Category Archives: Masculinity

Captain Fight Club

I’ve never seen the entirety of Captain Ron until tonight. While for some people it brings back fond memories, I can’t say it really made an impression on me.

That is, until the end. When Captain Ron disappears from sight, I was immediately hit by the realization that this was a PG-13, years ahead version of Fight Club.

Point number one: the main character lives a drab, boring life, with no means for excitement.

Point number two: he discovers/inherits something that can change his life, mix things up, make life exciting.

Point number three: he runs into someone completely different from himself, who everyone loves and they go on this grand adventure.

Point number four: jealous of the other man, he tries to send him away, only to discover he may have needed him.

Point number five: the other rescues him, then convinces him that he can do better. He can be more awesome and command attention and action.

Point number final: the other disappears once the main character discovers that he is better than he really is.

My mind? Blown!!!!! What do you think?

Masculinity in The Green Hornet

When it comes to masculine characters, I don’t think many people would immediately think of Seth Rogen. In the many movies that he has starred in in the past few years, he has not played what we would normally call an adult male. His standard character is the man child – that young adult male who has not evolved past his teenage years of smoking weed, drinking alcohol and partying.

In his most recent role, as Britt Reid in The Green Hornet, Rogen again plays the same character…but with a twist. While Reid starts out as your typical man child, he evolves throughout the film. He learns what he needs to do to fulfill familial obligations. One of these obligations is running his late fathers company. The other is to save the city for crime.

The author of this article attempts to discuss masculinity as depicted in The Green Hornet. However, I personally did not see much in terms of masculinity being questioned or discussed.

Sure, Reid starts off as lay about, not taking care of family obligations, only to learn that he needs to be a responsible man. However, there is nothing new or interesting in the depiction or his change. It feels like your typical coming of age story for “heroes” – traumatic event in the life of a  playboy leads him to become responsible. Yawn. Along the way, he sexually harasses his assistant, downplays/denigrates his friends masculinity, gets into fights he cannot handle on his own…etc.

The ending of the film doesn’t seem to show that he has really learned to be a “man”. While he accepts the consequences of his actions, he does so in a comical way, as if by not taking things too seriously he can still be the responsible playboy.

The film was a treat, in that it was Michel Gondry’s first action film. However, aside from interesting visuals, the movie felt flat.

Rebuilding American Manhood: The Green Hornet Circa 2011 < PopMatters.

…and you’ll start crying 96 tears

I can’t remember the last time I cried. I try not to cry – not because I feel it’s unbecoming of a man, but because it doesn’t make me feel good. For so many people, tears are a form of catharsis, of letting go of ones emotions. I’m not a robot, I have emotions. While sometimes I do feel sad and want to cry, I just try to channel that feeling into something else, like focus and attention on a task.

I think it’s healthy to cry – I sometimes wish I cried more because it just feels good to let out your emotions. What I don’t appreciate is people crying at the drop of a hat, or people who mock the tears of others. It’s not necessarily even about tears, but showing some sort of emotion – tears are the most obvious as they are a physical manifestation of emotion. I also think it’s terrible for woman to be reproachful of men for showing their emotion – after years of encouraging men, why are they now discouraging men for doing so?

It makes no sense. If it is a reaction to the gender disparity in the work place, as posited by the article, then that is just ridiculous. Because men and women are almost on an even keel, does not mean it is okay for women to belittle men. This reminds me of an older CSI episode, in which the wife was the powerful lawyer, and the husband was a stay at home father. The wife was overbearing and hurtful to the husband, and in retaliation, the husband strayed and reenacted scenes of domination against the wife with a dominatrix.

These disparaging remarks do nothing – they do not help the situation. They push men further back – rather than show their emotion, they bottle it up until it reaches a breaking point. Everyone should be allowed the expression of their emotions, regardless of their gender.

Are tears OK, or should men ‘man up’? | courier-journal.com | The Courier-Journal.

On the masculinity of heroes

Superhero shows always get me. From the animated to the live action, they’ve always held a special place in my heart. Whenever a new one is being discussed, I always make sure to give the pilot a chance. I immediately fell in love with Heroes when it started, but became severely disappointed by the end of the second season.

