Tag Archives: feminism

Shifting Hegemonic Masculinity? Gay Male Athletes and Discourses of Masculinity

By mariselise derivative work: Steffaville [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The NBA has its first openly gay player in Jason Collins, and the NFL will follow soon, as former college player Michael Sam is expected to join a team this summer. This might indicate that we are seeing a radical shift in society’s stereotypes about gay men. At the same time, it remains to be seen, as Dave Zirin asks at The Nation whether gay male athletes like Sam can help shift our definitions of masculinity more broadly or whether they might paradoxically reinforce gender norms and notions of hyper-masculinity at the same time.


What Comes After Woman?: gender identity and the women’s movement

Genderqueer Pride Flag

Genderqueer Pride Flag (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Last year, as I completed my fieldwork, I was unexpectedly reminded of the continuing contention around gender identity. Interviewing dozens of people involved in social movement actions around austerity and economic inequality, I anticipated that there would be some emotional responses, moments of hesitation, perhaps even discomfort around some of my inquiries. I did not expect to elicit these reactions during the demographics section of the interviews. Yet, about a third of the time, when I asked the respondent to disclose a gender identity, there would be silence. Sometimes after the long pause the respondent would cautiously clarify whether I was seeking to categorize them as either male or female (I wasn’t). Other times the interviewee would go into a longer explanation of their opposition to the gender binary before identifying with a gender non-conforming label or declaring gender irrelevant and declining to provide an identity at all. (more…)

Lesbians watching gay porn: fluid sexuality or a second wave hangover?

Source: feministninja.tumblr.com

This post was borne out of a recent discussion with a good friend of mine, Harriet, who is a self-identified lesbian. (I include the phrase self-identified here deliberately: I realise her propensity to prefer the company and sex of woman does not categorise her as a lesbian, but it is a term she very comfortably uses herself). She was talking about going to a sex party, and I, in what I perceived to be ignorance, asked her what her interest could be in going. “Would it not be far too full of men?” I asked naively.

I had expected her to laugh at me, which she did. My question displayed an assumption that I hadn’t realised I held, that lesbian women must only be interested in seeing women have sex with other women. Being the tolerant and long-suffering woman she is, she challenged my assumption. Sex parties often include lesbian sex, she pointed out, and just because she is a lesbian doesn’t mean she is repulsed by men or their sex, any more than a straight person should be repulsed by lesbians. Heterophobia is no more acceptable than homophobia. However, she went on to explain that actually lesbians quite often found men sexually attractive, and, slightly more unusually, they are often interested in watching men have sex with men, in the form of gay male pornography. (more…)

Fatherhood and Black Fatherhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

You may have noticed that a photo of a Black man doing his daughter’s hair was plastered all over Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds last month. That man, Doyin Richards, runs a blog, Daddy Doin’ Work, about his experiences raising his two daughters. But, unlike most of the posts from his blog, this photo went viral. When the photo appeared all over social media, it was paired with a quote from his blog. “I have a dream that people will view a picture like this and not think it’s such a big deal.” Despite his desire for the photo to be seen as not a big deal, Richards continues to receive a great deal of attention simply for being a Black father. (more…)

Teaching Gender and Feminism as a Male-Identified Instructor

(Source: Canadian2006 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0/r GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

My colleague Cliff Leek elsewhere has recently talked about the tension, struggles and challenges of being an ally. Those of us located on the ‘privilege’ side of different axes of inequality and oppression (like race, class and gender) face the challenge of how to become (and stay) active and effective allies without reinforcing the very inequalities we are trying to fight, and trying to speak truth to power without claiming to speak for the movements we are aligned with. As Mia McKenzie points out in her critique of the term ‘ally’: “actions count; labels don’t”. We don’t become ‘allies’ just by some act of will or by declaring us as such. Instead, being an ally means a continuous process of becoming one. This call for action and constant reflection has, of course, implications for those of us who are male-identified but teach about gender in the classroom (or those of us who are white and teach about race etc.). We face unique challenges that we need to find pedagogical answers to if we are to stay true our feminist and anti-racist commitments.


Men’s Less-Than-Super Contributions to Housework

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

How do women and men divide housework?  That question has become a matter of intrigue in US media in recent years.  In fact, in the last week alone two major newspapers, The New York Times and The Atlantic, carried opinion pieces on the gendered division of housework in America.  A plethora of research indicates that in the last 30 years men have begun to increase the amount of time that they spend on housework but the fact remains that women still do far more housework than men.  What this progress on the part of men means for the future though is still up for debate.  Will this progress toward gender equity continue?  Will it slow?  Will it speed up?  Only time will tell, but pundits certainly have a lot to say on the matter. (more…)

Riot Grrrl and the Rejection of Resonating Frames

Punkgirl image

Art by Carlos Latuff via Wikimedia Commons

A few weeks ago, I went to see The Punk Singer, a new documentary about Kathleen Hanna – a force within the Riot Grrrl movement. I was mentally and emotionally transported back to the 1990s, reflecting on my late-teens-and-early-20s self. I became nostalgic for that raw anger at injustice channeled into high energy and creative expression, carried along by a sense of excitement and hope, and the supportive feeling of community that, at times, largely consisted of the feminist music and poetry that gave me strength to speak out and served as a reminder that there were other women out there like me. I was struck by the powerful feelings I still experienced thinking about that subculture, and how much that period of time positively shaped who I am today.  (more…)

Art, Identification, and Labels: Understandings of “Feminist Art” Among Female Artists

Janet Bloch. Self Portrait as Shakti, 2004. Acrylic & Mixed Media,  16 x 16 in. © Janet Bloch. Reprinted with permission.

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.


Gendering the Prevention of Bullying


Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bully_Free_Zone.jpg

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.


Anti-Feminists to Women: To prevent rape, just shoot men. Constructing ‘rapists’ vs. ‘normal men’ in public discourse on sexual violence


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.