The Pressures of Masculinity

In class, we discussed a variety of traits associated with masculinity, as well as the pressures that follow stereotypical ideals of masculinity. The reading, “Reenfleshing the Bright Boys”, is controversial to many for its comparison of oppression between the female and male gender. The article argues that the genders are “symmetric”, men are as equally oppressed as women. While I understand the argument, I refuse to acknowledge that men don’t have a supremest and more authoritative position within society, based on their sex. We live in a patriarchy, where male privilege very much exists. Although men do face pressures to maintain a masculine persona, women have to overcome innumerable obstacles just to achieve the same position as a man. Men are socialized at a young age to be dominant, the primary trait associated with masculinity and success. Meanwhile, women are raised to be passive and submissive. The differential socialization of men and women exhibits a vast asymmetry in the genders and the individualized oppression they face. This reading made me think of a book written by Michael Kimmel, titled “Guyland”. The book focuses on the male perspective of our gendered society, the ‘objective’ perspective and the pressures/influences which motivate young boys to mature into masculinity-obsessive men. As stated previously, men are entitled to feel pressured due to a social obligation to appear masculine, but it is not equal to the oppression women face in the public and private sphere. In class, I hope to further discuss the pressures of institutionalized masculinity and its effect on male behavior towards women (gender aggression/violence).

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6 thoughts on “The Pressures of Masculinity

  1. I totally agree with you people always assume that men have a hard job to always act macho and touch, but no one realizes that women have a stereotype people assume they need to follow. Not just men but other women believe that unless you aren’t girly or shy all the time you aren’t a “real” girl. Even today movies and tv shows are still representing this gender stereotype. Most of the plot lines involve a female who is present when 1.) she need saving from a man or 2.) to make the male look more masculine. I think I agree the most with you when you say that we live in a world where male privilege does exist.; especially white male privilege. I don’t want to stereotype, but rarely do see a white male not get what he wants.

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  2. We always talk about the pressure of Masculinity on women and feminism but we never talk about its pressure on men themselves.Nobody can deny that this thoughts and stereotypes about masculinity have oppressed women abilities in many ways, but if we focus on its effect on man behavior and psychology we might get a clearer vision of this issue. As a man, I have noticed that many of my other man friends would inexplicably act violently in situations that don’t require them to. Probably because they think that it would make them look stronger, or in other words, masculine. Thus, it became obvious to me that one part of the problem is that we men don’t really have an idea about what a man is and as a result, we most of the time would just act violently to any unfamiliar or intimidating situation.Which probably explains their macho behavior toward women. Therefore, in order to promote feminism, I think we need to work on separating the Idea of masculinity from violence and teach our young boys the real virtues of a man.

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    1. I completely agree with what you are saying about men not having a clear idea on what being a man entails. I also believe that it starts at a young age and that how a boy is brought up, is supposedly going to reflect how he will be as a man. If this is the case, how do we interrupt that cycle in order for change to occur? Who will teach them the traits and behaviors a man should portray? When you brought up that “we most of the time would act violently to any unfamiliar or intimidating situation,” it made me realize that maybe the reason men have violent behavior sometimes, is because men are unfamiliar on how to cope with certain situations and just do instead of thinking about the situation, and how to handle it properly. Personally I know that I have been in situations where I’ve wanted to say exactly what I’m thinking, but if I had said it, it wouldn’t have made progress/made the situation any better.

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  3. I agree that men come from a more privileged position due to their gender and I liked that you took issue with the symmetrical oppression as opposed to just oppression as many people may be inclined to deny the negative effects that the patriarchy may have on men. I think that one of the clearest examples is that men are more likely to kill themselves than women are, and when you think of the way that men are supposed to be strong and emotionless it shows how men deal with things like mental illness differently than women do because of their masculinity. I also think that it was interesting to read this piece and then reading about and discussing the lack of diversity in the academy and Forbes talking about cis gender theorists. I think that the reason Calvin Thomas may have felt that men and women are oppressed to the same degree may have been that he was simply a man theorizing about how the patriarchy affects women.

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  4. When reading your article, I agreed 100% with everything you were saying. We live in a world today where men are dominant. Yeah society has come a long way and women have caught up on rights and achievements as men, however, there is still an evident patriarchy we see every day. As you said, men are forced to have this manly persona from a very young age. And although feminism has helped women gain the same rights as men over the years there are still places where it is obvious that it is almost second guessed if a woman is doing this job as well as a man. For example, I feel as though women in the work place still do not get enough credit as much as men do. We are looked at as “emotional” or as if we are going to break down any second. Women can achieve just as much, if not more, than men in the work place and society needs to make that their new norm.

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  5. I think this is a really interesting discussion. Last semester, I took women and gender studies (WOM201). Our textbook, “The Gendered Society” by Michael Kimmel, mentioned that while men are privileged they often, as an individual, don’t feel as if they are. Personally, this topic reminds me of the following quote: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression” (unfortunately, no one has been given credit for coining this phrase). The benefits and privileges that men receive are practically invisible to them because they’re often more subtle; John and Jane have the same qualifications (hell, Jane may even be more qualified than John is) but John gets the job because his resume has the name “John” on it. When measures are taken to correct that, such as affirmative action, suddenly the privileged want to whine about how unfair it is (get in line, buddy). However, do I think men are disadvantaged in some ways? Yes. For example, male victims of sexual assault are afraid of reporting because they know they won’t be taken seriously. Do I think these disadvantages are because of the patriarchy and toxic masculinity? Absolutely. (Oh, the irony). It hurts men even though they still also benefit from the system as well. It’s similar to shooting yourself in the foot. While men do benefit from it, it still technically hurts everyone, including men, and then you factor in things like race, sexuality, class, disability, etc which also affects the oppression you face in society. It’s like this messy room no one really knows what to do with; some people just shove the mess under their bed hoping it’ll disappear, some don’t look at it and pretend it doesn’t exist, while others take the time to try and actually clean up the mess. I agree that we should discuss toxic masculinity in the classroom and try to weed it out of society. We need men to acknowledge their privilege and see how it hurts women (especially concerning things like rape culture and how women are afraid to even walk alone at night) but also how they’re only hurting themselves.

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