Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Connecting the Nineteenth Amendment to Broader Conceptions of Citizenship and Masculinities

Jamie Abrams & Nickole Durbin, Citizen Soldiers and the Foundational Fusion of Masculinity, Citizenship, and Military Service, 11 ConLaw NOW 73 (2020)

Sarah Livingston Jay famously toasted revelers in 1783: “May all our citizens be soldiers, and all our soldiers citizens.” This toast conveyed “a foundational fusion” within our republican government tradition―coupling military service, citizenship, and masculinities. The Akron Law School’s conference on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment offered the chance to fight the eulogization of the Nineteenth Amendment and explore its modern relevance. This paper concludes that the Nineteenth Amendment cannot be understood without connecting it to broader conceptions of citizenship, masculinities, and military service, thus revealing its ongoing relevance to military inclusion and integration. In Professor Abrams’ prior article published in the West Virginia Law Review, the foundational fusion of military service, citizenship, and masculinities was presented and explored. We highlight the framework ofthat argument in the next section and invite readers to explore the full prior article.

May 6, 2021 in Constitutional, Legal History, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 12, 2021

Using Masculinities Theory for Change in Feminism and Law

Ann McGinley, Masculinities Theory as Impetus for Change in Feminism and Law, THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF FEMINISM AND LAW IN THE UNITED STATES (Deborah L. Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna L. Williams, eds.).

Feminist legal scholars have found much in the field of masculinities to enrich the feminist analysis of law. In drawing on and incorporating masculinities theories into legal feminism, feminist scholars have added their own insight into the meaning of “masculinities.” As Nancy Dowd, Nancy Levit, and Ann McGinley explain: “Masculinities” has multiple meanings. First, it is a structure that gives men as a group power over women as a group. Second it is a set of practices, designed to maintain group power, that are considered “masculine.” Third, it is the engagement in or “doing” of these masculine practices by men or women. Finally, the term refers to a body of theory and scholarship by gender experts in various fields of social science.

Although masculinities originated in fields outside of law, legal scholars have adopted insights raised by masculinities scholars, combined with those of feminist theory, queer theory, and critical race theory, to develop a legal theory of masculinities that proposes new legal interpretations and policies that better correspond to the lived experiences of persons of different genders, races, and classes. This chapter explores how masculinities research has influenced legal feminism in the U.S.

April 12, 2021 in Books, Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Hemingway, Women, and Gender

I had always hated Hemingway.  He was, after all, the classic misogynist. 

It seemed I was forced to read Hemingway every year in school.  Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Old Man and the Sea.  I read them all, against my will.  To me they were boring stories about men.  The words were short, cold, and devoid of beauty or lyricism.  The topics were harsh and violent -- masculine topics of war, bullfighting, and big game hunting.  Moreover, the works were filled with hateful depictions of women. Women were crazy harpies, tempting devils, or dead mothers.  In Hemingway’s semi-autobiographical accounts, women were merely the women objects of antipathy, perhaps like the many wives that he continually traded in like cars.

So when I heard that PBS was featuring a new documentary series on Hemingway, I rolled my eyes and thought, “how tone deaf.”  How misguided to hear yet again about a privileged white man, and one who had already received his acclaim.  In this time of intense public debate of race and gender, in this time when so many women and people of color have not yet been recovered, why return to the same old story.  For indeed, I had not encountered even famous writers like Zora Huston Neale or Daphne du Maurier until my own independent reading, long after school.  But, like so many things that one dismisses, I discovered more complexity and nuance in Hemingway’s story, particular in the realm of gender.

The film reveals Hemingway not as a model of masculinity, but as a man battling with his own masculinity.  Understanding this as toxic masculinity, changed the narrative for me.  We learn of Hemingway’s Freudian early years with a mother who wrote him a rejection letter, and dressed him like a twin to his sister.  We then understand his early attraction to two older woman, maternal figures, one of whom becomes his first wife.  We see the author constrained by family demands--fighting for the time to write and feed his creative muse, diverted by screaming babies, marital demands, and unpaid bills until he can get alone, on the road or with his thoughts.  This is all juxtaposed against the raucous pull of the popular writing crowd, with their carousing and attention-seeking affairs.

The film also shows us a broader range of topics that occupied Hemingway’s mind beyond bulls, bullets, and booze.  One of his earliest stories, Up in Michigan, was about date rape.  A shocking story that barely saw the publishing light, writer Edna O’Brien explains as actually told from the woman’s perspective, which is why it was so powerful.  He wrote about abortion, suicide, STDs, childbirth, Caesarean sections, and death in childbirth – grim accounts of women (and men’s) reality.  A later work, published posthumously, engages with transgender and same-sex attraction.

The short words took on new meaning for me as well.  Rather than just a mimic of his journalism years, the short words were explained as a revolution in writing that left behind conventional indicators of writing prowess.  I discovered the beauty of the short form, in the repetition of the same words that function as the action itself, as when repeating words form the march of the soldiers.  Right, left, right, left, right, left.  Like lawyers learning the impact of plain, unaffected writing, I could now appreciate the power of the staccato, and what the film describes as musical. The film reveals these words slowly on the screen, literally showing us the beauty of the typed word as Jeff Daniels' voice-over reads aloud.

