Rich sent in a fascinating example of an attempt to redefine masculinity. At Rightly Concerned, Brian Fischer argues that the fact that all of the recipients of the Medal of Honor awarded during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have received the award for saving lives, not taking them. He calls this trend “the feminization of the Medal of Honor.”
Let’s not get into a conversation about whether the Medal should be awarded for saving lives, taking lives, or both. Instead, let’s consider what, exactly, Fischer is saying about men and masculinity. Fischer is suggesting that saving lives is something that women (should) do. He has arranged saving lives and taking them in a binary layered onto gender. Women save; men kill. When men save, they are doing something feminine.
This is in dramatic contrast to the vision of the heroic man who protects others that has long been part of the American imagination (think firemen, policemen, body guards, big brothers, dads, boyfriends, and husbands) and a very interesting example of an attempt to redefine what “real men” do.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.