing and remain true to who they are. 

The way men can redefine masculinity is not labeling each other as “sissies” or “none sissies”, as well as showing their emotions and caring for others without being called a faggot. Also accepting that women can do things that is stereotypical of men to do as well as men can do what women do. There are supposed to be no boundaries for both women and men. As well as ignoring old beliefs and not being brainwashed is the biggest step. 

Blog 5

Hooks was raised to believe that men were born to rule the world because that’s how God viewed it and how her parents wanted to raise their family. Her role was to “to serve, to be weak, to be free from the burden of thinking, to caretake and to nurture others.” Hook’s brother was taught to be a stereotypical man. That rage was okay, violence was okay and that showing emotion wasn’t a manly thing to do. Something very disturbing happened in her childhood. All Hooks wanted to do was play marbles with her brother and ignored that her dad said she wasn’t allowed because she was a girl. After she denied and persisted that she wanted to keep playing, her dad beat her. Her mom told her that she “need(ed) to accept that (she) was just a little girl and girls can’t do what boys do.” It’s not right for a parent to say these things and I can understand how scarring it is to be told something like that. I especially feel bad that even her mother, another woman, told her not to do what she wanted either. 

“Patriarchy as a system has denied males access to full emotional well-being…” The limits that are put on men about being able to express emotions stop these men from feeling pain or sadness. If they express how they feel they aren’t seen as manly enough and aren’t doing their jobs properly. Bottling up feelings is never a good way to live and prevents them from feeling natural emotions. Men are “supposed” to be leaders, that’s what many of them believe anyway. Not only would redefining masculinity and helping end sexism be beneficial to women, it would also be great for men that want to express themselves but don’t because of societal beliefs. It would liberate them from being violent, angry and emotionless because by redefining this term it would also impact them in ways they might not have expected. It is often seen that women are the ones that want change because their voices aren’t loud enough and they are seen as weak and powerless but at the same time this change is needed for the men as well. They might want to express emotion and be more loving and caring but aren’t because of the beliefs put on them to be stern, angry and powerful. 

Men are scared to act, dress and talk a certain way in fear that they will be perecived as homosexulas. They don’t  want people to possibly have the “wrong idea” about them. They want to be seen as “real” men. Kimmel writes that homophobia is a fear that other men will unmask them and reveal who they really are, while at the same time stripping them from their masculinity. Boys are afraid to be unmanly and be too feminine. No one wants to be called a “sissy” because it just makes them feel like they don’t belong and that they are different.

A way we all can do a part and redefine masculinity is to simply stop having expectations and stereotype what men should do and how they should act. Women and other men shouldn’t have a predetermined opinion on how men should show emotion or how they feel, talk or dress. By doing this it will liberate everybody because no one will judge people based on your sexual orientation, race or sex. No one wants to go through life having heavy societal expectations being put on them, whether you are a man or a woman everyone should have a fair shot at being their own person and do whatever they please without having society put their beliefs on them. This way everyone will be treated fairly and everyone will live their life how they please and be liberated from the conceptions that have already been put into place for them.

Blog 5: Feminism is for Everyone

     The question as to what the definition of masculinity differs from person to person. To this, many may say that masculinity is what defines a man. Furthermore, what is thought as the traditional definition of masculinity can be seen as quite problematic. The ideal itself leads men to believe that they need to fit the role of a man in a patriarchal society.In addition, the need to redefine masculinity has increased as the current definition of masculinity has led to such things as toxic masculinity.

     First of all, we see in the essay “Understanding Patriarchy” by bell hooks, the importance of need for change in our society. More importantly, hooks evaluates issues that our society faces in terms of the patriarchy. For instance, we often associate patriarchy itself with the domination of men. However, this is far from progressive as we are faulting all men for the situation. When in reality both genders are equally to blame. For instance, hooks explains that some women who are single parents often in force more patriarchal thinking than those in a household of two parents. The reasoning behind this being as hooks says “women in such households are far more likely to idealize the patriarchal male role and patriarchal men than than are women who live with patriarchal men every day,”. In other words, even without a male patriarchal figure in the house, the patriarchal thinking is being taught regardless. In other words, although males are perceived to be those in full power and control in the patriarch we cannot blame them for it all. Furthermore, although it is a system that has more of the men’s interest in, it also disadvantages them in ways. For instance, hooks explains that “Patriarchy demands of men that they become and remain emotional cripples,”. Although the patriarchy is seen as a system to benefit the power of men it does affect their emotional health. Since, they are expected to be emotionless powerful, dominant males. By redefining masculinity, males would be more liberated as they would be free to express how they feel without the fear of being judged for it.

