Tag Archives: masculinities

Trump’s America: Will “we” be fine? Depends on who is “we”. Depends on what “we” do.

18 Nov

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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

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In Defense of Masculinity

2 Nov

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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.

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Only Fags Bottom: Recreating toxic masculinities in queer communities

31 Aug
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Photo Credit: Swagger Like Us

By Anthony J. Williams.

No fats, no femmes; Masc4Masc; sane only; clean only; no Blacks; Latin papis++; discreet; daddies; bears; twinks; PnP; top; bottom; vers.

If you’ve frequented #TheApps—geosocial networking applications often used for men to find partners to have sex with—like Grindr, Jack’d, Scruff, you may be familiar with the phrases I listed. However, in a world where “yasss kween” is appropriated by everyone and #TheApps are featured on primetime television (see: How to Get Away with Murder), terms like “top,” “bottom,” and “versatile” are gaining mainstream notoriety. Vocabulary that was once shared among the queer community has now taken on broader recognition.

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Transnational Marriages

3 Aug
a girl in waiting

Photo Credit: David Lazar. A girl in waiting.

by Preyanka S. Chowdhury

 

I am a citizen of the third world, a member of a nation where men reign supreme and women considered a shadow behind them. I am a woman. I am inferior to man and destined to stay at home, raise children and care for my husband. He is the center of my world after all, and his command is my calling.

This is the life of millions of women in under-developed countries. Denied opportunities and suppressed. Unable to seek self-development and barred from any form of free thinking. But why is it only in the under-developed nations that we see this over-bearing intensity of the patriarchal society? While a woman in the first world seeks equal rights, her counterpart in Bangladesh, seeks the permission of her father or husband to allow her to participate in society. Continue reading

Masculinity is Killing Trans Women

1 Aug

by Anthony J. Williams

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Transgender Pride Flag

Masculinity is killing trans women, and more specifically, trans women of color. The concepts of masculinities and femininities are not themselves killing trans women or gender nonconforming people. It is instead the reproduction of toxic masculinities by folks who feel “threatened” by transgender women. This is not just an observation, but a statement that is proving more and more true with each murder of trans women. However, reported statistics do not accurately reflect the actual number of trans women killed each year.

 

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Book Review: Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis

20 Jul

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The question of intersex is one that challenges not only the medical community, but our entire society, encouraging us to see gender and sex (and even sexuality) as more complicated and nuanced than we might regularly imagine. The very existence of intersex bodies demands a decoupling of gender from bodies, and a dismantling of essentialist, binary views. Georgiann Davis’s new book, Contesting Intersex: The Dubious Diagnosis (2015, NYU Press), explores the role of language, medicine, and gender structures in shaping the experiences of intersex people (alternatively, people diagnosed with disorders—or differences—of sex development, DSD).

In particular, she studies the linguistic shift from ‘intersex’ (or hermaphrodite, and variations of these terms) to the new diagnosis common within medical circles, ‘DSD.’ Her key argument, amply demonstrated by interviews with members of the intersex community, doctors, activists, scholars, and parents, is that the language used to describe intersex bodies has important ramifications for the lived experiences of intersex people.

There are several important findings to support this argument. She shows historically that the medical community was primed to accept this terminological shift, at least in part to reassert their power over intersex bodies. John Money, a doctor famous for his claims that ‘nurture’ would always win over ‘nature’ in gender identity, sullied the medical community’s relationship to ‘intersex.’ Money lost credibility after encouraging parents of a male child to raise him as a girl after a botched circumcision left him mutilated. “She” eventually committed suicide, and the suicide was taken as evidence that his innate male gender could not be replaced by feminine gender socialization. This seemingly mismanaged case of sex-gender identity, along with increasing pressure on the medical community by feminist and intersex activists, meant that doctors’ authority over the diagnosis was publicly questioned. When the new diagnostic term ‘DSD’ was proposed, doctors jumped at the chance for a fresh start.

Allowing the medical community to determine the public understanding of ‘intersex’ or ‘DSD’ has important ramifications. For example, the medical community perpetuates biologized understandings of sex, gender, and the body. These understandings are used to justify medically unnecessary surgeries to “normalize” the genitalia (often at the expense of sexual sensation, and almost always at the expense of the patient’s sense of autonomy and self-determination). When coaching parents on how to raise their intersex child, doctors often encourage enforcing gendered expectations—discouraging girls from tomboy behaviors, and encouraging boys into more vigorous activities. In particularly upsetting passages, Davis exposes doctors’ sexual expectations of intersex women in particular, surgically shaping women’s bodies for penile-vaginal penetration.

Davis also documents that the language shapes intersex individuals’ experiences, beyond surgical intervention. Based on her interviews with intersex people, she finds that those who embrace the ‘DSD’ terminology have a more positive relationship with their doctors and parents—in Davis’s terms, they have better access to biological citizenship than those who use the more politicized term, ‘intersex’—but have a more troubled sense of self. She explains that this is likely due, at least in part, to the stigmatizing effect of seeing oneself as ‘disordered.’ In contrast, those who utilized ‘intersex’ had a more positive sense of self and a better relationship to their gender identity and sexuality, but often found themselves at odds with doctors. The terminology is a source of trouble within the intersex community as well, leading some activists to be at odds with one other over wording, something that concerns Davis because in-fighting may take away from more important battles.

