Female Masculinity and Empowerment
Women Empowerment for Female Masculinity
The patriarchal society, sets restrictions on defining feminism and masculinity. Gender leads to the pay gap because of female versus male occupations. Society puts individuals into boxes. Women who do not fit the typical description in beauty are viewed as a threat.
Pre-teen girls who act like tomboys are viewed as going through a phase. However, when masculinity is part of her identity, then she is viewed as threat. “While childhood in general may qualify as a period of ‘unbelonging’ for the boyish girl arriving on the doorsteps of womanhood, her status as ‘unjoined’ marks her out for all manner of social violence…” (Halberstam, 7). Girls face pressures from their peers, teachers and parents if they do not conform to traditional roles. Female masculinity symbolizes freedom and empowerment, however the media oppresses these viewpoints. From personal experience, my mother was not supportive of my sister, because she viewed Political Science as a male-dominated field. My sister exhibited female masculinity, because she wanted to push the boundaries and redefine a woman’s occupation.
Kesha is a famous woman, who represents empowerment. Unfortunately, fame has degraded her accomplishments, because she was controlled in the image she was projecting in her songs. She went through challenges because “in October of 2014, the pop singer Kesha filed suit against her producer Dr. Luke, saying that he had ‘sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abuse her for more than a decade…” (Uffalussey, 1). Kesha’s producer, Dr. Luke felt threatened by her success and he wanted control. Not only did he control her, but he also manipulated her music and creativity. Sony Records and Dr. Luke’s contracts restricted her creative freedom. Kesha has stated “… Dr. Luke not only had abused her, but also asserted full creative control over her career, restricting her ability to control her own image” (Uffalussey, 1). Our society feels threatened by women in power. Kesha’s role in being a famous singer, plays into the fact that her success was controlled through a man. However, masculine women are seen as threat because it challenges this country’s social fabric.
Kesha is an example of what young women face when they have masculine traits. Rather than being awarded for their potential, they are subjected to violence. For example, “…witch-hunting in Europe was an attack on woman’s resistance to the spread of capitalist relations and the power that women had gained by virtue of the sexuality, their control over reproduction, and their ability to heal” (Fedrici, 170). Women were healers and controlled their reproductive system. This society does not respect women’s decisions, because reproduction is viewed as a supply for workers in the capitalist system. Women are viewed as objects because society created conditions for young girls to be a feminine women. When woman show masculine characteristics it represents power. Men such Kesha’s producer and Sony Records, try to control women because they do not want to see them in leadership positions and taking charge. They use controlling methods such as sexual, psychological, and mental abuse. In other words, Kesha and women in top positions represent female masculinity, because they ventured outside their intended societal role.
Women who are different are oppressed and this impacts how society views them. Women need to gain confidence and become empowered so that they can embrace their individuality and not be afraid of their inner-erotic. “In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change” (Lorde, 53). In order to embrace who you are you have to get past the oppression and the obstacles and understand what you desire from life.
Women who identify as masculine are viewed as a threat. However, intelligent women faced stereotypes that lead to persecution. Our society is constantly changing and women need to be accepted for their intelligence.
How Female Masculinity Empowers Women in Society
Women Empowerment for Female Masculinity
The patriarchal society, created restrictions on defining feminism and masculinity. Since society puts women into boxes, it’s difficult for female masculine women. Women who are driven into male-dominated occupations are viewed as a threat to a society with strict standards.
Pre-teen girls who behave like tomboys are viewed as going through a teen phase. However, when masculinity becomes an identity, she is then viewed as threat. “While childhood in general may qualify as a period of ‘unbelonging’ for the boyish girl arriving on the doorsteps of womanhood, her status as ‘unjoined’ marks her out for all manner of social violence…” (Halberstam, 7). Girls face pressures from their peers, teachers and parents if they do not conform to traditional roles. For example, when my sister was in high school, she was a study nerd rather than a party girl. Her peers taunted her that she studied more than they did. Her high school teachers, told her that she would be a better fit in teaching rather than law. My mother was not supportive of her when she majored in Political Science rather than early childhood education. She is an example of girls who faced societal pressures, because she pushed boundaries in redefining women’s occupation.
Kesha is a famous woman, who has female masculinity and represents freedom and empowerment. Unfortunately, the media degraded her accomplishments, because her producer controlled her image. She faced challenges because “in October of 2014, the pop singer Kesha filed suit against her producer Dr. Luke, saying that he had ‘sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abuse her for more than a decade…” (Uffalussey, 1). Kesha’s producer, Dr. Luke felt threatened due to her success. He manipulated her music and creativity. Sony Records and Dr. Luke’s contracts restricted her freedom of expression. Kesha has stated “… Dr. Luke not only had abused her, but also asserted full creative control over her career, restricting her ability to control her own image” (Uffalussey, 1). Even though Kesha is famous singer, the media portrays that her success was created through a man rather than her own hard work. Since she was viewed as a masculine woman she was a threat to the social fabric.
