Blog 5: Feminism is for Everybody

Masculinity and what it means to be a “man” means different things to different people. The traditional and stereotypical characteristics created by society that dictate what a man should be can be detrimental and toxic. Forcing men to be put in a specific box of masculinity. A lot of men feel forced to fit into the box of masculinity that is widely accepted but it limits self-expression and individuality. This pressure leads to insecurity about not living up to social norms and being put down or having their masculinity invalidated.

In “Masculinity as Homophobia”, Michael Kimmel discusses how if a man is “unmanly” and does not fit into society’s version of masculinity by not fitting into certain gender norms, he will be painted as emasculated and therefore “gay”. This limits men to only present themselves in way that will satisfy the social norms of masculinity so that they will not be associated with any gay stereotypes because being associated to anything that is gay would be the worst possible thing to ever happen to a man. This is the way that society has dictated men to feel and Kimmel expresses the following when he mentions that “homophobia is more than the irrational fear of gay men, more than the fear that we might be perceived as gay”. This limitation of toxic masculinity linked with homophobia is extremely problematic and imprisoning of men. Kimmel states that men feel this pressure to remain manly in almost every aspect of life, “What [they] wear. How [they] talk. How [they] walk. What [they] eat. Every mannerism, every movement contains a coded gender language.” Kimmel says that this definition of masculinity should change and I agree. Redefining this version of masculinity that confines men would free them from the toxic constraints of gender norms and expectations that are intertwined with homophobia. Redefining masculinity would help everyone do whatever they want without fear of judgement.

In “Understanding Patriarchy” by bell hooks, she mentions that “patriarchal ideology brainwashes men to believe that their domination of women is beneficial when it is not”. She holds both men and women accountable for misrepresenting masculinity and the patriarchy is limited to benefitting men, however, it also negatively impacts men too. It is more complicated that placing blame on only women and only men for gender and social norms and she emphasizes that both sexes are responsible for defying these norms and systems.  She states that “we have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy” and that a solution lies within a collective effort to end sexism and homophobia and ending the way that men and women invalidate each other’s experiences and sufferings from the constructed systems of masculinity and the patriarchy. 

With the discussions made in these two readings by Kimmel and Hooks, we can see how redefining masculinity can be freeing and liberating. Once people start to realize that masculinity and gender roles are completely made up constructs and decide to let go of judgements of other people, it will be a much more vibrant and accepting world. Many things can be solved with an open mind and an accepting heart.

Masculinity: “Qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men”

It’s clear that men have always had a stereotype associated to them. The man is always supposed to be “tough” and show no feelings. For some reason, men who show feelings, are considered “unmanly”. The term “unmanly, is the most ridiculous concept to me. Men and women are both humans, and both have feelings, as they should! So why is it considered unacceptable for a man to show them? How does being a man and having feelings make you any less of a man? This concept never made sense to me. Men also have the fear of being portrayed as homosexual if they act in this way. “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).

Bell hooks and Kimmel have similar points on how men are viewed. “Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation.” (Hooks).  Hooks explains a story about her childhood, and a game she liked to play with her brother. Her father however made it understood that this was a game for girls only. When she stood up for her brother and contradicted him, she was made sure to never do that again. And that’s everything wrong with how these social norms.

In Michael S. Kimmel’s, Masculinity as Homophobia, he targets more the way men are pressured to act tough and follow the stereotype if they don’t want to be portrayed as homosexual. If a fight breaks out, no man wants to go through the embarrassment of not fighting back. This is to avoid the feeling of being “unmanly”. They have to follow these “norms” that shouldn’t even be norms, because in reality they make no sense.  

The only way to diminish these views for men, is being open and okay with the fact that they are equal to women. As young adults, we are the ones that should be promoting this idea, because our children should grow up with the mentality that men and women are both allowed to speak, act, dress, and do what they want without being judged. We are all human beings, and more importantly all unique, different, and special human beings. A man’s tears have no correlation with their sexuality.

