Monday, March 12, 2018
I'm pleased to announce the publication of the new book by my former co-editor here at the Gender & Law Prof Blog, John Kang.
John Kang, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Fixations of Manliness (Routledge 2018)
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. has been, and continues to be, praised as America’s greatest judge and he is widely considered to have done more than anyone else to breathe life into the Constitution’s right of free speech, probably the most crucial right for democracy. One indeed finds among professors of constitutional law and federal judges the widespread belief that the scope of the First Amendment owes much of its incredible expansion over the last sixty years to Holmes’s judicial dissents in Abrams and Gitlow.
In this book, John M. Kang offers the novel thesis that Holmes’s dissenting opinions in Abrams and Gitlow drew in part from a normative worldview structured by an idiosyncratic manliness, a manliness which was itself rooted in physical courage. In making this argument, Kang seeks to show how Holmes’s justification for the right of speech was a bid to proffer a philosophical commentary about the demands of democracy.
He previewed part of the book in a prior article, John Kang, "The Solider and the Imbecile": How Holmes' Manliness Fated Carrie Buck, 47 Akron L. Rev. 1055 (2014)
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Data shows gun violence is disproportionately a male problem. Of the 97 mass shootings in which three or more victims died since 1982, only three were committed by women (one of those being the San Bernardino attack in which a man also participated), according to a database from the liberal-leaning news outlet Mother Jones. Men also accounted for 86% of gun deaths in the United States, according to an analysis by the non-partisan non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.
Monday, November 16, 2015
From a NYT Op-Ed:
SO far the gender revolution has been a one-sided effort. Women have entered previously male precincts of economic and political life, and for the most part they have succeeded. They can lead companies, fly fighter jets, even run for president.
But along the way something crucial has been left out. We have not pushed hard enough to put men in traditionally female roles — that is where our priority should lie now. This is not just about gender equality. The stakes are even higher. The jobs that many men used to do are gone or going fast, and families need two engaged parents to share the task of raising children.
As painful as it may be, men need to adapt to what a modern economy and family life demand. There has been progress in recent years, but it hasn’t been equal to the depth and urgency of the transformation we’re undergoing. The old economy and the old model of masculinity are obsolete. Women have learned to become more like men. Now men need to learn to become more like women.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Boys are falling behind. They graduate from high school and attend college at lower rates than girls and are more likely to get in trouble, which can hurt them when they enter the job market. This gender gap exists across the United States, but it is far bigger for poor people and for black people. As society becomes more unequal, it seems, it hurts boys more.
Friday, September 25, 2015
For decades, work-life balance at law firms has been a women’s issue—something for working moms to sort out. But there are a growing number of new firms built on flexible schedules that are now attracting men, and slowly shifting the definition of a successful legal career. Though the partner office is still the prototypical legal-career status symbol, the prerequisites of long hours and 24-7 availability are inconsistent with the emphasis many men put on time away from the office.
“Young men today have different values, different aspirations than their fathers,” says Stewart Friedman, a Wharton Practice professor of management and director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. “They want to be available both psychologically and physically for children.” At some of the most competitive white-collar workplaces, such as Netflix and Microsoft, these shifts have led to expanded parental-leave policies.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
It's unlikely — unless you work in law — that you've ever heard of the Unruh Civil Rights Act. It's a California state law that says that no matter someone's "sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation," they are entitled to equal "accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever." The law was enacted in 1959 by Jesse M. Unruh in order to protect minority groups from being discriminated against. But of late, men's-rights activists have been using it against women-run companies to claim they've been on the receiving end of discrimination.
Alyssa Bereznak at Yahoo News delved into the world of MRAs lodging lawsuits against women in California whose businesses and events they claimed had excluded their "minority group," a.k.a. men. It is absolutely terrifying to read: By using this 1950s law meant to protect women, men are winning discrimination lawsuits that have the potential to bankrupt entire small companies.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Are businesses that cater to women inherently anti-male?