This all came together for me in the discussion of the short story, Hills Like White Elephants In this story, a man pressures his lover, “the girl,” to get an abortion.  Most of the story is the man controlling the conversation, working through various points to win the argument, eventually gaslighting his partner, claiming, “I only want what you want.” He is dismissive of the way in which the young woman sees the world, whether its her vision of the looming white elephants overshadowing their lives or the personal and relational consequences of the abortion.  Eventually, the young woman demands: "Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?" 

See also:

PBS, Video, Hemingway, Gender and Identity

NYT, They Are Giving Hemingway Another Look. So You Can Too.

Esquire, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Reveal Ernest Hemingway's Private Fascination with Gender Fluidity

April 6, 2021 in Abortion, Books, Gender, Masculinities, Media, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Including Feminist Ethics in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Anietie Akpan, Examining the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to Include Women's Moral Experience and Feminist Ethics, 28 American J. Gender, Social Policy & Law 29 (2019)

[F]eminism is often dismissed, its core values minimized, and its unique interconnectedness to matters such as socioeconomics, education, and health policy fall on deaf ears.

 

The relationship between the female experience and the law is perhaps even more complex: for decades, men have comprised the majority of state and federal lawmakers, resulting in past legislation being completely uninformed of the complex and intersectional social, political, and economic needs of women.

 

Feminist jurisprudence, the nexus of feminism and the law, is a philosophy of law based on the equality of the sexes, beginning as a field of legal scholarship in the 1960s. The premise of this legal theory is that patriarchy infuses the legal system and all its workings, making the legal system inadequate in identifying gendered components of seemingly neutral laws and practices. Such practices affect for example, employment, reproductive rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment.

 

This article purports that existing jurisprudence is "masculine" because it reflects the connection between  patriarchal laws and humanity. Masculine jurisprudence not only perpetuates the methods of lawmaking, but it infiltrates the mode of construction for the codes of professional conduct. Feminist jurisprudence seeks to remedy this matter by recognizing male power, calling for substantive changes necessary to bring gender equality, and encouraging consciousness-raising in the practice of law.

 

As with most "doctrines" governing behavior, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct are constructed with a male-oriented convention, rooted in "traditional" ethics completely uninformed of women's moral experience. The construction of traditional ethics is based on our social system being male-centered and therefore, not only have men devised all philosophical and moral thought,' but such thought is universally codified. Feminist
critique on traditional ethics examines components of moral conduct that male philosophers praise (i.e., rationality, partiality, universality) with components of moral conduct that are disparaged (i.e., community,
relationality, individuality).

 

October 7, 2020 in Masculinities, Theory, Women lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Rape Without Women - The Legal History of Public Rape Narratives and the Reinforcement of Masculinity

Sharon Block, Rape Without Women: Print Culture and the Politicization of Rape, 1765-1815, 89 J. American History 849 (2002) [also available on JStor]

The first section of this article shows how Americans made the very personal sexual interaction of rape publicly palatable by removing women from its retelling. Stories of rape, then, could accomplish what the newly popularized stories of seduction could not: by emphasizing men's interactions with one another, rape stories could provide an unequivocal assignment of right and wrong, unencumbered by concern over women's sexual desires and acts. Focusing attention on men's protection of women's virtue allowed authors to minimize the thorny issue of women's role in promoting their own morality. The absence of women allowed narratives of rape to categorize competing visions of masculinity. Through this masculinized transformation, rape could be deployed in political battles.

 

In the second section, I examine the politicization of rape in revolutionary rhetoric. Rather than invoking rape as a symbol of general savagery or as simply the marker dividing honorable from dishonorable masculinities, revolutionary-era narratives increasingly presented rape as an explicitly political trope. By replacing women's experiences of their own bodies with men's experiences of witnessing the victimization of women, rape-related stories opposed upstanding American male citizenry to corrupt British rule. ***

 

In stories such as this, rape reiterated a transhistoric aspect of patriarchy that attached importance to rape as an assault against men. Feminists have often argued that women have been denied subjectivity in many historical discourses. And we might not be surprised by the elision of women in print; after all, women were rarely a common feature in public life, and scholars have begun to trace the specific problematics of women's public speech. By the second quarter of the eighteenth century, women had seen their often vocal roles in public court sessions decrease with the increasing formalization of the legal system. But unlike most topics, rape necessarily involved women, its very existence hinging on what the historian Cornelia Hughes Dayton has rightly called "woman's word"-her ability to put forward a believable accusation.

 

Yet even though women were necessarily present in the act of rape, printed stories eclipsed women's retellings of sexual attacks by suggesting that the ultimate victims were men. Instead of making men the physical victims (which might risk an unacceptable feminization of their bodies), stories of rape made men the emotional, economic, and social victims of the rape of their female dependents. Thus, the offense of rape was more than an attack on a man's property, as it had been conceptualized in early modern prosecutions for forcible marriage or heiress stealing. For eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Americans, the offense of rape was an attack on a man's patriarchal identity as the protector of his dependent women.

