Thursday, July 3, 2014
The statistics provided by the World Health Organization paints a picture of male tragedy that rarely makes the news. Men die at a younger age than do women; more men die from violence than do women.
What to make of the reasons for this, I suspect, is complicated.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Such was the way with both Jimmy Connors and Andy Murray, both Wimbledon winners, when they were young (according to Connors, one of the reasons that he hit the ball like a woman--meaning, relying more on guile and inflection, than pure strength--was because that was how his mom taught him, and he never quite adopted a more "masculine" approach). Murray, the defending Wimbledon male champ, now has a female coach:
Murray had already changed the pretournament narrative, taking on Amélie Mauresmo, a former Wimbledon champion, as his new coach.
Mauresmo is not the first woman to coach on the men’s tour. Several male players, Jimmy Connors included, have been mentored by their mothers. Billie Jean King assisted the American Tim Mayotte in the early 1990s.
Not everyone approves of Murray's decision:
No less a British women’s icon than Virginia Wade, the 1977 Wimbledon champion and a longtime commentator, told reporters regarding Murray’s decision to hire Mauresmo: “I thought they were all fooling around; I think again he’s maybe trying to mess with everybody. She was a great player; she’s a great person. I think she was a little fragile mentally, because she had the capabilities of beating everybody.”
Wade added, “You like to try to get behind people’s thinking, but I can’t really with this one.”
Friday, June 20, 2014
An Illinois man, who was training to become a special agent with the FBI, sued the FBI for gender discrimination after failing the physical fitness portion of the special agent test. Women taking the test were required to complete 14 pushups while men were required to do 30. The agent who sued only did 29 and was denied special agent status. He was told he could take another position within the agency, resign, or be fired.
He chose to take the alternate position within the FBI, working in Chicago as an analyst. A few years later, he sued, looking to regain agent status. He claimed he was essentially fired based because of the discriminatory physical fitness test. Apparently, he had done really well in all other aspects of his training and was well respected among others in the program. That one push up kept him from the career he wanted.
The Federal judge agreed with the man, ruling that the fitness test violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The judge did say that his ruling does not mean that standards can’t ever differ based on sex. Many agree that the physiological differences between men and women should be taken into consideration, and many times they are, without violating the Civil Rights Act.
What makes different standards legal is when they have a rational basis. The trainee claimed that the difference (in push ups required) was arbitrary and not based on actual data. He also claims that a fellow trainee, a woman, was allowed a second try at her push-up test and he was not. I couldn’t find an explanation as to why he couldn’t eek out one more pushup. 30 doesn’t seem like a crazy hard number, but what do I know.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Kimberly Joy-Lockely at Mississippi Law has uploaded "How Gender Bias Negatively Affects Soldiers with PTSD." Its abstract reads:
The Veteran’s Administration (VA) is charged with caring for our nation’s veterans, but their procedures allow for a gender bias that is causing countless veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) to remain without adequate help. Though women have been involved in every military conflict in the United States, women continue to be treated differently than men. Women were not granted official military status until 1949, but they currently make up the fastest growing portion of the veteran population. The impending lift of the ban on women in combat will likely only increase women’s involvement in the military, so their disparate treatment must be dealt with quickly to avoid an increase in an already prevalent problem.
The VA only currently recognizes two types of PTSD: Military Sexual Trauma-related PTSD (MST) and Combat-related PTSD. MST complaints increased 46% from 2012 to 2013. An estimated 26,000 men and women experienced MST in 2011, but only 3,300 of those victims filed reports. Increased numbers of women are seeing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 15% of active duty soldiers are females. Because of the gender bias in the military sexual trauma reporting process and the VA in-processing, the already over-burdened VA system has become even more inefficient and female and male veterans alike are the ones harmed.
Various failures on the VA’s part account for veterans’ difficulties in obtaining earned and promised benefits. For example, the two types of PTSD have different burden of proof structures, and the interviewers who determine whether or not a veteran gets benefits have an extreme gender bias. Even worse, the VA did not offer mental healthcare services to women until 1988, and the VA currently only has four facilities dedicated to women’s care.
Men are expected to be “stronger” than to have psychological or emotional issues and women who are already often perceived as “weaker” do not wish to add to that perception by admitting any struggles. Each sex fears retribution, loss of promotion, loss of opportunity to re-enlist, and loss of the respect of their superiors and/or peers. Though Congress has recently attempted a weak solution, it is quite simply not even close to being enough to close the gender gap. This paper proposes a three-tiered solution focusing on enhancing reporting schemes within the military and the relationship between the military and the VA, restructuring the PTSD intake within the VA, and adopting a common sense approach to VA benefits.
