The cheap shots just keep coming and a popular target these days is Hillary Clinton. All the talk of a possible 2016 presidential campaign is sending her opponents into a frenzy. As if being called too unattractive to be in the public wasn’t enough now she’s accused of being incapable of holding a conversation let alone office because of a tumble she took some years ago. Republican father-figure Karl Rove and America’s angriest rich guy Rush Limbaugh have been spinning tales about the state of Clinton’s health amidst demanding that she address rumors of a sustained brain injury. To add insult to ‘alleged’ injury, Clinton’s recent People magazine cover has become fodder for media speculation about her aging body and apparent need for a walker. Oh, and there’s more. Thanks to Drudge Report there was some pretty unforgiving online images of Clinton’s head photoshopped onto the body of a visibly old, half naked woman à la 16th century oil painting style. The lady-berating doesn’t end there.
Masculine socialization encourages guys to behave in certain ways, and discourages us from other behaviors. This has been well understood since Bob Brannon described “the male sex role” in 1976: No sissy stuff (reject femininity), be a big wheel (achieve at all costs), be a sturdy oak (disregard emotions to be tough and independent), and give ‘em hell (value aggression, violence, and risk-taking). This type of masculinity not only constrains men’s ability to live their lives fully, it also negatively affects men’s health – and while ideas about masculinity have shifted some since then, it is still pretty easy to see how masculine socialization contributes to the subordination and victimization of women.
If Brannon were writing his article today, I have a feeling one of his key phrases would be “Bros before hos.” Part of what masculinities scholar Michael Kimmel calls “The Bro Code,” this phrase discourages guys from intervening in other guys’ sexist behavior, and can make it really difficult to speak up when sexism or sexual violence are happening (in many violent gang-rapes, there are guys around who don’t participate, but also don’t do anything to intervene). Even smaller things like saying that you don’t find sexist jokes funny, or calling out street harassment, can be difficult if you don’t have any sense of how to do it – but they can also be among the most important ways men can show support for women’s equality.
This week, around the web…
A new study from Oregon State University found that teen girls and young women negatively evaluate other girls and women who post sexy social media pictures. The girls and women surveyed rated women in sexy photos as less attractive, less socially attractive, and less competent. One psychology researcher quoted suggests encouraging girls to use profile photos that depict their likes, rather than their looks. Certainly we want our young girls to value themselves deeply, and not suffer from sexualization, but what does it say about our culture that we believe sexiness and competence are incompatible? And what does this tell us about gender policing?
In a related vein, this HuffPost piece suggests that the world is still a difficult place for girls to navigate. We teach them to speak up and be confident, and yet when they do that in the “real world” they are penalized. Women who are seen as confident are also seen as less likeable. Some researchers suggest teaching girls “gender judo”—“the art of combining masculine competence and feminine warmth in order to remain both likeable and respected.” Again, rather than asking women to control their own behavior, what kind of cultural and structural solutions could we implement? And speaking of annoying gender imbalances, here’s a post continuing the conversation on “mansplaining.”
Last week, we shared a link discussing Dungeons & Dragons new support for gender nonconformity. Well, it appears that Marvel is also shaking things up—the next character to play Thor will be female! Although some of these changes may seem small, the author explains: “OK, this is silly, but then, in comics and games, the audiences are growing and diversifying, yet the gender imbalance in both both [sic] characters and writers in only very gradually improving. So gender-swapped reboots may be the safest way for publishers to improve the ratio.” So, calling all game writers and programmers…where my ladies at?
Interestingly, although we’ve begun to see some softening of rigid gender roles and expectations in notioriously conservative places like the Catholic Church, a recent study of materials produced by the Mormon Church shows that little has changed in gender perceptions in the last 40 years.
This week, in the news…
Two important trans-news tidbits. First, Chelsea Manning was denied her request to transfer to a civilian prison for gender transition treatments. This is raising questions about the type and quality of care she might receive, and at what point transfer to a women’s facility becomes necessary, specifically because “Manning’s treatment request was the first by a transgender military inmate, and it set up a dilemma for the department of how to treat a soldier for a diagnosed disorder without violating long-standing military policy.” As some readers may know, the problems facing trans men and women in prisons are overwhelming. Perhaps this Manning’s case will bring some publicity to an issue that often gets swept under the rug. Second, Finland’s discriminatory policies toward transgender people have been brought into the public eye. The European Court of Human Rights is backing the Finnish government’s policy to force a trans woman to divorce her current partner to complete her gender transition and update national IDs. She is being asked to choose between her life partner and having her gender identity officially recognized.
This week, on Masculinities 101…
Clay Darcy wrote about the gender dynamics of selfies, where unsurprisingly both men and women live up and reproduced gender stereotypes in the photos.
