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Learning objectives Describe pre-1980s concept of masculinity Describe concept of multiple masculinities Understand how generalized notions of masculinity.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning objectives Describe pre-1980s concept of masculinity Describe concept of multiple masculinities Understand how generalized notions of masculinity."— Presentation transcript:


2 Learning objectives Describe pre-1980s concept of masculinity Describe concept of multiple masculinities Understand how generalized notions of masculinity (and, by extension, femininity) are problematic Describe how boys learn masculinity through socialization Describe how gender affects power/position in society Infer how feminism and masculinity studies interact

3 Masculinity pre-1980s Prior to the 1980s, masculinity and femininity were often considered tied to ones physical sex. Masculinity and femininity were seen as personality traits and behaviors and were associated with sex roles. Discussion of power and subordination in gender roles What men actually do in groups and as individuals that helps them identify as men What was left out of the pre-1980s discussions?

4 Plurality & its problems Definitions as used by Schrok and Schwalbe: Malebiological state based on reproductive anatomy. MenMales who claim rights and privileges of the dominant gender group. Masculinitythe individuals self-concept as male and the signification of that possession. Post-1980s, scholars began to describe specific versions of masculinityi.e., black, Jewish, working-class, and gay. While this moved the concept of masculinity and manhood away from a singular model (usually white middle class heterosexual males), it still described male experience within the various groups in generalized terms and didnt accommodate the actual diversity of male experience (i.e. a gay man with multi-racial roots).

5 Signifying the masculine self Socialization of roles starts with external affirmationsfor example, adults praising big boy behavior in toddlers. Parents, teachers, and peers reinforce gender rolesboys are directed toward trucks and clothes designed for boys. The boy who experiments with nail polish is scolded or teased. By elementary school, boys and girls self-segregate or, when playing together, boys often engage in play that emphasizes the difference between boys and girls and an assumed superiority of boys over girlse.g., a game of dodge ball where physical power and speed are essential.

6 Signifying the masculine self Young males learn to control their emotions, a behavior that is enforced by both peers and parents. For example, boys who cry are ostracized by peers. Boys and young men are encouraged to present themselves as aggressively heterosexual. They use homophobic taunting to regulate each others behavior. Aggression and violence is admired in males; young boys may express this in imaginative good vs. evil play. Males learn to read and play to an audiences expectations of them as meni.e., a physical laborer who prides himself on strength, endurance, and resistance to being bossed around.

7 Learning from the Media Boys in elementary school may concentrate on superheroes. In middle school, boys may switch to discussing and emulating male heroes in movies. Power is glorified in childrens media designed for boys. Media aimed at adolescent and young men often roots manhood in a voracious heterosexual appetite, work, and hypermasculine bodies. Media also tends to idealize the white heterosexual monied man. Men of other backgrounds or groups are marginalized in mainstream media.

8 Manhood Acts Research on transsexualsparticularly the female-to-male showed that when biological females adopt the gestures, clothing, and mannerisms of males, they often gain social power (especially if they present themselves as traditional heterosexual men and happen to be white). Middle- and upper-class men often invoke their position as the family provider to avoid childcare and housework. Even in lower-class households, men use strategies such as violence to maintain control of the relationship; men of all classes may use emotional withdrawal as a form of control.

9 Manhood acts In the workplace, men in management may use a paternalistic demeanor or strive to show rationality, resolve, and competitiveness. Men in lower positions may assert their masculinity by refusing to be bossed around. Women are sexualized as a way to assert male heterosexuality, both to maintain power and to avoid being abused by peers. Openly gay men may value muscularity and macho fashion as a way to retain a position of power that does not rely on sexuality.

10 Reproducing gender inequality In traditional expression of masculinity, men strive to show a capacity for exerting control over self, the environment, and other people. Manhood acts are how men distinguish themselves from women, establishing their eligibility for gender-based privilege. The hegemonic ideal may serve men in the workplace as they seek promotion and privileges afforded to men. In political and social realms, men benefit from appearing to conform to the hegemonic ideal of masculinity.

11 Suggestions for research Manhood acts can be detrimental to men as high-risk behaviors put them at higher risk of death, suicide, or to be without social and emotional support. Research needs to make distinctions between anatomy, sex, and gender categories. Studying how manhood acts are institutionalized may shed light on how men collaborate to construct masculinity in changing times.

12 Discussion ideas How does the digital age change manhood? For example, do social networks or online gaming change how young men collaborate and regulate each others behavior? How can we discuss masculinity in terms that dont automatically negate the feminine? For example, why does male or masculine often automatically equal not-female (i.e., using phrases like you throw like a girl or he cried like a little school girl to belittle a man)? In the four years since this article was originally published, we have seen more diverse visions of masculinity in mainstream pop culture. In what ways has this changed the definition of manhood and manhood acts as used by the authors?

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