Entrepreneur Stephanie Burns would say no. Burns runs Chic CEO, a startup that hosts networking events and provides online resources for female entrepreneurs.
But three men's rights activists didn't see her services as benevolent. They sued her for being denied entry to an event in San Diego.
The lawsuit cites a California law called the Unruh Civil Rights Act,enacted in 1959, which prohibits businesses from discriminating based on factors such as sex, race, religion and disabilities.
Burns told CNNMoney that men are allowed to attend her events, but that particular one was at capacity. But Chic CEO's promotional materials -- which all catered to women -- were fuel for the lawsuit. The event was described as a "fun, relaxed environment to meet up with entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, CEOs, directors, savvy business women."
Monday, August 24, 2015
The book was published in 2013, but I recently discovered it, and read it.
Marc Maron--the guy who interviewed Obama from his garage in L.A.--is a comedian and actor. He is also a smart social critic, and his book Attempting Normal is terrific.
True, the book is often puerile, vulgar and some sections (like his somewhat pointless digression about trying to herd feral cats) don't work. But overall, the book contains nuggets of insight about manliness and, seldom found in academic writing, Maron renders his observations with poignant wit and unforgettable humor.
Manliness--at least Maron's manliness--is destructive and self-destructive; it aspires for nobility but is frequently crippled by paranoia; it yearns to be tough but always circles back to its vulnerabilities; it desires love from women but is consumed by a relentless narcissism. It is also highly self-conscious and acutely cognizant of its flaws, and is willing to share those flaws with the reader.
There's an interview with Maron on the Good Men Project today.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Two women recently passed the arduous tests of the US Army's Ranger School. But they aren't quite Rangers, according to the Army:
Even though they have earned the right to wear the “Ranger” tab on their uniforms, Griest and Haver aren’t allowed to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations unit. But their Ranger training, the Army said, dramatically improves their chances of being promoted.
Griest and Haver were held to the same standards as the men who are graduating with them, senior military leaders told reporters in a briefing here Thursday.
“Our standards have been met,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Arnold, the senior noncommissioned officer in charge at the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. “We didn’t have to change our standards.
“These two soldiers have proven that — regardless of gender — those standards can be met,” he continued. “Everything is training-based in the Army. If you train hard enough and you prepare well enough, you are going to do well.”
Monday, August 17, 2015
Jane says she was raped by three men wearing Gurkha uniforms. She was herding her husband’s goats and sheep, and carrying firewood, when she was attacked. “I felt so ashamed and could not talk about it to other people. They did terrible things to me,” says Jane, her eyes alive with pain.
She is 38 but looks considerably older. She shows me a deep scar on her leg where she was cut by stones when she was pushed to the ground. In a quiet, hesitant voice she continues her story. “I eventually told my husband’s mother that I was sick, because I had to explain the injuries and my depression. I was given traditional medicine, but it did not help. When she told my husband [about the rape], he beat me with a cane. So I disappeared and came here with my children.”
Jane is a resident of Umoja, a village in the grasslands of Samburu, in northernKenya, surrounded by a fence of thorns. I arrive in the village at the hottest time of the day, when the children are sleeping. Goats and chickens wander around, avoiding the bamboo mats on which women sit making jewellery to sell to tourists, their fingers working quickly as they talk and laugh with each other. There are clothes drying in the midday sun on top of the huts made from cow dung, bamboo and twigs. The silence is broken by birdsong, shrill, sudden and glorious. It is a typical Samburu village except for one thing: no men live here.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Here in America, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, sexism is very much on the wane, but misogyny is not. Sexism—the conviction that women don’t deserve equal pay, political rights, or access to education—can be combatted by argument, by anti-discrimination laws, and by giving women the opportunity to prove their ability. Misogyny is not amenable to such advances; they can in some circumstances exacerbate it, though they may drive it underground. An example of misogyny is when someone online threatens to rape and mutilate a woman whose opinions that person does not like. Another is when a Presidential candidate says of a female journalist whose questions he finds impertinent, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her—wherever.”
