Gender and the Law Prof Blog

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

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)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The True Man and His Gun: A Masculinities Theory of the Second Amendment

C.D. Christensen, The "True Man" and His Gun: On the Masculine Mystique of Second Amendment Jurisprudence, 23 William & Mary J. Women & Law (2017)

The Supreme Court’s recent Second Amendment jurisprudence raises serious normative questions for the use of self-defense with a firearm. This jurisprudence also implicates our prevailing social norms with respect to socially constructed and structurally pervasive gender roles. I argue that a peculiarly American conception of masculinity underpins the judicial construction of the Second Amendment’s core purpose as guaranteeing the right to armed defense of one’s self and one’s home. The Court’s recent Second Amendment rulings create an individual protection for gun ownership and incorporate the same against the States. But the Court’s reasoning entangles this protection with an implicit valuation of manhood that reifies the notion that “true men” do not retreat in the face of danger. In so entangling, the Court establishes a right to gun ownership that is politically free but legally male. This Article explores the socio-legal structures that underpin the Court’s reasoning to explain (a) how the right to keep and bear arms arises from a dubious ideal of the American “man,” and thus how (b) the purposes for which one may keep and bear arms galvanizes a particular masculine type within our Second Amendment jurisprudence. That type establishes a problematic cultural narrative of and ethos for manhood in America; consequently, this jurisprudence establishes a dominant masculinity predicated upon firearm ownership. That masculinity complicates, and may even impede, the social evolution of subordinated masculinities and shifts the social hierarchy of masculinities to empower and privilege gun-owning males.

November 7, 2017 in Constitutional, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Enforcing Masculinities at the Borders

Many thanks to guest blogger Prof. Jamie Abrams for blogging with us this summer.

As immigration reform debates heat up, I am reminded of a project I undertook several years ago to examine how U.S. immigration laws and policies reflect governing dominant masculinities. In Enforcing Masculinities at the Borders, I noted how sparse historical work had considered the masculinities dimensions of immigration law. I argued that unpacking the masculinities dimensions of our paradigmatic shifts in immigration policy might offer an additional—even unifying—dimension to previously disparate and divergent immigration laws worthy of further research.  This thesis feels more worrisome and relevant than ever.

Masculinities, the study of how men relate to each other and construct their identities, can be used as a powerful sociological and legal tool to understand institutions, power structures, and human relations. Recent events underscore that it is critical to make masculinities visible in immigration law to understand how dominant masculine imperatives shape citizenship itself. Immigration laws and policies reinforce dominant masculinities at the border by excluding marginalized masculinities and admitting those who comport with dominant masculinity norms. The state is not just enforcing immigration laws at its borders but it also enforces masculinity norms. For that reason, we should approach immigration reform with great caution and concern within the women’s movement, more vigilant to immigration reform than preciously understood.

Examining the masculinity underpinnings of historical immigration trends sets up the importance of a modern inquiry to understand how current dominant masculinities shape and drive immigration law and policy.  The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, dramatically catalyzed sweeping changes in immigration law and policy.  While September 11, 2001, offered a message of national security imperatives, critically the seeds of today’s anti-immigration activism and rhetoric began earlier with shifting masculinities and escalating nativism.  Indeed one of the key defining characteristic of this generation of masculinities in crisis is its resorting to anger, even violence, in response to threatened masculinities. This can be viewed as an expression of hyper-masculinity or an “explosive rage of the twenty-first century” as masculinities scholar Michael Kimmel calls it. The idea that some subsection of white men perceive themselves as the “real victims in America” is heavily influencing modern immigration policy and political rhetoric. 

The dominant masculinity imperative displayed by some political groups is not just “anti-immigrant” for security reasons or to shore up our nation’s borders. These reform efforts are driven – at bottom – by a toxic masculinity, which seeks to “other” women, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants by pushing a toxic masculinity into the political foreground. This masculinities lens reveals that the feminist community should watch and engage in the immigration debate carefully, recognizing that immigration law reflects the dominant masculinities of our time. 

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Guest blogger Professor Jamie Abrams is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law where she teaches Torts, Family Law, Legislation, and Women and the Law. Her research focuses on reproductive and birthing decision-making, gendered citizenship, legal protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, and legal education pedagogy. Professor Abrams' most recent work includes Debunking the Myth of Universal Male Privilege, in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and The Feminist Case for Acknowledging Women’s Acts of Violence in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.

August 22, 2017 in International, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mainstream Hegemonic Masculinity

By Guest blogger Jamie Abrams

There is no shortage of blog posts about gender and the feminist implications of the U.S. presidential election.  Blogs, articles, and books have deeply explored how the gender of the candidates affected the election, how the gender of voters shifted the election, and more.  This blog post reminds us that feminists can use masculinities theory as an additional barometer of overall shifts in gender norms and gender equality.  This barometer is important because it measures the underlying socio-legal sentiments that catapult political movements forward and define the very ideals that Americans seek.  

