Tag Archives: Masculinity

Men and Global Gender Justice

A side-event at the 2012 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Attribution: Silje Bergum Kinsten/norden.org via Wikimedia Commons

A side-event at the 2012 meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Attribution: Silje Bergum Kinsten/norden.org via Wikimedia Commons

The Huffington Post recently ran an article by Juliana Carlson, Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas and member of the Mobilizing Men in Violence Prevention research collaboration, on the topic of men’s global engagement in the prevention of violence against women and girls.  She argues that “men and boys have been largely relegated to the sidelines of violence preventions efforts” but that a growing movement “aims to create structural change by engaging boys and men in conversations about equality, gender expectations, family health, fatherhood, and the concrete, positive roles they can and do play, such as sharing caregiving and being a role model for younger generations.”  The proliferation of NGOs doing this crucial work with men and boys extends well beyond the prevention of violence against women and may signal a larger shift in human rights and global development discourse.  (more…)

Obama’s Initiative for Young Men of Color & the Rhetoric of Individual Responsibility

[By Pete Souza (White House Flickr Account) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

A few weeks ago, President Obama announced a new initiative designed to increase opportunities for young Black and Latino men. Acknowledging that Black and Latino men lag behind other groups in educational achievement and employment, while outnumbering white men in jails and prisons, at first glance, the President’s “My Brother’s Keeper” campaign seems like a much needed and timely project. However, when examining Obama’s rhetoric more closely, the initiative falls short of addressing the root causes and structural reasons for racial disparities in the US and instead perpetuates a neoliberal language of individual responsibility.

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The U.S. Military’s Sexual Assault Problem

Sisterhood Against Sexual Assault hosts conference at Liberty Field House. Conference helps raise awareness and combat sexual assault. Retrieved from wiki commons

Sisterhood Against Sexual Assault hosts conference at Liberty Field House. Conference helps raise awareness and combat sexual assault. Retrieved from wiki commons.

The United States Senate failed to pass a bill that would have altered the military’s response to sexual assault.  The bill, sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would have stripped senior military commanders of their authority to prosecute or prevent charges for alleged rapes and other serious offenses in favor of giving the authority to military trial lawyers operating under a newly established office independent of the chain of command.  The vote fell 5 votes short of the 60 necessary to move ahead with the legislation, with opponents of the bill arguing that commanding officers should be given more responsibility in preventing and punishing sexual offenses and that removing power from commanders threatens the organization of the military. The bill failed to pass despite multiple news reports revealing the extent of sexual assaults in the military and the lack of response by military commanders. (more…)

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.

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The elusive gay male soccer player in Germany – Homophobia and Solidarity

“Fans against Homophobia” display in the stadium of German soccer club Mainz 05, celebrating the 5 year anniversary of their LG(BT?)-fan club. [Source: http://www.meenzelmaenner.de/resources/_wsb_500x276_Choreo5.jpg]

In 2013, NBA player Jason Collins made headlines when he became the first active openly gay male* athlete in one of the major 4 men’s team sports in the US. A similar story made headlines this winter in Germany, when recently retired soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger – who formerly played in the German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and English Premier League as well as for the German national team – came out as gay in an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit, becoming the first openly gay male soccer player in Germany. Similar to Collins, Hitzlsperger tied his outing to the political project of starting a discussion about homophobia and notions of masculinity in soccer. And paralleling Collins’ story, Hitzlsperger’s outing raises the question of whether we will witness a transformation of the gender politics in big-time German professional sports.

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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.

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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…)

“Jock Culture” or Sex-Segregated Socialization?

US_Navy_051008-N-9693M-022_Members_of_the_U.S._Naval_Academy_football_team_run_across_the_field_toward_the_home_team_stands_in_celebration_of_their_victory_over_Air_Force_27-24_at_Navy-Marine_Corps_stadium

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 ]

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Heavy Metal Music and Sociological Imagination

Iron Maiden. Somewhere Back in Time Tour, 2008. Source: Anne Varak

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.

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Man Up: NFL Hazing and Jonathan Martin’s “Man Card”

Richie Incognito.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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…)