Blog #7: Exploring Masculinity

I chose the film “Joker”, that came out last year to write my final blog on. I have been told before watching it, that this movie was provocative. “Provocative” was a strange word, I remember thinking about how it could be provocative, as I couldn’t imagine in what way, or what aspect in this movie could cause strong reactions from the viewers. Especially after seeing the movie “The Plateform”, I thought I had seen what’s shocking and disturbing. While “The Plateform” didn’t disturbe me as much as I thought it would be (maybe it was too gory?), “Joker” really did a good job in making me feel uncomfortable while watching it. The two movies both has themes of murder, mental illness, existentialism and human rights, but “Joker” deals with the much current social problem of the male identity, and link it to issues such as the difference between the rich and poor, expectation of other people and the worth of one’s dream in this society.

In the society of today, prople often think that men gets more than women. More power, more status and more fame. It is true to a certain extent, but “Joker” shows us that there is also a difference between men and that not all of them are successful. The main character, Arthur Fleck, is one of those people that most of us would probably not see or pay attention to even if we are aware of his presence. He is different from the rest of the society; it is shown in the movie that he seems to have multiple mental disorders along with “emotional incontience”, an existing condition that makes him burst out of uncontrollable laughter even if he doesn’t want to. Arthur’s condition seems like a good joke from god, among all the problem he already has in life. He is from the lower class, and struggles to makes the ends meet while taking care of his sick mother, while relying on seven different medications to make his pain go away. Arthur does recieve help from the government: there is a social worker whom he can consult and talk to. But as the government cuts away founds in sectors they consider as “less essential”, Arthur soon doesn’t even have access to this service anymore. He is then left all alone, with no financial help or any other aid from the government, while Thomas Wayne, the politician running for the mayor position, promessed to help citizens in poverty and to make their life better. This is a good example to demonstrate that the rich only gets richer and the poor only gets poorer since the upper class simply doesn’t care about them. This movie also illustrate that men in the upper class often hold all the power and prestige, and men like Arthur in the lower class can only live in poverty, ignored and forgotten. For example, the three man Arthur killed were depicted as terrible people, and yet their death were described as tragic loss (since they are from the upper class and work in a prestigious company) and Arthur was represented as being a merciless murderer by the authority. It shows that not all men have hold of power and that men are still separated by social classes and are labelled according to their class.

In this movie, it is shown that men with mental illness are treated badly. Just like Arthur wrote in his joke book: “the worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t”. Indeed, the main character was treated differetly and unfairly because of his mental issues. People don’t understand that his laughter was not controlled and make fun of him. It is shown that men that don’t fit in the typical image of masculinity are seen as failures and are mistreated: Arthur faces inequality every day such as being looked down upon, not trusted in the work environment and even beaten by strangers, because he is not strong, he is different, not rich and that he does not have a successful job. People expect him to be masculine, manly and all the traditional values because he is a man. It’s as if the main character’s life is worth less than other people because he is different, and he knows it. In his joke book, he also wrote: “I hope my death makes more cents than my life”. It is shown that Arthur knows that his life has little worth or values. The main character’s long life dream was to become a stand-up comedian and works hard towards his goal. But his ambition is discarded and made fun of, by others because people think that being a comedian is a “low level” job. The society make it clear that his dream is worth as much as his life, which is almost nothing. This movie shows that people still have high expectation towards men and expect them to occupy “successful” professions such as in politics or in economics. But it is not possible for every man to fit in the narrow box of traditional masculinity and Arthur is a perfect example of a man that is on the other side of the spectrum of what a man is, facing daily rejection by the society he lives in.

