Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Are businesses that cater to women inherently anti-male?
Entrepreneur Stephanie Burns would say no. Burns runs Chic CEO, a startup that hosts networking events and provides online resources for female entrepreneurs.
But three men's rights activists didn't see her services as benevolent. They sued her for being denied entry to an event in San Diego.
The lawsuit cites a California law called the Unruh Civil Rights Act,enacted in 1959, which prohibits businesses from discriminating based on factors such as sex, race, religion and disabilities.
Burns told CNNMoney that men are allowed to attend her events, but that particular one was at capacity. But Chic CEO's promotional materials -- which all catered to women -- were fuel for the lawsuit. The event was described as a "fun, relaxed environment to meet up with entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, CEOs, directors, savvy business women."
Monday, August 24, 2015
The book was published in 2013, but I recently discovered it, and read it.
Marc Maron--the guy who interviewed Obama from his garage in L.A.--is a comedian and actor. He is also a smart social critic, and his book Attempting Normal is terrific.
True, the book is often puerile, vulgar and some sections (like his somewhat pointless digression about trying to herd feral cats) don't work. But overall, the book contains nuggets of insight about manliness and, seldom found in academic writing, Maron renders his observations with poignant wit and unforgettable humor.
Manliness--at least Maron's manliness--is destructive and self-destructive; it aspires for nobility but is frequently crippled by paranoia; it yearns to be tough but always circles back to its vulnerabilities; it desires love from women but is consumed by a relentless narcissism. It is also highly self-conscious and acutely cognizant of its flaws, and is willing to share those flaws with the reader.
There's an interview with Maron on the Good Men Project today.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Two women recently passed the arduous tests of the US Army's Ranger School. But they aren't quite Rangers, according to the Army:
Even though they have earned the right to wear the “Ranger” tab on their uniforms, Griest and Haver aren’t allowed to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations unit. But their Ranger training, the Army said, dramatically improves their chances of being promoted.
Griest and Haver were held to the same standards as the men who are graduating with them, senior military leaders told reporters in a briefing here Thursday.
“Our standards have been met,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Arnold, the senior noncommissioned officer in charge at the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. “We didn’t have to change our standards.
“These two soldiers have proven that — regardless of gender — those standards can be met,” he continued. “Everything is training-based in the Army. If you train hard enough and you prepare well enough, you are going to do well.”
Monday, August 17, 2015
Jane says she was raped by three men wearing Gurkha uniforms. She was herding her husband’s goats and sheep, and carrying firewood, when she was attacked. “I felt so ashamed and could not talk about it to other people. They did terrible things to me,” says Jane, her eyes alive with pain.
She is 38 but looks considerably older. She shows me a deep scar on her leg where she was cut by stones when she was pushed to the ground. In a quiet, hesitant voice she continues her story. “I eventually told my husband’s mother that I was sick, because I had to explain the injuries and my depression. I was given traditional medicine, but it did not help. When she told my husband [about the rape], he beat me with a cane. So I disappeared and came here with my children.”
Jane is a resident of Umoja, a village in the grasslands of Samburu, in northernKenya, surrounded by a fence of thorns. I arrive in the village at the hottest time of the day, when the children are sleeping. Goats and chickens wander around, avoiding the bamboo mats on which women sit making jewellery to sell to tourists, their fingers working quickly as they talk and laugh with each other. There are clothes drying in the midday sun on top of the huts made from cow dung, bamboo and twigs. The silence is broken by birdsong, shrill, sudden and glorious. It is a typical Samburu village except for one thing: no men live here.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
A Woman’s Nation, the non-profit organization run by Maria Shriver, recently released its survey The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man, analyzing the American man and how he relates to societally- inflicted stereotypes. In conjunction with the release of the report, Shriver hosted and moderated a panel discussion entitled “A Conversation on Modern Masculinity,” and included a number of the leading minds on the study of masculinity and fatherhood.