Kesha and my sister faced challenges the stereotype that they need men in order to succeed. In Kesha’s case her songs were originally hers, instead she was forced to project a certain image of a woman that we see commonly in the media. “I’d like to show the world other sides of my personality. I don’t want to just continue putting out the same song and becoming a parody of myself,” (Uffalussey, 1). It seems that women who have ingenuity and drive are the ones who are oppressed and cannot fully express themselves. I have seen it with how my sister acts and her struggles with pressures from family and society. However, the reason why women like Irina and Kesha are not being empowered is because our patriarchal fears and stays away from smart women. “While men say they like the idea of dating a woman who’s smarter than they are, when it comes time to meet her, they’re less keen on the brainy lady…” (Hill, 1). If men do not want associate themselves with smarter women than how do we expect equality. There has been so much progressive change for women but how can we move forward, when our society views women as second class citizens. It is time to stop this practice and empower women to reach their full potential.
Awarding women for their potential, they are subjected to domestic violence. For example, my sister faced psychological abuse for a long time. When she was in college, she was constantly yelled at by my mother for getting too many awards and honors. Another form of abuse that she had to endure was someone that she thought was her mentor. Her mentor tried to push her into being in retail or receptionist. When she did not conform, that mentor left psychological scars that made her think she was meant for a smaller role. The same could be said for Malala Yousafzai who also encountered insurmountable odds, because of her beliefs that Pakistani girls should not just be married off but have an education. She witnessed her sixth grade get married. “We were happy at first, but then I saw how she suffered. She was beaten many times by her husband’s family. I saw the scars, and it scared me.” (McNair, 1). What Malala and Irina both share in common is that they both stepped outside of their intended roles, but they became symbols of freedom. Malala became a beacon of hope for girls to have access to an education, while to me Irina is symbol of hope that we will leave a legacy of empowering the next generation of women.
Women need to embrace their individuality and feel empowered about themselves. “In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change” (Lorde, 53). As women gain confidence they will overcome oppression and fulfill how they want to live. Such as how Irina and Malala both have visions for the future and do not let society dictate how they should live. To Kesha emerging stronger from the lawsuit with her producer and Sony Records and finally project her authenticity into her songs and empower future generations of women.
Women currently make up around the majority of the U.S population and face stereotypes. Women are facing challenges into getting into leadership positions because of the glass ceiling. Our generation are already making progress in making women equal to men.
My Gender Socialization from Childhood to Adulthood
Gender is a social construct meant to explain the biological differences between male and female. In this case gender is being man or woman. Even though it is determined by sex of the individual, gender defines masculinity and femininity. Gender ultimately dictates gender social roles of the different sexes; male is associated with masculinity and female by femininity. The characters associated with masculinity include courage, assertiveness, need for power and authority and independence. Femininity is associated with care, gentleness, warmth, empathy and sensitivity.
Gender socialization is one of the most important aspects of the society. The roles are clearly known and boy and girls are treated differently from the time they are born and are expected to pass the same to the next generation. Gender socialization occurs using four main institutions and agent; family, peers, media and education.
To be male means to have the male physical appearance; to have muscles, a deep voice, and male sexual orientation while being a man means having courage, assertiveness and dominance. The physical features are translated into the social roles and expectations. For me, as a young boy, there were several actions that were encouraged and others were not. I was always dressed in blue and if I wanted anything pink I was cautioned against it. Apparently blue is for boys and pink for girls.
My parents would buy me toy cars, toy guns (water guns) and was encouraged to play outside in the mud and grass. These toys and games were meant to promote solitary play, aggression and improve on motor skills. On the other hand my sisters were encouraged to play with dolls, pretend to be cooking and hosting tea parties and play in doors to avoid getting dirty. These games would promote a sense of nurturing in them. From the onset I knew that being a boy meant to be rugged, tough and courageous while being a girl meant being a homemaker and a good host. I remember once I was out playing with the other boys and we dared each other to climb on top on a tree and those that were afraid were being criticized that they were “acting like girls and cannot fit in with the rest of us”. That incident made me understand that being a boy meant overcoming my fear and being courageous even when not asked to be.
I remember watching the movie called Express; about how American football was revolutionized back in the 1950s and it was clear that while the girls worried about getting their nail polish ruined, the boys would run, get hurt and sometimes injured for sport and still come back to the field. There was a certain feeling of achievement to make it into a team where getting hurt, injured or hospitalized was eminent. The girls were more sensitive while the boys were taking risks.
I always loved being a boy, because it meant running after each other in the mud and rain, building tree houses, watching horror movies and at time reenacting them, setting the neighbor’s yard on fire, stealing useless stuff and constructing what seemed worthwhile to us. At that age we never really cared about social class, we wanted was to take risks and get thrills from the risks. Everything to boys is a dare and sometime we would get into serious trouble. The one thing that was clear is that disputed had to be settled with a fight and a handshake and no hard feeling were left behind. The most powerful boy, the leader, was the one who was strong enough to defeat us in all tasks and courageous enough to take risks. Toys were our own creativity.
There was never really any concern about meeting the expectations of the society. Being boys to us, and personally me was second to nature. All I had to do was ensure that I never got into too much trouble to avoid being grounded and being locked up in the house.