“Joker” also illustrates the danger that a man can become if he is pushed too far. After living all his life in poverty and as the bottom of the social structure, he recieves a gun, a destructive power that is now in his possession. Arthur then shoots the three men that are the perfect representation of why his life is so miserable. The main character finally felt like existing and being noticed for the first time in his whole life, after the incident appeared on the news and attracted all the attention of the city. Arthur would not have to feel invisible and would certainly not kill the three men under the influence of anger, if he has received more help sooner and if he was not oppressed by everyone for so long. The main character also stabs one of his coworker to death, as revenge for being responsible for his whole situation, and even shot the tv host when he was live on the Murray Franklin show. He started his plan of revenge killing, letting his anger (or detachment) take over the best of himself, because he finally felt free from any restrictions that prevents him from avenging himself and his unfair life. I think Arthur did all those killings at the end because he simply gave up on himself and didn’t care about the consequences, after being hurt so much by other people. He became a monster after he was pushed too far by the cruelty of the society. It teaches us a valuable lesson that men should all be treated equally and fairly regardless of their social status, because injustice creates anger and it is often the motive for the powerless to chose to do harm, when they are suddenly in the position of power. This movie not only represents the oppression of men, but also the repression of all the people of lower class. At the end of the movie, Arthur was seen as a symbol of resistance by the citizens because he killed men of the upper class. People of Gotham had enough of the rich having all the power over them and controling their life. Their repressed anger finally escalates and they end up starting a revolution and killing Thomas Wayne. This is an important lesson that everyone should be treated with empathy and respect, because anyone can start a riot or become monsters if they are percecuted for too long.

Finally, I wouldn’t say that I liked “Joker”, but it is certainly a movie worth watching because it brings up many issues the current society still has, such as the difference between the rich and the poor, mental health problem, the importance of empathy and one’s identity. It is certainly a movie that makes us reflect on how we treat people with mental disorders and under what circumstances a villain is created.

Blog #6: Feminism is for everybody

In Bell Hooks’ “Understanding Patriarchy”, she exploires the influence of patriarchy on our society. Patriarchy is so present in the daily life such as in education, institutions and religion, of people since their young age that we don’t even see the abnormal anymore. People have been tought that ” […] male 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.” Indeed, older generations learnt through religion that God is a man and created Adam to naturally rule the Earth and created Eve to suport him in his quest. Older generations then teach their children the mentality that man should be in control of the family, protect his nation, and values such as the man should be strong and be able to use violence. Children have been taught a scripted and presetted image of what a man should be through fear and violence. Hooks expresses the idea that the society has already adopted partiarchy and that this is the only “natural social order” of things, and that punishment such as death applies to anyone refusing to obey the man’s rule. The problem is also that women also adopted this way of thinking: some single female households would raise their children with more emphasis on patriarchal values than ordinary households.

In Michael Kimmel’s “Masculinity as Homophobia”, he exploires the close relationship between masculinity and homophobia. Kimmel portraits masculinity as being defined by homophobia, which 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.” Men fear that their weaknesses would be discoved, therefore seen as flawfull and less than a man by others since the expectation of a man is raised so high by the society. Men’s fear creates a sense of self-shame, since ” […] the recognition of fear in ourselves is proof to ourselves that we are not as manly as we pretend […]”. The author states that men are living in the shame of feeling the fear that people will one day find out that they are not the “perfect” image of the man they try so hard to be; fear to be found unmanly and not deserving of the male status. Because men feel the fear of being discovered by their peers as being feminine, they put a front such as changing the way the behave, the way they talk, what emotions they show to others, their manerims, etc. Kimmel concludes his thesis with the statement : ” […] homophobia […] keeps men exaggerating all the traditional rules of masculinity […] Homophobia and sexism go hand in hand….” Indeed, for certain men to feel “manly”, they need to reject all that is feminine and exhibit toxic behaviours towards women.

Hooks suggests that the success to stop patriarchy lies in both men and women, she states that “Dismantling and changing patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together.” Indeed, Hooks states that the society should let people tell the truth about patriarchy: that the male figure holds the power he should not have over other people and that mothers and fathers should tell their children that patriarchy is the word that describes the rigid and unforgiving system of this society, where men are idealized so the future generation would later not be in denial of it and not be unwilling to make changes. The author emphasizes on the importance to let the next generation be aware of the negative effects partiarchy has on both genders, because boys need to recogize first that they have been “brainwashed” to behave only as they have been told to and to exhibit violence to dominate over women, then they can make changes to the society when they grow up, such as accept other men that do not confirm patriarchal norms and teaching their children that men should be able to exhibit emotions.