The survey yielded a number of interesting findings; men today feel that is “harder” to be a man than it was when their fathers were growing up, with some men finding that the apparently overwhelming addition of women into the workplace makes it more difficult for them to “be men.” Conversely, according to The Report, men claim that success in their personal life is what is most important to them, rather than financial or professional success. Additionally, most men reported that they feel very comfortable with the “increasing professional empowerment of women in the workplace.” However, although this increased comfort with the movement towards gender inequality is promising, the survey shows that many men do not feel comfortable expanding their own parenting role, whether it be in regards to taking paternity leave or being a stay-at-home dad.
Perhaps the most intriguing result comes from the part of the survey that looked to ascertain what qualities men value in their wives and what characteristics they hope their daughters will possess when they grow up. The response was oddly dissimilar, though men seemed to be in agreement on one point: they overwhelming want both their wives and their daughters (77% and 81% respectively) to be intelligent. This is an encouraging discovery, though it is somewhat tainted by the other findings in the survey’s comparison. For example, the study found that although 66% of the men polled listed “independence” as a quality they hoped for in their daughters, only 34% wanted independence in their spouse. This, of all the differentials between the qualities juxtaposed, is the most glaring disparity.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Here in America, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, sexism is very much on the wane, but misogyny is not. Sexism—the conviction that women don’t deserve equal pay, political rights, or access to education—can be combatted by argument, by anti-discrimination laws, and by giving women the opportunity to prove their ability. Misogyny is not amenable to such advances; they can in some circumstances exacerbate it, though they may drive it underground. An example of misogyny is when someone online threatens to rape and mutilate a woman whose opinions that person does not like. Another is when a Presidential candidate says of a female journalist whose questions he finds impertinent, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her—wherever.”
Sunday, August 9, 2015
At SUNY Stony Brook, Michael Kimmel proposes just that:
You’ve heard of women’s studies, right? Well, this is men’s studies: the academic pursuit of what it means to be male in today’s world. Dr. Kimmel is the founder and director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York system, which will soon start the first master’s degree program in “masculinities studies.”
No, Dr. Kimmel joked, the department title doesn’t just roll off the tongue. But it’s called “masculinities” (plural) to acknowledge that there is “more than one way to be a man.”
Friday, August 7, 2015
Donald Trump's unforgettable performance in the GOP debate last night is now well publicized.
Among the several provocative comments he uttered, one is especially noteworthy. During an exchange with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who had asked him to respond to charges that he was a misogynist, he snapped at her and made a vague threat.
Today's WaPo contains some discussion about Trump's views on women.
“I don’t know why, but I seem to bring out either the best or worst in women.”
So wrote Donald Trump in his 1997 book, “Trump: The Art of the Comeback.”At the time, the real-estate billionaire was dealing with the end of his second marriage, so a little bitterness might be expected. Yet, throughout Trump’s books — particularly in his three memoirs, “Trump: The Art of the Deal”(1987), “Trump: Surviving at the Top” (1990) and “The Art of the Comeback” — he writes at length on his personal relationships, his experiences with women in marriage and in the workplace, even his dating life.
A memorable excerpt from the WaPo piece, quoting The Donald:
“Women have one of the great acts of all time. The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” (“Trump: The Art of the Comeback”)
Friday, July 31, 2015
Young men today have aspirations of being hands-on fathers as well as breadwinners — supportive husbands who also do dishes.
But as they enter that more responsibility-filled stage of life, something changes: Their roles often become much more traditional.
Millennial men — ages 18 to early 30s — have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet they struggle to achieve their goals once they start families, researchers say. Some researchers think that’s because workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Unfortunate that I had missed this story earlier this month:
A U.S. law that treats mothers and fathers differently in determining whether their foreign-born children may claim U.S. citizenship is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday, four years after the U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 on the issue.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the statute applied "impermissible stereotyping" in imposing a tougher burden on fathers.