The Cape, the newest superhero movie, seems really intriguing. There’s something to be said about not relying on mutant powers or special technology to fight crime. I love that it harkens back to an older form of technology to empower the hero. Having not seen the show still, I can’t place much of a judgment on it. I want to see it, and from what I’ve heard it has a character similar to Oracle – an information broker. So that’s pretty exciting for an information professional to see.

Focusing on the main character, it looks like he is supposed to play the everyman, downtrodden and forced to prove himself because of the Man. It calls into question the things that a man must do to prove himself to his family – he must rely not on new technology, but an older ideal of masculinity and strength to prove himself. This could be a really interesting show if they showed the disconnect between technology and old ideals.

This is going to be a light post, that I will add more to later – I just feel terrible that I’m so behind with my posting….

Source: If The Cape is really our new hero, then America is doomed

American Wussy

While cleaning up the library, I saw a banner on the top of the Wall Street Journal advertising an article called “Are American Wusses or Just Fond of Trash Talk?” and it obviously got me excited. The banner depicted what we would normally consider the geekier end of the spectrum of masculinity. Right there,  I knew this was going to be an amazing article. By showing these stereotypical depiction of what many would consider loser males (who are the main heroes in many films/books), the article is calling into question the very nature of masculinity that is depicted in American culture.

It’s interesting to see that in the article, the author finds many instances that seem to show that America is a county built on idealized masculinity. We had a pioneering spirit. We venerated men like Daniel Boone, frontiersmen who went out and explored a continent. Gov. Rendell of Pennsylvania is quoted as saying that “our country was founded by incredible risk-takers…We seem to have lost our boldness.”

The traditional view of masculinity is something to be admired – however, can’t we argue that it was a product of the times? Men had to act a certain way, and perform certain functions, because society and culture asked them to. We have transitioned into a new society in which these actions that were once necessary are no longer important or even purposeful.

The author of the article also mentions a book called “Sissy Nation” by John Strausbaugh. Strausbaugh brings up World War II as a turning point for American masculinity – having witnessed the horrors of war, men return home and seek civility and normalcy. A very interesting argument and to me, it makes sense. The population reacts to what they see going on around them – if they see something horrible, they will react in a different way to make sure they do not have to experience something so horrific again. However, as I mentioned before, why does this reaction have to be colored in a negative light? It seems easy to say that certain actions are ruining masculinity, but we have to be conscious of the context and the history of the change.

One final note: the origin of the word “wuss”, as well as emasculating terms.

There are different origins for the word “wuss”. As mentioned in the article, it became popularized by the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, in which they explain the derivation as “part wimp and part p____”. (I won’t put in the word, but I’m sure you can figure it out)

It seems ridiculous that using a female body part as a derogatory term for a man can be so disrespectful. I guess that it makes some sense. By identifying the male as somehow female (or less of a male), they are being emasculated – their virility, strength, masculinity is called into question. This can be seen in the way men react to being called a “fag” or “queer” – their manhood is being questioned, so they react negatively.

There’s something to be said about men’s reactions – why is this such an emasculating act for them? Why do they take such offense at being questioned? I can’t really answer that question myself. Perhaps in a later post we can discuss this. Personally, I take offense at people who take offense.

Source: Are Americans Wusses or Just Fond of Trash Talk? – WSJ.com.

Modern Masculinity

I don’t really have the correct words to talk about this post. I’ve been pondering it for weeks now and just haven’t come up with what I really want to say about it.

I’ll just try to go all stream of consciousness and see whether or not I am able to produce a logical, intelligent post. Come join me for the fun!

It seems ridiculous to point out the ridiculousness of mens magazines. Being an avid bookstore browser, and an even more avid magazine section browser, I’m very familiar with what kind of material is covered in mens magazines. The content stays the same, month to month. In fact, I remember seeing a post on a blog I follow in which they show that a magazine actually recycled their cover from a few months back.