Sunday, August 9, 2015
At SUNY Stony Brook, Michael Kimmel proposes just that:
You’ve heard of women’s studies, right? Well, this is men’s studies: the academic pursuit of what it means to be male in today’s world. Dr. Kimmel is the founder and director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York system, which will soon start the first master’s degree program in “masculinities studies.”
No, Dr. Kimmel joked, the department title doesn’t just roll off the tongue. But it’s called “masculinities” (plural) to acknowledge that there is “more than one way to be a man.”
Friday, August 7, 2015
Donald Trump's unforgettable performance in the GOP debate last night is now well publicized.
Among the several provocative comments he uttered, one is especially noteworthy. During an exchange with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who had asked him to respond to charges that he was a misogynist, he snapped at her and made a vague threat.
Today's WaPo contains some discussion about Trump's views on women.
“I don’t know why, but I seem to bring out either the best or worst in women.”
So wrote Donald Trump in his 1997 book, “Trump: The Art of the Comeback.”At the time, the real-estate billionaire was dealing with the end of his second marriage, so a little bitterness might be expected. Yet, throughout Trump’s books — particularly in his three memoirs, “Trump: The Art of the Deal”(1987), “Trump: Surviving at the Top” (1990) and “The Art of the Comeback” — he writes at length on his personal relationships, his experiences with women in marriage and in the workplace, even his dating life.
A memorable excerpt from the WaPo piece, quoting The Donald:
“Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” (“Trump: The Art of the Comeback”)
Friday, July 31, 2015
Young men today have aspirations of being hands-on fathers as well as breadwinners — supportive husbands who also do dishes.
But as they enter that more responsibility-filled stage of life, something changes: Their roles often become much more traditional.
Millennial men — ages 18 to early 30s — have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet they struggle to achieve their goals once they start families, researchers say. Some researchers think that’s because workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Unfortunate that I had missed this story earlier this month:
A U.S. law that treats mothers and fathers differently in determining whether their foreign-born children may claim U.S. citizenship is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday, four years after the U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 on the issue.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the statute applied "impermissible stereotyping" in imposing a tougher burden on fathers.
The law requires unwed fathers who are U.S. citizens to spend at least five years living in the United States - a 2012 amendment reduced it from 10 years - before they can confer citizenship onto a child born abroad, out of wedlock and to a partner who is not a U.S. citizen. For unwed U.S. mothers in the same situation, the requirement is only one year.
Wednesday's ruling is likely to have a limited effect in terms of the number of people it applies to, but the decision addresses important principles regarding laws that explicitly treat the sexes differently, legal advocates said.
**the story continues here.
Friday, July 24, 2015
A recent study at the U of Washington confirms what every guy knows: men exaggerate about how great they are. All men do this, I suspect, to varying degree.
If a man feels like his masculinity is being questioned he is more likely to lie about his physical and mental traits.
Researchers have found that men will overcompensate by lying about their height, how athletic or they are and how many relationships they have had in order live up to the male stereotype.
In contrast, men who don’t feel threatened are more honest when quizzed about their physical appearance or past.
Male students at Stanford University were told they were participating in research on how exertion impacts decision-making and were asked to squeeze a handheld device with each hand.
Researchers marked their scores on sheets that showed fake results, representing 'typical' male and female results.
Participants were scored either in the middle of the female or the male curve, suggesting that their grip was either weak or average.
They were then asked to fill out a questionnaire asking about their height, number of previous relationships, various personality traits and their interest in products that skewed male or female, along with 'distracter questions' about things such as their college major.
Associate Professor Cheryan said the consistent exaggeration about height among the group who thought they scored lower was particularly surprising.
'Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men,' she said.
The findings, researchers said, underscore the pressure men feel to live up to gender stereotypes and the ways in which they might reinstate a threatened masculinity.