With that expanded lens in mind, the U.S. presidential election and the current presidency reveal a lesson in “Hegemonic Masculinity 101” for us all.  The election and its aftermath remind us that feminist theory and activism need to engage more actively and systemically with masculinity theory to understand the current political and social threats that merit feminist responses.  Feminist theory generally seeks to explore and address the ways in which the state subordinates women.  In contrast, masculinities theory considers how men wield and maintain power over men and other women.  Masculinities theory is not so much concerned with the power of the state as it is with the institutional and internal power systems that idealize certain forms of masculinities over other forms of masculinities.  For example, imagine the forms of masculinities that are heralded in the police force today, or in the military, or in fraternities, or in corporate boardrooms. 

One strand of dominant masculinities is “hegemonic masculinity.”  This strand of masculinities suggests that there is an idealized form of masculinity that sits above others and to which men aspire to attain.  The central idea of hegemonic masculinity is not so much that many men actually hold this status or perceive themselves to hold these dominant traits, but that the quest to acquire these traits is something that men are complicit in and that the quest itself sustains the anointed status of those traits.  Key traits of a hegemonic masculinity framing include a man who holds a wealthy, successful job; a strong physical physique; and someone who never presents as feminine or gay.  

The current situation reveals dominant hegemonic masculinity in action.  It suggests that it is not any one candidate or politician who threatens gender equality norms, but the surging and swelling underlying support for these hegemonic norms that should turn feminist heads.  This perspective is cause for study and consideration because of what it reveals about what other men say that they covet and desire and value in framing modern masculinity.  It suggests that – under the backdrop of the fervor and decibels of women’s voices marching in the streets – there is a more concerning silent march of a toxic hegemonic masculinity into the mainstream political arena. 

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Guest blogger Professor Jamie Abrams is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law where she teaches Torts, Family Law, Legislation, and Women and the Law. Her research focuses on reproductive and birthing decision-making, gendered citizenship, legal protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, and legal education pedagogy. Professor Abrams' most recent work includes Debunking the Myth of Universal Male Privilege, in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and The Feminist Case for Acknowledging Women’s Acts of Violence in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.

 

August 21, 2017 in Masculinities, Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Replacing the Masculine View of Leadership as Authority with a Feminist View of Leadership as a Bridge

Jo Reger, Blinded by Gender: The Study of Leadership Dilemmas and US Feminism

As a scholar of the U.S. women’s movement, I have spent some of my intellectual time puzzling out the role of leaders in feminism. A historical perspective tells us that there were women who emerged as leaders — an oft recited list includes names such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan. A historical view also tells us that women’s leadership is often contentious, in retreat and ignored.

 

In quick review of feminist history, we can see these dynamics. For women in the early years of 1960s’ and 1970s’ feminist activism assuming a visible position as a leader brought personal loss as participants “trashed” those they thought were stepping into the public spotlight. Indeed this history is filled with stories of feminists attacking each other as they worked to create social change. The temptation in reviewing this history is to assume that women and cooperative and productive leadership do not mix. ***

 

Then comes the early 21st century, a time when the U.S. women’s movement is declared dead repeatedly. In my book, Everywhere and Nowhere, I investigate the state of the movement and find that at the community level a vibrant and distinct feminism exists, complete with women assuming leadership positions. Yet, at the national level when people are queried as to who is a feminist leader most times they cannot go beyond answering “Gloria Steinem.” As a result, the temptation (and inclination) is to declare U.S. feminism as dead.

 

This quick journey through feminist history acknowledges that leadership is a complicated concept, easily misunderstood and that our tools to study leadership need refining. One way that we can work to better conceptualize leadership is to acknowledge the ways in which gender, in particular masculinity, have become wedded to the notion of the leader. Many of the characteristics of what a leader is are formed around a more masculinist notion of control and authority. Leaders in the Weberian sense are charismatic, authoritative or bureaucratically assigned. They are in control, in the forefront and are accepting and even welcoming of the chance to lead. When this type of leadership is not present, scholars can conclude that leadership is not present. But what if we examine leadership differently? What if the gendered nature of the concept of leader is examined and deconstructed? We do have hints of this in scholarship such as Belinda Robnett’s 1997 conceptualization of a “bridge leader” born out of her study of women in the civil rights movement. Whereas a masculinist view of leadership sees it as publicly visible and clearly in control, the bridge leader works out of the spotlight, making connections between groups and networks and acquiring needed resources.