Once I became an adolescent, my construct of gender changed and I became confused. Apparently, according to the society, there are behaviors of a boy and of a man but adolescence is a grey area. I remember as opposed to when I was a boy, as an adolescent I did not know what was expected of me and every so often I would find myself in trouble. My parents tried to talk to me about the body changes that I was experiencing and how they will affect the person I am to become. It was tough for me to be open with them about my concerns as all I could see them as was the source of authority and punishment.
I would in turn discuss issues with my peers who did not seem to know much and we would more often mislead each other. I wanted more freedom to choose what to do, what to wear, who to interact with and really emphasized on privacy. During this time social class played a major role, as I could only mingle with adolescent boys from my social class only. Schools offered sex education to adolescents but the information would leave me with more questions than answers. I was lucky enough to have a good neighbor, a former army soldier who always bragged about serving his country. He was my role model. He told me all there was about being an adolescent boy and what is expected of me when I grow up and become a man.
We talked about career choice and he discouraged me from taking careers in hospitality, nursing and human resource; those were too feminine. He encouraged me to be a fire fighter, an engineer, a soldier or a pilot; masculine careers for men. He was encouraging me to notice young girls and if possible talk to them. In order to approach a girl, I required being confident and decisive, as men do not doubt themselves. He would tell me to run for office to be the school captain and when I told him I feared losing he told me that real men don’t fear losing, instead they fear letting an opportunity of trying pass them by.
I remember how he taught me how to drive a car, he told me that confidence and understanding the art was all I required. To date his advice still rings in my head in almost everything I endeavor. From my mentor I learnt that confidence, bravery and courage were not a choice, to be a man, and they were a requirement. That was when I understood why boys in some African communities undergo painful initiation processes that are believed to turn them from boys to men. They are made to go through painful experiences, and expected to endure the pain. Now I understood that the boys actually felt the pain, they just endured it to meet the societal expectations; to be accepted and understood as a man.
During this time, I remember wishing for a lot more than I had and would envy those who had more than I did. This made me to seek for approval from those who had what I wanted. Peer pressure here became real and I would do things that before I would have never done. I would question almost everything including the authority from parents. Without proper mentorship, adolescent boys who have been taught by society to never be afraid to try something new can easily fall prey to crimes. At this point I was tempted to try alcohol, drugs, different dress codes and even crime. However, my mentor would always talk to me and bring me to reality.
I also believed that girls had it easy in comparison to boys. All they had to do was look pretty and they could be invited to any dance or party, but for me it was all about knowing the right person and acting cool.
As a young adult I had accepted that I was now a man and adolescence had taught me that choices come with consequences. If I longed to have something, I would have to work hard at getting it; there are just no shortcuts in life. I had learnt that a man does not complain about not having something, he instead figures out a way of getting it. I saw myself as the ultimate decision maker in my life and that peer pressure and other’s opinions was meant to distract and advice be consecutively.
In most of the relationship I had be it friendship or even family, I had learnt to be assertive in communicating what I wanted, consequently if I felt I was being oppressed I would quickly end it. Being a man also means being responsible by paying the bill at the end of a date with a girl, dropping her home and making sure she’s home safe, maintaining a steady job and helping out at home by fixing things. Conversely, it felt off for me to be cooking, serving, cleaning and even doing laundry, these are more feminine chores that I can only do when left without a choice.
My neighbor and my parents have made significant contributions to influence my understanding on gender role and how the society expects me to be. My parents have made me understand what is right and what is wrong and that I am accountable for my actions. As a young man, they showed me that being a man means being brave and courageous at the same time warm and gentle depending on the situations. I have to understand and access the situation and then choose the kind of man I want to be. As a young adult in the spirit of choosing a manly course I chose physical and social sciences and easily closed the door to several careers but at the same time I opened doors to careers that can impact people’s lives and change it.
As a young adult I could notice power, status because I had started seeing the consequences of choices and actions. Those adolescent boys who decided to be assertive and had some form of independence never feel for peer pressure enough to ruin their lives. Being able to afford all the necessities challenged me to work hard to be a better person.
Currently as an adult man, I believe that there are no doors closed for me; the career I choose is based on my passion and not the role that the society believes I should play. I am exposed to a world of possibilities that I can achieve anything I seek to achieve. The perceived closed doors are a state of the mind. I believe that I have been equipped with the necessary personality traits that the current society requires for survival.
There is no gender that has privilege over the other; the society currently offers equal chances and opportunities to achieve the best and improve the society. As a man I believe that the current society offers equal chances without discrimination to both genders. Education has played an important role of ensuring that girls and boys have been educated equally and they have equal chances of pursuing their career of choice.
It is a survival for the fittest society and the traits I picked up being a boy, an adolescent and a young adult has made be to be brave, courageous, decisive and responsible and this prepares me well for the society. I hope to instill the same in my male children should I have them in the future.
The society has its already set gender roles that are taught in the informal social institutions; conversely education has empowered the perceived weaker gender, woman, to be able to compete equally with man. Previously, in work places only a third of the women used to apply for positions that they are qualified for as opposed to three quarters of their male counterparts. But with the increase in the lean in movement, more women have been empowered. Also, the current government has put in place legislation that allows women to earn the same as men, through the Paycheck Fairness Bill that advocates for equal pay for both men and women and reduction in workplace discrimination.
