Posted by: Renee | July 23, 2008

Sexism Hurts Males Too

In feminist circles much time is dedicated to the effect of sexism on women.  Though males live with privilege, the way in which masculinity is constructed is harmful .   The essentialist traits that we have assigned to each gender means that young boys are taught that to be male means not expressing their emotions despite feeling pain.  This message is constantly reinforced by the media and other agents of socialization.  When we socialize boys to view femininity as a pejorative, not only do they learn to demean women, they learn that to be associated with anything that is deemed female is to be considered an inadequate male.  This can have grave effects on their self-esteem and can lead to emotional imbalances.  It specifically stops them from exploring essential aspects of their person, and is therefore intensely limiting to their potential.

A less constructed gender binary would mean that both males and females would be free to express themselves as they saw fit, thus increasing individual agency and autonomy.  When we think in modernist binaries instead of embracing gender fluidity, those that don’t fit into the normalized paradigm are othered and stigmatized.  We have already seen through the rising rates of violence toward those bodies that do not conform the danger that this imposes.  The idea of fixed gender and sexuality breeds a culture of hate and intolerance.

As parents we must begin to teach this message to our children, if there is to be any hope transcending the binary that we currently view the world through.  This starts in pointing out the fallacies that they are presented with in movies and education.  When we take them to see Disney movies for example, we must take the time to point out when a particular scene is problematic and why.  Raising critical culture consumers can be the first step in reducing the characterizations that are harm to us all.


Responses

  1. I think parents find it difficult to “unteach” gender binaries since they’ve been subjected to them for so long. It seems unnatural to let their children just be. From the moment they’re born, everyone wants to know what they are and wants to dress them in the appropriate gender. No one seems to realize that we teach gender and we must stop. How can we ever see the end of sexism if we still give messages that women are inferior, that their beauty is their value, and likewise, that some qualities are inherently female and men should learn to despise them.

    I think teaching critical thinking about media messages is a good step.

  2. Well, nothing personal, but who are you to say that any particular form of masculinity is bad for males?

    Are YOU male? Can you identify something a male experiences from a male perspective?

    You cannot. It’d be like me telling you how something affects women. It’d be nothing more than opinion, and you wouldn’t hear of it, because it would be a male telling a woman what she should be thinking.

    Just like that, I don’t appreciate a woman telling ME what I should be thinking/feeling/experiencing.

    As far as “essential aspects of their person”… Like what? Crying in public?

    Males avoid doing that, and I’m fairly certain it’s not an “essential aspect”, nor is it “limiting their potential”.

    I don’t cry, hug, or do various other overly emotional behaviours, and my “potential” isn’t “limited”, nor do I think those things are in any way “essential aspects” of my person.

  3. lI don’t cry, hug, or do various other overly emotional behaviours, and my “potential” isn’t “limited”, nor do I think those things are in any way “essential aspects” of my person.

    Exactly my point when you don’t experience a full range of emotion because you deem that it is feminine behavior that is a limit period. What emotional good can be gained from ignoring pain?
    Furthermore when you refuse to engage in certain behaviors because they are considered feminine that is exactly the definition of limits.

  4. The issue is why do we teach children that masculinity is defined in opposition to femininity. How aren’t you limited if you’re told that certain things just aren’t for boys?

    If you could see past the chip on your shoulder regarding women having the temerity to have opinions about men, you would notice that Renee isn’t calling masculinity bad–its gender essentialism that is problematic. Characteristics and emotions don’t have gender until they’re given and propogated. It’s not about telling men what to do or what they’re feeling. It’s noticing the manner that both male and female children are taught to behave and questioning it.

    You note that males avoid crying in public. Why do you think that is? Do high levels of testosterone prevent you from feeling anguish, sadness, or frustration in public? Or is it the way we’re socialized to believe that crying in front of others is a (female) weakness?
    On that note, what gives you the right to speak on behalf of men and tell them what they do and feel?

