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).
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.
The following is cross-posted from the Vegan Feminist Network. You can find the original post here: http://veganfeministnetwork.com/vegan-bros-the-way-to-a-meat-eaters-heart-is-through-his-vagina/
There are a number of things wrong with Vegan Bros (a weight-loss business that banks on sizeism, thin-privilege, and fat-shaming to sell products and programs), but their recently published vagina burger meme really takes the cake.
Posted on the Vegan Bros Facebook page on November 22nd, 2015, the meme reads:
THE WAY TO A MAN’S HEART IS THROUGH HIS STOMACH…UNLESS HE EATS MEAT, THEN IT’S THROUGH HIS VAGINA!
In addition to being extremely misogynistic, the meme is also trans-antagonistic. According to Vegan Bros, to have a vagina is to be lesser and/or to be a man with a vagina is to be lesser.1
The Abolitionist Vegan Society agrees, strongly condemning the message. Vegan Bros responded with pleasure at the offense it caused, citing it as “validation” for their cause:
When the Abolitionist Vegan Society hates on your post you know you’re doing something right.
Recent essays posted on the Vegan Bros website mirror this violent rhetoric. For instance, one post that declares animal ingredients in man-friendly products like beer are actually vegan (as though thousands of vegan-friendly beers were not readily available). Those who disagree with their patriarchal entitlements are referred to as a “piece of shit.”2
As Cheryl Abbate has discussed in an earlier essay with Vegan Feminist Network, the promotion of masculinity and “real manhood” in vegan spaces inevitably upholds violent gender norms and attitudes associated with masculinity and patriarchal rule:
Let us recall what the message of animal liberation entails: one of the goals of the animal liberation movement involves challenging the model of dominance by rethinking why we give privilege to and admire “dominant” or “stronger” beings. Yet, when organizations use bodybuilders to sell the vegan message, they send the opposite, dangerous message: masculinity is preferable to the feminine and there is a hierarchy where the masculine reign and dominate at the top.
Not only does this idea endanger women, but the idea that there is a dichotomy between the masculine and feminine disadvantages animals, since animals are identified as part of “nature”- and nature is in turn identified with the feminine.
Indeed, Vegan Bros bills itself as “[ . . . ] a movement dedicated to raising up an army of fit, sexy vegan soldiers [ . . .], making the language of domination, force, and anti-femininity part of its brand.
I am skeptical that there is room for masculinity in the vegan world we seek. Masculinity relies on hierarchy and violence, and is thus deeply counter-intuitive to our goals.3
In the comments following the publication of the meme, Vegan Bros sought to clarify their intentions and wrote: “Most feminist vegans understand what we are doing with this post.” Yes. I understand very well. I know bigotry when I see it.
1. Women and female body parts are regularly used throughout the website to degrade and humiliate a presumably male audience. For example, in a post about Thanksgiving, Vegan Bros infers that being vegan is “badass”: “Extending your circle of empathy and compassion is [not] for pussies.”
2. Ableism is also regularly utilized, with detractors labeled “fucking stupid.”
3. Male-identified Professor Gary Francione has chimed in to position my feminist “complaining” as “idiotic”:
Ms. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network and also operates The Academic Abolitionist Vegan. She is a Lecturer of Sociology with Monmouth University, a part-time Instructor of Sociology and Ph.D. candidate with Colorado State University, council member with the Animals & Society Section of the American Sociological Association, and an advisory board member with the International Network for Social Studies on Vegetarianism and Veganism with the University of Vienna. She was awarded the 2016 Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the University of Michigan’s National Center for Institutional Diversity. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (2015, Palgrave Macmillan).
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
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.
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.
This post, authored by Tal Peretz- a regular contributor to Maculinities 101, is a revised take on the authorial appendix in Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women, co-authored with Michael Messner and Max Greenberg
Looking back on my entry into feminism while writing this book, it was very clear to me that I grew up during a period when feminism was less of a public discussion. I don’t remember ever hearing the word “feminism” until taking my first women’s studies class, in my second year of college in 2002. On the one hand, I’m glad I managed to avoid the stereotypes that circulate about feminism and feminists; on the other, I also had very little knowledge or awareness about gender inequality or gender-based violence. I had experienced more than my share of what James Messerschmidt calls “masculinity challenges,” including some male-on-male violence that was clearly about gender policing, but because I receive male, white, cisgendered, straight, and many other forms of privilege, I was effectively shielded from having personal knowledge about structural oppression. Continue reading
Glam Rock is a musical subgenre and a cultural movement that evolved during the early ‘70s in Britain. Though Glam music is diverse, the performers are most distinguished from other musicians by their theatricality and public personas. Most Glam musicians were men who wore bright, form-fitting costumes, platform shoes, and makeup. Their on-stage personas were androgynous, exhibiting traits that were both stereotypically masculine and feminine. Glam performers drew from a diverse range of styles, including 1930s Hollywood glamour, 1950s pin-up sex appeal, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, and ancient mythology (Auslander 57, 63, 87 and 141). Further, they were not afraid to step over established boundaries – their music often touched on taboo subject matter like overt sexuality.
Though many Glam Rock performers rose to prominence in the ‘70s, the one artist who typifies the Glam movement is David Bowie. Bowie performed under several different personas and pseudonyms. He wore extravagant, form-fitting costumes and played overtly sexual music. But David Bowie was the most prominent Glam performer, continuing to utilize Glam elements in music decades after the heyday of Glam Rock had passed. He was also one of the few Glam artists to enjoy widespread success in both the United Kingdom and America. For this reason, I will be exploring David Bowie’s interactions with and interpretations of gender and sexuality as being representative of the popular Glam Rock movement. I’ll also place Bowie’s ‘gender bending’ in a larger historical context, examining popular eugenicist attitudes toward manifestations of gender and sexuality in the early to mid 20th century.