According to my own personal observation, I believe that gender roles and identity exists but only in the informal social institutions like families and marriages, conversely in the formal institutions like schools and work places, there is equality and discrimination by assigning roles based on gender is highly discouraged. This ensures that both informal and formal social institutions flourish.
Huckleberry Finn: Masculinity, Power Struggles, and Self-awareness in the Novel
The early nineteenth-century setting in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn offers a turbulent landscape for Twain to stage a commentary on the interdependencies that perpetuate his main characters’ transracial relationship. Focalizing through Huck, a child of twelve, deconstructs the traditional narrative and emphasizes the complex overlap in Jim’s fundamental identity as black and his cultural role as slave. Ironically, the ascribed nature of Jim’s identity is what grounds Huck (and, subsequently, the reader) in the represented world; although he is owned and held as a slave, Jim is the father of a nuclear family he hopes to reunite, and moves comfortably between the roles of servant and parent in his dealings with Huck. In stark contrast, Huck’s identity is held captive within the violent cyclicality of his relationship with his alcoholic, deadbeat father, and the elderly, traditional, Miss Watson. These hugely differing adults fail to provide Huck with a reliable masculine compass, compromising Huck’s developing sexuality, thus, Twain presents masculinity and sexuality as the axes on which Huck and Jim’s intimate friendship is the asymptote, blurring the rules governing the conventional relationship between master and slave and redefining the constitution of these titles.
Placing masculinity and sexuality on a plane to represent axes is complicated by these variables’ interchangeability within the novel. One may be represented by the other, and vice versa; Huck’s straightforward storytelling-style suggests a desire to communicate independently of those around him, nevertheless, his narration is laced with their influences. “They talked it over, and they was going to rule me out, because they said every boy must have a family or somebody to kill, or else it wouldn’t be fair and square for the others,” (Twain 16). Tom Saywer’s masculine imagination, heightened as it is through his apparent readings of fantastic tales, contains a latent sexual vulnerability; the boys’ admission to the robber-murderer troupe Tom Saywer’s Gang is contingent upon a paradoxical emphasis on family and intimacy, suggesting that role-playing masculine figures such as highwaymen somehow illuminates masculinity within a sexuality framework.
Further, Huck’s authorial choice to present the issue facing his admission to the gang in passive voice rather than direct dialogue sharpens the vulnerable aspect of an otherwise macho-boy idea. “I was most ready to cry; but all at once I thought of a way, and so I offered them Miss Watson—they could kill her,” (Twain 16). The playful nature of the game is undercut here by Huck’s gritty, real background: he has no family, and his father is an alcoholic. Thus, by submitting Miss Watson instead of a family member, he signals her as simultaneously valuable and disposable, a paradox that extends to all of his major relationships throughout the novel, most notably that between him and Miss Watson’s slave, Jim. As a slave, Jim stabilizes Huck’s perception of the world by administering to the black-white division in societal rank, maintaining a social construct that fosters Huck’s personal development at Jim’s own personal sacrifice.
Humanizing Jim in this manner upsets the conventional relationship between the black man and the white child because there is no prominent white, male authority in Huck’s life to demonstrate a dominant masculinity in his exchanges with Jim. In his essay “The Trouble With Friendship,” Benjamin DeMott discusses transracial friendships as “a vehicle of wish fulfillment,” suggesting that “what’s wished for and gained is a land where whites are unafraid of blacks, where blacks ask for and need nothing from whites,” (15). Curiously, this definition of a wish applies most directly to that between Huck and his father, which queries the importance of physical race difference vs the ascribed status associated with race difference.
Consider: by virtue of his skin color, Huck’s dad is socially superior to Jim. However, Jim’s youth and sex relative to those of Miss Watson’s inverts the notion of the black as one who asks for or needs anything from whites. On the contrary; Jim’s servitude to Miss Watson distinguishes a sexualized component to masculinity through female ownership of the physical male; the master-slave relationship between Miss Watson and Jim, though inverted, is stable because of the rough equal-ness of exchanged relationship dynamics. Therefore, the instability of Huck’s relationship with his dad reflects an internal “blackness” to Huck’s father—an acute awareness his father attempts to allay through his drinking habits.
“Tramp—tramp—tramp; that’s the dead; tramp—tramp—tramp; they’re coming after me; but I won’t go—Oh, they’re here! Don’t touch me—don’t! hands off—they’re hold; let go—Oh, let a poor devil alone!” (Twain 39). Pap’s ranting and quailing at this juncture are eerie in their dichotomous representation of both the senseless ranting of an alcoholic, but also in the panicked fear of the black, ancestral anger characterized by the use of “they’re.” If we continue to view Pap through the lens of a black-white man, the dead who are appearing to him in his hallucinations are faceless black men who Pap embodies in the helpless hopelessness of his pathetic existence; he essentially represents the black slave’s suffering from this standpoint. His refusal to “go” indicates an unwillingness to die, but also perhaps a refusal to accept responsibility for his actions as a father. It is also worth noting that the dead who pursue him in his hallucination are together, thus, presumably, unified, something that Pap claims with Huck when he wrests him from Miss Watson’s care.