Kimmel suggests that men should not be taught that they are entitled to have all the power other others and over women, so that they would not feel anger of not having the power they were promissed when they are older. The author also suggests that people should stop being gender police towards other people and to let everyone be themselves. It is the pressure to appear “perfect” and “manly” to others that pushes men to shape themselves into someone they are not; if there is no social expectation towards men, then men would not feel the need to restrain themselves. Men should also be encouraged to express their fear to others, so they would realize that many other men feel the same and that their fear of being seen as feminine is unecessary.

I think men should be encouraged to make their own definition of what a men should be, instead of being taught be their parents or by the society. They should be their own person, instead of trying to pursuit an image they can (probably) never achieve. If parents insist to teach their boys what it means to be a man, I think they should pass down values such as a man is a person that is free to show emotions, that recognizes gender equality and that is open to other people’s differences while not be influenced by their judgements. By promoting those values, I think future men would be more open minded to male diversity and gender equality; therefore racism, homophobia or sexism would be significantly reduced in the society.

Blog #5: Backlash 2020, the disable women network

Melli Bassily works in DAWN (Disabled Women’s Network) with disabled women. It is a personnal cause for her since she also has invisible disability: she has anxiety, post traumatic symptoms, depression and cronic pain. DAWN was founded 35 years ago and has the objective to defend the rights of women with dissability in Canada. Bassily describes her work as in an intersection land, where she helps most marginalised people in the society (targeted by racism, heterosexism and suffering an type of dissability). The Disabled Women’s Network promotes cross-disability: the organism brings aid to people with both visible or invisible disability: people with learning issues, mental health issues, intellectual, speach, vision, chronic, pain dissability and brain injury. This organism sometimes also work with people in the autism spectrum (neurodiverse). This association works sometimes with deaf people, since they don’t consider themself as disable. DAWN makes sure that people in the politic sphere undertand that women with disabilities’ needs and respect their rights.

Bassily asked the question: what comes to your mind when your hear the word dissability? One of the answers by the audiance was an image of a wheelchair. The idea of disability people have, is still very linked with physical mobility (singns in public areas for disabled people are often the image of a wheelchair) rather than mental disability (invisible disability). She also asked the question: what sentiment is associated with the word dissability? The audience reponded by feeling of dependency and the need for suport. Bassily states that people of taday has the wrong image of disabled, and that DAWN tries to break those collective ideas: a disabled person needs to be pitied and that he/she can’t rely on themselves. She showed a short video of two black activists with disabilities: they are women or color and disabled, and they say that they have experienced more racism when being disabled, and that it was difficult to interact with the society. DAWN is important because when policies are instaured, this organism makes sure the accessibility is for everyone. They try to break isolation imposed on disability so there is a better undertanding of the diverse world we live in. Disability is also a huge problem in the healthcare system: DAWN fights for reprodictive health and rights (there is till the stereotype that disabled women can’t have sex or have child). There seems to have a common assumption that those women don’t do those things because they are disabled. Bassily states that the medical system needs to be changed, and that medical students need to be more informed. There is also the issue of the representation of disability in social medias: lack of diversity in dissability (people would only think of Steven Hawking, a white man, when they hear the word disabled). Disabled peoples would feel isolated and think that they are not important to the society if diversity is not represented in media, and it is a barrier. DAWN tries to change the environment we live in so that people don’t have to ask for accessibility anymore. For example, not all metros in Montreal’s public transportantion system have an elevator. It is very inconvenient for disable people to not have a universal design that would benefit everyone. She also states that Montreal is bad at accessibility, and this gives a message that people with disability are an afterthought and that they are not important This organizaiton wants to make sure that every infrastrucutre are accessible, but financial is also a barrier, we live in a capitalist world, and women with disabilities are paid very little. DAWN fights abelism, which is defined as a “discrimination for able-bodied people”, and has the goal to show that women with disability are important, that they do matter, and that disability have different genders.

Bassili also talked about one her own dissability: she has chronic pain that sometimes stop her for being productive and to do her work. She says that when someone stops being productive and not contributing to the society (that is what disability stops someone to do), that person looses important to the society. Which I really found interesting and important to spreak out about.

