Notes on Men, Masculinity, and Manhood Acts:

Schrock, Douglas and Michael Schwalbe. 2009. “Men, Masculinity, and Manhood Acts.” Annual Review of Sociology. Vol.35, pp.277-295.

  • Introduction:
    • Prior to the 1980’s Masculinity and Femininity were seen together as sex specific and sex appropriate personality traits expressed behaviorally rather than attributions drawn by acts of domination and subordination.
    • This article highlights not the “Men and…(fill in the Blank)” (ex. Men and sports, men and war, men and work) and looks at which literature has taught us about what men do as individuals and collectively.
  • Definitions:
    • Males: are taught and expected to identify themselves not only as biological males, but also based on age, being boys or men.
    • Females: are taught and expected to identify themselves not only as biological females, but also based on age, being girls or women.
    • With this being said “ Category Males” are not the same as “Category Men”
    • Men usually are biologically Males claiming their rights and privileges to the dominant gender group, to be considered a “man” you one must prove himself a man, not just a male, but engaging in a convincing manhood act.
    • Credibility in joining the dominant gender group is aided by having a male body.  This asset (the male body) is a credible, yet not completely credible way of assuring oneself as a man, due to instances where a female can exhibit signs and parts similar to a male (biologically).
    • Masculinity: “a Configuration of Practices” –Practices that have the effect of subordinating women.  Although this definition is broad, it displays a problem, it does not state particular ways or things that men do to display their dominance over women.
    • In this sense, If males do their part maintaining the dominate gender group and wish to enjoy privileges of a male, must signify a possession of the masculine self.
    • This view makes masculine self imputed to an individual based on information gathered from interactions, but is an imputation that maters the most.
    • All humans know where they exist within preexisting cultural categories.  
    • Efforts that can be apart of manhood act’s, can yield positive results.
  • Problems with Plurality:
    • There isn’t one form of Masculinity, therefore when we speak of it, we speak of it in its plural sense, not its singular sense.
    • Plurality came from Hegemonic Masculinity- the kind of manhood act most revered in society and lower status masculinity enacted by men with fewer resources.
    • The Multiple Masculinities concepts shows that Latino Masculinity, Black Masculinity, Gay Masculinity, ect.. All value diversity, and that each group exhibits their own unique way of showing masculinity.
    • All manhood acts are aimed at claiming privilege, eliciting difference, and resisting exploration.
    • Body types are irrelevant.  A male body is an asset, and a female body is a liability when trying to find the masculine self, it is the act of manhood, which separates each man into its group of masculinity.
    • Three important aspects of masculinity to be discussed, 1.) how males learn to signify masculine selves.  2.) Themes and Variations in constructing manhood acts. 3.) How manhood acts reproduce gender inequality.
  • Learning to Signify Masculine Selves:
    • Children are born into a world where they must constantly categorize themselves either as Male/Boy/Man or Female/Girl/Woman.  This means that children must master “identity codes that symbolize the Gender role.
    • As children are born into this world, they are from the moment they enter this world, categorized and moved into the direction of their masculine self by use of props, for instance infant boys being dressed in blue, with baseball pajamas, with a male gendered name. 
    • A study conducted in a preschool, interviewing parents of 42 children, concluded that the majority of heterosexual fathers among children teach their children (boys) to devalue and reject symbols of female masculinity.
    • Study of 181 5th graders reveled that boys and girls tend to play in segregated groups. Girls tend to play in small groups that stress intimacy and cooperation, whereas boys tend to play in larger groups more competitive, goal-driven, and rule guided.
    • This way of segregated play not only often equates to different rates of development among males and females, but also helps males to develop their masculine selves, for example, Boys playing violent games are a way to develop a masculine self.
    • Emotion being publically shown must be regulated among males and can show signs of un-masculinity.
    • Boys tend to learn that to develop a masculine self they must show sexual attraction toward girls, this happens early by talking to girls, talking about girls, sharing photos, looking at pornography, ect.  Studies have shown that boys around the high school level often use violence towards girls to show masculinity.
    • Often boys gain masculine selves through aggressive violence in sports, where coaches, parents, viewers celebrate plays and acts that promote injuries and pain, while demeaning soft plays and players as being feminine.
    • Signifying a masculine self involves learning and adjusting to audiences and situations, and learning how another identity bears the acceptability of ones performance.
    • Boys show this performance, when they gain acceptance from peers and develop their masculine self through intimidation and rule breaking behavior.
    • Learning how to develop a masculine self in different situations is a trait that is learned all throughout life and not at one exact instant in a male’s life.