The law requires unwed fathers who are U.S. citizens to spend at least five years living in the United States - a 2012 amendment reduced it from 10 years - before they can confer citizenship onto a child born abroad, out of wedlock and to a partner who is not a U.S. citizen. For unwed U.S. mothers in the same situation, the requirement is only one year.
Wednesday's ruling is likely to have a limited effect in terms of the number of people it applies to, but the decision addresses important principles regarding laws that explicitly treat the sexes differently, legal advocates said.
**the story continues here.
Friday, July 24, 2015
A recent study at the U of Washington confirms what every guy knows: men exaggerate about how great they are. All men do this, I suspect, to varying degree.
If a man feels like his masculinity is being questioned he is more likely to lie about his physical and mental traits.
Researchers have found that men will overcompensate by lying about their height, how athletic or they are and how many relationships they have had in order live up to the male stereotype.
In contrast, men who don’t feel threatened are more honest when quizzed about their physical appearance or past.
Male students at Stanford University were told they were participating in research on how exertion impacts decision-making and were asked to squeeze a handheld device with each hand.
Researchers marked their scores on sheets that showed fake results, representing 'typical' male and female results.
Participants were scored either in the middle of the female or the male curve, suggesting that their grip was either weak or average.
They were then asked to fill out a questionnaire asking about their height, number of previous relationships, various personality traits and their interest in products that skewed male or female, along with 'distracter questions' about things such as their college major.
Associate Professor Cheryan said the consistent exaggeration about height among the group who thought they scored lower was particularly surprising.
'Height is something you think would be fixed, but how tall you say you are is malleable, at least for men,' she said.
The findings, researchers said, underscore the pressure men feel to live up to gender stereotypes and the ways in which they might reinstate a threatened masculinity.
From the LA Times, an interesting comparison with the much more open policy of the Girl Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America didn't go as far as it ought to have with its new recommendation on gay Scout leaders, but it did make reluctant headway. This wasn't the leap of an organization that now views sexual orientation with more tolerant eyes, but rather a shuffling step by a tradition-bound group that has been prodded by dramatic changes in societal views of sexual orientation, as well as the financial realities of needing to woo back corporate donors such as Walt Disney Co. that are reluctant to sponsor an organization that discriminates against gay people.
The resolution approved last week by the Scouts' national executive committee puts an end to the organization's official ban on gay Scout leaders and volunteers. But rather than banning such discrimination entirely, it leaves the decision up to individual troops and units. (The new policy is expected to be ratified by the executive board July 27.) Some of those troops already have shown interest in welcoming all interested and qualified adults, regardless of sexual orientation; many others are expected to keep a ban in place.
Compare that with the way the Girl Scouts recently made news: A Scouting council in western Washington rejected a $100,000 donation that came with the stipulation that it not be used to support transgender Scouts. That's in line with the organization's history. The Girl Scouts also became racially integrated much earlier than the Boy Scouts, and had little problem accepting atheist members.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
So reads the Salon headline for an article that assesses the public rhetoric by GOP presidential candidates.
Chris Christie roared onto the presidential campaign stage calling out his onetime pal, President Obama, for being “weak.” He labeled the economy as “weak,” U.S. foreign policy as “weak,” and the president’s style of governance as a “handwringing” incompetence. Christie’s theme is not just his, though; it seems to dominate the Republican candidates’ critique of any Democratic leader whose approach to the larger world refrains from their over-the-top bluster. The real question, though, is what makes the Republicans think theirs is the party of strength? What lies behind their in-your-face, Clint Eastwood-style American bravado?
Monday, July 20, 2015
I, Elspeth Reeve, am the manliest journalist in the world. That’s not something I go around thinking about all day, but recently Mark Judge wrote a semi-viral article titled, “Where Have All the Manly Journalists Gone?” I am here to answer that question.