Huck’s volatile lifestyle presents the cone of his asymptotic existence as the height of masculinity at minimum sexuality, or when he is in his father’s possession. Huck’s impressionable age naturally begins the digression from masculinity into the softer vagueness of sexuality, a process that Jim facilitates following Huck’s escape from his father. In fleeing his father, Huck is seeking a freedom from his father’s beatings and Miss Watson’s civilizing, but it is just as important to consider where Huck was going as to why he went in the first place. “Jackson’s Island is good enough for me; I know that island pretty well, and nobody ever comes there,” (Twain 44). The sparse description reveals a depth of fear and unhappiness that Huck’s youth prevents him from articulating. “Good enough,” “pretty well,” and “nobody” (emphases added) in particular stand out because they reveal the first jaded etchings to Huck’s otherwise sunny and take-life-as-it-comes personality.
Curiously, it is Jim who makes the autonomous decision to harness an escape in pursuit of a specific freedom, a freedom that society has told him he neither has the right to nor has the capacity to seek: reuniting his family. While Huck’s decision also reflects his autonomy, it lacks direction and motivation beyond the present. In his essay “Love and Death,” Leslie Fiedler discusses the notion of freedom as constrained by guilt. “The enemy of society on the run toward “freedom” is also the pariah in flight from his guilt, the guilt of that very flight; and new phantoms arise to haunt him at every step,” (Fiedler 26). Contextualized within Fiedler, however, it is Huck, not Jim, who faces repercussions from society; his socioeconomic and family situation make him a pariah and his rejection of adult aid heavily influences his desire to remain hidden from their intrusions into his life. On the other hand, if we neutralized Jim’s skin color, society would champion him as a father and husband, and applaud his actions as a traditionally embedded masculine strength rather than a creature runaway.
Both Jim and Huck’s deviation from “natural” masculinity inclines them towards a more experimental, sexually emotional relationship, simply by virtue of their unconventional pairing. By disregarding society’s framework for proper relationships, Huck and Jim are able to demonstrate a partnership with an original foundation that recalls basic cornerstones to all relationships, such as communication and trust. Their mutual dependence on one another as white child and black adult runaway slave creates a bond that also draws attention to the sacrificial nature of their relationship: Jim was raised in a culture of loss and Huck plays at being a child in the very real game of life because he knows no imaginary one as fraught with danger.
In her essay “Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire,” Eve Sedgwick challenges the basis for interest in sexual politics—“What does it mean—what difference does it make—when a social or political relationship is sexualized? If the relation of homosocial to homosexual bonds is so shifty, then what theoretical framework do we have for drawing any links between sexual and power relationships?” (Sedgwick 5). Contextualized within Huckleberry Finn, the theoretical framework detailing the social differentials in homosocial vs homosexual bonds appears to depend on its mutability. That is, the heightened sexuality in Huck and Jim’s encounters is made so because of their rejection of traditional racial politics, though it’s likely their transgression was only a circumstantial consequence.
This observation leads us to an obvious question: do circumstances justify the rejection of societal norms? How does society determine which transgressions to condemn and which to forgive? Huckleberry Finn suggests a personal involvement component, that is, the degree to which transgressions are noted is directly proportionate to the degree to which they affect society. Because Huck and Jim are traveling together, their presentation of master and slave is a guise that allows them to exist, undisturbed, in their far more complex arrangement of sage, paternal, (ex?) slave and wandering, directionless white child. Their shared sex serves as a buffer to society and catalyst for their personal communication; their homosocial relationship is illustrated, more than anything, by their absences from one another, particularly when the absences are forced upon them by outside factors. “So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double,” (Twain 227). The shame Huck feels in his desire to rescue Jim grounds the reader in the represented world’s masculinity: Huck and Jim may compromise the relationship rules within their own world, but the wider world of the novel does not sanction mercy at the sacrifice of the white male’s masculinity.
The notion of masculinity as something that must be sacrificed for, rather than to, is a critical observation, and one that Huck struggles to reconcile with his sympathetic sexuality towards Jim. The feeling of “playing double” apparently stems from his awareness of white masculinity and his inability to own it. In this sense, Huck’s conscious rejection of his whiteness is also a dismissal of white masculinity. However, a question stands: is this choice due to Jim’s impressed black masculinity or his own matured security in his sexuality? The novel constructs the fundamental difference between black and white masculinity through the presence of constancy; Jim is the constant black male who, though more vulnerable than his volatile white counterpart, derives his strength from a constancy born of a unity found in the standardized sameness impressed upon his race for hundreds of years.
Thus, there cannot be constancy without unity, or vice versa, which the white males of the novel demonstrate through their manipulations and power-struggles with one another. All except Huck. Unlike the other white males, he outwardly submits to the authorities as they converge and ebb around him throughout his journey, a practice that relies on his sexual security as a youth engaging the world around him rather than as a white adolescent clumsily wielding his masculinity. This self-awareness reflects Huck’s relationship with Jim because it embodies the mutual transgression of partners in the personal development of one, a development contingent upon the strength of Jim’s constancy in his masculine role and to shield his blackness while preserving his manhood, ultimately presenting masculinity as a rhetorical puzzle that cannot be solved, only attended to.
