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Social Science
SOSC 1900
Nadiah Habib

Lecture # 5: The Construction of Masculinities Difficult Knowledge “There is nothing objective about objectivity” the importance of taking history into consideration Dominant Ideology Gendering as a complex process that starts even before we are born We often look more at difference between boys and girls rather than similarities between boys and girls and similarities between girls and similarities between boys more than differences between girls and differences between boys. binaries Freud – Bisexuality Today the focus is on Masculinity Here it is important to note that masculinity and being male are different things. While male may be the biological designation Normatively “Masculine” is the gender assignation that must accompany the one who is born male males acquire masculinity through Gender Work, as females acquire femininity through Gender work How does masculinity affect individual men, men in relation to other men, men in relation to women and men in relation to the larger society. First let us begin by discussing Male/Masculinity and its relationship to power men’s experience of male power is a contradictory experience because the kind of power that masculinity hinges on is tainted. This means that hegemonic masculinity is a promise given to boys that is difficult to attain and comes at the heavy price of suppression, alienation and distance. Make no mistake about it, being born male gives boys and men a great deal of privilege in the world compared to girls and women, but while all boys are made this promise of power, it very much depends where these boys and men are located, whether or not they get to exercise the power and privileges promised to them. Men enjoy social power and 1 privilege by virtue of being men. But the contradiction is that by virtue of being men they also experience pain, isolation and alienation not just from women but especially from men This contradictory experience of power is really the experience of dominant masculinity Age, biology, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, location, ethnicity. Weave through the experience of masculinity and shape how much power these men get to wield in the social world Is biological sex a fact, what does this fact tell us? Possibilities and potentialities are suppressed, repressed and channeled in the process of becoming men and women in a particular time in a particular society. Gender is a central organizing category (but that may be more true for those for those whose culture is hegemonic), for others it is a central organizing category but mediated by so many other factors. Gender describes and prescribes the actual social relations between males and females and the internalization of these power relations So that men’s contradictory experience of power and privilege is at the level of gender experience No man can feel that he possibly measures up to the dominant ideal of masculinity, yet these dominant ideals maintain their power throughout our lives Patriarchy: the rule of the Father So that patriarchy defines not only men’s power over women but it is also a way to establish hierarchies or power relations between different groups of men and also between different ways of performing masculinity Power and Masculinity Power is the common feature of the dominant form of masculinity, and manhood is equated with having some sort of power. If you are pussy whipped for example (a notion I find particularly offensive) because it uses the denigration of women to denigrate men) then you are not a ‘real’ man. We could think of power as Power: the potential for using or developing our capacities Power: the capacity to impose control on others and on our unruly emotions; controlling material resources around us, etc. To have power is to be able to take advantage of the differences between people In other words power over others, resources, nature etc. 2 “Power over” is our dominant understanding of power Societies generally have real domination of men over women and the valuation of males over females So this social organization comes to be internalized to contradictory effects. Whether individual men exercise this power or not, they all profit from this general social relation of men’s power over women. Normative manhood is produced through patriarchal family relations, These relations do not function on their own but are the fabric of a generally patriarchally organized society. The internaliza
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