  5. Black Thirteen, I think the point isn’t that what one guy feels and does is neccesarily ‘wrong’, but that we shouldn’t shoehorn everyone into 2 basic groups. If crying in public isn’t right for a particular boy or man as he grows up, then that’s something they should develop on their own instead of being told that it’s ‘stupid’. If gender roles weren’t taught at all, some people could still behave in the exact same way because it’s who they are, but we shouldn’t ostracize those for not being the same way.

  6. Exactly my point when you don’t experience a full range of emotion because you deem that it is feminine behavior that is a limit period. What emotional good can be gained from ignoring pain?
    Furthermore when you refuse to engage in certain behaviors because they are considered feminine that is exactly the definition of limits.

    Did I ever say it’s because they’re “feminine”? Though, considering that if you feed a male estrogen, he gets more emotional, one could say those are feminine behaviours.

    What limit is placed on me? I am not less able to function, or live my life because I don’t go around sobbing at movies.

    How aren’t you limited if you’re told that certain things just aren’t for boys?

    Giving birth just isn’t for boys, but does that mean they’re limited, or just different?

    If you could see past the chip on your shoulder regarding women having the temerity to have opinions about men

    It’s more that if feminists, by and large, take offense at men attempting to define a female experience (finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com covers this), then I have every right to take offense at women attempting to define a male experience.

    Characteristics and emotions don’t have gender until they’re given and propogated. It’s not about telling men what to do or what they’re feeling. It’s noticing the manner that both male and female children are taught to behave and questioning it.

    Well, when you say that the way a man is acting is “limiting” him, and that he should have a wider emotional range, you’re basically telling him what to do.

    You note that males avoid crying in public. Why do you think that is? Do high levels of testosterone prevent you from feeling anguish, sadness, or frustration in public? Or is it the way we’re socialized to believe that crying in front of others is a (female) weakness?
    On that note, what gives you the right to speak on behalf of men and tell them what they do and feel?

    Crying IS a weakness. Besides which, like I said, take an MTF transsexual. Put him on hormone therapy, and watch as his emotions start becoming harder to control, and he’ll find he cries easier. Many of them have reported it, just like FTM report that the increased testosterone promotes a shorter temper.

    One can feel anguish, sadness, and frustration, but crying isn’t an adequate response to frustration, and certainly not in front of anyone. Do you have that much of an issue with men dealing with problems in a different way? Do you want men to act more like women do, so that the ways women act are no longer considered bad? Why attempt to think that the entire male gender should change, just to suit your experience?

    Though, if you ask what gives me the right, I could ask what gives YOU said right to speak about men, OR women. I at least have the perspective of being a male, and that has me one up on you in that regard. If it’s acceptable for women to speak in regards to the experience of women, then it’s acceptable for me to do the same about men.

    If crying in public isn’t right for a particular boy or man as he grows up, then that’s something they should develop on their own instead of being told that it’s ’stupid’. If gender roles weren’t taught at all, some people could still behave in the exact same way because it’s who they are, but we shouldn’t ostracize those for not being the same way.

    That’s exactly what’s going on here, though. The author is taking the position of a group, and telling them they are “limited”, and that “essential” parts of themselves are closed off.

    My point is, that’s just as bad as what she is speaking against.

    Ask the majority of men if they feel “limited” by not sobbing like a child at sad movies, or funerals, or during a breakup. I’m betting most of us don’t feel limited at all.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say a great many of us feel much better about being able to handle problems without breaking down, as opposed to the inverse.

  7. Do you ever actually have justification for your reactions to things beyond saying “well feminists do it too”? You never seem to have a point beyond taking personal offense that a woman is speaking about men, even if she is only speaking about gender. You take everything as an attack and then turn it around and blame the big evil feminists who routinely tell men what to do and how to feel. You also can’t seem to help yourself from constantly attacking others with poorly crafted insults.

    It isn’t debate if you never have a point beyond attacking the posters gender and trying to show those silly feminists that they have no right to talk about men. You’ve gotten more warnings than any other commenter in the history of the blog. Talk about the posts. Leave your petty grudge against women and feminists behind and make some fucking points about what is actually being presented.

