Source: Jacob Sauer
This weekend I drove from Chicago to New York. By hour six I couldn’t stand my playlists and begin scanning through local radio stations. I was startled by the number of times I’d find a really great hard rock or heavy metal song and realize 15 to 60 seconds into the song that I was listening to a Christian radio station. Once again, I began thinking of heavy metal as tool for examining intersecting social issues – religion, popular culture, gender, class, race, and ethnicity.
On the surface, heavy metal music and conservative Christianity are situated on opposite ends of a cultural morals-and-values spectrum. Heavy metal has been known to celebrate and glamorize explicit sex, defiance, aggression, violence and alcohol or drug use (Gore 1987; Walser 1993:139). In comparison, modern conservative Christians often see themselves in absolute contrast to the sex-drugs-party world. By embracing a code of strict, absolute and unchanging moral standards conservative Christians often view themselves as free from an egotistic, libidinous and morally pernicious mainstream society (Smith 1998:131). However, despite the obvious confliction of values that often exist between heavy metal culture and Christianity, there are places where hard-core music and a conservative faith overlap. (more…)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
High-profile cases of rape and sexual assault perpetrated by athletes in the US have become far too common. In a recent column for The Nation, Dave Zirin illustrated the ever more obvious connection between “jock culture” and the perpetration of sexual violence. Jock culture and rape culture, Zirin argues, are intrinsically linked. Young women are seen as “the spoils of being a jock” according to Zirin. In many ways Zirin could not be more right. Clearly young male athletes are learning terrible lessons regarding what their status means about their relationships to women but is “jock culture” the right way to frame this issue?
[ This article was originally published at Masculinities 101 ]
Iron Maiden. Somewhere Back in Time Tour, 2008.
Source: Anne Varak
As a kid I loved heavy metal. The overly bright, distorted anthem-like electric guitar solo. The accompanying rhythmic pulse was reminiscent of a battle snare drum, a hallucination of a military march. The drum roll and the introduction of the power chord, a series of musical intervals of a perfect fourth repeated over and over again. When the vocalist entered the picture, singing at the lower end of his range and producing clear tones that were such a deep contrast to the tainted electric guitar chords that the emotional intensity of the song would be turned up a notch. And just when I’d adjust to the cacophony of sounds, the singer would burst into a virtuosity of vocal jumps, which at times produced pitches so high in the vocalist’s falsetto that it is unclear if he is singing or screaming.
Despite my parents’ critiques, the emergence of heavy metal did more than produce a vehicle for headbanging; it changed popular music. The lyrics of heavy metal addressed social problems such as discrimination and inequality. Youth crime was also connected to heavy metal. For example, in the 1994 three teen boys were convicted of murdering three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. During the trials, prosecutors highlighted the boys’ interest in the occult and heavy metal music.
Richie Incognito. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
On October 28th, Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left the National Football League citing emotional distress as a result of abuse at the hands of his teammate Richie Incognito. Incognito admits to having sent Martin racist, homophobic, and threatening text messages and voicemails but argues that rather than hazing or bullying, this was merely an instance of miscommunication between the two men. While a great deal of media attention has questioned the behavior of Richie Incognito, a disproportionate amount of attention has also been given to Martin’s choice to report the abuse. Why has Martin’s choice to report the abuse received so much attention? What has been the main theme of those critiquing Martin’s choice? And, what does this discussion mean for our national discourse on bullying and hazing? The answers to these questions, I argue, are all linked to masculinity. (more…)
Source: Fibonacci Blue (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out
a previous ruling that had determined that New York City’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” practice constituted a civil rights violation, thereby placing any reforms (or the outright abolition of “Stop and Frisk”) on hold. In addition
to being a highly ineffective police strategy, extremely questionable from a civil liberties perspective and undeniably a case of racial profiling, this policy might also impact marginalized students’ educational outcomes. Sociological research suggests that the interplay between constructions of masculinity and punitive criminal justice (and school) policies ends up harming marginalized boys’ educational prospects and channels them into crime – and ultimately the criminal justice system.
[ This article was originally published at Masculinities 101 ]
Janet Bloch. Self Portrait as Shakti, 2004. Acrylic & Mixed Media,
16 x 16 in. © Janet Bloch. Reprinted with permission.
Full Disclosure: I am a feminist. It never crossed my mind that there might be anything problematic about labeling myself this way since I have openly articulated my interests in gender issues and social, political, and economic equality since my early undergraduate days. Of course, I knew that researchers had shown women today often reject the term “feminist” (McRobbie 2004; Rowe-Finkbeiner 2004; Levy 2006). However, I somehow had convinced myself that these individuals were just not informed. I truly believed that if men and women could critically examined the social construction of gender, see the ways in which gendered notions impact their lives, and take the time to critique these forces there could be greater understanding, acceptance, and embracement of feminist politics.
Last fall I found myself working on a project on women’s art. I met with several female artists whose work examined, questioned, and challenged cultural gender expectations. What I found utterly shocked me; within the art world, there are a number of female artists that use art as a vehicle to challenge gender inequality but are cautious, hesitant, or dismissive of being labeled as “feminist artists.” I found that many female artists believe that term “feminism” is so deeply connected to a stigmatized social movement that strongly reject the label even while creating feminist art.
Despite such clubs being banned elsewhere, the student pole dancing club was recently soliciting new members at my university’s freshers’ fair. The toxic effects on gender relations of pole dancing’s explicit objectification of women have been extensively discussed elsewhere – see the Object campaign for example. Despite such critiques, pole dancing has been adopted into the body-sculpting repertories of fitness clubs and become an option for students to earn money by dabbling in the sex industry. (more…)
Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month? As such, the month of October is full of bullying prevention and awareness events. The National Bullying Prevention Center advertises many of these events and hosts a great deal of information about bullying. But, a major piece of the bullying puzzle is missing, both from their website and much of the national (and international) discourse on bullying. That missing piece is gender.
Our colleague Cliff Leek convincingly wrote
about the importance of involving men in rape prevention work. Today I want to go back to a ‘debate’ on Fox News earlier this year, in which feminist writer Zerlina Maxwell raised this issue by arguing that rape can be prevented if men learn not to rape – an idea that was shot down (no pun intended) by Fox News host Sean Hannity as an unrealistic liberal pipe dream. Rather, Hannity and Gayle Trotter of the ‘Independent Women’s Forum’ – a conservative think tank – argued that the right to carry concealed weapons is what can protect women from being raped. Although clearly being an attempt to intervene in the gun control debate by these conservative thinkers, their arguments reveal some of the underlying assumptions about sexualized violence and masculinities in mainstream discourse – assumptions that are in strong conflict with findings from research.
Yesterday, I read a disturbing article in Adweek. “Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches to Show the Scope of Sexism Worldwide Simple: Visual For Inequality” by David Griner explores a new campaign idea from UN Women, which used real suggested search terms from Google’s autocomplete feature. The ads, which were designed by art director and graphic designer Christopher Hunt, were designed to illustrate how gender inequality continues to be so problematic that even Google has come to expect it.
Being a sociologist, I was interested in the reliability of the Google experiment. So, I conducted my own Google search of the phrases used in the project. My findings were not exactly the same as the UN Women campaign but I was saddened to see so many misogynistic phrases pop up on my screen. I found “women shouldn’t…” work, be in combat, or be cops. In contrast, “women should…” know their place, not preach, not speak in church, and not be in combat. Google autocomplete told me that “women need to…” shut up, grow up, feel wanted, and feel safe. And finally, “women cannot…” be trusted, be pastors, have it all, or teach men.