September 22, 2004

Masculinity

I am currently attending the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). And while I am here I get the pleasure of taking a course known as "Games Boys Play: Masculinities in Multicultural Classrooms". The title says it all. I can't complain however - at least not too much - because I chose this course as my only given elective. Our discussion today focused around trying to define what masculinity is and, to a lesser extent, why it still prevails despite changes in social constructions. The latter is what I found more fascinating. Through our discussions it was derived that the hegemony of masculinity probably still prevails because of either; 1) Women have been able to broaden their own roles and the definition of what it means to be feminine to the point of 'encroaching' on the realm of masculinity. In response men have moved into a realm of 'hyper-masculinity' to further stake their claim as masculine men; they have entrenched themselves further into their roles as a method of defence; OR 2) Some contemporary males have become more sensitive - have allowed their emotions to be exposed, willingly - and/or taken on roles or positions that were once were seen as predominantly female. Therefore these men have become more effeminate. In response, as to preserve the concept of masculinity, 'manly men' have defended there ways by trying to subordinate the other in an effort of defence. Essentially, both scenarios have the same result. The difference is found in the 'why'; why the defence and entrenchment of classic masculinity - the power, the brawn, etc. - still prevails despite all the societal efforts and progression to open it up. It occurred to me though that it may actually be a combination of the two. Not a combination in the sense that both scenarios are why's. My thought is that the first scenario occurred - with the growth and acceptance of women's liberation - and that the second scenario is actually a response from men to the first scenario. That because the definition of masculinity has seen a shift in its dimensions in the past- which can be seen as it went from physical power to social power and between cultures, etc - that the second scenario is also another shift. While some men constantly struggle with their own identity within masculinity and try to further entrench themselves in the concept while holding onto what's left of their power. Other men have shifted the definition to adapt to the first scenario. Contemporary masculinity evolved rather than marginalize themselves any farther. The shift is meant to enter the realm of the new feminine, re-establish itself and eventually assert its power within this. It is still essentially a mechanism of defence and a grapple for power, by men, but it has adapted rather than cling to the dying breed. Since gender identity is, as it always has been in contemporary history, a struggle between the masculine and feminine with the masculine clinging to control, I believe I can rationally assume that this struggle will continue to exist in the near future. Therefore I can make the assumption that any change in the concept of masculinity is not actually a breakdown of its identity but rather a shift in its assertion.

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Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)

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