    The post is about dismantling gender essentialism. Not about the feminist conspiracy to make men more like women or women more like men but allowing boys and girls to grow up and be themselves–not predetermining their behavior by sex. Further, it’s not speaking specifically of crying or rage–both genders can feel and do both. It’s about teaching both boys and girls to feel inferior and wrong if they cannot live up to the standards set before them. Watch the video, consider the post absent of your anti feminist rhetoric and try again.

    I’d also like to point out that you only comment on posts wherein the topic directly or indirectly includes some perceived slight against men. I wonder why you haven’t commented on the post that deals with the stereotypes that are held about men as childcare providers is harmful. (It makes you look like a troll)

    Edit: You’re on a roll in fact according to the bingo board in the comment policy

  8. Black Thirteen, I am a man and I do talk to Ophelia about my feelings. I may not speak on behalf of all men, but neither do you.

  9. Ask the majority of men if they feel “limited” by not sobbing like a child at sad movies, or funerals, or during a breakup. I’m betting most of us don’t feel limited at all.
    Of course you feel the need to trivialisze it. Your commentary makes it clear that you are not in touch with your emotions. It is not about crying at movies as much as it is the ability to express pain without being shamed for it or being viewed as weak. Pain is just as much a valid emotion as happiness or anger, it is part of the gamut of human emotion.

  10. Do you ever actually have justification for your reactions to things beyond saying “well feminists do it too”? You never seem to have a point beyond taking personal offense that a woman is speaking about men, even if she is only speaking about gender.

    Do I need one? You miss the point entirely. Feminists rant, endlessly, about how wrong it is that men attempt to talk about women’s experiences, yet feminists do it without thinking twice.

    Just pointing out the double-standard, there.

    I do take a bit of offense, because women find it bad if men talk about women in the way you talk about men.

    Like I said, “Finally, a Feminism 101 blog” agrees with me. Your opinion, when it comes to the experiences of men, isn’t as important or useful as the opinion of men.

    The post is about dismantling gender essentialism. Not about the feminist conspiracy to make men more like women or women more like men but allowing boys and girls to grow up and be themselves–not predetermining their behavior by sex. Further, it’s not speaking specifically of crying or rage–both genders can feel and do both. It’s about teaching both boys and girls to feel inferior and wrong if they cannot live up to the standards set before them. Watch the video, consider the post absent of your anti feminist rhetoric and try again.

    Point is, if you don’t want people telling children how they should act, you should stop insisting that they should act a certain way.

    The original poster claimed that raising children in certain ways is “limiting their potential”. I’m pointing out that men who are stoic, or less emotionally expressive ARE NOT LIMITED. It doesn’t harm men.

    Perhaps it’s out of self-interest, though, as I see a lot of women complain that the men in their lives are “emotionally unavailable” and how much that “hurts” said woman.

    . I wonder why you haven’t commented on the post that deals with the stereotypes that are held about men as childcare providers is harmful. (It makes you look like a troll)

    I comment where I feel like it, thanks.

    I don’t have kids, and in fact despise them and the people that have them, so I don’t really care about the stereotypes of men as providers for them.

    There’s no point in challenging the “man as ATM with penis” stereotype, because there’s no way in hell women will ever allow that one to change.

    Of course you feel the need to trivialisze it. Your commentary makes it clear that you are not in touch with your emotions.

    “In touch with my emotions”? What, is this Dr. Phil, now?

    It is not about crying at movies as much as it is the ability to express pain without being shamed for it or being viewed as weak. Pain is just as much a valid emotion as happiness or anger, it is part of the gamut of human emotion.

    Breaking down and sobbing like a child is weakness. Plain and simple. Adults should know better.

  11. Black Thirteen the original poster has a name…RENEE

    Breaking down and sobbing like a child is weakness. Plain and simple. Adults should know better.

    You have officially made yourself irrelevant. I don’t engage with MRA infestations and so the other people may choose to debate you but it is clear that you are not here for conversation but to spread fallacies….

  12. You really ought to reread the feminism 101 blog, I believe you’ve missed…well every point entirely.

    No, you don’t comment whereever you feel like it. This is my blog and I allow whomever I please to blog here.