  • Media Imagery:
    • Research of over 200 children’s books shows that often males are shown as the most prominent figures and show signs of ruthlessness, and no signs of nurture, therefore boys tend to find themselves embracing aggressiveness and assertiveness when finding their masculinity.
    • The general consensus of this study is that males often naturally command the attention and deference of through virtue of greater strength, daring, and capacity for violence.
    • Male-geared magazines such as Stuff, and Maxim use heterosexuality in the media to provide a masculine self for men. These magazines often portray men as “the bread-winners” and show their superiority and dominance over women.
    • Media imagery shapes the value and persona of males often in derogatory ways. [ White men as arrogant, working- class. Blacks as lazy, criminal, with hypersexual tendencies. Latinos as illegal immigrants, day laborers, or criminals. Ect.]
  • Manhood Acts: Themes and Variations:
    • Men can construct themselves as men in many different ways.
    • A study of Transsexuals shows that once a man has completed an act of manhood and has deemed himself a man, to become a transsexual, he must relearn and commit acts of feminism.
    • After researching, it has been said that White-transsexual men, in relation to Black, Latino, and Asian transsexual men, are more easily integrated, accepted, and respected by other men of non-transsexual lifestyles,.
    • Heterosexual Men, as stated by the Multiple Masculinities theory, elicit differences from their partners through their occupational status and their amount of income.
    • 70 in depth interviews with divorced men and women showed that, even in situations where women may make more money than their husbands, they still deferred decision making to their husbands based on the primus that their occupations were considered “primary”.
    • Men who are not as financially sound, often show other ways than economic status to show power towards women such as physical, mental, and verbal abuses.
    • Gay men publically reject heterosexuality as their act of manhood, but often use other forms of masculinity to establish themselves as men.
    • Men in lower paying jobs and careers, due to the fact that they are not in positions of power, use other ways of showing manhood, such as joking, verbal jousting, sexist talk, and sabotage to assert authority.
    • Sub cultural and historical variation on how manhood acts are performed demonstrates the fluidity of what are defined as signifiers of manhood.
  • The Reproduction of Gender Inequality:
    • Theorists retreated to the idea that masculinity necessarily produces inequality.
    • Multiple Masculinities Concepts only stresses how men are like other men, it completely warrants out the fact that men often show qualities of females as well.
    • Manhood acts are how men distinguish themselves from other males/females and establish their base for gender-based privilege.
    • In the workplace, putting on a manhood act is how men show similarity of other men who are higher up in the hierarchy of their particular occupation.
    • By establishing themselves as men in the workplace, they begin to prove their dominance, and place themselves still lower on the occupational hierarchy, yet still place themselves higher that women,
    • Men in social movements show that manhood acts are often collaborated with other men, especially in groups of All males, of such ideas are used to objectify women.
    • Manhood acts that display acts of heterosexual appetite and prowess entail most of the time the objectivity and harassment of women.
  • Individual Liabilities and Gender-Class Advantages:
    • Self-productive men have displayed toughness by poor and working-class men leading to disinvestment in academic work and failure in school.
    • Young men often distance themselves in intellectual work, which is said to be feminine, and embrace physical work, which has been socially accepted as masculine.
    • Men who often test authority and have masculine personalities so strong that accepting authority has become an issue, often find themselves in positions where it may be hard to find employment, this is considered an individual liability.
    • Men who do not seek help with social problems such as violent or deviant manhood acts to prove dominance, smoking, drinking, other dangerous or illicit acts, often have many problems including suicide later in life due to the coping issues with their masculinity.
  • Conclusion:
    • Maintaining differences between gender that emphasizes anatomy, sex, gender and identity work will locate individuals within distinct categories and will continue reproducing these individual categories’.
    • Refocusing attention to practice and process that we consider manhood acts will generate new empirical challenges within society.

Many more studies within the future will show that there is a need to study individuals collective resistances to manhood acts no matter who performs them, that wil endure the concerns and invoke the understanding of social processes between males and females that will hopefully allow us to better understand gender inequality

Article:

http://gx6ac7lq4l.search.serialssolutions.com.proxy.lib.odu.edu/?sid=EBSCO:Academic+Search+Complete&genre=article&title=Annual+Review+of+Sociology&atitle=Men%2c+Masculinity%2c+and+Manhood+Acts.&author=Schrock%2c+Douglas&authors=Schrock%2c+Douglas%3bSchwalbe%2c+Michael&date=20090801&volume=35&issue=1&spage=277&issn=03600572

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Annual Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.