I will say that slowly this stereotype will be less common. I’ve already been noticing within the passed year or two, that men are more comfortable with their sexuality in the sense where they are not afraid to be that “icebreaker”. Once men loose that fear of being perceived as not powerful, homosexual, or “unmanly”, that is when this ideology will change completely. And I think that’s super important because the more men ACCEPT other men and don’t judge them for acting the way they do, the easily this will be on them. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done and I understand that!

The Failure of the Patriarchal System.

For some, being a feminist translate into being anti man. A lot of people are still thinking that feminists are trying to erase the place of the man in society to be the one in the power position. Those affirmations could not be more wrong. Women are not trying to dethrone men, they are trying to reach equity in every aspect of life and be considered as important as them in society. But to acquire equity, men must be allowed to break the expectations they have been subject to all their lives. What a man should be and how a man should act is defined by the rules of manliness. Those rules are stopping the men from being who they are as individual and are instead forcing them to live with restrictions. Any human individual has emotions and preferences. They love, they hate and they feel a different way each uniquely. Those things should not be defined by their gender identity.  Patriarchy installed in our society expectations keeping the men away from expressing their emotions or personality. I’ll show in this text why patriarchy is a failed system and how manliness has intoxicated our society for generations.

When we research masculinity in the dictionary, the official definition is “qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men.” The example of the usage of the word masculinity is:  “handsome, muscled, and driven, he’s a prime example of masculinity.”. The first synonyms of masculinity are virility, vigor, strength and toughness. I was shock by this simple grammatical research and how the man is portrayed even by the dictionary.

A man need to be tough, he can’t show his feelings.

A man need to be handsome he cannot be called pretty or cute .

A man need to be physically strong and driven by ambition or he wouldn’t be manly enough.

When did manly became an adjective to describe someone as person. I still don’t understand how gender must reflect a person identity but that’s what we have all been taught since we were are born. In a patriarchal society, the man has the main power and need to govern his household by establishing respect that he has acquired by being feared. Boys and girls are raised with the ideology that they are not the same and they can not do the same things. Those ideas being perpetuated for generations, the barrier of gender have been defined and the women place also. Patriarchy is a fear based system that ; “promotes insanity” and “is at the root of the psychological ills troubling men in our nation” ( Bell Hooks p.4 ). Emancipation being the biggest fear of the men, patriarchy is a system that destroyed many lives for the one that could not fit in every restrictions masculinity has. For men to finally feel included in their own community and be able to fully express their own identity, we must redefine what being a man is.

Redefining and  dismantling those expectations will not only allow the men to feel better about themselves but will also reduce sexism. Patriarchy’s abolition would be beneficial for the emotional liberation of men and could reduce issues such as racism, sexism and homophobia. Michael Kimmel said ; “Homophobia is a central organizing principle of our cultural definition of manhood” in other words, a lack in manliness is what creates homophobia and that fear of loving another man actually comes from seeing him not fitting in the manly category.  Any member of LGBTQ+ community would be able to feel better without the principle of the patriarchy since right now our world is not a approving of their preferences because it is defying the principle of manliness. A kid growing up should not be denied to play with barbies because he’s a boy of refused to play with cars because she’s a girl. Since “Homophobia and sexism go hand in hand” (  Michael Kimmel p.148) so we could also diminish institutional sexism and gender discrimination in our society . Women would feel more free to be themselves without being judge or belittle. Racism can also be implicated in that revolution since the concept is the same which is taking a marginalized group and discriminate it by using their differences against them and isolate them. Racist misconception or stereotype are perpetuated like sexism. No group of individual should dominate another and redefining patriarchy will help that.

In conclusion, patriarchy is a failed system that was mold by a society that claimed that superiority is pictured as a heterosexual white man. A ” normal ” household should be scared of their father who is the figure of authority meanwhile, the mother should be a sensitive housewife. A man cant show any feelings and should work to provide while their woman only purpose is to procreate. This ideology is now outdated and proven to have been false. Its repercussion have hurt family’s , individuals, and even created discrimination. Patriarchy should be redefine and the definition of what a man is should be abolish because our uniqueness , personality and identity should not be reflected by our reproductive organ.


Masculinity as Homophobia

Understanding Patriarchy bell hooks