    In the event that you actually do reread the blog and learn exactly why your comments are unwelcome (and I’ve explained this more times than I have had to for any other poster), you will be welcomed back. Until then, please enjoy nursing your grudge against women elsewhere.

    Click here for more details
    .

  13. Since the Feminism 101 blog was mentioned, I think these faqs are particularly relevant to this post:
    What’s wrong with saying that things happen to men, too?

    But men and women are born different! Isn’t that obvious?

    if “gender is a social construct”, aren’t feminists saying that gender doesn’t really exist at all?

  14. Black Thirteen:

    I let this last comment of yours out of the bannination queue for a reason: you’ve completely justified your ban. You honestly think its appropriate to come in and say women don’t have a right to discuss x because it pertains to men. You didn’t read the feminism blog–you skimmed and cannibalized quotes to suit your warped understanding of feminism. It’s not up to you to tell people what they can and cannot speak about. Further, the quote you mangled is in reference to the minimization that anti feminists often employ to silence feminists. Its fairly obvious you have some problem with women since you attempt to justify every lame attempt at arguments as “well women did it first”. Talk about immaturity and childishness. It seems you can’t form an opinion that isn’t retaliation for some perceived wrong committed by women or feminists. Go away and enjoy your ban. You can’t even appreciate a post sympathetic with the harm to young boys that lofty emotional and physical standards can do. OMG A WOMAN IS TALKING ABOUT DUDES! TO ARMS! HOW DARE THEY SPEAK ABOUT MEN–I’LL JUST TELL THEM WHAT THEY CAN TALK ABOUT, THIS IS NOT HYPOCRITICAL!

    Go away.
    —————————-
    Black Thirteen the original poster has a name…RENEE

    Okay, so?

    You have officially made yourself irrelevant. I don’t engage with MRA infestations and so the other people may choose to debate you but it is clear that you are not here for conversation but to spread fallacies….

    How do you figure? What’s “MRA” about the truth? If you break down and start sobbing over events in life, it means that you cannot handle them. Being unable to handle what life throws at you is weakness, plain and simple.

    How is it a fallacy to point that out?

    You spread fallacies by claiming that men are “limited” by not expressing what YOU claim is an acceptable range of emotions.

    You really ought to reread the feminism 101 blog, I believe you’ve missed…well every point entirely.

    The section I referred to is relevant here. Point is, your experience as a woman and your opinion as a woman, is not relevant or important when it comes to the experiences of men.

    To quote said blog, and simply change “woman” to “man” where appropriate:

    Understand that if lots of men say something is important, it is. Your opinion, as a woman, about the extent and nature of the problem is not valuable when the specific problem pertains to men’s experience.

    That’s my point. Your opinion on the experience of men is not important. If men can be told our opinion on women’s experience is not important, you can be told that yours, on men, is not important.

    No, you don’t comment whereever you feel like it. This is my blog and I allow whomever I please to blog here.

    Yes, I do comment where I feel like it. You cannot order me to comment on a specific post if I do not feel like making a comment on it.

    Until then, please enjoy nursing your grudge against women elsewhere.

    Oh, please. If men can’t go around saying “Feminists hate men!”, then you certainly can’t pull the excuse of “Oh, you just hate women!” out.

    Point is: The opinion of feminists on men, is irrelevant. Useless. Not important.

    It’s not up to you to define how things affect men, nor tell us how things should affect us.

    It’s not up to you to say something is bad for us, or good for us, or anything else.

  15. The problem with him is that he can’t speak for women OR men, and yet he tries to speak for both.

  16. I know that women are not inferior to men as many people think. Most of my friends are women (girls, I’m in high school, and all of the other boys are jocks who could care less about my feelings) and I value them because of the friendship.

    I feel some major differences between the genders are somewhat grained into people’s heads, such as women are more motherly (there are men out there that act like that) and men are more physically fit and have better endurance(definitely not true).

    Going into ninth grade, I know many of life’s processes. Not only that, I’m an 80 pound, weak male who just wants a good education (even if you don’t believe it, I am and do), and all of the sexist comments, and what Renee has put out for us is something parents do need to think about talking about to their children.


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