Sharon Block is the author of Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and Rape and Sexual Power in Early America (University of North Carolina Press, 2006). Her latest essay "Erasure, Misrepresentation and Confusion: Investigating JSTOR Topics on Women’s and Race Histories," Digital Humanities Quarterly (2020) exposes racism and sexism in a popular academic scholarly database.

h/t from Kimberly Hamlin's (Miami U) #MeToo Course

September 8, 2020 in Legal History, Masculinities, Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Local Gender Norms by Geography as Significant Influences in Gender Equality

Local Gender Norms Across the US, Gender & Society blog

We wanted to learn more about whether gender norms varied across cities in the U.S. and if so, and what this means for gender equality. Although we often revel and delight at places’ unique cultural flair, does this local culture also contain  elements that convey different expectations for women and men? Our analysis and results are published in a recent Gender & Society article. We highlight our key findings below.

MAPPING LOCAL GENDER NORMS ACROSS THE U.S.

We measured local gender norms by focusing on the way they’re reflected in personal attitudes about gender (e.g. beliefs that women are better caregivers than men and beliefs about women’s suitability for politics) as well as revealed preferences behavior (e.g. age of mothers’ first birth and the segregation of college majors). Focusing on differences in these indicators across commuting zones, we found that cities and their surrounding areas (commuting zones)  fall into four general categories of gender norms:

  • Liberal-egalitarian areas have norms that convey values of gender equality. In these locations, women and men are expected to contribute equally to caregiving and are viewed as having similar skills and leadership qualities. Places with these norms include Burlington, VT, Honolulu, HI, San Francisco, CA, and Washington, DC.
  • Egalitarian-essentialist places have local norms that support women’s labor force participation and leadership, but where people hold  gender essentialist beliefs that women and men are inherently suited for different types of work. Areas with egalitarian-essentialist norms include Charlotte, NC, Milwaukee, WI, and Orlando, FL.
  • Traditional-breadwinner norms exist in places where people hold  beliefs that the ideal family is one where men work and women tend the home. In these areas, women and men are not viewed as essentially different, but instead expected to hold different responsibilities. Places with these norms include Knoxville, TN and Tulsa, OK.
  • Traditional-essentialist locations are places where people believe in the essential difference between women and men with norms that women should focus primarily on family responsibilities. Places with these norms include Little Rock, AR, Charleston, WV, and Midland, TX.

***We found greater evidence that people are influenced by the gender norms where they reside rather than their personal characteristics, particularly if they live a city with traditional-breadwinner or traditional-essentialist norms. In those traditional places, even residents with a college degree, who tend to show more support for gender equality, were much more likely to oppose women’s leadership and feel that men should be earners and women caregivers than college graduates who lived in more egalitarian environments. Residing in a place with traditional norms appears to cause those who would otherwise support gender equality to, instead, endorse more conventional beliefs about women’s leadership and the gendered division of labor.

September 8, 2020 in Family, Gender, Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 17, 2020

New Book: Entitled--How Male Privilege Hurts Women

 

Book Review, Kate Manne: "Entitled" Takes a Scalpel to What Men Feel they are Automatically Deserve

“This book shows that an illegitimate sense of male entitlement gives rise to a wide range of misogynistic behavior,” she writes in “Entitled.” “When a woman fails to give a man what he’s supposedly owed, she will often face punishment and reprisal.”***

 

The book goes on to parse the various “goods” that men, in Manne’s reckoning, have been conditioned to feel entitled to — admiration, sex and consent; a home where someone else uncomplainingly does most of the child care and housekeeping. Some of these things are “feminine-coded,” she writes; others, like power and knowledge, are typically reserved as a masculine prerogative.

 

Some forms of discrimination are subtle, operating below the level of our conscious thoughts, but they still exert meaningful effects, Manne says. The reflexive distaste or suspicion that greets any woman who asserts her ambition is in some ways just as indicative of how the social order gets preserved as the violence meted out by the most vicious misogynists.***

 

One of the qualities that makes Manne’s writing bracing and even thrilling to read is her refusal to ingratiate herself by softening the edges of her resolve. She was trained as a logician, and in “Down Girl” she systematically laid out her premises and evidence to show how misogyny operated according to its own peculiar logic.

 

“Entitled” doesn’t feel as surprising or as tightly coiled as that book. In “Down Girl,” she offered a brilliantly original understanding of misogyny, a term that can sound too extreme to use, by showing the routine and banal forms that its hostility often took. The concepts of entitlement and privilege aren’t nearly as rare or mysterious; swaths of this new book are clarifying but also familiar.

 

Still, the subject of “Entitled” is trickier in many ways than the subject of “Down Girl.” Feelings of entitlement may be essential to misogyny — but Manne argues that they’re essential to defeating misogyny, too. She ends by writing about her newborn daughter, and the things that she wants her daughter to feel she deserves, which are necessarily connected to a set of moral obligations. This more reciprocal understanding of entitlement encourages us to think hard about what we owe, not just to ourselves but to one another.

