My wife and I recently travelled to Edinburgh to celebrate a Scottish friend’s 40th birthday. The party was held in a local rugby club, and coincidently on the day of the party, Ireland was playing against Scotland in an important rugby match. We arrived in time to watch the rugby and have a pre-party drink with other Irish friends who had also made the journey over. At this point you may notice, I said it was “an important rugby match”, which to the astute observer might reveal my rugby ignorance. I am not a big sports fan, actually I don’t watch any sport and I don’t really know anything about rugby. Even my in-laws, who are staunch rugby fanatics – professional appreciators of the sport some might say, have lost all hope of trying to convert me and fuel my interest in the game.
My rugby ignorance became noticeable to others early into the match, and for the remainder of the game, the other men took the proverbial out of my sporting ineptitude. It was tongue and cheek; the other men roared laughing at their jokes (and at me) and I took it as it was intended, a bit of fun. However, this type of interaction highlights how some men do masculinity.
By Kevin Guyan, PhD Candidate University College London
‘The living room in a family house looking through into the dining room’ by Frank Austin and Neville Ward for the 1949 Ideal Home Exhibition, Design Council Archive, University of Brighton.
I study housing in the middle decades of twentieth century Britain with an interest in the effects of masculinities on men’s domestic practices. My research focuses on two major influences: the effects of planners’ masculine identities on the housing designs produced; and the types of masculinities encouraged through these designs.
After the environmental devastation of German bombing campaigns, a wave of technical, paternalist and omniscient planners took control of Britain’s postwar urban reconstruction. At the same time, as the war ended, planners worried that men would struggle to readjust to domestic life and face relationship difficulties with wives and children. As a result, the interior activities of the nation’s homes became symptomatic of the country’s recovery, and model housing estates, most notably Lansbury in East London, understood as templates for the country’s future. Using easy-to-read publications and housing exhibitions as platforms to disseminate their ideas, planners encouraged new expressions of family-orientated masculinities for both working and middle class men.
By Dr. Anna Tarrant
My academic thinking is often prompted by very simple questions, from friends, family or colleagues. Last week, when I was talking about the fieldwork I have just started, involving going to men’s homes to interview them about their care responsibilities, my sister asked me; is it safe for you to go to men’s houses on your own?
In asking this question my sister expresses a simple concern for my safety but also highlights my potential vulnerability as a young woman. It is a sensible question and it is also an ethical question that has followed me from the very beginning of my career researching men and masculinities. It is something I have also discussed with other female academics that I have worked with, who have also raised their concerns about the same issue. For me, the dilemma is also intensified, not least because the philosophy underpinning my research is feminist and my approach is framed by a desire to challenge negative stereotypes about people based purely on their gender, or indeed, other social identities such as their age and class.
Detail of ‘The Count’s Castle’
Cultural ideals of masculinity and how men ought to be often centre round notions of strength and power, stoicism and determination, being the provider and protector. Hegemonic masculinity is a way of understanding gender and power relations. It is a cultural ideal of masculinity, which is characterised by toughness, fearlessness, power, control and maintaining the dominant position in society. Hegemonic ideals of masculinity are often perpetuated through media and film, but they are ideals most men will never attain. Nor do most men necessarily want to.
Cultural ideas of masculinity, like hegemonic masculinity, tell men they must not display weakness or vulnerability. To reveal characteristics such as these, men run the risk of having their masculinity called into question. Men who display emotion, vulnerability or weakness may be chided as being ‘sissy’, ‘soft’ or a ‘woman’. These are the cultural expectations of men and masculinity that surrounded me as I grew up. From my primary education through to secondary education, I jostled alongside other boys; surrounded by these notions of what it was to be a man. Boys pushed and punched, they tested and teased, they sought out weakness and they exploited it. I learned along side other boys, not to display vulnerability, but vulnerability was something I would experience again and again, as I began to pursue a career in the visual arts.
Menstruation is one of the biggest taboos of our time. As a cis-gender woman, periods are still an awkward conversation. To even ask someone for a tampon or pad in public is more like an illegal drug deal than a basic human necessity. Everyone hides the fact that they experience this basic human function. For me, it’s something that I have to deal with once a month. But for some people it is a way of reinforcing dysphoria, and even a way of putting an individual in harms way. Women aren’t the only ones who get periods.
Masculinities 101 is opening the blog up to undergraduate writers. We welcome written pieces that align with the Masculinities 101 mission.
Here’s the rundown:
Blogs should be between 500-1000 words inclusive of citations if applicable, either as hyper links or in the form of a bibliography and formatted as a Word document.
We love images so please provide one that is free to use. Wiki commons, an online repository of free-use images, sound, and other media files, is a good resource.
Writers should provide a short bio at the end of their piece.
Submissions and queries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted blogs will be reviewed by the editors to determine if they meet the requirements set forth above.
Teachers of undergraduates, please feel free to circulate far and wide!
Ever since I started talking to women about street harassment, I’ve tried to be more conscious of my presence as a man in settings where women are often made to feel unsafe. I have become especially conscious of this dynamic when I’m walking around or behind women late at night. A friend of mine once suggested that he crosses the street in these types of situations to avoid making the woman feel uncomfortable (he was Latino). I’ve done this a handful of times since then and will continue to do so, provided I’m not thrown too far off my original route.
But I still have some mixed feelings about this suggestion. For a while now, moments like these have exposed a rift in my mind. On one side of this rift is my militant/anti-racist/black nationalist self. This is the side of me committed to racial justice for all people of color, and especially for black men. It’s the side of me that’s been cultivated since I sat and watched Spike Lee’s Malcolm X with my family when I was 6 or 7 years old. On the other side of the rift is an intersectional feminist attempting to use their position of (male) privilege as a megaphone to help spread the voices of women who are harmed by sexism and misogyny on a daily basis. These overlapping but distinct parts of my consciousness crash into one another whenever a woman reacts fearfully to my presence.
Fundraising is a difficult but important part of many feminist projects; interestingly, male privilege means it is often easier for men to raise money for a women’s shelter or hotline than for women to do it. If we take on some of that work, where our privilege is especially helpful, it also leaves women and people of other genders with more time and energy to devote where their specific life experiences give them more expertise!
Unrelatedly: music is amazing. Musicians are often cool people, many just want to go out and share their talents with an audience, and some even write or cover songs specifically about gender justice! That said, the music industry is notoriously sexist – so it’s always good to push back against that a bit.
Porn is normal. Porn is crazy. Porn is something every boy has on his personal cell phone. Everyone except me of course. Because I’m not sick. Though it’s not entirely perverted. Only sort of.
These were some of the contradictions boys were trying to negotiate in the previous post from ‘Porn and Hookup Culture in a Primary School in Ireland’. Today we move on to exploring the competing discourses that pushed and pulled boys in all sorts of contradictory directions.
Two days ago I read an interesting post at Crip Confessions. The post was titled “But Won’t You be Ashamed? or Cripping Pasties”. A little background is needed. The author is going to the 2016 AVN Expo and Awards in Las Vegas. Essentially she is attending the “Oscars of Porn”. What struck me as thought provoking was the following paragraph:
Much talk of clothes and the like have provoked side conversations coming up, including one that included the title query. I have been very open about my plan to wear pasties and frolic. I explained this to an acquaintance, and one of their first questions to me was “Won’t you be ashamed?” They were baffled I would have the audacity to wear pasties generally, and especially among porn stars – who include those with medically sculpted bodies toward social beauty, rather than away like my medically enhanced body.