And, we reposted Garry Gilfoy’s HoffPost piece on the father-son archetype. Gilfoy explains its role in therapy, and how breakdowns in the father-son relationship have intense effects on men’s lives. Briefly, he discusses some of the Celebrate Manhood weekend retreats in which he has been involved.
Original post from Huffington Post
By Garry Gilfoy
I was recently asked to deliver professional learning to some counselors and psychotherapists on the topic of “men’s issues.” I left my son’s football game to do so and found a gathering of about 60 people. Perhaps 10 of these were men, all but one or two of them, sat on the periphery of the very large room.
I started by reading a poem called Rain From Nowhere by Murray Hartin. It speaks of a man with a young family. We catch him on the day he intends to end his life. After years of drought, he can’t see any way to hold on to the farm, which has been in his family for generations. That same day, he receives a letter from his father telling him of the tough times he’d had on the farm and how important it was to hang in there for his wife and children.
Everything will be all right, assures his dad. It’s a heartbreaking poem. I can’t read it — even to myself — without tears rolling down my cheeks. The whole room cried with me. When I composed myself again, I asked these therapists what it was about the poem that moved them. It was, predictably, the father-son relationship.
Everyone seems to be taking selfies these days – politicians, celebrities, sporting icons, ordinary Joe Soaps and even academics! However, selfies are not new phenomena. Humans have been making self-portraits for hundreds of years, yet contemporary selfies do represent something new. Having a background within the visual arts, my initial interest in selfies lay within their visual quality and aesthetic value. However, my interest in selfies has begun to shift from their visual merit to the degree to which they function as gender depictions.
Selfies are a treasure trove to the sociologist on so many levels. Selfies are first off an identity depiction, used to by the self-portraitist to capture a moment in time and/or to communicate a specific meaning or message. They reveal something of the growing complexity and intertwining of technology and social media in many people’s lives, and how technology is being used to fulfil various types of social interaction and communication. On another level, selfies are for many individuals a medium for communicating messages about their identity and provide a means of identity construction. In this way selfies are gender displays. Selfies illustrate how gender is socially constructed. For example, an individual might create and publicly display a self-portrait via social media that explicitly adheres to normative gender stereotypes, thus the selfie process becomes a gender performance. Continue reading
Masculinities 101 went on a short break this week. Please check back next week for new content and blogs, including an entry from regular contributor, Clay Darcy, on selfies!
In the meantime, check out a few interesting masculinities related articles from around the web:
Bryn Donovan writes about the effects of gendered names and publishing poetry in this piece from thehairpin.com. (Un)surprisingly, she finds that using a male pseudonym made publishing her work easier.
In sports news, Prince Fielder, a first baseman for the Texas Rangers, appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. This article from the Daily Beast reminds us that athletic bodies come in all shapes and sizes despite the public shock over Fielder’s lack of a six pack.
The game, Dungeons and Dragons, now embraces gender nonconformity! This piece from polygon.com explains the new rules, which allow characters to break out of traditional sex/gender/sexualities boxes.
Trigger warning: This eye opening piece on upworthy.com reveals that while many men will not admit that they have committed sexual assault or rape, some will answer “yes” to a set of questions asking about coercive or abusive behaviors. Read more about the reported studies here.
The Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center is seeking individuals interested in volunteer and internship opportunities who would be able to work within the Syringe Exchange & Outreach Services Unit. General volunteer responsibilities include conducting syringe exchange, community outreach, and providing harm reduction education and counseling to the communities about subjects such as HIV, Hepatitis C and overdose prevention and care services. Training will be provided to all volunteers and interns on these subjects.
[This article first appeared at SociologyLens]
As we reach the beginning of July, summer is in full swing. Adults are taking vacations to escape the heat while many children are looking forward to another kind of getaway: summer camp. For children who attend camp, this parent-free space is a place for making new friends and developing new skills. For children who are transgender or gender nonconforming (TGNC), however, camp can be an alienating or even impossible experience.* Although the American Camp Association has urged camps to be prepared to enroll and support transgender and gender nonconforming campers, summer camps continue to engage in gender segregation and stereotyping that can alienate TGNC children. Camp also often creates a situation of anxiety where TGNC kids and their parents worry about disclosing or hiding the child’s gender identity to staff, roommates, and peers.
On March 6-8, 2015, the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities (CSMM) will host the first International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Boys and Men for Gender Equality, in New York City. Timed to immediately precede the meeting of the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations (March 9-27, 2015), this conference will bring together more than 500 activists, practitioners, and academic researchers from all over the world who are working to engage men and boys in fulfilling the Platform for Action adopted by the CSW twenty years ago at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. The conference will review the success of programs to engage men and boys, share research-in-progress, discuss new and possible policy initiatives, and chart research needs for the future.