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Lecture 6

WGST 1F90 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Road Rage, Heteronormativity, Tomboy

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
Leslie Nichols

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October 21: Lecture, Making Boys Into Men
Jessica Falk
Key terms:
Commandments of Mars
Four Axioms of Masculinity
Hegemonic Masculinity
Complicit Masculinity
Subordinated Masculinity
Marginalized Masculinity
Parental Balancing Act
1. Gender and sex are not the same.
2. Gender is not innate or natural.
3. Gender is socially constructed: meaning it is not the same over the world or throughout
4. Dependent upon: economies, power structures, government policies, historical moments,
5. Gender is an important part of our self-identity.
Gender Performance:
1. We “do” our gender—gender is a performance.
2. We too evaluate others’ gender performance.
3. Scripts of gender are provided to us by:
4. We do have agency: do not have to accept all the images/ideals about gender.
1. We have divided masculinity and femininity into two unequal categories in the West.
2. Culturally, we value these differently; traits, qualities, behaviours associated with femininity
and masculinity are not valued the same.
3. Allotted these qualities to gender. Generally the traits connected to masculinity (strength,
independence) are more highly desired.
4.Example, boys are naturally aggressive. Girls are naturally gentle. Men are naturally more
aggressive, women are naturally more nurturing.
Making Boys into Men:
1. Western masculinities are based upon notions from ancient codes and mythologies.
2. Masculinity, or manhood, is symbolized by the astrological symbol which represents mars, the
ancient god of war. Women’s symbol is Venus (goddess of love, sex and fertility).
3. The ‘essence’ of masculine ideal: the ‘warrior’ image—the ultimate in manliness.
Commandments of Mars:
Dominate and control:people, objects, events and environment.
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Succeed at any cost: never admit defeat or failure; work/sports, etc.
Control emotions and avoid strong feelings: maintain control over emotions-except anger.
Distance: from other people and self.
Never be weak/needy: distrust neediness in other people.
Fight the female inside and the outside: inside and out.
Protect own image/ego: guard against outside forces.
Axioms of Masculinity:
1. Masculinity varies according to culture and over time; masculinity also varies within culture by
class, race, ethnicity and age.
2. Speak of multiple masculinities yet some elements define the dominant form of masculinity.
(For example, boys’ masculinity different from mans’).
3. Referred to as ‘hegemonic masculinity’-hegemonic femininity does not exist.
Four Axioms of Masculinity
Social psychologists Robert Brannon and Deborah David (1976) have summarized the rules of
masculinity into four basic axioms:
1. No Sissy Stuff: reject any of the characteristics associated with femininity. Reject
vulnerability; avoid being too close to another man.
2. The Big Wheel: a quest/desire for wealth/fame/success/marker of achievement and/or
3. The Sturdy Oak: the aura of confidence, reliability, unshakeable strength and toughness;
4. Give ‘em hell: enjoyment of aggression; expressing aggression, violence and daring.
Take the Axioms and Commandments and add boys....
1. Themes underlie prescribed behavior for men and boys. These themes have not changed
much, some change from 17th-19th century, but 20th century did not show much change.
2. Begin early in life; powerful tools of socialization.
3. Have not changed a great deal in the 20th century.
4. “The” criteria of masculinity due to mass media, movies, etc. where such archetypes are
drawn upon.
5. Underscore the notion of hegemonic masculinity.
6. Hegemonic masculinity is based upon power: power over self, others, emotions, environment,
the world.
Masculinity as hierarchical and contested
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