     Second of all, Michael Kimmel’s text entitled “Masculinity as Homophobia” examines as well a number of reasons as to why our definition of masculinity needs to change effectively. To begin, we often see masculinity as an interchangeable term for strong and powerful. It is often mistaken that the characteristics that any man possesses is the same as what a man is supposed to be. For instance, Kimmel uses the example of sexual orientation. He states the following “Homophobia is more than the irrational fear of gay men, more than the fear that we might be perceived as gay,”. In today’s society, if a man is not acting as he is expected to his sexuality is questioned. This fear that they have does not benefit them but rather deteriorates their health. For instance, as long as I can remember the idea that men cry was almost seen as a taboo. Why? Because they were expected to keep everything inside and never speak of how they feel. If they did, they would be seen as soft which is in the eyes of our society, far from what a man should be. Furthermore, another point made by Kimmel is that although males are seen as those above, they are also classified by not only their sexual orientation but race as well. We see that straight white males are those who benefit the most of our social scheme and those different from that are below. As Kimmel says “We’ve managed to disempower the overwhelming majority of American men by other means—such as discriminating on the basis of race, class, ethnicity, age, or sexual preference,”. By ranking others not only on their gender but by their other attributes such as race leads to being prejudice and sometimes even discriminatory towards men (or people in general) that belong to certain groups of people. By ranking people in such a system we are not only supporting but advancing such ideals as racism and homophobia by giving others a worth on a scale. By men redefining masculinity, it shows that essentially there is no need to prove their masculinity to one another. Since, masculinity is used to prove some men are better than others. This way, it eliminates the idea that they must prove themselves worthy to be called a man. 

     In the end, how we define masculinity can only be changed if we all make an effort as a society. This includes not only changing our mindsets towards how a man should behave but as well as the ideal behind masculinity itself. Masculinity should not be used so that men can prove themselves or their worth to others around them. As a result, we should not expect them to have certain characteristics solely because of their gender. We should all feel comfortable to act the way we want and not restrain ourselves because we are afraid that we do not meet our gender’s expectations.

Blog 5: Feminism is for everybody

Masculinity is a concept that has been around for quite some time and is a term used in order to define what a man should be. As we all know by now, society has portrayed men as strong, in control and more “superior” to women. For many decades these ideals have actually affected men in certain ways, as Kimmel explains in his text of “Masculinity as Homophobia”. 

Patriarchy in fact holds these concepts that men are more superior to women. Kimmel explains how homophobia is a term used to define the concepts of manhood and masculinity. The sad truth is that men do not want to be called “gay”, “faggot” or “sissy”. “The fear of being seen as a sissy dominates the cultural definitions of manhood. It starts so early” says Kimmel. Boys at a young age will already grasp upon the concept of masculinity. Don’t run like a girl they say. Oh c’mon throw like a real man! Don’t be a sissy just jump! Young boys have already understood that being lowered to a girls level is an insult, boys should always be superior. These ideals have been around for decades and they have been embedded in our culture, the way we think and how we act. In consequence, these acts can lead to men bottling up their emotion and not being able to express themselves as well. “…we have constructed on the perimeter, making sure that nothing even remotely feminine might show through” (Kimmel, p.148) 

Moreover, Hooks and Kimmel are quite similar when it comes to explaining masculinity. Hooks exlpains that masculinity restricts men from expressing their true emotions and that there are in fact different types of masculinity. Hooks gives the example of Terrence’s son and how he enjoyed playing with Barbie’s. When his friends found out about this, they started to neglect him because he wasn’t “manly” enough. His son quickly dropped the “feminine” persona and followed a more “masculine” behaviour in order to be accepted by his friends. The situation links patriarchy and sexism and how masculinity can be derived from psychological trauma pressured by men and transmitted to another. This can put men under a lot of pressure and psychological distress. “Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation” says Hooks. However, the author doesn’t put the blame on men in fact she says women and men are both equally at fault when it comes to society’s perspective on masculinity. To break societal norms both genders have to be responsible. 

The term of masculinity shouldn’t even be used since it is something men slowly become entitled to. The word itself holds a gender bias when in reality it does not mean anything. One night, I was talking to my male friend and we were discussing about this subject. We both came to the conclusion that our sexe shouldn’t carry specific characteristics and the only thing that should differentiate women and men are our reproductive systems. With that said no matter the gender, all we need is to educate the population in order to overcome and redefine the definition of masculinity. Both genders should be equivalent and certain words like success and power should not be linked to one gender only. Both men and women are strong, powerful and successful, if they choose to be. With this mindset, we as a society can redefine the definition of masculinity. As a result, gender roles wouldn’t exist and societal standards will be abolished. Only then, we will truly be free. 

