Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hero or Sissy?

My friend and former colleague Katherine Van Tassel sent me an interesting news item.  The summary from Science Daily reads: 

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.

More: 

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.

 

June 10, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why We Need Both Feminism and Masculinities to Address Gendered Violence

Jamie R. Abrams's picture

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 27, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Navy SEALS and Elliot Rodger

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.....

May 25, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Manliness and Memorial Day

With Memorial Day coming up,  I wanted to list some books about manliness that are particularly good.  

Front Cover

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.  

Front Cover

 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.  

May 23, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Is “Armchair Warfare” the Newest Threat to Institutional Masculinities?

Jamie R. Abrams's picture

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.

 

In the “Limits of Armchair Warfare,” an Op. Ed. contributed by experienced military veterans, the authors caution that the increased reliance on drones and drone pilots is part of “a disturbing pattern” devaluing frontline military service.  Citing specific examples, they assert that both military leadership and the American public share blame.  They suggest, “military leadership has become so enamored of the technological mystique of drones that they have lost touch with the realities of the modern battlefield.”  They further critique that the “American public, which has largely absolved itself of responsibility for sending nearly three million of its citizens to fight, neither knows nor cares to know the real price of war.”

The points raised by these military veterans are thought provoking regarding the transformative shifts in modern military service and military capabilities.  Yet, underlying this critique sits an undercurrent seeking to preserve dominant masculinities within institutional military culture.  I have written previously about the ways in which military service fused citizenship itself with dominant conceptions of masculinities historically and remain tethered today, even in a voluntary enlistment military. 

This Op. Ed. foreshadows that even as the military undergoes the full integration of women, the underlying reverence for masculine institutional hierarchies persists.  For example, the Op. Ed. piece bluntly states that “those on the front lines require real courage because they face real danger.”  Military culture has a deep history of constructing military identity on a model of institutional “othering” of various social groups, including women, gays and lesbians. 

This Op. Ed. leaves me wondering whether drone technology represents the new “other” that threatens the preservation of dominant masculine hierarchies in the military?  As women are formally integrated into all branches of the military and as technology transforms military service itself, I am hopeful that longstanding gender hierarchies can be abolished in ways that both advance the power and efficacy of our military and respect and celebrate the military service of all.  

May 22, 2014 in Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Terry Crews on Manhood...

....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.

May 21, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Elmore Leonard on Manliness

image

 

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.  

May 19, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Manliness Reading List

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.  

May 19, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

McCune on "Down-Low"

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.

May 14, 2014 in Books, LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hanna Rosin Says That Discrimination Against Fathers Is Exaggerated

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

And: 

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.

May 14, 2014 in Family, Gender, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Generation Kill by Evan Wright

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.  

May 2, 2014 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

eight years too late,....

....I feel embarrassed having never even known about this book, published in 2008, but it will definitely be on my summer reading list.  

Men of Blood

April 30, 2014 in Legal History, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 21, 2014

8 lessons in manliness.....

Viking warrior

.... 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. 

April 21, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Three Ps of Manliness

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).  

April 9, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

more leisure time for men?

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.

March 26, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Poverty, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Burdens of Manliness....

....as expounded by Mr. Harsh Mander.  Some apt epigrams

1/ For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong, there is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

2/ For every woman who is tired of being called “an emotional female”, there is a man who is denied the right to weep and to be gentle.

3/ For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.

4/ For every woman who is called unfeminine when she competes, there is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity.

5/ For every woman who takes a step toward her own liberation, there is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier.

I've rehearsed some of these musings as well.  

February 23, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 21, 2014

What Is a "Gentleman"?

The Good Men Project has another earnest, but rather boring, post about what it means to be a gentleman.  The adjectives marshaled are mundane and unhelpful even as they endeavor to wear their virtues on their respective sleeves.  

A quote from the Spanish writer Antonio de Guevara begins the post: 

“A gentleman is to be measured in his speech, generosity in giving, sober in eating, honesty in living, kindness in forgiving, and courageousness in fighting.”

Measured in speech?  Generosity in giving?  Sober in eating?  Honesty in living?  Kindness?  These seem to be virtues which we commend in women as well, right?  

The only descriptor that has been traditionally ascribed to men has been the last one:  courageousness in fighting.  It is, alas, a most vexing and paradoxical virtue.  

February 21, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"E.J. is just a lovable guy"....

 

.....so spoke Magic Johnson, the greatest point guard in the history of the National Basketball Association, about his gay son, who has a boyfriend.  No commentary; I just thought it was a cool story about a dad embracing his gay son.  

February 19, 2014 in Family, LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Say, Jonathan Martin punched out Ingconito....

 What If Jonathan Martin Would Have Decked Richard Incognito?

.....thus runs a hypo posed by a column in Truth Wins Out, an LGBT website.  The author, Wayne Besen, worries that Martin would have been propelled from being "not black enough" to being "too black."  

I agree that this may have been possible.  But who is to say?  There is something morally gratifying about a bullied kid getting some payback against his tormentor, not in a sadistic way but in a way that is just even if that justness is procured through a strong shove or a headlock.  So too much of manliness, frankly, doesn't rest on such crude dichotomies as Mr. Besen suggests:  either get bullied or fight back.  There are preemptive measures that boys (at least many boys) know about which can signal to the other party--without having to resort to violence--that  they are not to be messed with.  

None of this is to say, of course, that Jonathan Martin deserved any of the abuse or that the monstrous Incognito should not be punished.....  

February 19, 2014 in LGBT, Manliness, Masculinities, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 17, 2014

The conservative response to Incognito

We now know that Richie Incognito, the Dolphins' lineman, was a notorious and vicious bully.  So, one can forgive National Review, that proud conservative daily, for articles like this, written in November.  Or, perhaps even this, written at the end of last month.  

But now that Incognito's sadism has become clear, what does the National Review have to say?  Nothing.  I don't point this out because I revel in making fun of NR; I really don't.  I point it out because I think it's sad that NR wont man up and say that Incognito should be punished.  Instead, NR seems to mimic Incognito himself:  NR is keeping mum after the truth has come out.  

This is why I think young folks are leaving the GOP; it's behind the times.  To the extent NR tracks the GOP, the former is becoming less and less relevant to today's culture.  

February 17, 2014 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)