Ultimately, this book is an important read for gender and sexuality scholars, as well as medical sociologists. Davis deftly challenges binary categories and the power of medical diagnoses. Her writing is engaging and, at times, personal—she shares her own experience as an intersex person, describing intimate conversations with her parents, problematic medical episodes, and her activist-academic desires. The book would also work well in advanced undergraduate classes or graduate seminars on gender, sexuality, and bodies, but I would highly recommend implementing it in classes aimed at non-sociology majors. For example, I’d love to see this on syllabi for medical sociology classes, which are frequented by pre-med students, who are an important but likely overlooked audience for this book. As teachers, we can also be activists, shaping the minds of our students who, in this case, will be the next generation of doctors encountering intersex bodies.

 

 

Amanda Kennedy is a contributor and founding editor of Masculinities 101.

If ‘Orange is the New Black’ Upset You, You Need to Know about Real Prisons

11 Jul
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A Southern chain gang (1903)–the racist history of today’s prison conditions (source: Wikimedia Commons)

 

If you’re anything like me, this summer you were counting down the days to Netflix’s release of the new Orange is the New Black season. If you’re anything like me, you devoured the season in two days and have been thinking and reading about it ever since. There has been an awful lot written about this season. If you’re so inclined, check out this piece, and this one, and this one, and this one (these are full of spoilers, fyi). My post, today, will not actually be about the show. There will be no spoilers, so please keep reading. Continue reading

It’s a Man’s World for Talking Dogs

6 Jul

The following is cross-posted from the Vegan Feminist Network. The original can be found here: http://veganfeministnetwork.com/talking_dogs/

Closeup of a collie chewing food and talking from Beneful commercial

Why is it that almost every voice-over for dogs in commercials for flea & tick medication, pet food, or treats is masculine?


First, animals for whom we do not know the sex or gender we often presume to be male by default. Secondly, canines in particular tend to be masculinized. However, the predominance of masculine voices in media is well documented. Human or nonhuman, it really speaks to the patriarchal dominance of public spaces and experiences.1

Feminine voices only seem to be consistently ascribed to Nonhuman Animals on television in dairy commercials featuring farmed cows. These voices are often matronly, as well, likely in an attempt to frame the product as something that is nurturing, healthful, and familial.


One exception can be found in the 2015 Yoplait commercial that gives a masculine French voice to an American female-bodied dairy cow. In fact, cows are frequently represented as male despite being female-bodied.2 This not only demonstrates a general ignorance about the American food system, but it also lends evidence to the male-as-default schema.

Notes:

1. Voice-overs are also white-dominated, with few ethnic intonations represented.

2. Gender and sex are not one in the same of course, but human constructions of gender in the nonhuman world are even less consistent and tend to reflect gender hierarchies.

 

 


Corey Lee WrennDr. Wrenn is the founder of Vegan Feminist Network. She is a Lecturer of Sociology and Director of Gender Studies with Monmouth 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 Exemplary Diversity Scholar 2016 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.

“About Gender” Journal Calls for Articles on Current State of Masculinities Studies

1 Jul

AG About Gender, International Journal of Gender Studies, has announced a call for articles for its eleventh issue entitled Masculinities:Trans/forming Men: Changes, Resiliences and Reconfigurations, edited by Krizia Nardini (Universitat Obierta de Catalunya) and Stefano Ciccone (Genoa University). This issue of AboutGender wants to inquire into the current state of affairs in masculinities research: its theoretical specificities (if any), its relations with different currents in gender studies and with different political/activist stands, especially considering the intersections of masculinity research, queer perspectives and LGBTQ studies.

AG About Gender, International Journal of Gender Studies is a peer-reviewed international journal which aims to represent a reference point for scholars, academics and non-academics engaged in research and reflection on gender, with an interdisciplinary view. AG intends to enhance the dialogue between interpretative approaches and different analytical perspectives. AG is published every six months in Italian and English and proposes either theoretical and empirical original articles, essays and papers.

Papers should be between 5000 and 8000 words (excluding bibliography). Please follow the instructions gathered in the Author Guidelines. Contributions should be accompanied by: a brief abstract (maximum length: 150 words); some keywords (from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 5). Abstract and keywords should be in English. All texts will be transmitted in a format compatible with Windows (.doc or .rtf), following the instructions provided by the Peer Review Process. Please see the Journal’s Authors guidelines.

Contributions must be sent by 15th October 2016.

Read the full call here.

Relational masculinities: The fragility of modern gender categories

29 Jun

Relational MasculinitiesWhat does it mean to be a man? Is masculinity purely biological or is it shaped by social and relational factors? Can a man’s relationship with a romantic partner have the power to legitimize or conceivably challenge his gender identity?
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