May 31, 2017 in Gender, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Preferring the Male Voice in Supreme Court Arguments

Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of Voice in the US Supreme Court

Using data on 1,901 U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments between 1998 and 2012, we document that voice-based snap judgments based on lawyers’ identical introductory sentences, “Mr. Chief Justice, (and) may it please the Court?”, predict court outcomes. The connection between vocal characteristics and court outcomes is specific only to perceptions of masculinity and not other characteristics, even when judgment is based on less than three seconds of exposure to a lawyer’s speech sample. Consistent with employers irrationally favoring lawyers with masculine voices, perceived masculinity is negatively correlated with winning and the negative correlation is larger in more masculine-sounding industries. The first lawyer to speak is the main driver. Among these petitioners, males below median in masculinity are 7 percentage points more likely to win in the Supreme Court. Justices appointed by Democrats, but not Republicans, vote for less-masculine men. Female lawyers are also coached to be more masculine and women’s perceived femininity predict court outcomes. Republicans, more than Democrats, vote for more feminine-sounding females. A de-biasing strategy is tested and shown to reduce evaluators’ tendency to perceive masculine voices as more likely to win. Perceived masculinity explains 3-10% additional variance compared to the current best prediction model of Supreme Court votes.

May 16, 2017 in Courts, Gender, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Rethinking the Cultural Attitudes of Masculinity in Acquaintance Rape Cases

Eric Carpenter (FIU), Patriarchy, Not Hierarchy: Rethinking the Effect of Cultural Attitudes in Acquaintance Rape Cases, 68 Hastings L.J. (forthcoming 2016)

Abstract:     

Do certain people view acquaintance rape cases in ways that favor the man? The answer to that question is important. If certain people do, and those people form a disproportionately large percentage of the people in the institutions that process these cases, then those institutions may process these cases in ways that favor the man.

In 2010, Dan Kahan published Culture, Cognition, and Consent, a study on how people evaluate a dorm room rape scenario. He found that those who endorsed a stratified, hierarchical social order were more likely to find that the man should not be found guilty of rape.

If Kahan is right, radical change may be necessary. The institutions responsible for handling sexual assault complaints – law enforcement communities, the military, and university and college administrations – are stratified and hierarchical, and are likely over-populated by people who are attracted to hierarchical institutions and who hold hierarchical world views. These institutions may need to be overhauled – or even replaced.

However, the study has a methodological flaw: it uses the Hierarchy-Egalitarianism Scale to measure those hierarchical world views, and as this article demonstrates, this scale has reliability and validity issues.

This article then applies a different methodology to the underlying data and shows that patriarchy, not hierarchy, explains the differences in guilt perceptions. This more accurate understanding of Kahan’s data carries important policy implications. Rather than radical change, targeted training that addresses inaccurate rape beliefs may be enough to ensure accurate processing of these cases.

 

 

May 27, 2016 in Masculinities, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Debunking the Myth of Male Privilege in the Military and Assault

Jamie R. Abrams (Louisville), Debunking the Myth of Universal Male Privilege, 49 U.Mich.J.L. Reform 303 (2016)    

 
Existing legal responses to sexual assault and harassment in the military have stagnated or failed. Current approaches emphasize the prevalence of sexual assault and highlight the masculine nature of the military's statistical composition and institutional culture. Current responses do not, however, incorporate masculinities theory to disentangle the experiences of men as a group from men as individuals. Rather, embedded within contestations of the masculine military culture is the unstated assumption that the culture universally privileges or benefits the individual men that operate within it. This myth is harmful because it tethers masculinities to military efficacy, suppresses the costs of male violence to men, and positions women as perpetual outsiders.
Debunking the myth of universal male privilege in heavily masculinized institutions would advance gender equality and shift the law reform focus. It would bring sexual assault, domestic violence, and sexual harassment into the same frame as the military mental health crisis and even mass solidier-on-soldier shootings. This would reveal the gender equality implications of military mental health and disentangle masculinities and military efficacy. Debunking the myth of univeral male privilege would yield more vigilance to how law reforms can exacerbate hyper-masculine violence. It introduces new entry points to gendered violence in the military, expanding the focus from incident-based responses to recruiting and training.

May 4, 2016 in Gender, Masculinities, Theory, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Men's Lib!"

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.

November 16, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Disadvantaged Start Hurts Boys More Than Girls

So reads a NYT Op-Ed: 

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.

November 1, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Law Firms Are Learning: Work-Life Balance Isn't Just for Moms"

From the Atlantic:

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.

And: 

“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.

September 25, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Men’s-Rights Activists Say They Are Discriminated Against by Women in Tech"

From New York Magazine:  

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. 

September 9, 2015 in Manliness, Masculinities | Permalink | Comments (0)