 

August 17, 2020 in Books, Manliness, Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2020

Giving Gender Discrimination a Meaningful Remedy: Rewriting Justice Ginsburg's Opinion in Morales-Santana

I have just published: Tracy Thomas, Rewriting Sessions v. Morales-Santana, in Feminist Judgments: Family Law Opinions Rewritten (Rachel Rebouche ed., July 2020)

In Sessions v. Morales-Santana, 137 S. Ct. 1678 (2017), the Supreme Court in an opinion by Justice Ginsburg struck down a citizenship law that discriminated against children born abroad to US citizens based on whether the citizen was their father or their mother.  The opinion was widely held to be a model of equal protection analysis, documenting the legal history of the Court's gender equal protection law and recognizing the masculinity side of gender discrimination against men.  

However, the opinion was problematic for its refusal to order a meaningful remedy for the petitioner.  The Court did not grant the discrimination victim relief, but instead ordered the government to adopt formally equal rules going forward, and that those rules should be the more stringent rule for fathers. The Court was focused on restraining the government rather than redressing the individual's harm.

I have written about the remedial problem of so-called leveling down unequal treatment to deny the benefit.  Tracy Thomas, Leveling Down Gender Equality,  Harvard J. Law & Gender (2019).

In this book chapter, I apply these criticisms to rewrite the Court's opinion to properly award a meaningful remedy as required by due process.  This book is part of the US Feminist Judgments Project rewriting key court decisions as if they had been informed by feminist theory. 

 

 

 

July 20, 2020 in Books, Constitutional, Family, Masculinities, SCOTUS | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Women's Triple Bind in Corporate Culture That Valorizes Alpha Male Culture

Naomi Cahn, June Carbone & Nancy Levit, Women, Rule-Breaking, and The Triple Bind, 87 Geo. Wash L. Rev. 1105 (2019).

Two growing literatures critique Hobbesian corporate cultures. Management analyses document the way high-stakes/zero-sum bonus systems undermine, rather than enhance, productivity as they subvert teamwork, valorize self-interested behavior, and weaken ethical standards. This literature treats negative effects of such systems, including lawless and unethical behavior, as the unintended consequences of efforts to shake up complacent institutions or replace an insular old guard with an ambitious and meritocratic new workforce. A second, darker literature terms such Hobbesian environments “masculinities contests” that select for those executives who best exemplify masculine traits such as a single-minded focus on professional success, physical strength, and the willingness to engage in no-holds-barred competition. This literature treats the rule-breaking environment that results as an incidental byproduct of the way that such cultures valorize masculine traits. Drawing on insights from criminology, psychology, and feminist theory, this Article suggests another possibility: that certain management cultures intentionally design the competitions to facilitate breaking the rules with impunity.

In a Hobbesian world, where some profit handsomely from defying convention, zero-sum competitions play a role that extends beyond valorizing alpha males. They select for leaders who will lie, shortchange their families, and break the law to get results—and do so without explicit orders that might subject upper management to accountability for the practices. In such a world, women fall behind not necessarily because of misogyny, though such environments often breed it. Instead, they lose because of a triple bind. First, women cannot prevail in such competitions unless they can outmaneuver men, credibly display greater devotion to the job, or more brazenly flout the laws. Second, they are disproportionately disliked and punished for displaying the self-centered, rule-breaking behavior of men. Third, women become less likely to seek positions because they correctly perceive that they could not thrive and are more likely than men to decide they do not wish to do so on such terms, reinforcing the male-identified character of such environments. Where these companies’ business models depend not just on the ability to upend traditional practices, but to break the law, the companies cannot address gender disparities without addressing the business model itself. The Article concludes that gender inequality is intrinsically intertwined with the evisceration of the rule of law in corporate America.

June 10, 2020 in Business, Masculinities, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Papers from the Feminist Legal Theory Research Network at Next Week's Law & Society Association Virtual Meeting

I am probably one of the few people in the world who is thrilled that the Law & Society Annual Conference is virtual -- since I will now be able to attend.  In general virtual conferences open up access to some barriers to participation due to finances,  travel, family, disability, and health issues.

You can register for the virtual conference here at the Law & Society Association website.  

Scheduled papers to be presented from the Feminist Legal Theory Research Network:

 

Time

Title

Type

Wed, 5/27
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

#MeToo: The Narrative of Resistance Meets the Rule of Law

Plenary Session 

Thu, 5/28
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Moving Rules: Struggles for Reproductive Justice on Uneven Terrain

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Sexual Harassment: Victims and Survivors

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

CRN07: Feminist Legal Theory Business Meeting

Business Meeting 

Thu, 5/28
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Families, Laws, and Institutions

Paper Session 

Thu, 5/28
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

The State and Violence: New Proposals for Stopping the Cycle

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Normativity in Men, Women, and Bodies

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses

Roundtable Session 

Fri, 5/29
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Sexual Harassers, Sex Crimes, and Accountability