The types of things you see in mens magazine are just not something any normal man can/should really accept. I’m sorry, but the average man cannot afford the outfit that you have put on that model. Nor can the average man even pull it off. I’m not saying that mens magazines should appeal to the lowest common denominator, but at the same time, they should not idealize what men can wear/do/purchase, etc.

There’s apparently been a trend towards a more touchy feely approach to masculinity, one in which we focus on being a respectable, responsible man. I love this idea. I think it’s gotten to the point where many men don’t act that way – their goal is to just hook up, move from partner to partner, and maintain life in their 20s – as if they are in college still.

I’m not some sage in modern masculinity, but I do feel I’m a pretty decent example. I’m clearly not the most masculine person I know, nor am I the most feminine person I know. I’m that healthy medium, in which I can work in both realms. I cry when things get difficult, but I also tough it out when I need to.

It seems that we have created this ideal of masculinity in which any sense of emotion or sign of supposed weakness is derided. I hate that. I hate that we aren’t allowed to show our weakness, because we fear being mocked. I flaunt my weaknesses sometimes, because I want people to be aware of it and call me out on it. I love criticism (if its constructive).

But at the same time…we can’t accept this new touchy feely form of masculine too much. I think men should still follow what is traditionally considered masculine traits, but at the same time be accepting of what could be considered feminine traits. Work out your muscles! Work out your emotions! as long as you don’t let one thing overcome you.

The end of the Slate article is interesting – essentially, the author feels that by forcing this other ideal, this “new masculinity” of responsibility, loyalty, granola-y stuff, we will engender a hatred and distrust of it. We won’t be creating men who accept these ideals, but rather men who go against these ideals.

Masculinity (and on the other side of the coin, femininity) is such a strange concept. Two social constructs…how do we deal with their ever changing definitions?

Source: Real Men Cry and Do Laundry

Announcement: New Series – Masculinity

Somethings going on…

Almost everywhere I turn to, I see some new post about masculinity and the changes that is transpiring regarding our perception of it. It’s all very exciting to think about.

I’ve been working on this blog post about the new masculinity for weeks, and I just can’t get it written. Mainly because I’ve been trying to incorporate fifty other articles into it. In light of this, I’ve decided to create a new series of blog posts here, specifically addressing masculinity. I’m pretty excited for this. I wonder how long I can maintain this series though. Or if I will retire it someday to start another series.

The main goal of this blog was to have a professional outlet for my thoughts about information science. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. The main focus of this blog will be culture, with aspects of information science and information society sprinkled in. I am a sociology major after all =)

The backlash against things not considered “masculine”

It’s funny to read this article – I just finished reading a book called American Nerd, in which there was a section describing why there is such hatred towards the nerd and what Americas reaction towards the nerd was like in the early part of this century. The backlash against the nerd was that nerds in general behaved in a way that was non-traditionally masculine, eschewing things like sports, physicality, grunting (kidding!) – things we think of when we think of JOCK. It was almost as if Nerds were launching an attack on the American male, and so the JOCK and the persecution against nerds started.

The concept of intimacy between men is not always about a sexual nature. There are cases in which men are close to each other and show intimacy by being friends and caring for each other. One can see this still in Korea, where men can be seen holding hands and actually showing emotions. This was the norm apparently in America before the 20th century.

Think of America, pre-Industrial Revolution. People were moving from the farm to the city, losing the supposed masculinity of working on a farm. To many people, this meant that men were become sissies. I guess that showing emotions was okay for men pre-Industrial Revolution since they were also doing hyper masculine things on the farm. However, they lose this identity when they move to the city and become urbanized. The backlash against non-masculine ideals becomes stronger because they are no longer balanced by farm work. Men are discouraged from acting in anyway unmasculine, or else their masculinity will be called into question.

This is getting a bit long winded, but I guess my point is that homophobia is hurtful to everyone. For gay people, it hurts because of the general stigma against homosexuality, leading to gay bashing, suicides, depression, etc. For straight men, it discourages anything that could be construed as homosexual behavior. This doesn’t mean intercourse or even anything remotely sexual. This includes what has been traditionally thought of as feminine ideals – such as showing emotions, physical affection, etc.

Source: Homophobia Hurts Straight Men Too