If Gender Studies Cover Men, Men Should Get Involved
Gender studies refer to an interdisciplinary sphere of study and academic field dedicated to gender representation and gender identity as fundamental classes of analysis. This sphere of study deals with LGBT studies, Men’s studies, and Women’s Studies, which concerns feminism, women, gender, as well as, politics. At times, Gender studies are usually offered with Sexuality studies. As noted by Essed, Goldberg, & Kobayashi (2009), these subjects deal with sexuality and gender in fields of political science, history, language, literature, sociology, human development, and law, among many more others. Yet there has been a serious debate as to whether gender studies should be for both genders. Most gender classes today are clearly dominated by women. Men still lag behind in enrolling for gender studies citing different reasons. This paper discusses gender studies into detail and the reasons why men still shy away from gender studies. Nonetheless, a lot still needs to be done to strike a balance in gender studies. As it appears, men are not yet ready to embrace gender classes.
Gender studies have had an interesting historical background. It surfaced from the current feminist movement. Its original aim was to bring women together with their experiences more wholly into focus. In the 1980s, scores of feminist scholars started to discuss the issue of gender in itself, how they vary from one culture to the next, how they define male and female, masculinity and femininity among many more. As Spector (1986) points out, this was just the beginning of a whole lot of other studies to be included as discussed. For many years, it was just a subject that only one gender embraced because it exclusively dealt with women issues. Of late, however, feminist scholars have once again sought to include men in these studies, thereby sparking off a fierce debate as to whether gender issues relate to men. Women would not mind men being in their classes, but men still “fear” enrolling in gender classes for a variety of reasons. This is where the clash begun; men still view the idea as women oriented.
A number of people believe that men can play a significant role in inclusion and diversity efforts, particularly to eliminate gender bias and other gender related issues. Hitherto, men remain an unexploited resource in these gender initiatives. For this reason, several groups have rolled out plans to find the most valuable ways to work with men in gender studies. According to these groups, men who will end gender bias are those who engage in gender studies. Despite all the hype, why are there only a handful of men involved with gender studies to fate? First and foremost, most men assume “gender studies” is a default feminine subject. Arguably, most of them equate gender studies to women studies. For this reason, few men would want to wander to that side of the discussion. When it is time for women to engage in gender studies, men continue working on what they were dealing with before, certain that the subject is being handled carefully. Of course, gender is a two-sided matter, but what happens when one side of the conversation sits quietly and contributes nothing.
Another reason as to why men are not that much involved with gender studies is because they are not familiar with such studies. Tarrant (2008) thinks that this could be linked to three broad reasons: political, cultural, and pragmatic. First off, very few men tend to see gender as a pressing part of their identity. Despite all the improvement in feminism, a few scholars, for instance Susan Pinder in “The Second Sex”, point out that masculinity is still an issue belonging to the default gender. Most of the improvements in gender issues as pointed out by Martinson (2012), has been to make the traditionally male roles somehow accessible as to many women as possible, for instance, women pursuance of careers and working for long hours outside their homes. However, not much critique has been forwarded towards the virtue of worthiness of living such a lifestyle. Consequently, men still do not feel threatened when more women enter the workplace because they do not have to change their lifestyles to accommodate women. A good example is that women still do most of the house chores even if both of them work. With the present trends of female enrollment in institutions of higher learning, gender roles are likely to become more pressing in the near future. Should men suddenly become minorities in these professions, there could be a sparkling interest in what means to be male in modern history, literature, and society.
Another bone of contention is the issue of political impediments in gender studies. In view of this, a number of men wonder where their voices will ever be heard in the women-dominated field of gender studies. This is not to suggest that they will be overtly sexist, but men wonder whether they will have to fight hard battles to justify their perspective. This point, if not addressed, will continue to deter many men from entering this field. As it appears, gender studies seem to align itself with queer hypothesis. Men, especially from conservative religions, would fear engaging in gender studies. Moreover, most people tend to assume that academic subjects mirror a person’s deepest life interests. However, every person is aware in this era of specialization there is need for a calculated maneuvering for one to find a respectable job offer. Consequently, there is little motivation for men to pursue a field that they find it hard to penetrate. For these reasons, many men still shy away from gender studies.
There have been different views in regards to gender studies. According to one researcher, gender studies persuade students to recognize the restrictions of a victim-centered point of view about womanhood. These are clear words that show biasness in gender related issues. As it appears, the patriarchy theory is omnipresent; the notion than men control women. However, research points out that, women appear to control men interpersonally. The problem is not that the male species do not have interest. According to many of them, there is a fear of feminism. In reality, men appear to be deeply valued in gender studies, not detested as the living patriarchy.
In my view, a lot still has to be done if Gender Studies is to be totally accepted in the society. I would not mind studying gender studies to add to by resume; however, I do not think I would feel comfortable in such a class because classes will still be full of women. I am not gender-sensitive, bit the situation calls for more insight. As one friend put it, men have to get involved for gender studies to survive. Another man I conversed with recently said that he does not recognize gender studies as being that important. According to him, women rights take a higher place than gender studies. In this regard, he would support women rights and avoid getting involved with gender studies. He thought that the gender courses were too critical to male-dominated reality.