My own idea after listening to her, is that clothing is also a barrier in our current society,  since I think that there are not enough different size or shapes of clothes for people with physical disabilities. I think that clothing designs should be more versatille and accessible, so that everyone can benefit for this industry. I recomend this activity to everyone, since listening to her presentation made me realize that our society is far from perfect and needs changes such as in the clothing industry, food industry and in transportantion.

Interview with audiance: they thought that Bassili’s speach was very thoughtfull to our generation, since our society has so many cases of dissability. Doing changes is very important because the society don’t think about people in those situations, and don’t show enough empathy for disable people.

Blog #4: Wang Yong Chen

The woman of my oral presentation is Wang Yong Chen.

She is born in Anhui province, China, in 1954 and graduated from Peking University. While working as a journalist, she founded two radio programs: “Classroom on Wednesday” and “Journalists’ Salon” with the goal to raise awaireness on environnmental issues that are caused by humans. She is one of the winners of the Prize for Environmental News in 1994 and Earth Award in 2001, which is one of the most praised awards in China for environmentalists. One of Wang’s many involements to protect the ecosystem is her dedication to conserve the Nu River. Located in south of China, the Nu River is one of the two major rivers that does not have any dam (source from 2018). Many propositions of dam construction has been proposed since then, with the purporse to gain electricity and to free the population of the area from poverty. The proposition souds tempting, but the Nu River is the home of half of the country’s animal species, 7000 plants species and wihout taking acount of 22 ethnicity groups living around the river. If a dam was to be constructed, the ecosystem and the people living near the Nu River would be greatly affected. She states that women will be the most affected by the construction of the dam: “They [women] lose the land, their cultural tradition and their livelihood, particularly those who are part of ethnic minorities. Their lives are urbanized, and they shoulder more of the burdens after the men have gone to work in cities.” In 2003, Wang distributed pamplets and organized a petition in response to a plan to construct multiple hydrostations on Nu. Her work was fruitful: the project was postponed until further scientific research was made on the impact of those hydrostations have on the environment. She sees her involement more as environmental rather than political, since she thinks that we can influence politics by keeping the river clean. I think that she is not wrong; if enough people involved themselves into protecting the envirnment and taking actions agaist pollution, then politicians would and must also react and take actions against activities that harm the planet.



Off the Cuff: Wang Yongchen, Chinese environmental activist and reporter


Blog #3: Gender Equity in Indigenous Cultures

In Indigenous cultures, the distribution of social roles in both gender is quite fair and is based on the living contidions and the geographical location of the population groups. This distribution of roles between men and women are based on cooperation and allows the community to live more efficiently since both roles complement each other: Innu men hunted big animals while Innu women fished and captured smaller animals with traps, and important social status (shaman) could be accorded to both gender. Mi’kmaq men hunted big animals, fished and prepared weapons while Mi’kmaq women captured fish, picked berries and built camps. Iroquoian nations had a more complex social and political structure since they have a sedentary lifestyle: men were in charge of tribal councils and had authority but they were at first, approved by senor women whom also had power over longhouses since their societies are matrilineal and matrilocal. The Blackfoot Nation men hunted buffalo and went ot war while women processed buffalo meat. In all of those Indigenous populations’ cases, the division of roles in both gender were egalitarian and allowed each to use their strength in the field they are best at and to compliment each other’s weaknesses. The work of both gender were equally valued and they had social roles where both men or women could undertake. Indegenous people were also very open and acceptant towards transgenderism. The term of two-spirit was used to describe people in the indigenous societies that had both gender in their body. They were free to marry a woman or a man and had special roles that were valued in the societies such as seers and healers.

Nothing in my reading about Indegenous culture and gender role suprised me since I already knew about their acceptance towards homosexuality and equal gender division of tasks. We had to go to the Fine Art Museam at my highschool and we saw the exibition about Western colonisation of America and about Indegnous culture. That was were I first heard about how open Indegenous people were towards homosexual people since the have a very deep respect of the nature and that we are all humans before anything and that we are all part of the nature.

Gender relations in indegenous societies are similar to the modern Western culture in the sense that there are more gender neutral jobs in the modern society such as nursing and scientific milieu, and that there are more women in the high positions such as in politics. The difference between indegenous societies and Western culture is that in Western culture, the idea that both gender are equal came much later than in the indegenous culture. We can still learn from them and adopt their values such as the open mindness towards people who identify themselves as another gender than the one they are born in. We can also learn their ideology that both gender compliment each other and that no gender should be superior than the other.