Judge’s essay for Acculturated.com, “an online magazine about the virtues and vices of pop culture” with a politically conservative slant, drew some attention when he savvily tweeted it at many journalists. It is a tailored-for-Twitter version of a longstanding anxiety—ex: “THE SISSIFICATION OF AMERICA CONTINUES APACE.” Judge, who has written a book titled A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll, wonders what happened to the burly old guys with alcohol problems who wrote about big wars: “Ernest Hemingway. Ernie Pyle. Jack London. Christopher Hitchens.” The article is illustrated with a photograph of Hemingway using a typewriter outdoors, with rugged mountains behind him, while wearing a leather vest and pomade in his hair, which clearly was not staged for his own vanity, because that would be unmanly.
In the good old days, there was an “intense physicality” to reporting, Judge writes, and “journalism was a job of grit and hard effort, like boxing.” These days, we type things on computers, like pussies.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Serena Williams won another Wimbledon title this weekend. She is deservedly the most accomplished athlete--of any gender--for a sport.
Alas, there are discussions regarding her body image and what said discussions say about how we think about gender.
From the NYT:
Despite Williams’s success — a victory Saturday would give her 21 Grand Slam singles titles and her fourth in a row — body-image issues among female tennis players persist, compelling many players to avoid bulking up.
“It’s our decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10,” said Tomasz Wiktorowski, the coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, who is listed at 5 feet 8 and 123 pounds. “Because, first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.”
For many, perceived ideal feminine body type can seem at odds with the best physique for tennis success. Andrea Petkovic, a German ranked 14th, said she particularly loathed seeing pictures of herself hitting two-handed backhands, when her arm muscles appear the most bulging.
“I just feel unfeminine,” she said. “I don’t know — it’s probably that I’m self-conscious about what people might say. It’s stupid, but it’s insecurities that every woman has, I think. I definitely have them and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I would love to be a confident player that is proud of her body. Women, when we grow up we’ve been judged more, our physicality is judged more, and it makes us self-conscious.”
Monday, July 13, 2015
A bit dated by cyberspace terms but still worth reading from the New Republic:
We cannot talk about the violence that Dylann Roof perpetrated at Emanuel AME last Wednesday night without talking about whiteness, and specifically, about white womanhood and its role in racist violence. We have to talk about those things, because Roof himself did. Per a witness account, we know that he said: “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country.” “Our” women, by whom he meant white women.
There is a centuries-old notion that white men must defend, with lethal violence at times, the sexual purity of white women from allegedly predatory black men. And, as we saw yet again after this shooting, it is not merely a relic of America’s hideous racial past. American racism is always gendered; racism and sexism are mutually dependent, and cannot be unstitched.
Friday, July 10, 2015
South Carolina's decision to take down the Confederate Flag reminded me of the flag's symbolic associations with rural masculinity.
Which got me thinking about country music. Which got me thinking about contemporary country music. Yes, music, and not law, but to the extent popular culture informs and influences law, I wanted to share some excerpts from this essay from the New Republic:
Contemporary country masculinity is all about working hard, drinking harder, and doubling down on the kind of old-fashioned manliness that is now rejected—or that is seen to be rejected—by hipsters, nouveau bros, metrosexuals, and myriad other manifestations of the decline of manhood. It’s a deeply reactionary vision of masculinity, rooted in class, race, and a desire to define oneself as not a woman and as definitely, absolutely, supremely heterosexual.
They hate their jobs, unless they work on a farm, in which case they revere their work—for its symbolism, for its inherent and authentic goodness—even though it’s hard. With the extolling of small-town values and the rhapsodic waxing about dirt roads comes the class-conscious assumption that work is a paycheck, not a path to self-actualization. Men in country work hard, but they’d clock out for good at the end of today’s shift if they could.
And when they clock out, they drink. A lot
The third component of the masculinity espoused by bro country is straightness. Super straightness.
This is what masculinity looks like in country today: work hard in a “real” job, blow off steam drinking and ogling women with your boys, then demonstrate your heterosexuality by picking one of them up. As Noah Berlatsky wrote in this magazine earlier this year, the male gaze has become central to the genre’s authenticity. “To be normal, to be real, to be rural, to be unaffected on country radio … You just have to be a guy who likes staring at women.”