Paper Session 

Fri, 5/29
4:00 PM - 5:45 PM

Women's Rights in the Shadow of the Constitution

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Perspectives on Sex, Work and New Legal Orders

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
1:00 PM - 2:45 PM

Trans and Queer Life in Private and Public

Paper Session 

Sat, 5/30
4:00 PM - 5:45 PM

Human Rights in an Unequal World: Autonomy, Status, and Other Stories

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Feminist Legal Theory in a Public/Private World

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
11:00 AM - 12:45 PM

Laws of Social Reproduction

Paper Session 

Sun, 5/31
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Intimate Lies and the Law

Author Meets Reader (AMR) Session 

Sun, 5/31
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Feminist Judgments on Reproductive Justice and Family Law

Roundtable Session 

Sun, 5/31
2:15 PM - 4:00 PM

Women and Gender in Private, Public, and Places in Between: Old Doctrines Meet New Realities in the Twenty-First Century

Paper Session 

May 20, 2020 in Conferences, Constitutional, Equal Employment, Family, Masculinities, Reproductive Rights, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Challenging the Legitimacy of CEO Predatory Behavior in Business and Gender Equality Terms

June Carbone & William Black, The Problem with Predators, 43 Seattle U. L. Rev. 44 (2020) 

Both corporate theory and sex discrimination law start with presumptions that CEOs seek to advance legitimate ends and design the internal organization of business enterprises to achieve such ends. Yet, a growing literature questions why CEOs and boards of directors nonetheless select for Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and toxic masculinity, despite the downsides associated with these traits. Three scholarly literatures—economics, criminology, and gender theory—draw on advances in psychology to shed new light on the construction of seemingly dysfunctional corporate cultures. They start by questioning the assumption that CEOs—even CEOs of seemingly mainstream businesses—necessarily seek to advance “legitimate” ends. Instead, they suggest that a persistent issue is predation: the exploitation of asymmetries in information and power to the disadvantage of shareholders, creditors, customers, or employees. These literatures then explore how such CEOs may rationally choose to employ seemingly dysfunctional practices, such as “masculinity contests,” which reward employees more likely to buy into ethically dubious activities that range from predatory lending to sexual harassment. This Article maintains that questioning the presumption of legitimacy has profound and largely unexplored implications for corporate theory and anti-discrimination law. It extends the theory of “control fraud” central to white-collar criminology to a new concept of “control predation” that includes conduct that is ethically objectionable, if not necessarily illegal. This Article concludes that only by questioning the legitimacy of these practices in business terms can gender theory adequately address women’s workplace equality.

May 5, 2020 in Business, Equal Employment, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New Book: Peggy Orenstein, Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity

Vox, What is Going On with America's Boys?

Peggy Orenstein has spent much of her journalism career exploring the cultural forces that shape girlhood, revealing her insights in bestsellers such as Cinderella Ate My Daughter and Schoolgirls. But during her last book tour, she says, parents repeatedly asked her about boys. She realized she “needed to have the other half of the conversation.”

 

So for two years, Orenstein traveled across the country, interviewing 100 boys between the ages of 16 and 22.

 

While her work on girls has focused on the problematic disconnect they have with their bodies, Orenstein says her talks with young men illustrated “how boys are disconnected from their hearts, and how that affects their romantic relationships and sexual encounters.”

 

Her resulting book, Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity, examines relationships, consent, and a wide array of other issues related to boys’ emotional lives. And although her interviews began before Me Too, the movement only highlighted the urgency of these conversations.***

 

Excerpt: 

 

Q:  You’ve said that rigid masculine norms — such as dominance, aggression, wealth, athleticism, sexual conquest, and emotional suppression — are super-harmful to guys.

 

A: Peggy Orenstein

Boys cling to those norms. Why? Well, you know, they get rewarded for them. You can see in the culture — we have a president who is pretty darn rewarded for clinging to those norms right now — but those norms come at a tremendous cost.

 

As our culture has opened up to women, professionally and educationally, certain kinds of misogyny and sexism — particularly those that happen behind closed doors — have grown more entrenched. [Boys] are at risk of engaging in violence, of violence being done to them, of binge drinking, car accidents, self-harm, suicide, depression. They have fewer friends. They’re lonelier. I mean, it’s really not a pretty sight.

 

Boys wrestle with the taboo of vulnerability — either rejecting it, embracing it, denying it, or capitulating to it. When we cut people off from their ability to acknowledge, recognize, and express emotion, and particularly vulnerability, we not only undermine their basic humanity but we take away the thing that is essential.