As one student voiced, he will be put off if he was enrolled in a gender studies course. He feared that all the assumptions made about his sexuality will be too uncomfortable and arduous to explain. He was also afraid of what his parents and peers would think. His conservative family would regard him as a failure. His friends too will think of him as a sissy therefore, he would experience problems finding a lady. These are just but a few of the sentiments voiced by many men opposed to the idea of gender studies. While there is nothing wrong with gender studies, clearly, there is still a lot to be done towards ensuring that the discipline is well accepted within the male-dominated society. In reality, women students are usually extremely protective of the few men in their study groups under this program.
In conclusion, gender studies will continue to elicit mixed reactions from both men and women. Nonetheless, it remains clear as stated by sociologist Helen Lindberg that gender studies has several weakness because it depends on feminist social theories, which are plainly based on ideological foundations, hence provide a colorful picture of the whole society. These feminist theories tend to lack interior coherence, thereby availing minimal practicability in accommodating empirical support. Theorist and Historian, Bryan Palmer has countered gender studies by arguing for the need to analyze structures of power and subordination and live experience. Even Pope Benedict XVI has warned against gender theories and studies that they could distort the distinction between male and female, thereby ending in the demise of the human race. Nonetheless, most women, especially feminist authors and scholars continue to push for this course. Gender studies have had some influence in this era; it has particularly been affected by the post-feminism emergence. Perhaps, it is essential that all parties discuss the cause for this whole issue. If Gender Studies is to continue and cover men too, then men should get involved.
Praising Masculinity in Society: a Proof We Shouldn’t Do It
The Mask We Live In
I thought the film was good overall, but being a student of sociology and critical cultural issues, I did have some problems with the film. The film did not touch on mental health issues as much as I thought it would. The Mask did highlight the fact that over 50% of men with mental health issues do not seek help for those issues. This is because of the notion that men are supposed to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. The link made between gender and mental issues was essentialist and reductionist. The documentary mentioned that women tend to be hyperfeminine in their depressive symptoms whereas men display hypermasculine symptoms. This seems logical upon looking at it and it would explain the reason why men are never asked about their mental health or it is never discussed. However, I believe more research needs to be done on this topic or if research is done, the movie left out the qualitative or quantitative support for those claims.
I am calling for the elimination of masculinity. From the readings, I have done, the class discussions, and the documentary, I firmly believe that masculinity is a definitionaly against femininity. The characteristics of masculinity do not stand on their own. They stand to prove that one is not feminine, one is not gay, one is not womanly. However, the qualities of femininity do stand on their own. These qualities include nurturing, caring, compassion, and the ability to express emotions. These qualities are intrinsically necessary to fruitful life as a human being. I do not believe in female supremacy or replacing masculinity with femininity, as that will still oppress people. I believe that we need to decouple human emotions and characteristics from the boxes that we have stuffed them in.
Jackson Katz, a speaker in the documentary and the author of one of the readings we read on pornography, mentions that there needs to be an end to masculinity. He argues in his book Getting Off: The End to Masculinity that we need to embrace radical feminism for the sake of men and women. He believes, and I agree, that there needs to be more radical critiques of our culture in order to push society forward.
The movie also did not focus on female masculinity at all. I understand that omission because the movie seemed to be geared to a male audience. I would understand the omission of more female perspectives so it did not put off the male demographic.
As a less abstract thought, I want to link this documentary to real life issues. College campuses breed masculinity. They teach men the rules and etiquette of rape culture. They teach men how to hide their repressed emotions behind shots and lines. They teach them how to only open up to their male friends when they are heavily intoxicated, and it won’t be considered gay. The light shed on fraternities through national news coverage shows that fraternities do not support brotherhood, but teach America’s most accepted disciplines: control and dominance through violence and aggression, humiliation, and competition not cooperation. And for that, I think Greek life should be eliminated on college campuses.
Analysis of Drake’s Song “Marvin’s Room”
“Most rappers abhor an attention vacuum and will kick the door down with guns blazing to announce their return. Drake clears his throat”. In rap and pop culture, many artists use misogynistic lyrics and portrayals of women as a way to assert their masculinity, reflect mainstream attitudes towards women, and promote internalized negative stereotypes towards women. In Drake’s 2011 hit Marvin’s Room, the well known rapper depicts an inebriated telephone call to his ex-girlfriend pleading for her to rekindle their relationship. Drake normalizes emotions in today’s society through Marvin’s Room, which in turn revolutionizes masculinity in rap and pop culture yet while still maintaining misogynistic views. Music in this generation tends to objectify women and promote sexist views, but Drake eloquently contradicts rap norms by switching typical gender roles in relationships.