From the LA Times, an interesting comparison with the much more open policy of the Girl Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America didn't go as far as it ought to have with its new recommendation on gay Scout leaders, but it did make reluctant headway. This wasn't the leap of an organization that now views sexual orientation with more tolerant eyes, but rather a shuffling step by a tradition-bound group that has been prodded by dramatic changes in societal views of sexual orientation, as well as the financial realities of needing to woo back corporate donors such as Walt Disney Co. that are reluctant to sponsor an organization that discriminates against gay people.
The resolution approved last week by the Scouts' national executive committee puts an end to the organization's official ban on gay Scout leaders and volunteers. But rather than banning such discrimination entirely, it leaves the decision up to individual troops and units. (The new policy is expected to be ratified by the executive board July 27.) Some of those troops already have shown interest in welcoming all interested and qualified adults, regardless of sexual orientation; many others are expected to keep a ban in place.
Compare that with the way the Girl Scouts recently made news: A Scouting council in western Washington rejected a $100,000 donation that came with the stipulation that it not be used to support transgender Scouts. That's in line with the organization's history. The Girl Scouts also became racially integrated much earlier than the Boy Scouts, and had little problem accepting atheist members.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
So reads the Salon headline for an article that assesses the public rhetoric by GOP presidential candidates.
Chris Christie roared onto the presidential campaign stage calling out his onetime pal, President Obama, for being “weak.” He labeled the economy as “weak,” U.S. foreign policy as “weak,” and the president’s style of governance as a “handwringing” incompetence. Christie’s theme is not just his, though; it seems to dominate the Republican candidates’ critique of any Democratic leader whose approach to the larger world refrains from their over-the-top bluster. The real question, though, is what makes the Republicans think theirs is the party of strength? What lies behind their in-your-face, Clint Eastwood-style American bravado?
Monday, July 20, 2015
I, Elspeth Reeve, am the manliest journalist in the world. That’s not something I go around thinking about all day, but recently Mark Judge wrote a semi-viral article titled, “Where Have All the Manly Journalists Gone?” I am here to answer that question.
Judge’s essay for Acculturated.com, “an online magazine about the virtues and vices of pop culture” with a politically conservative slant, drew some attention when he savvily tweeted it at many journalists. It is a tailored-for-Twitter version of a longstanding anxiety—ex: “THE SISSIFICATION OF AMERICA CONTINUES APACE.” Judge, who has written a book titled A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll, wonders what happened to the burly old guys with alcohol problems who wrote about big wars: “Ernest Hemingway. Ernie Pyle. Jack London. Christopher Hitchens.” The article is illustrated with a photograph of Hemingway using a typewriter outdoors, with rugged mountains behind him, while wearing a leather vest and pomade in his hair, which clearly was not staged for his own vanity, because that would be unmanly.
In the good old days, there was an “intense physicality” to reporting, Judge writes, and “journalism was a job of grit and hard effort, like boxing.” These days, we type things on computers, like pussies.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Serena Williams won another Wimbledon title this weekend. She is deservedly the most accomplished athlete--of any gender--for a sport.
Alas, there are discussions regarding her body image and what said discussions say about how we think about gender.
From the NYT:
Despite Williams’s success — a victory Saturday would give her 21 Grand Slam singles titles and her fourth in a row — body-image issues among female tennis players persist, compelling many players to avoid bulking up.
“It’s our decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10,” said Tomasz Wiktorowski, the coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, who is listed at 5 feet 8 and 123 pounds. “Because, first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.”
For many, perceived ideal feminine body type can seem at odds with the best physique for tennis success. Andrea Petkovic, a German ranked 14th, said she particularly loathed seeing pictures of herself hitting two-handed backhands, when her arm muscles appear the most bulging.
“I just feel unfeminine,” she said. “I don’t know — it’s probably that I’m self-conscious about what people might say. It’s stupid, but it’s insecurities that every woman has, I think. I definitely have them and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I would love to be a confident player that is proud of her body. Women, when we grow up we’ve been judged more, our physicality is judged more, and it makes us self-conscious.”