February 19, 2020 in Books, Gender, Masculinities, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Dangers of Gendered School Dress Codes to the Institutionalization of Sexual Consent Myths

Shawn Fields, Institutionalizing Consent Myths in Grade School, 72 Oklahoma L. Rev. (2020)

Scholars and advocates have long decried antiquated notions of consent in the criminal law of rape and sexual assault. Significant progress has been made to redefine consent in criminal codes and in our collective consciousness as freely given, informed, enthusiastic, explicit, revocable, and to be considered from the perspective of the consenting party. But despite this progress, the criminal justice apparatus continues to fixate on details irrelevant to the consent calculus such as the victim’s dress. This obsession with the victim’s clothing reflects a troubling willingness to imply consent or, alternatively, blame the victim for provocatively “asking for it.” Significant scholarship has demonstrated the corrosive impact of this fixation, resulting in a “credibility discount” of women making sexual violence allegations, the acquittal of defendants engaged in clearly criminal sexual conduct, and a concomitant reluctance of female victims of sexual violence to even engage with the criminal justice system.

None of the foregoing is new or particularly controversial. But while this unfortunate reality has been well examined, this Essay reflects upon a lesser explored, early root cause of the status quo: the hard wiring of consent myths in grade school through gendered dress codes and the gendered messaging these dress codes institutionalize about consent. Increasingly pervasive, increasingly sex obsessed dress codes feed narratives at an early age that girls are sexual objects who are responsible for the assaultive behavior of perpetrators and who “ask for” any unwanted sexual attention their dress may attract.

This Essay highlights the dangerous, highly sexualized justification often given by school administrators for gendered dress codes: a desire to create a “distraction-free learning environment” for boys. This messaging sexualizes underage girls, forces them to become hyper-cognizant about their physical identity, and signals a male entitlement to act inappropriately towards the female body for which the female will be punished. At root, these dress codes, and the justifications behind them, normalize and excuse sexually predatory behavior as a natural “distracted” reaction while blaming the victim for provoking the unwanted behavior. This institutionalization – which continues to grow – naturally feeds corrosive narratives that persist in criminal sexual assault adjudications, including implied consent, the requirement of a “perfect victim,” and the myth of the “unstoppable male.”

February 19, 2020 in Education, Gender, Masculinities, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Re-norming Sport to Change a Toxic Culture of Harassment and Abuse

Melissa Breger, Margery Holman & Michelle Guerrero, Re-Norming Sport for Inclusivity: How the Sport Community Has the Potential to Change a Toxic Culture of Harassment and Abuse" 
Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 2019, 13, 274–289.

Traditional sport norms and gender-based biases that are prevalent in the sport environment, both explicit and implicit, have contributed to a culture where sexual harassment and abuse is commonplace. This article examines how sport tolerates the development of this culture, and more importantly, how practices and policies can be utilized to transform sport’s culture to one that is inclusive and safe. Reform is needed in attitudes and norms towards gender bias and sexual violence that primarily, but not exclusively, targets girls and women in sport and is perpetrated by boys and men. The application of various theories from psychology is recommended as one strategy to rid sport of both a culture of misogyny and of those who resist change to achieve this objective.

October 1, 2019 in Manliness, Masculinities, Sports, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Understanding the Origins, Use, and Misuse of the Term "Toxic Masculinity"

The Problem With the Term "Toxic Masculinity"

Over the past several years, toxic masculinity has become a catchall explanation for male violence and sexism. The appeal of the term, which distinguishes “toxic” traits such aggression and self-entitlement from “healthy” masculinity, has grown to the point where Gillette invoked it last month in a viral advertisement against bullying and sexual harassment. Around the same time, the American Psychological Association introduced new guidelines for therapists working with boys and men, warning that extreme forms of certain “traditional” masculine traits are linked to aggression, misogyny, and negative health outcomes.***

 

Masculinity can indeed be destructive. But both conservative and liberal stances on this issue commonly misunderstand how the term toxic masculinity functions. When people use it, they tend to diagnose the problem of masculine aggression and entitlement as a cultural or spiritual illness—something that has infected today’s men and leads them to reproachable acts. But toxic masculinity itself is not a cause. Over the past 30 years, as the concept has morphed and changed, it has served more as a barometer for the gender politics of its day—and as an arrow toward the subtler, shifting causes of violence and sexism.

 

Despite the term’s recent popularity among feminists, toxic masculinity did not originate with the women’s movement. It was coined in the mythopoetic men’s movement of the 1980s and ’90s, motivated in part as a reaction to second-wave feminism. Through male-only workshops, wilderness retreats, and drumming circles, this movement promoted a masculine spirituality to rescue what it referred to as the “deep masculine”— a protective, “warrior” masculinity—from toxic masculinity. Men’s aggression and frustration was, according to the movement, the result of a society that feminized boys by denying them the necessary rites and rituals to realize their true selves as men.***

 

The question is: Where do these sexist attitudes come from? Are men and boys just the victims of cultural brainwashing into misogyny and aggression, requiring reeducation into the “right” beliefs? Or are these problems more deep-seated, and created by the myriad insecurities and contradictions of men’s lives under gender inequality? The problem with a crusade against toxic masculinity is that in targeting culture as the enemy, it risks overlooking the real-life conditions and forces that sustain culture

April 4, 2019 in Gender, Manliness, Masculinities, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Psychology Association Issues First-Ever Guidelines for Men and Boys

APA Issues First-Ever Guidelines for Practice with Men and Boys

For the first time ever, APA is releasing guidelines to help psychologists work with men and boys.

