Reading Response 1
Explain these two key terms: hegemonic masculinity & emphasized femininity.
Hegemonic Masculinity and emphasized femininity are two fundamental concepts of
gender studies. Gender is used to express socially and historically constructed assumptions
between women and men. It is what it means to be masculine or feminine. It is socially
constructed which means that we acquire the traits, behaviours and attitudes that our culture
defines as masculine or feminine. Our biological apparatus at birth makes us either male or
female but it is gender that attaches meanings to these differences which vary enormously in
different cultures. Different cultures have different ideas of what it means to be masculine but the
idea of hegemonic masculinity is used as a model for all. Hegemonic masculinity is the
dominant model of masculinity which is defined as being white, middle-class, heterosexual,
able-bodied and exceptionally good at sports. The idea of hegemonic masculinity is not defined
simply as a rejection of the feminine though it continues to shape gendered orders and
hierarchies of masculinities. As Goffman said, the ideal of hegemonic masculinity is a highly
unattainable goal which makes many males question their own masculinity. This ideal has also
led to the saying “Be a Man” which makes masculinity as more powerful and dominant.
Likewise, girls also begin to learn the norms attached to being feminine from birth. In
almost every culture being a woman is equated with being feminine. Women are always taught
that masculinity must be earned whereas femininity simply grown into. Emphasized femininity
refers to the idea that women are inferior creatures to men who are only born to attract men,
boost their ego and fulfill their desires so that they can provide them with our everyday needs.
This idea exaggerates gender difference by portraying that everything a woman does from
1 wearing makeup, staying in a perfect shape to learning how to cook and clean is to impress a
man in one or another way. It makes being masculine a good thing which everyone would aspire
to be while making femininity something that is inferior and subordinated.
Find one example for hegemonic masculinity, and the second example for subordinated