Part I of this paper will discuss the history of women in the military, the history of PTSD, and gender bias’ role in PTSD; part II of this paper will discuss and analyze the military’s, Congress’, and the VA’s failures in consistently and adequately serving soldiers and veterans with PTSD. Part III of this paper will discuss ways in which the military and VA can improve including recent Congressional steps that have attempted to do so.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
From the Guardian UK:
'When I saw a girl in the street, I would tease her and pass nasty comments," says 17-year-old Jetmir Fejzullahu. "What I learned was that it doesn't make you attractive and interesting, but the opposite." Sitting in a bare school hall with graffiti scrawled across the walls, Jetmir is one of several teenagers discussing what they have learned from a special project about gender inequality and sexual violence in Kosovo.
Care International launched the Young Men Initiative (YMI) in 2007 with local partners in Kosovo, where an estimated 20,000 women were raped during the war. It is one of 22 countries worldwide where the UK-based charity focuses on sexual violence.
A study by the Kosovo Women's Network in 2008, almost a decade after the war, found that 43% of the population had experienced domestic violence, and that violence against women and children is largely under-reported. "For most people," John Crownover, programme adviser for the initiative, says, "violence is not seen as a violation of women's rights but as normal interaction between men and women."
Crownover explains why they set up in Kosovo: "Young people growing up in the aftermath of the conflict were faced with the rise of xenophobia, nationalism and gender inequalities. For boys, particularly in working-class neighbourhoods, many of the so-called successful men they saw were either 'hyper masculine' or linked to criminal activities. We're trying to shift attitudes that can lead to sexual and other types of interpersonal violence."
NFL teams shoulder most of the blame for players' injuries and sports journalists can shift football cultural norms toward valuing players who put their health first. These are the key findings of a new study that examined health and safety issues in sports. "As sports journalists take more of an advocacy role and support athletes who make their health a priority, attitudes towards injuries and the players who sustain them may gradually begin to change," one co-author said.
These are the key findings of a new study authored by Clemson University researchers Jimmy Sanderson and Melinda Weathers that examined health and safety issues in sports. It was published in the journal Communication & Sport.
"Media coverage of players who decide to sit out or play through an injury may impact players' future decision-making as well as fans' attitudes towards these players," said Sanderson.
"Sitting out during an injury is often viewed as weak and lacking the requisite toughness demanded by football, whereas playing through an injury is often viewed as the action of a warrior who embodies the ethos of sport," Weathers stated.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
More from this month's guest blogger, Professor Jamie Abrams from the University of Louisville School of Law. Her scholarly interests include integrating masculinities theory in feminist law reforms such as military integration and domestic violence; examining the tort complexities governing standards of care in childbirth; gendered conceptualizations of citizenship; and legal education pedagogy.
The latest mass shooting in Isla Vista, California adds to a troublesome lineage of mass shootings by male shooters in the United States. The New York Times covers the issue of gendered violence at Campus Killings Set Off Anguished Conversation. The article highlights how the killings have “set off a raw, anguished conversation about the ways women are perceived sexually and the violence against them that has reverberated around the country.” The NYT coverage reveals how both feminism and masculinities are needed to address the gendered complexities of violence.
The Good Men Project reveals the masculinities underpinnings of mass shootings here. I have written about these issues in The Collateral Consequences of Masculinizing Violence, in which I considered the masculinity underpinnings of a similar mass shooting of women at a Pennsylvania fitness club by George Sodini in 2009 to raise questions about the masculinization of violence in legal frameworks. The pressures to conform to dominant masculinities can lead some men to hyper-masculine expressions of violence. Those hyper-masculine expressions can often follow a direct challenge to an individual’s dominant conception of masculinity, such as the loss of a job or rejection by women. Lisa Hickey of the Good Men Project, a project I was first introduced to by the Gender and the Law Blog last year, adds this additional lens of masculinities to the many other social frames to be considered in connection with mass shootings, such as access to mental health services, gun control, and violence against women.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
On this Memorial Day, it is fitting that I should post about the military. And, sadly, it is also perhaps appropriate that I comment about the ugly murders that were perpetuated by Elliot Rodger this weekend.