 

At first blush, this may seem unnecessary. For decades, psychology focused on men (particularly white men), to the exclusion of all others. And men still dominate professionally and politically: As of 2018, 95.2 percent of chief operating officers at Fortune 500 companies were men. According to a 2017 analysis by Fortune, in 16 of the top companies, 80 percent of all high-ranking executives were male. Meanwhile, the 115th Congress, which began in 2017, was 81 percent male.

 

But something is amiss for men as well. Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They’re the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women’s. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and they face harsher punishments in school—especially boys of color.

 

APA’s new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men strive to recognize and address these problems in boys and men while remaining sensitive to the field’s androcentric past. Thirteen years in the making, they draw on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.

January 11, 2019 in Gender, Healthcare, Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Leading Law Scholars on MeToo and Sexual Harassment Law in Joint Collaboration of Yale and Stanford Law Reviews

The #MeToo movement has prompted a national dialogue about sexual harassment. This Companion Collection, launched in collaboration with the Stanford Law Review, aims to draw lessons from the #MeToo movement for activists, scholars, policymakers, lawyers, and judges. Across the two journals, the Collection offers twelve scholars’ insights on the ways sexual harassment produces and is produced by broader forms of inequality. Companion Essays can be found at the Stanford Law Review Online.

 

Articles in Yale Law Journal

Vicki Schultz, Reconceptualizing Sexual Harassment, Again

The #MeToo movement has spurred a renewed focus on sexual harassment. But often, the narratives that emerge overemphasize sexualized forms of harassment at the expense of broader structural causes.  This Essay builds on Schultz's previous work to explore those institutional drivers of harassment.

Brian Soucek, Queering Sexual Harassment Law
Franchina v. City of Providence may be the first judicial opinion of the #MeToo movement. But it also points beyond the #MeToo movement, exemplifying harassment that is motivated by desires to enforce gender roles and why sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII.

Rachel Arnow-Richman, Of Power and Process: Handling Harassers in an At-Will World

Pressure is mounting on companies to take swift disciplinary action regarding alleged sexual harassment. But our employment law incentivizes employers to tolerate high-ranking harassers while cracking down on inappropriate behavior by the rank-and-file. This Essay suggests a better path forward.

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, What About #UsToo?: The Invisibility of Race in the #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement has rightly been praised for breaking long-held silences about harassment. It has also rightly been critiqued for ignoring unique forms of harassment that women of color face. This Essay calls for a sexual harassment law that embraces intersectional, multidimensional identity.

Ramit Mizrahi, Sexual Harassment Law After #MeToo: Looking to California as a Model

The #MeToo movement has motivated people to speak out about sexual harassment, but many of those speaking remain vulnerable to retaliation. This Essay provides the perspective of an employment lawyer on the shortcomings of sexual harassment law and how state law can afford greater protection.

Tristin K. Green, Was Sexual Harassment Law a Mistake? The Stories We Tell

Does our sexual harassment law hinder the larger project of reducing harassment? This Essay demonstrates that the law constrains stories of harassment and hamstrings our calls for reform. Ultimately, the law, not just public perception, must change if this movement is to have a lasting effect.

 

Essays in Stanford Law Review

June 19, 2018 in Masculinities, Pop Culture, Scholarship, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Theorizing Women's Economic Abuse in the Family

Arianne Renan Barzilay, Power in the Age of In/Equality: Economic Abuse, Masculinities, and the Long Road to Marriage Equality, 51 Akron Law Rev. 323 (2018)

In an era when women have achieved formal legal equality, patriarchal power endures. In this article I take on a largely neglected subject: economic abuse. While this phenomenon has recently begun to generate awareness as a form of intimate partner violence, it currently lacks a theory and history with which to deeply understand it. A failure to recognize the profound roots enabling economic abuse contributes to its perpetuation, trivialization, and marginalization in legal thought. Such a failure has broad implications for gender equality. This Article offers both a history and a theory with which to understand the phenomenon’s deep roots. It sheds light on the historical modification of coverture through familial and market-based breadwinning roles, and points to new insights from masculinities theory to explain how economic abuse is enabled. It illustrates how economic abuse is socio-legally made possible, demonstrating how it is embedded in a historical, socio-legal structure of the market and the family. It thus brings domestic violence gender-based analysis into a broader conversation about the law, the market, and the family. It contends that economic abuse is not merely an individual matter requiring individual-oriented solutions, but rather a social one, based on a particular, historically-based construction of relationships between gender, law, the market, and the family. More generally, it offers a way to think about power in the family in this new, seemingly more egalitarian era. It concludes by suggesting guiding principles for mitigating economic abuse and for destabilizing gendered power dynamics in the family more broadly.

February 27, 2018 in Family, Gender, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Toxic Masculinity and Gun Control

Men and Guns: Are Masculinity and Firearms Inextricably Linked?

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.

