Lecture 17: Masculinity and Deviance
Gender Norms & Male Deviance
Masculinity is associated with control, reason, aggression, etc
All of these things are highly valued traits in our culture
Masculinity is anything “Not feminine”
To be feminine and be a man is deviant
To “Do” Feminine Work is Deviant
What do we as people in this culture tend to think of men who do traditionally defined “female”
work? Like nursing?
The only legitimate emotion is RAGE
Socialization into masculinity is socialization into being a “WARRIOR” (the ideal male)
Little boys’ hero’s are usually some variation of the warrior (they learn to “fight” for what they want
– protect – use force – violence – perseverance)
Boys first ideas of warriors are superheroes
little boys are idolizing large, masculine, muscular superheroes
Using as their foundation of what it means to be masculine
Is a sign of strength, bravery, defending what you have… whether that is a nation or a family or a job
or your honour.
It is also a symbol that represents PHYSICAL ACTION and VIOLENCE as a way to solve
Boys who don’t fight are considered weak, losers, pussy, etc
Let’s consider the language.
Masculinity and Violence are fused
Michael Kaufman: Cracking the Armour
Men learn to put on a “coat of armour” which is both a source of power but also a source of pain.
This armour prevents males from experiencing a full range of emotions and vulnerability (= pain)
Males end up much more alone – alienated from other men and women – because getting too close to
anyone is to crack the armour.
Have to balance emotions with hyper masculinity (e.g. winning the superbowl, soilders at war)
The Worst Form of Deviance for Males
It is a threat to masculinity and to patriarchal domination.
Which put down is worse? “Fag” or “Girl” ?
The Paradox of Power and Pain
To be a man in our society comes with great social power and great isolation and pain.
Masculinity forces men to suppress a wide range of human possibilities, needs, emotions, fears, etc in
order to fit into our particular style of masculine armor.
Cracking the Armor
Men isolate themselves from other men they feel that their problems and insecurities are unique…
This makes them fearful of being discovered as weaklings, wimps, pushovers, or in other ways not
This fear only increases isolation – keeps their pain invisible from other men and eventually
The Paradox: Incredible social power that comes with a devastating price
The source of men’s pain = the patriarchal societies within which they have defined their power.
This suggests that masculinity is a social construction – an idea (a very powerful one) – an
No man ever totally and permanently and confidently feels he has made the masculine grade…
The fragility of masculinity is the battle to meet individual needs and capacities and the demands to
fit into a mould of manhood.
Pain Flow from the Sourse of Power
Power is exercised differently by different men and power is not distributed or experienced equally
There are hierarchies of power (amongst men) based on age, race, economic class, sexual orientation,
education, social status, physical strength, intelligence, ability, etc….
Some men dominate other men
Cracking the Armor – As a Performance
What do you think this means?
Men grow up suspicious of emotion – emotions are buried for fear of limiting masculine control and
the ability to act rationally…
When emotions and avenues for emotional release are blocked, the results can be very destructive for
men and those around them…
Blocking the need for care and nurturance, men lose emotional equilibrium…
Unmet needs spill over into other areas (work, on the road, at the bar, at home – against those who are
perceived as weaker/ less social power)