Friday, April 17, 2009

Kim Nagy - Masculinity For Sale

This is from Wild River Review's blog, Wild Finance - very cool blog by the way. Nagy takes an interesting look at "the disturbing nature of mass-produced notions of masculinity." These definitions of masculinity are based solely on exteriors, not on the content of a man's heart or mind. It's a steroid-based view of masculinity, all brawn and bravado. Very destructive.

Masculinity For Sale

by Kim Nagy

Over the past hundred years, the saying “boys will be boys” seems to cover an increasing amount of body mass, blood, and bravado.

Which leads me to the two things I found startling as I watched the 2000 documentary Tough Guise a documentary by Jackson Katz (which I saw as part of a Media Education Series hosted by the Institute for Empowerment headquartered in Rosemount, New Jersey). One, how relevant the film still is— exactly ten years after the Columbine shooting in the United States this month—and the disturbing nature of mass-produced notions of masculinity (based on violence and a tough exterior) that can hurt us all—boys and girls, men and women, mothers and fathers, cousins and friends, alike.

And two, something I hadn’t ever thought about—Barbie isn’t the only doll with some distorted notions of body image.

I guess I never really noticed that as Barbie’s waist got smaller, the slimmer more genteel action figures (remember the old Batman and Robin figures?) seemed to have found themselves an unlimited stash of steroids in the locker room. Note the image below:


Or that the “toy” weapons for boys are getting bigger and looking meaner.

And did you know that there is actually a video game called, “How to Kill a Prostitute”?

Meanwhile, says journalist Sudie Hofmann “toy stores are stubbornly resistant to change and remain entrenched in sex-role stereotypes and the unabashed glorification of war. Boys are still blasting, crushing, striking, and pulverizing their way through playtime, in an article for Rethinking Schools in 2006.

What came first the chicken or the egg, right? I liked that Katz wasn’t satisfied with the “boys will be boys” explanation. He also points out that school shooters are almost always males.

And doesn’t the one-dimensional version of masculinity do great harm to men too?

Well, I leave you with two daunting statistics:

· Males are most often both the victims and the perpetrators in 90% of homicides (U.S. Department of Justice)

· Some 81% of men who beat their wives watched their fathers beat their mothers or were abused themselves. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Over the next few months, I plan to follow up in a series of blogs about finance and gender, hosted by Fred Young, curator of Wild Finance.

Kim Nagy is Executive Editor of Wild River Review.

1 comment:

Fran Metzman said...

Exactly my sentiments. What about the intense competitive nature of sports today where it is considered ok to hurt someone on the other team, and sometimes it's encouraged. Team work? And the sense of entitlement given to young athletes? We're headed in the wrong directin here.