Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Week That Makes Me Question My Masculinity...

I'm scared to go to class tomorrow.

Not because I'm only half done with my summary paper or because I have to comlete my syllabus for Thursday's presentation, but because our topic this week is Masculinity.

Do you know what that means? It means 9:30, with Dunkin Donuts in my hand, I'll be questioning my masculinity. Now let's start with Dunkin Donuts. I always told myself that Dunkin Donuts was the MANLY coffee, while Starbucks, it's fancy shmancy cups, sizes, syrups, topings, teas and what nots were as feminine as they come. Do I still believe this? Yes, yes I do. But apparently there are aspects of masculinity that are not so materialistic and so simple as coffee and the clothes I wear.

Looks like I need to buy this book and learn a few things. Apparently, Peter McCallister (if you remember your movie trivia, Peter McCallister is the name of Macaulay Culkin's dad in the Home Alone movies) tries to go back in time and compare the modern man to his historical counterpart. I want to talk about masculinity before I read the chapter in Representations to compare my thoughts before and after they are toiled with during class.

McCallister uses anthropology and archaeology to compare the ancient "man" to the modern "man," and according to his findings, the modern man is down, losing terribly to the old timers. Is this true? Do men need the muscles, the cars, the women, the success, the stats and the facial hair to prove our masculinity? Do we not match up to the men who had neither escalators nor cars? Do we need to have Men's only professional sports, to differentiate what Men can do and what women can do? It's funny (and ironic) how all this talk of Masculinity brings back Chapter 4 of Representations, where Hall writes about linguist Jacques Derrida claiming every representation has a binary opposite. "'There is always a relation of power between the poles of a binary opposition.' (Derrida, 1974) We should really write, white/black, men/women, masculine/feminine ... to capture this power dimension in discourse."

I know Butler was changing gender studies by including her notion that the lines separating men from women was blurring, being replaced by QUEER, but I feel that as the lines blur, men leap at a chance to reinforce the walls again. More importantly, I think men feel the need to separate themselves from women, more so than women wanting to separate themselves from men. The frailty and fragility associated with women (not all, but just as a general adjective) is something that frightens most men. Don't you think so? I think this is the main reason for the sexual domination men NEED. Without having this power, they are just like women in the most manly arena in the world: the bedroom. I can be completely off my rocker. What do you think?


  1. Your comment about the bedroom reminds me of all those male-enhancement commercials that pervade TV.

    I agree, it seems that men are constantly trying to prove their masculinity. But women don't always require men to be super-masculine (hence attraction to the "sensitive guy.") I think it is societal norms that make guys feel that they have to live up to a certain standard.

  2. Okay people, channel the power of Foucault. Why might deferring to anthropology be problematic here? Think of Lidchi's chapter in Representation.

  3. I don't know if this is going to be spot on or not, but I think one of the problems with deferring to anthropology as far as Lidchi is concerned is that the representations of men in the book "Manthropology" are what society/history/people in positions of power have decided to portray them as. Actually, it's pretty much what men would like to portray themselves as, both past and present. So in a way, men are creating this image of needing to be "super-masculine" themselves.

  4. I can't help but think of what my AP US History teacher used to always say: No one ever gives up power without a struggle. I feel like the rules of masculinity are more strict and males cling to them in order to attain a sense of security. Masculinity has been made synonymous with power and to sustain this, established social conventions must be followed. Maybe Butler's theory on Queer levels the playing field too much, equalling the power imbalance. In the "lesser" position, women are free to break gender roles, while men try to enforce the rules.

  5. I agree with Kelsey and Liz....especially Kelsey's comment about males perpetuating the standards that are impossible to reach