Blog #2: Sexuality and Asian Culture

My topic of research is sexuality in the asian culture, more precisely: homosexuality in China.

“Ancien China had a rich literature of strong male homosocial culture” (Louie,
2002) Indeed, people were acceptant towards men with a preference for other men. This is because masculinity was considered more as a “social obligation”. Therefore, as long as the man fulfill his duties, which were to get married to a woman and to have children in order to carry on the bloodline, people overlooked men’s sexuality. As Travis S. K. Kong states in his work The sexual in Chinese sociology: homosexuality studies in contemporary china: “In other words, masculinity was understood less as sexual identity or orientation and more as a familial and social role […]” Homosexuality was then seen as a “side hobby”. In the early 20th century, many Chinese intellectuals brought Western ideology into China, agreeing more with it than traditional Chinese schools of thought. Sexuality was still seen as a disease and few was interested in this topic, but more and more intellectuals started to study Western studies and tried to understand why some people are attracted towards people of the same sex. The surge of interest towards sexuality created many debate about this topic; the population tried to categorize homosexuality into right or wrong, socially acceptable or taboo and if homosexuals could be cured from it (it was seen as a disease, therefore was maybe possible to cure it).

Ok, after the brief overview on the history of homosexuality in china, I want to talk more about the stigma gay men often experience in China and its consequences. In the conservative China, people are often pressured to get married and to have children by their parents and relatives. According to Bill Powell’s CHINA’S BIG CLOSET, “That pressure is only intensified by the country’s controversial one-child policy, in place since 1979.” The pressure makes gay men and women in China hide their sexuality, since being a homosexual is still considered as shameful and is contrary to what the elders’ expectation. According to the China’s LGBT Community Survey by Community and Marketing Insights, there is “only 3 percent of gay men are ‘completely out.'” This research shows how hard it is for people to come out in China. Another example I found to illustrate how gay men is treated is the case of Xiao Jun, a 30 year old gay man. His mother called him after having suspicions about him being gay and after Jun told her about his preference for men, she hung up on him. Fearing being laughed by their relatives, his parents then let them to introduce women to him and said to him that his homosexuality was a disease and that it was “curable”. What surprized (or didn’t) me was that most stigma that homosexual people face in China come directly from their family. An interview with Chinese MSM (men who have sex with other men) from Charting a Moral Life: The Influence of Stigma and Filial Duties on Marital Decisions among Chinese Men who Have Sex with Men illustartes the inequity these people face:

“Interviewer: Where would discrimination occur?
Participant: Well, for example…family members. Of course I think that in the end, family is tolerant. But despite that, it [knowing a person is MSM] would change how they perceive you. Let’s say there were some coworkers or neighbors that I wasn’t especially close with. If they found out my identity, I think they would look at me as if I were a freak. –Participant 21 (37 years old, college education, originally
from Beijing, currently unmarried)”

Indeed, the pressure for homosexual people to get married and to have children mostly comes from parents and relatives, and it makes harder for them to come out since they know that tradition is important and they don’t want their parents to be worried by the fact that they would grow old alone or to embarass their parents in front of aquantance and relatives. Homosexual men are often torn beween their own happiness or to live according to their parents’ wish and to be a good son. Some men chose to sacrifice their private life and to get married to a woman in order to appear “normal”, but other men refuses to conform to those norms and traditions:

“My viewpoint is very extreme in terms of marriage between MSM and heterosexuals. I resolutely condemn it, do you understand? […] There are people who say it’s in order to protect oneself because of the so-called environment, so they have to get married to a woman. This I resolutely condemn, I object to these kinds of things. I feel that it’s not ethical. […] To sacrifice a woman in exchange for oneself, to protect oneself, I feel like this is an extremely unethical thing. –Participant 9 (52 years old, college education, originally from Beijing, currently unmarried)”

I do agree with this man’s point of view and I also do think that it is unfair for both parties in this kind of marriage, since the man would never love his wife the way he loves another man. In my opinion, all parties is on the loosing side: the man is married to someone he cannot love, and the parents are living in a lie, thinking that their child have found happiness.

