Often I am reminded through sheer witness that there are many men who are constantly attempting to prove their masculinity by avoiding the feminine and the gay. I cringe whenever I hear a "that's so gay" comment or when the word "bitch" is thrown like a dagger. I hear this language spew from the adults whom I consider friends and children whom I wish I could lecture right in front of their parents.
Early in the essay Kimmel states, "Manhood is neither static nor timeless; it is historical. Manhood is not the manifestation of an inner essence; it is socially constructed. Manhood does not bubble up to consciousness from our biological makeup; it is created in culture. Manhood means different things at different times to different people. We come to know what it means to be a man in our culture by setting out definitions in opposition to a set of 'others' - racial minorities, sexual minorities, and, above all, women."
In this essay Kimmel speaks about how masculinity has been constructed over time and throughout history. He speaks about how masculinity has become about power, bravdo, control and avoiding anything that appears to be feminine or homosexual.
Kimmel starts off by bringing forth the point that Sigmund Freud's masculinity model was tied to sexuality. According to Freud's widely known oedipal phase; young boys desire sex with their mothers, however, they are jealous of their fathers as he stands in the way of his desires. As the story goes, the young boy is fearful of castration. The boy seeks to identify with his father who he is afraid of and then seeks a substitute for his mother which is another woman. It is at this point and time that masculinity is developed according to Freud. The boy is afraid of his more powerful father yet he wants to be just like him. Once he realizes he cannot have his mother he will carry out the dominant prowess of his father with another woman and then will feel like a man.
Whether you believe in the oedipal complex or not (I do not) the concept of masculinity within the theory seems to leak out elsewhere.
Men are under the microscope of other men. Men are judged by their level of "manliness". Many men size each other up, compete with, and evaluate based on status, power, money, sexual gain and more.
Although, women scrutinize and evaluate other women as well; our culture presently and historically places more pressure on men to garner money and attempt sexual gain.
The fear among many men is that they will appear inadequate in the eyes of other men. The effort to maintain a level of maculinity seems like enormous pressure placed on oneself and much energy lost.
To drop these attitudes of machismo would be to go against the grain. It could be considered social suicide but perhaps if one finds machismo worth dumping, one might wish to surround himself with like minded people.
Kimmel says it well when he writes, "This, is then, the great secret of American manhood: We are afraid of other men."
Kimmel goes on to say that homophobia is more than fear of homosexual men and women but a fear that one will be deemed unmanly. On top of the fear of emasculation there is a shame surrounding that fear.
"Shame leads to silence - the silences that keep other people believing that we actually approve of the things that are done to women, to minorities, to gays and lesbians in our culture. The frighteneed silence as we scurry past a woman being hassled by men on the street. That furtive silence when men make sexist or racist jokes in a bar. That clammy handed silence when guys in the office make gay bashing jokes. Our fears are the sources of our silences, and men's silence is what keeps the system running. This might help to explain why women often complain that their male friends or partners are often so understanding when they are alone yet laugh at sexist jokes or even make those jokes themselves when they are out with a group."
Kimmel points out that if men do not feel powerful it is because they are attempting to keep up with other men. Some may feel entitled to feeling powerful but yet do not feel it. Who can live up to the status that men have continued to hold on high?
Lastly Kimmel states that; "Others still rehearse the politices of exclusion, as if by clearing away the playing field of secure gender identity of any that we deem less than manly - women, gay men, non-native born men, men of color - middle class, straight, white men can reground their sense of themselves without those haunting fears that deep shame that they are unmanly and will be exposed by other men. This is the manhood of racism, of sexism, of homophobia. It is the manhood that is so chornically insecure that it trembles at the idea of lifting the ban on gays in the military, that is so threatened by women in the workplace that women become the targets of sexual harassment, that is so deeply frightened of equality that it must ensure that the playing field of male competition remains stacked against all newcomers to the game."
My wish is for peace among men. My wish is for men to put down the weapons and armor. My dear men, you are hurting us (women) and your are hurting yourselves -- you are hurting everyone around you when you insist on proclaiming masculinity.
I believe story telling is an art form and blogging is a medium in which to share stories and ideas. Within this blog I hope to cover a spectrum of topics. From the serious to the silly. Here you will read my views and inquiries about subjects such as feminism, other various socio-political issues, psychology, spirituality, sexuality, and general interests such as film, art and music. You will also be exposed to my obsession with cupcakes, tea, books, Hello Kitty, and quirky day to day journeys. I enjoy learning from others as I am constantly attempting to introspect, grow and evolve. During this process I will be jotting down musings on this blog. Pull up a comfy chair and a spot of tea and join me!