The mentally unstable young man had written an elaborate 140 page manifesto summarizing his life and his reasons for his massacre at UCSB. I did not read every page of the manifesto but a lucid pattern emerges. Rodger was desperately insecure in his masculinity, or rather, his complete absence of such. He was afraid of girls, afraid of friendships, afraid of being a decent human being who cared about others, and always afraid to ask for help. A coward to the very end, he killed himself to escape punishment for his crimes.
Throughout Rodger's deranged manifesto, he had given poignant testimony to his narcissistic personality disorder. At the end, he referred to himself as a "god" who could end life.
One day before Rodger's killing, Admiral McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 36 years, delivered the commencement address at UT Austin. He also spoke, albeit indirectly, about manliness because the SEALS are emblematic of it and women, at this time, are not members. He urged the graduates--including, he specifically said, female grads--to model themselves after the SEALS.
At least one lesson bespoke a manliness that seemed to be informed by those virtues that society has traditionally deemed....feminine.
McRaven told the students that you're not a god and that no one is; learn that you need others' help and don't be afraid to ask for it. "Find someone to help you through life....and respect everyone."
Femininity....a good place for manliness.....
Friday, May 23, 2014
With Memorial Day coming up, I wanted to list some books about manliness that are particularly good.
Karl Marlantes What It Is Like to Go to War bravely expels a lot of tiresome myths about combat, and also does a fine job of illuminating PTSD. Marlantes was a decorated war veteran in Vietnam as well as a Rhodes Scholar, and the book sketches with honesty the madness of hypermasculinity and the sort of manliness that is required to survive as a soldier, and afterwards, come to terms with war in morally acceptable ways.
More recently, there is Sebastian Junger's War. Junger is a reporter and he was embedded with Marines in Afghanistan. Like Marlantes, Junger is a deft writer who captures well the paradoxical nature of manliness in war--its destructive, and self-destructive propensities--along with its capacity for intense friendship and sacrifice.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
....by vocation and partly because I have so little time for leisure reading, I usually stick to academic titles. But this book by Terry Crews, the former NLF player and now comedian-actor, sounds fun and maybe good.
In an interview with NPR, Crews said: "The book should've been called, Terry Crews Is an Idiot and This Is How I Survived. I'm serious! There was so much astounding immaturity in this book." Idiot. That's probably 50 percent of manliness in one word.
And there was also this spot-on comment during the NPR interview:
Manhood used to be the Marlboro Man — my way, the highway, I walk alone! And the Marlboro Man is always by himself. Family, kids? Can't hang with him. They don't understand him. What happens is, that guy in his 60s, he's back there in his shed and he's crying his eyes out. He's alone. No one wants to be with him. And I averted that future.
Monday, May 19, 2014
If there's one thing that Manliness insists upon, it is that you must put up or shut up.
So put up, I shall, or endeavor to do so, anyway. The below blog post had implied that there may exist a better reading list for manliness. There is a book that I think belongs at the top of that shelf--Elmore Leonard's The Complete Western Stories. Readers will be familiar with Leonard's fun reads on low-life criminals in contemporary America but his cowboy stories, written many years prior, are fabulous too.
There's no real attempt by Leonard to proffer advice about how to prop up your manly self-esteem. All he does is what any greater writer should do: sketch in lucid detail what his subject is. And manliness, we find, is diverse: it's noble, brave, generous, heroic, but also sadistic, vindictive, impulsive, and more often than not, kinda stupid, and best of all--sometimes it is all of these things at the same time. So too Leonard shows us how, frankly, women in the prairie can be a lot more manly than men. Great stuff.
The Art of Manliness Blog lists several "must reads" for men. Sadly, the first book on that list is the absurd, cryptic, and melodramatic headcase that is Robert Bly's Iron John, a book about which I've blogged before. For those unfamiliar with Bly's work, it is a male self-help book about emancipating the Wild Man in You so that he can find that perfect Wild Woman out there in society and make crazy (yip, Wild) sex and feel what it means to live (that Wild) life.
Pretty much everything else in the Art of Manliness list is a self-help book, usually about self-esteem and its surrounding issues. And that makes me wonder: Is the list an unintended parody? A reading list for self-help books.......about.....manliness?