Blog 5: Homophobia and masculinity

  Masculinity is a set of attributes, behaviors and roles associated with boys and men. Masculinity defines “what men are supposed to be”, explaining and defining such things as body characteristics, behaviors and ways of thinking that are expected from a man. Masculinity also defines the place of men in the society and the roles that they have to complete. Masculinity defines men as the superior to the women and they are expected to be more successful then women in general. It also makes the perfect man appear as a strong, tough and brutal, but also as someone who doesn’t show emotions.

  A great point that MICHAELS.KIMMEL expressed in the article “Masculinity as Homophobia” is the fact that homophobia is in fact something more complex and deeper then just the fear or homosexual people and relationships. It goes beyond that. She says, “Homophobia is the fear that another men will unmask us, emasculate us, reveal to us and the world that we do not measure up, that we are not real men.”. Personally, being a man, I couldn’t agree more with that statement, it would be terrifying for a man to get exposed for not being a “real men” in front of his family or friends. Also, I think that a lot of men don’t relate to these fixed standards of a a real man. The cancellation of these stereotypes and the change of what is masculinity would actually benefit men, because the present definition of masculinity is toxic and bad for men and for women.

  Another very important point made by the author was the fact that this toxic masculinity and homophobia is not healthy for men. And she also points out that the homophobia should be treated and shouldn’t be present at all. I think that she’s very right about that. The disappearance of homophobia will also change the way we see masculinity and the criteria of being a “real men” will change with it. This part is very important, because toxic masculinity is not only bad for men, but for women, racial minorities and homosexuals too. In fact, classic masculinity teaches young white men that they should be superior to women and other minorities and dominate them in every aspect, which is completely wrong.

  Finally, how can a change be made? Men can redefine masculinity by not being homophobic and by simply not living and not believing following these principles. Men should be allowed to show their emotions and shouldn’t be ashamed if they are not tall, muscular and manly. If all men agreed to be honest and simply be themselves, everybody will be happy, even themselves. This will impact all our lives and will probably make all of us happier and will make our society more healthy.

Feminism is for everybody

Society’s expectations put a lot pressure on individuals regarding the appropriate attitudes and roles that each sex should have and it often cause discrimination. As we all know, gender is socially constructed and because of that society has always said that men are above women. Society has taught us that men are known to be violent, women known to be polite, blue is a color for boys and pink’s color is for girls, etc. This means that in the society we live in, it would be unacceptable to see a woman being violent and speak loud because she would have been considered rude and dangerous. It is the same case for a male, a man cannot being gentle and sweet because he would be considered as too weak and feminine. These are known as double standards and they are created by society.

“Masculinity as Homophobia” by Michael Kimmel suggests that men are into homophobia because they are scared of feminity. “Homophobia 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” (Kimmel 1). This passage shows that men are scared of showing who they truly are because society has always taught them that it is unnatural for a man to be emotional, soft or kind. Because society has shown the appropriate behavior that each men should have, they are scared of showing their nature, they believe people will make fun of them. Most men hide from reality, they have always been told that girls are supposed to be emotional and if boys start acting like girls, people would think that they too weak and feminine.

In “Understand Patriarchy” by Bell Hooks, the authors explains and gives her opinion about patriarchy. She said that patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that male are dominating, superior to everything and everyone (Hooks 1). Hooks also said that her parents believed in patriarchy and at a young age they taught her many things like: her role as a female was to serve, to be weak, to be free from the burden of thinking, to caretake and nurture others. Her parents also taught that it was considered as “unnatural” for a woman to be violent. Bell also shared a traumatic event with his brother. She announced to her brother that she would like to play marbles, and he replied by saying “Girls do not play marbles. This is a boy’s game.” The worst part is that her father didn’t defend her. He was being violent and he told her “You’re just a little girl. When I tell you something, I mean for you to do it”. This is a perfect example of patriarchy because it shows that men have much more privileges than women. Since then, Hooks realized that the world she lives in is a world’s men and she does not have much power.

In conclusion, I feel like that men should redefine the concept of masculinity not just for gender equality or to decrease sexism or homophobia, but it would be good for them. Imagine if they change the idea of “masculinity”, they would be able to act the way they want or dress the way they want. Men would stop hidding behind reality and they would actually show their real faces. I hope one day that society will change their gender roles perceptions because people are learning all these double standards by interacting with others.