Such impressions, if accurate, would suggest that contemporary country music isn't especially charmed by the picture of masculinity presented, generations earlier, by the likes of Johnny Cash, George Jones and Willie Nelson: the subtlety, the irony, and the episodes of witty paradox, often mixed with wry home-truths that sounded like nuggets of wisdom about what it meant to be a man.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
White Americans make up 95% of elected prosecutors across the US, according to a study that cites the non-indictments of white police officers in the high-profile deaths of unarmed black men as the “shocking” reality of a disproportionate and non-diverse criminal justice system that relies on prosecutorial power.
The study, from the San Francisco-based Women’s Donor Network, also found that that just 17% of elected prosecutors in the US are women – and just 1% are women of color.
The combination of these racial and gender disparities means that white men, who represent 31% of the population, hold 79% of the 2,437 elected prosecutors in the country at a time when growing attention to issues of misrepresentation in the criminal justice system has led to calls for reform.
A group of psychologists have published a paper about a social axiom whose substance, I suspect, had already been intuitively grasped by every single man without the aid of empirical research: when a man feels that his manliness is threatened, he tends to overcompensate. The paper's abstract:
‘‘It seems I had to fight my whole life through. Some gal would giggle and I’d get red And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head, I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named ‘Sue’.’’ Johnny Cash, ‘‘A Boy Named Sue (1969)’’
How do people react when one of their important social identities is threatened? In the song ‘‘A Boy Named Sue,’’ Johnny Cash tells the story of a boy with an emasculating name. Faced with this ever-present threat to his masculinity, Sue overcompensates by becoming ‘‘quick and mean’’ and fighting his ‘‘whole life through.’’ The lyrics attest to the pressure that is placed on males to be masculine and the psychological discomfort felt when masculinity is questioned (e.g., Massad, 1981). The song also suggests that rather than simply living with the threat, men actively respond to recover their masculinity. We tested two basic strategies that men might use to compensate for masculinity threats: (i) exaggerating their masculinity and (ii) avoiding stereotypically feminine preferences. We further examined whether some strategies of reestablishing a threatened identity were favored over others, and if so, why.
Friday, July 3, 2015
Those keeping up with the Women's World Cup know the story. For those who don't, here it is:
It was a soccer player’s worst nightmare. With seconds left in a World Cup semifinal on Wednesday, Laura Bassett of England lunged for the ball and accidentally kicked it into her own net.
Seconds later, the whistle blew. Japan had won, 2-1, and Bassett and many other England players were left in tears. And members of the sometimes vicious British news media sharpened their pens and offered ... sympathy?
The most common word in British newspaper and website headlines on Thursday was “heartbreak,” and photos of the weeping Bassett dominated the coverage.
“England Women Have Done Their Country Proud,” The Times of London wrote. Even the tabloids were gentle, with The Mail grumbling that the better team had lost: “Own Goal Gives Japan Lucky Win Over Lionesses.”
The reaction to Bassett’s error was in sharp contrast to the aftermath of high-profile World Cup failures by the England men’s team over the years. In a 1998 round-of-16 game against Argentina, David Beckham kicked out at Diego Simeone and was given a red card. The ejection seemed a little harsh, but sympathy for the 23-year-old Beckham was not forthcoming after England lost the game on penalties. The Mirror’s headline was typical: “10 Heroic Lions, One Stupid Boy.”
The same thing--the own goal, as it is called in soccer--had befell Andres Escobar of Colombia in the 1994 World Cup. Known as the "Gentleman of the Field," Escobar was publicly ridiculed by his countrymen (and countrywomen) for his mistake. Eventually, someone murdered him.
(photo of Escobar)
This double standard for men versus women for what is acceptable in the realms of the masculine (like World Cup soccer) seems to me one more instance of the unique burdens shouldered by men.