I'm not trying to suggest that manliness is obvious and it's definitely not straightforward. But perhaps the best that can be said about manliness is that it's paradoxical, vexed, strange, and always will be, no matter what a bookshelf of self-help books will say to the contrary.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
A new book from Jeffrey McCune titled Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing from the U of Chicago Press. The description from the Press:
African American men who have sex with men while maintaining a heterosexual lifestyle in public are attracting increasing interest from both the general media and scholars. Commonly referred to as “down-low” or “DL” men, many continue to have relationships with girlfriends and wives who remain unaware of their same-sex desires, and in much of the media, DL men have been portrayed as carriers of HIV who spread the virus to black women. Sexual Discretion explores the DL phenomenon, offering refreshingly innovative analysis of the significance of media, space, and ideals of black masculinity in understanding down low.
From Rosin's Slate article:
It used to be that women had to worry about men disappearing after they got pregnant or divorced. Now, some women have the opposite problem. A growing fathers’ rights movement is aggressively challenging what it sees as the courts’ assumption that the mother is the only real parent. Men’s rights activists air their grievances about unfair child custody laws on sites such as A Voice for Men and on subreddits like Men’s Rights and The Red Pill.
One recent study showed that people are generally in favor of joint custody, but they believe that divorce courts are seriously slanted toward mothers.
And, this too:
But is this actually true? “There’s a real perception—even women share it—that courts are unfair to fathers,” says Ira Ellman, a custody expert at Arizona State University. But in fact the great revolution in family court over the past 40 years or so has been the movement away from the presumption that mothers should be the main, or even sole, caretakers for their children. Individual cases like Patric’s may raise novel legal issues, but on the whole, courts are fair to men, particularly men who can afford a decent lawyer.
Friday, May 2, 2014
I am only about half through with Evan Wright's fantastic book. (Alas, I am six years late in reading it, and having never known that there was an HBO series based on it.) Wright was a reporter for Rolling Stone and he was embedded with a Marine Recon unit (the Marine version of the Navy SEALS). The somewhat poorly titled Generation Kill (the book contains poignant episodes of humanity and moving affect) is Wright's account of that time.
The writing, plain and unpretentious, reminds me of Tim O'Brien's fine work, but it seems, in places, even more prescient and subtlely interesting than O'Brien's much lauded books. Wright captures well the paradoxes, contradictions and deeply tender moments of male bonding and manliness, as forged in the harshest of circumstances.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
.... here. The interested reader may peruse it, but the said eight lessons take their cue from....Vikings. No, not the NFL team from Minnesota. I mean VIKINGS (like in the picture above).
It's hard to know whether to know whether to read the putative eight lessons as parody or earnestness, or some combination of both. So much of manliness cannot help but be expressed in the style of both, I suppose.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
According to the Art of Manliness Blog, the three moral imperatives (the Three Ps) for manliness are:
1/ to Protect
2/ to Procreate
3/ to Provide
I tend to agree with the accuracy of the general proposition. But I don't think that it has as much relevance for my students' generation. I hear my female students complain (or reflect amusedly) that there are few "real men" these days. Most just want their XBOX, their bro-friends, and worst of all, their mommies (or proxy mommies).
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, men apparently have more leisure time than do women.
“In virtually every country, men are able to fit in valuable extra minutes of leisure each day while women spend more time doing unpaid housework,” according to the OECD. But the sharper point was that gender inequality is most stark in India, where the average man spends just 19 minutes a day on “routine housework” and the average woman spends almost five hours on such duties.
Of course, stats must be taken with some qualification and skepticism. Somehow the claim that there is more leisure time for men seems apt for those who can afford not to work. There is this to consider as well:
Millions of Indian men do huge amounts of housework — but in single-man or all-male households. Three years ago, I spent a few weeks in Mumbai interviewing dozens of auto rickshaw drivers for a long essay about their lives. An overwhelming majority of them lived in all-male households, often sharing a single room and cooking for one another. It’s not just them. Millions of poor and lower-middle-class Indian men leave behind their villages and families every year to work in cities as daily wage laborers, construction workers, auto rickshaw or taxi drivers, security guards, fruit or vegetable sellers, waiters or domestics, transferring the small surplus incomes of their city lives into economic security for all of their dependents back in the village.
Such a man runs his own household expertly and sometimes with evident pleasure, shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning at high speed, being ribbed by his mates all the while. On his annual visit back to the village, though, he puts his feet up and doesn’t do even the 20 minutes of routine housework that would make him above average.