THE QUESTION POSED:
For this post, consider dominant images of masculinities in the media. For an example, watch the following clip of masculinity in Disney films: Masculinity in Disney.
- Do these media portrayals follow Willott and Griffin’s discussion of hegemonic masculinity? How so?
- How do you think dominant ideologies of masculinity will shape everyday performances of masculinity? In your answer, be sure and draw on Willott and Griffin’s and Bird’s descriptions of how men orient to these ideologies in their daily lives.
Next, discuss how you use the discourse marker “dude.” Draw on Kiesling to explain how this is an example of everyday performances of masculinity.
Finally, consider whether or not we are seeing a new type of masculinity in the “bromance” genre. For an example, watch the following trailer for the film “I Love you Man”: I Love you Man. Is this a new type of masculine relationship or does it fit hegemonic masculine ideals?
Bird, S. R. (n.d.). WELCOME TO THE MEN’S CLUB. Gender & Society. Retrieved July 2, 2013, from http://gas.sagepub.com/content/10/2/120.short
Kiesling, S. F. (n.d.). DUDE. American Speech. Retrieved July 2, 2013, from http://americanspeech.dukejournals.org/content/79/3/281.short
Willott, S., & Griffin, C. (n.d.). `Wham Bam, am I a Man?’: Unemployed Men Talk about Masculinities. Feminism & Psychology. Retrieved July 2, 2013, from http://fap.sagepub.com/content/7/1/107.short
Disney’s portrayals of males certainly follow Willott and Griffin’s discussion of hegemonic masculinity. If anything, Disney’s male characters provide frighteningly accurate caricatures of hegemonic masculinity in America (and probably, I think, in western society as a whole). In Beauty and the Beast, Gustav’s masculinity is celebrated at the pub – a social location much discussed in Willott and Griffin’s work – and is emphasized by his ability to buy rounds of drinks and the display of his hunting trophies. Both of these are indicators of a man’s ability as a provider, which is an integral aspect of hegemonic masculinity as described by Willott and Griffin.
I know from watching my own son and his friends grow up (and from the work of developmental psychologists such as Erickson, Piaget, and Kohlberg) that children tend to look to those most like themselves when trying to figure out how to behave socially. It’s no surprise, then, that the strongest enforcement of hegemonic gender ideologies come from within homosocial interactions, as Bird’s research suggests. We see this in the way that the men in Willott and Griffin’s study describe the pub as a place where their masculinity can be proven. Their relative masculinity demonstrations concerning their home lives have more to do with what they provide which can be proven to the guys later than how their wives and children perceive them.
Dude: I use “dude” a lot. Too much, according to certain friends of mine. I am more female than not, and I use “dude” to address every single one of my friends at one point or another, regardless of their gender. Perhaps this is an expression of my masculinity, or an indication that I was raised primarily by my older brother in the 80s, which was when “dude” became a mainstream word. It seems equally plausible, though, that my use of “dude” is more an indication of the relative gender-neutrality of the word, in comparison to its gendered history.
I do think that our hegemonic ideals are changing. For example, hunting is still more of a man’s game, but it isn’t a necessary skill for men, as it was earlier in our history. “Metrosexual” was a big thing not so long ago, and it indicated a slightly less “masculine” guy, but the look we once described as “metrosexual” is now the mainstream fashion. I don’t know the ‘bromances’ are new, but I do think the way we talk about them – and name them – is new. There have always been male friendships and ‘brotherhoods’ – fraternal organizations are a huge part of American history – but we have new words to describe them which are indicative of the softening of the lines of masculinity evidenced by, among other things, the metrosexual fashion developments.