and originally published on Narratively on December 21, 2016
I once took a drive on the back roads from Brooklyn, New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cruising 55mph from small town to small town, I couldn’t help but notice all the billboards advertising treatments for illnesses and ailments: back pain, fibromyalgia, asbestos exposure, cancer. This wasn’t the America I was used to. Bombed-out Main Streets, sad sack bars, Wal-Mart, and lots of pain pills. It was depressing.
I grew up privileged: private grade school, high school and college. I got a master’s degree from Columbia University. I have a trust fund. But I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with this other America. Somewhere deep inside, coal runs through my blood. When I think about where I come from, I don’t think of the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I think about my grandfather Angelo Rotondaro, an immigrant coalminer from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The people of the United States have a very complicated relationship with the two most recent wars – Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. On the one hand, there is a desire to keep a political opinion about the social concept of war, and whether one supports the idea of a strong defense or not. The spectrum of beliefs and disagreements on the topic of a large standing army versus the extreme of no army at all are vast, and cause more discord than anything. However, there is also a consideration of the military personnel, and how they are perceived. Urban legends of soldiers being spit on upon their return from Vietnam has allowed us to form a cultural consciousness where we see those in the military in more sympathetic terms, either as working class individuals simply trying to find a way to become upwardly mobile, or the purist uninitiated who stand to patriotically defend a system many see for what it is. To be honest, we tend to make the soldier more of a cause célèbre than anything else; gone are the days of general perceptions of soldiers as butchers or remorseless killers. In other words, individuals in the military aren’t monsters or storm troopers as much as they are victims of Marx’s false consciousness. This widespread acceptance allows for military masculinity to be perceived as less stigmatized, and as a practice more deserving of outward respect (rather than quiet fear) (1).
Dear White Men,
This is on us. And now it’s up to us to undo it. I keep hearing us say: “we’ll be fine.” We may be shocked, devastated, disappointed, outraged but we also keep telling ourselves “we’ll” be fine. Sure, “we” will. But not all will, and not all are. If you are saying “we will be fine”, think hard about who that “we” is. Because many are not part of the “we” that will be fine. Our friends of color, our Native American friends, our Muslim friends and Latino friends, our LGBTQ friends and the women in our lives are not fine. And they are more than devastated and shocked. They are afraid of what is to come. And they will be, and already are, under attack. If you’ve ever questioned the existence of the concept of privilege, being able to say “we’ll be fine” is painful proof…
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Shock, surprise, handwringing, sadness, recrimination, and analysis by social commentators, academics, activists, and politicians themselves followed the 2016 presidential election. Certainly there have been no shortage of explanations as to how a rich white man with no political experience, multiple failed businesses and marriages, who is on trial for sexual assault, whose recent claim to fame involves starring on a reality television series, and whose supporters feature bumper stickers reading things like “Trump that Bitch” will become the 45th president of the United States. As many of these commentaries have pointed out, this election is the perfect storm of intersecting inequalities: inequalities of class, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nation among others. Indeed, the anger that fueled this election reflects the conservative and populist movements across the globe in recent years.
Sociological research and theory on masculinity and gender inequality explain, in part, the success of a man who uses “locker room talk,” regularly objectifies women, calls them “nasty,” and looms over them in a way that is recognized as dangerous by survivors of violent relationships or sexual harassment. The easy answer is that men are voting for the continuation of an unequal gender system that privileges them.
A Black femme writer and sex worker by the name of suprihmbé writes: “we deserve your money and then some for birthing your babies, for putting up with your abuse, your violence, your terror. But most of all, we deserve to live.”
It might seem more than obvious that women deserve to live, but the often-violent actions of men proves this is not always the case. There is a sense of entitlement that many men feel we have over women, one that is quite frightening. suprihmbé highlights how we, as a society, expect constant emotional labor, sexual labor, and any form of labor we can squeeze out of women for little to no compensation. The expectations that suprihmbé explores are rooted in a system that we like to conveniently “forget” exists: “Mr. Scream”: Misogyny, Racism, Sexism, and Capitalism Rule Everything Around Me. Building on the phrase popularized many years ago, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” (C.R.E.A.M.), we have to examine how capitalism’s misogyny, racism, and sexism touch everything we do, even holiday shopping.
Dear White Men,
This is on us. And now it’s up to us to undo it. I keep hearing us say: “we’ll be fine.” We may be shocked, devastated, disappointed, outraged but we also keep telling ourselves “we’ll” be fine. Sure, “we” will. But not all will, and not all are. If you are saying “we will be fine”, think hard about who that “we” is. Because many are not part of the “we” that will be fine. Our friends of color, our Native American friends, our Muslim friends and Latino friends, our LGBTQ friends and the women in our lives are not fine. And they are more than devastated and shocked. They are afraid of what is to come. And they will be, and already are, under attack. If you’ve ever questioned the existence of the concept of privilege, being able to say “we’ll be fine” is painful proof of its existence: Continue reading
When a nonbinary trans woman named Lauren told her fellow audience members that she felt “like masculinity wasted so much of [her] life,” there was a definitive weight to her words. The conversation began as part of a post-show panel following director Eric Ting’s well-executed #LoveHateOthello at California Shakespeare Theatre. I was one of the panelists for “The Construction of Gender: The Impact of Toxic Masculinity in Society,” a free civic dialogue with folks in the community and theatre-goers. Sikander Iqbal (cis heterosexual man of color), Ariel Luckey (cis heterosexual white man), Michal “MJ” Jones (non-binary Black trans person) and I brought our very different, but complementary voices to discuss masculinities with a small audience after the Saturday matinée of this theatrical production of Othello. Eric Ting, Cal Shakes’ artistic director, moderated the conversation.
My name is Heidi Rademacher and I am a program director at Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University. We are in the process of developing the first MA program in masculinities studies. As this will be a brand new program, we are reaching out to scholars around the world with backgrounds in teaching courses related to masculinities. We are particularly interested in collecting syllabi from courses taught on masculinities in the social sciences and humanities. We would love to hear from you and receive and suggestions you might impart to support us in this new venture.
Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities
Stony Brook University
This post is reblogged with permission from And The Pursuit of Feminism.
By now, you have heard about the Stanford rape case, the shortened sentencing, seen the rapist’s face, seen that men are valued over women in such a disgusting, blatant way.
So I’m not going to talk about Stanford rape case. I’m going to talk about rape as a symptom–not a cause–of oppression against women. Continue reading