To finish, I would like to state that what I wrote is the result from my reasearches and it is not a criticism about China or the Chinese culture or its people.


Kong, Travis S. K. “The sexual in Chinese sociology: homosexuality studies in contemporary china.” Sociological Review, vol. 64, no. 3, August 2016, p.495-514. EBSCO,

Powell, Bill. “CHINA’S BIG CLOSET.” Newsweek Global, vol. 163, no. 12, September 24 2014, p.18-20. EBSCO,

Steward, Wayne T. “Charting a Moral Life: The Influence of Stigma and Filial Duties on Marital Decisions among Chinese Men who Have Sex with Men.” PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, August 2013, p.1-9. EBSCO,


Blog #1: Define Feminism

Valenti and hooks’ definition of feminism is similar in the sense that both of them support the argument that women in our society should be treated better. For example, Valenti’s definition of feminism is a progressive movement that has the goal to make women’s life better, by presenting to women that they can have self-respect wihout the outdated expectations of the society and by offering different alternatives so they can make better choices for themselfes. Hooks’ definition of feminism also agrees with the argument, by stating: “[…] feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” Both authors’ definition of feminism reinforce the reasoning that there is something fundamentally wrong with how the society treats women based on a very generalized and narrow point of view and this needs to change.

The difference between Valenti and hooks’ definition of feminism is that Valenti seems to promote internal growth, personnal identity and self-respect as an individual, while hooks’ seems to support gender rights and gender equality and seem to promote feminism as a group.

Feminism is important for both authors because they both know that the society we live in is often biased towards women and that feminism is a movement that would change the way we see women, and that this movement needs to be promoted so changes can be made faster so that women can be free from all the expectations and domination.

After reading both texts, I would define feminism as a movement that promotes gender equality and that informs women about their rights and responsibilities as a woman. In my opinion, feminism is the movement that would make both men and women aware that everyone should be equal regardless of their gender. My definition did not change after reading Valenti and hooks’ works, since I agreed with the majority of points of their work.

After reading Valenti’s work, the part where she mentions that another woman posted a homophobic comment on another writer’s article where she was quoted in. I kept thinking about this passage because after reading Valenti’s work that was introduced, I didn’t think that she was wrong in her statement, maybe it was a bit exagerated with the part where she wtote that “[…] younger women who are nervous about feminism because they’re afraid that boys won’t like them […]” Not everyone like or recognize themselves as feminist and it can be due to multiple reasons other than being afraid that they will not be liked once they “come out” as being feminist. I remember (maybe not exactly what she said since it was a long time ago and that my memory is bad, but this was approximately what she said) a teacher I had that said that she would not call herself as a “feminist” because she thinks that this word is so much used today that it seems to have lost its meaning. Feminism is a word that has different meaning depending on the places you go (my teacher few semsters ago told us one day that she went to somewhere in Russia and there, girls thought that being a feminist meant that being lesbian that hated men), therefore I think it is understandable for some people to not feel comfortable about this term, and Valenti’s expression and portrayal of women not wanting to identify as feminist almost seemed moking at those people so I can understand if some readers were offended by what she wrote. But I was still surprised that to person that commented was being vulgar and used words such as “fat”, “dykes” and “mannabees” (I don’t even know what this word means, probably not a good word) to describe other women. I was expecting that this reader would be more mannered and would start a rationnal debate without the use of offensive slang to express her anger. I was expecting that all women would have some sort of… solidarity? But clearly I was wrong about this. Valenti’s statement about homophobic women made me think again about my view on female solidarity.

After my reaserches (both article found from Wikipedia), Jassica Valenti is one of the founders of Feministing. She has recieved many threats after the creation of this blog that allows women to discuss multiple issues that concern women. Bell hooks, her real name is Gloria Jean Watkins, and has published many books and scholarly articles all about gender and race that has the goal to raise awareness on these issues. After better knowing both women, my appreaciation of the two texts did not change since they both pointed out important issues of the society (for example, people do benefit from women’s need to perfecting themselves) with gender and I think what they wrote are true and accurate.