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Masculinity

Masculinity

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Published by Marta Cabrera

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Published by: Marta Cabrera on Jul 13, 2013
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12/02/2013

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24
Masculinity
asHomophobia
MICHAELS.KIMMEL
MichaelKimmel
argues
thatAmericanmenaresocializedintoaveryrigidandlimiting
definitionofmasculinity.Hestatesthatmenfearbeingridiculedastoofemininebyothermenandthisfearperpetuateshomophobicandexclusionarymasculinity.Hecallsforpoli-ticsofinclusionorthebroadeningdefinitionofmanho~dtoendgenderstruggle.
T
hegreatsecretafAmericanmanhaadis:
VIle
areafraidofothermen.
Hama-phabiaisacentralarganizingprincipleafaurculturaldefinitia'tlafman-haad.Hamaphabiaismarethantheirratianalfearafgaymen,marethanthefearthatwemightbeperceivedasgay."Theward'faggat'hasnathingto.do.withhamasexualexperiencearevenwithfearsafhamasexuals,"writesDavidLeverenz(1986)."Itcarnesautafthedepthsafmanhaad:alabelafultimatecantemptfaranyanewho.seemssissy,untaugh,uncaal"(p.455).Hamaphabiaisthefearthatathermenwillunmaskus,emasculateus,revealto.usandthewarldthatwedo.natmeasureup,thatwearenatrealmen.Weareafraidto.letathermenseethatfear.Fearmakesusashamed,becausetherecagnitianaffearinaur-selvesispraafto.aurselvesthatwearenatasmanlyaswepretend,thatweare,liketheyaungmaninapaembyYeats,"anethatrufflesinamanlypasefarallhistimidheart."Ourfearisthefearafhumiliatian.Weareashamedto.beafraid...Thefearafbeingseenasasissydaminatestheculturaldefinitiansafman-haad.Itstartsso.early."Baysamangbaysareashamedto.beunmanly,"wroteaneeducatarin1871(citedinRatunda,1993,p.264).IhaveastandingbetwithafriendthatIcanwalkantaanyplaygroundinAmericawhere6-year-aldbaysarehappilyplayingandbyaskinganequestian,Icanprovakeafight.Thatques-tianissimple:"Who'sasissyaroundhere?"Oncepased,thechallengeismade.Oneaftwo.thingsislikelyto.happen.Onebaywillaccuseanatherafbeingasissy,to.whichthatbaywillrespandthatheisnatasissy,thatthefirstbayis.Theymayhaveto.fightitautto.seewha'slying.Orawhalegraupafbayswillsurraundanebayandallshaut"Heis!Heis!"Thatbaywilleitherburstinto.tearsandrunhamecrying,disgraced,arhewillhaveto.takeanseveralbaysatance,to.pravethathe'snatasissy.(Andwhatwillhisfatheraralderbrotherstellhimifhechaasesto.runhamecrying?)Itwillbesametimebeforeheregainsanysenseafself-respect.
From:MichaelKimmel."MasculinityasHomophobia."Copyright@1994byMichaelS.Kimmel.Allrightsreserved.
147
 
148
PART
VIISEXUALITYANDINTIMATERELATIONSHIPS
Violenceisoftenthesinglemost~videntmarkerofmanhood.Ratheritisthewillingnesstofight,thedesiretofight.Theoriginofourexpressionthatonehasachiponone'sshoulderliesinthepracticeofanadolescentboyinthecountryorsmalltownattheturnofthecentury,whowouldliterallywalkaroundwithachipofwoodbalancedonhisshoulder-asignalofhisreadinesstofightwithanyonewhowouldtaketheinitiativeofknockingthechipoff(seeGorer,1964,p.38;Mead,1965).Asadolescents,welearnthatourpeersareakindofgenderpolice,constantlythreateningtounmaskusasfeminine,assissies.OneofthefavoritetrickswhenIwasanadolescentwastoaskaboytolookathisfingernails.Ifheheldhispalmtowardhisfaceandcurledhisfingersbacktoseethem,hepassedthetest.He'dlookedathisnails"likeaman."Butifheheldthebackofhishandawayfromhisface,andlookedathisfingern~ilswitharmoutstretched,hewasimmediatelyridiculedasasissy.Asyoungmenweareconstantlyridingthosegenderboundaries,checkingthefenceswehaveconstructedontheperimeter,makingsurethatnothingevenremotelyfemininemightshowthrough.Thepossibilitiesofbeingunmaskedareeverywhere....Eventhemostseeminglyinsignificantthingcanposeathreatoractivatethathauntingterror.Onthedaythestudentsinmycourse"SociologyofMenandMasculinities"werescheduledtodiscusshomophobiaandmale-malefriendships,onestudentprovidedatouchingillustration.Notingthatitwasabeautifulday,thefirstdayofspringafterthebrutalnortheastwinter,hedecidedtowearshortstoclass."IhadthisreallynicepairofnewMadrasshorts,"hecom-mented."ButthenIthoughttomyself,theseshortshavelavenderandpinkinthem.Today'sclasstopicishomophobia.Maybetodayisnotthebestdaytoweartheseshorts."Oureffortstomaintainamanlyfrontcovereverythingwedo.Whatwewear.Howwetalk.Howwewalk.Whatweeat.Everymannerism,everymovementcontaipsacodedgenderlanguage.Think,forexample,ofhowyouwouldanswerthe~question:Howdoyou"know"ifamanishomosexual?WhenIaskthisques-tioninclassesorworkshops,respondentsinvariablyprovideaprettystandardlistofstereotypicallyeffeminatebehaviors.Hewalksacertainway,talksacertainway,actsacertainway.He'sveryemotional;heshowshisfeelings.Onewomancommentedthatshe"knows"amanisgayifhereallycaresabouther;anothersaidsheknowshe'sgayifheshowsnointerestinher,ifheleavesheralone.Nowalterthequestionandimaginewhatheterosexualmendotomakesurenoonecouldpossiblygetthe"wrongidea"aboutthem.Responsestypi-callyrefertotheoriginalstereotypes,thistimeasasetofnegativerulesaboutbehavior.Neverdressthatway.Nevertalkorwalkthatway.Nevershowyourfeelingsorgetemotional.Alwaysbepreparedtodemonstratesexualinterestinwomenthatyoumeet,soitisimpossibleforanywomantogetthewrongideaaboutyou.Inthissense,homophobia,thefea~ofbeingperceivedasgay,asnotarealman,keepsmenexaggeratingallthetraditionalrulesofmasculinity,in-cludingsexualpredationwithwomen.Homophobiaandsexismgohandinhand.
...
 