 
 
 
Men are less likely than women to seek mental health care for depression, substance abuse and stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
 
Men are forced to be tough and unemotional. It's an example of "toxic masculinity," the stereotypical and historically harmful definition of what it means to be a man.*
 
Men who think they're falling short of traditional gender norms are more likely to engage in "stereotypically masculine behaviors," like violence, according to a 2015 paper in the journal Injury Prevention. Likewise, when a man's masculinity and status is threatened, they express more support for war, male superiority and homophobic attitudes, summarized studies showed in the 2013 paper "Overdoing Gender: A Test of the Masculine Overcompensation Thesis," published in the American Journal of Sociology.
 
Carlson said that in her research, which focused on concealed carriers in the Detroit metro area, this has resulted in a shift in how men see their role in the family.
 
"What is a man's relevance in the home?" She asked. "One of the ways I saw it being reworked was by really embracing this protector role."
 
According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of gun owners say protection is a major reason they own a firearm, despite a 2016 review in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews of 130 studies that found firearm restrictions are associated with fewer deaths. And an analysis of Gallup polls from 2007 to 2012 found that marriage is a strong predictor of gun ownership.*
 
While protection is a major reason people say they own a gun, it isn't the only one. Some say they have guns for hunting. Others say they own guns because the Second Amendment says they can. Still others say guns are what keep them safe from a government that doesn't deserve their trust.
 
Saying that owning a gun "makes me a man" won't ever be listed among these reasons, but it's clear gun makers know that for many people, it subconsciously is.

February 20, 2018 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Discussing Toxic Masculinity

Ask a Feminist: Michael Kimmel and Lisa Wade Discuss Toxic Masculinity, Signs Journal

Feminism basically offered women a symmetry between the social and the individual. The social observation was women as a group are not in power. And individually, women didn't feel powerful. So feminism basically said, let’s address both of those: the individual powerlessness and the social powerlessness. When you apply that same syllogism to men, men are in power, everyone agrees, but when you say therefore men must feel powerful, they look at you cross-eyed. They say, “What are you talking about? I have no power. My wife bosses me around. My kids boss me around. My boss bosses me around.” So with women you have a kind of symmetry; with men you have an asymmetry. All of the power in the world has not trickled down to individual men feeling powerful. This is important because you have a whole bunch of political groups out there who are saying things like, “You know, guys, you know how you don't feel powerful? You're right, the feminist women, they have all the power. Let's go get it back.” That's the men's rights guys. Then you have the guys who are saying, “Yes, you know how you don't feel powerful, let's troop off into the woods, and we’ll chant, and we'll drum, and we'll do the power rituals.” That’s the mythopoetic group.

 

I think our task has to be to address the asymmetry between the social and the individual, and here's how we do it. Our analysis of patriarchy is not simply men's power over women; it's also some men’s power over other men. Patriarchy’s always been a dual system of power, and unless we acknowledge that second one, we won't get an idea of why so many men feel like they're complete losers in the gender game, and they're not at all privileged, and they’ll resist any effort toward gender equality. I think we can make them allies.***

 

I have found in forty years of activism that the toxic/healthy dichotomy doesn't resonate for many men. I feel that when we come to them and talk about toxic masculinity, they very often think that we're telling them they're doing it wrong, that they're bad, and they have to change and give up their ideas of masculinity, the toxic ones, and embrace the new one. Basically we’re asking them to renounce Vin Diesel and embrace Ryan Gosling. And men won't go for it. They're too afraid to let go of things because you think they're unhealthy. So I feel like the toxic/healthy thing keeps guys a little bit askew—not exactly full-on resistant, although some are, but not engaged.

 

So I found it better—this is my own activist work,  . . . —but I have found it better to ask men what it means to be a good man and then contrast that with what it means to be a real man.

 

So I was not there to tell them that their behaviors were toxic. I was there to tell them that they are already experiencing a conflict, inside them, between their own values and this homosocial performance. So my job then shifted, not from scolding them to saying, “How can I support you living up to, not my definition of a good man, but yours? You already know the answer to this. You already do it very often, in private. You already do it when you stand up for the right, for the little guy, when you do the right thing. You already do it. How can we, grown-ups, how can we, the rest of society, support you in living up to your own standards?” I think that's a more effective way to reach these guys than it is to say, “You're doing it wrong, here’s how to do it right.”***

 

But I've done that same thing about good men and real men with frat guys when I've worked with them and they say to me, “Well, I know you're here to tell us that we shouldn't exist and fraternities should go away, etc.”

 

And I said, “Maybe not. Here’s a little good man / real man thing for you. Okay, bring me your charter, bring me the charter of your fraternity.” So they bring me the charter. And I said, “Now show me the part in your charter where it says ‘And we will have parties where we get girls so drunk that they can't stand up and they pass out so we can fuck them.’” And you know what? It doesn't say that in their charter. Nowhere. But here’s what it does say: “You’re men of honor, you’re men of integrity, you are about service, you’re about citizenship. I don't want you to live up to my ideals. I want you to live up to yours. If you can live up to your own ideals, you’ll have a reason to exist. Otherwise, no. I’m not okay with it.

January 30, 2018 in Gender, Masculinities, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)