Maleness in America

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

After reading “The Myth of the Sexual Athlete” and “Masculinity as Homophobia”, I was able to make some connections between the two essays. First of all, both of the essays highlight the idea that being “masculine” is about not showing your true feelings and having a “tough” exterior about everything. Kimmel writes, “Our efforts to maintain a manly front cover everything we do. What we wear. How we talk. How we walk. What we eat. Every mannerism, every movement contains a coded gender language.” Both essays also emphasize patriarchy and how that system affects males at an individual level. Kimmel highlights the fact that though men are in power as a group, personally they do not feel powerful as individuals, which leads to frustration and anger. Sabo writes, “The sexual values that derive from patriarchy emphasize male dominance and the purely physical dimensions of the sex act while reducing women to delectable but expendable objects.” Kimmel makes the connection in his essay between manhood, homophobia, racism and sexism. He states that they are connected and this “manhood” is extremely insecure and therefore frightended of equality. Sabo writes that men in our culture are suffering from sexual schizophrenia – “their minds lead them toward eroticism while their hearts pull them toward emotional intimacy.” I think both of the essays do a good job of pointing out how patriarcy and embedded cultural ideas of masculinity affects individual men. However, Kimmel’s essay also points out that men still have the power in our society despite their experiences as a result of male oppresive socialization. He states, “In contrast to women’s lives, men’s lives are structured around relationships of power and men’s differential access to power, as well as the differential access to that power of men as a group. Our imperfect analysis of our own situation leads us to believe that we men need more power, rather than leading us to support feminists’ efforts to rearrange power relationships along more equitable lines.”

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