.
c.
ARTICLE
24MASCULINITYASHOMOPHOBIA
POWERANDPOWERLESSNESSINTHELIVESOFMEN
..'.Manhoodisequatedwithpower-overwomen,overothermen.Every-wherewelook,weseetheinstitutionalexpressionofthatpower-instateandnationallegislatures,ontheboardsofdirectorsofeverymajor
U.S.
corporationorlawfirm,andineveryschoolandhospitaladministration.Womenhavelongunderstoodthis,andfeministwomenhavespentthepastthreedecadeschalleng-ingboththepublicandtheprivateexpressionsofmen'spowerandacknowledg-ingtheirfearofmen.Feminismasasetoftheoriesbothexplainswomen'sfearofmenandempowerswomentoconfrontitbothpubliclyandprivately.FeministwomenhavetheorizedthatmasculinityisaboutthedrIvefordomination,thedriveforpower,forconquest.Thisfeministdefinitionofmasculinityasthedriveforpoweristheorizedfromwomen'spointofview.Itishowwomenexperiencemasculinity.Butitas-sumesasymmetrybetweenthepublicandtheprivatethatdoesnotconformtomen'sexperiences.Feministsobservethatwomen,asagroup,donotholdpowerinoursociety.Theyalsoobservethatindividually,they,aswomen,doQotfeelpowerful.Theyfeelafraid,vulnerable.Theirobservationofthesocialrealityandtheirindividualexperiencesarethereforesymmetrical.Feminismalsoobservesthatmen,asagroup,areinpower.Thus,withthesamesymmetry,feminismhastendedtoassumethatindividuallymenmustfeelpowerful.Thisiswhythefeministcritiqueofmasculinityoftenfallsondeafearswithmen.Whenconfrontedwiththeanalysisthatmenhaveallthepower,manymenreactincredulously."Whatdoyoumean,menhaveallthepower?"theyask."Whatareyoutalkingabout?Mywifebossesmearound.Mykidsbossmearound.Mybossbossesmearound.Ihavenopoweratall!I'mcompletelypowerless!"Men'sfeelingsarenotthefeelingsofthepowerful,butofthosewhoseethem-selvesaspowerless.Thesearethefeelingsthatcomeinevitablyfromthedisconti-nuitybetweenthesocialandthepsychological,betweentheaggregateanalysisthatrevealshowmenareinpowerasagroupandthepsychologicalfactthattheydonotfeelpowerfulasindividuals.Theyarethefeelingsofmenwhowereraisedtobelievethemselvesentitledtofeelthatpower,butdonotfeelit.Nowondermanymenarefrustratedandangry....Oftenthepurveyorsofthemythopoeticmen'smovement,thatbroadum-brellathatencompassesallthegroupshelpingmentoretrievethismythicdeepmanhood,usetheimageofthechauffeurtodescribemodernman'sposition.Thechauffeurappearstohavethepower-he'swearingtheuniform,he'sinthedri-ver'sseat,andheknowswherehe'sgoing.So,totheobserver,thechauffeurlooksasthoughheisincommand.Buttothechauffeurhimself,theynote,heismerelytakingorders.Heisnotatallincharge.Despitetherealitythateveryoneknowschauffeursdonothavethepower,thisimageremainsappealingtothemenwhohearitattheseweekendworkshops.Butthereisamissingpiecetotheimage,apiececoncealedbytheframingoftheimageintermsoftheindividualman'sexperience.Thatmissingpieceisthatthepersonwhoisgivingtheordersisalsoaman.Nowwehavearelationship
between
149

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