Marvin’s Room is told from the point of view of an intoxicated Drake as he calls his past lover to express his ongoing frustration and feelings of loneliness. The song rides a hazy, subdued beat designed to match the narrator’s cloudy state of mind, which illustrates a foggy aesthetic and somber atmosphere. Drake is engulfed in the nightclub scenery, drinking champagne and dark liquor, when he starts reminiscing about his past relationship. He decides to call his former significant other to profess his love for her, knowing that she has moved on with someone else. Despite his frustrations over their breakup and his obvious loneliness, Drake reiterates to her his superiority over his replacement and repeatedly cajoles her to return to him. He also mentions that the women with whom he has had intercourse and to whom he has provided financial support after their relationship do not satisfy him. Ultimately, his plaintive requests go unrequited.
Drake’s sense of need and guilt are prevalent through his message in Marvin’s Room. The portrait he’s painted is that of a desperate, lonely man. Not many rappers are capable of writing something with such an emotional impact. Drake is idolized as an advocate in the transparency of emotions. In Marvin’s Room, Drake frets about lost love; realizing that his relationship with this one woman is more valuable than he first presumed. It is common for men to be phobic towards anything correlated to femininity including emotions especially in rap and pop culture, but Drake revolutionizes this ideology by enmeshing the publication of feelings in rap and pop culture. Drake exclaims, “I need you right now are you down to listen to me”, allowing the world to capture his helplessness and need for the woman’s love which is not typical in today’s generation. Customarily, women are taught to freely express their emotions while men are taught to be more stoic. “Marvin’s Room” normalizes men being affectionate and sentimental towards women. With his heart on the line, Drake embodies a victim mentality as he blamed his promiscuity and detrimental actions on the end of his past relationship.
Drake refers to women as “bitches” and undermines women’s views throughout “Marvin’s Room” while still attempting to justify his frustration with the loss of love. “I think I’m addicted to naked pictures and sitting talking about bitches that we almost had. I don’t think I’m conscious of making monsters out of the women I sponsor until it all goes bad but shit it’s all good”. He inflicts androcentrism on the lost relationship; blaming the women for his recent actions. Drake continues to call women “bitches” throughout Marvin’s Room but then realizes his own role in manifesting these women into what his self inflicted definition of “bitches” is. He does not respect his ex-partners new found relationship. Drake questions his past lover’s commitment to her new significant other. “I’m just saying you can do better; tell me have you heard that lately”, is what Drake reiterated to his ex-lover aiming to sabotage her new relationship by any means to rekindle their love, while his claims of wanting to revive their love seems to be extremely skeptical. “I had sex four times this week, I’ll explain” exemplifies the events of a man who partakes in promiscuous acts. Drake’s misogynistic view of using women for his own mental wellness to overcome his feeling of loneliness and desperation overshadowed his desire to reconnect with his prior relationship. Drake’s intent of conveying a sincere message to his past lover is obscured by his ego and newfound fame.
Drake acknowledges that he is “having a hard time adjusting to fame”, in Marvin’s Room, as an explanation for his recent destructive behavior. He assigns fault to his newfound fame as reasoning to why he has been sexaully active with multiple women while blaming his past significant other for not supporting him in this new process. In 2011, when Marvin’s Room was released, Drake had just begun to prevail in the rap industry. With three mixtapes and one album already released: Room For Improvement, Comeback Season, So Far Gone, and Thank Me Later; the release of his single Marvin’s Room is what really got the world fascinated with Drake. Drake embarked on his road to stardom but according to Marvin’s Room, soon got submerged in his own ego and money. “I got some women that’s living off me. Paid for their flights and hotels I’m ashamed. Bet that you know them, I won’t say no names. After a while girl they all seem the same”. While ranting on the phone to his ex-lover, Drake admits to financially supporting and indulging in women. His likelihood of rekindling his relationship gets slimmer and slimmer the more he professes his recent acts. The woman questions Drake, asking, “Are you drunk right now?” to try to understand why he would admit all of those dreadful actions to her. He fails at showing interest in his ex-lover and contradicts his feeling of loneliness if in fact he was occupied with different women all along.
Drake successfully transforms typical gender roles in a relationship within Marvin’s Room by presenting the woman with power and choice. He confronts his ex-girlfriend with a proposition of whether she is willing to be his lover again and provide him with the support that he wants and “needs”. The release of Marvin’s Room influenced women in the music industry to respond to Drake’s drunken call from a woman’s point of view. Teyana Taylor and JoJo, two well-known musicians in the industry, replied to Drake with a witty response from a woman’s point of view. Not only did women respond, but men did as well. Chris Brown and Sammie are two male artists that remixed Marvin’s Room sharing their times of loneliness and seclusion while missing their ex-lovers. Drake made it conventional for male artists to express emotion through rap. His success venturing from the release of Marvin’s Room encouraged other male artists to be in tune with their inner selves and emotions. Drake’s complicated relations with women introduced a new element of rap in today’s generation.
Marvin’s Room extensively captures the critical moment of emotional feeling in rap and pop culture. Drake’s emotional misogyny revolutionizes the masculine dominance in rap and pop culture. He overturned male hierarchy in a relationship, giving the woman the power to decide whether she wanted to return back to him. While still overstepping his boundaries within his past lovers new relationship, Drake’s use of sorrow and emotion compliments the overall message of the song. “Marvin’s Room” is the quintessential illustration of the use of emotional expressivity.