Tag Archives: facade

The Representation Project

As I continued my quest to find masculinity presented within the framework of social justice on the internet, I came across The Representation Project. For those of you who are familiar with the documentary “Miss Representation” and the upcoming documentary about masculinity called “The Mask You Live In”, it is a campaign by the very same people. It was really cool to me after watching the video (posted below), because the organization is attempting to break down the traditional definitions of gender established by society. As seen in the video, they are trying to teach men that power is not about having domination over others (namely women), but instead is to be used as a force for justice, equality, and fairness. This is a great message if we can get our men to buy into it. The problem is, how many men are truly ready to give up power, and by power I mean domination? Indeed, as the video shows, the youth of America are fed these extremely limiting narratives on what it means to be a “man” or “woman” in society. If they do not conform to what the media shows what they should be, they are often outcast by their peers. All of this, of course, does not even take into account intersectionalities such as race, sexual identity, ethnicity, etc., so that makes these narratives presented by the media even more limiting.

If you go to the organization’s website listed below, you can find out more of what they are all about. The whole movement is to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shifts people’s consciousness towards change. They have really cool link on there where you can take a pledge to challenge society’s limiting and skewed views on gender (already 100,000 strong!). I just thought all of this should be shared because it is something we can use to show to our students. In doing so, hopefully it can help redefine what gender means to him or her. Videos the organization releases can be important teaching tools we can use at student conferences, organization meetings, university seminar classes, etc. to help students critically think about challenging gender roles created by society.

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10 Responses to the Phrase “Man Up”

For those of you who took Dr. Benn and Clint Michael’s class, you will be familiar with this video. Nevertheless, I felt the need to share it because it moves me every time I watch it. Guante does a great job of exposing masculinity and calling those out who subscribe to it. As he points out, you can’t just solve problems by “growing a pair”. What does that even mean? Does it mean to just suppress your feelings and suck it up? If so, there is no way that this is healthy for the men of America. I also love how he asks why you never hear the phrase “Woman Up”. It is as though “Man Up” is implying that characteristics of being a man are superior to women and that you should not be a woman with all of your “feelings”. It suggests that there are traits that are inherently masculine. Instead, we cannot just be ourselves. We are forced to put on a mask and façade 24/7, careful not to let our guard down for fear of exposure of being less masculine. As Guante also points out, this culture drives many boys and men to take their life, as they may feel that they can never be a true “man” or are bullied to the point that they cannot take it anymore. These are all inherent in man culture. Just as he states, how many more boys and men have to die before we finally get the message that the culture of masculinity is poisonous, dangerous, and detrimental?

For me, this video explains my life growing up. I was constantly told by my friends to “Man Up” and to hide my emotions. It was detrimental to me in retrospect, as I always felt I had no one to talk to when I wanted help emotionally. I guess man culture just taught me that it was normal to “Man Up” and “suck it up.” Now, I wish someone had told me that I am great the way I was and that I did not have to conform to be accepted by the people that truly matter in my life. As student affairs professionals, we have to be cognizant that men grow up in this culture and must reach out to these men, because it is often that no one else will. Suicides in college are unfortunately not too uncommon. We can try to help and prevent these unfortunate events by being there for our male students and making sure they are able to freely express themselves and that they do not get swallowed up by male culture and Guyland.

Masculinity in Today’s Society

Masculinity, as defined today by pop culture and general society, is something that continually shapes the lives of men from the day they are born until the day that they die. In doing so, women’s lives are also tremendously affected, as the male culture perpetuates male dominance and privilege, thus systematically oppressing women. From day one, we are taught to “be a man”, meaning that being a man is just that – an act, not something that is inherent in our nature. In a popular blog by Harris O’Malley (also known as Dr. Nerdlove) that can be found here (http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/10/masculinity-fails-men/), it is cited that the definition of manhood is defined by “violence, social dominance, anti-intellectualism and aggressive, even uncontrollable, sexuality.”

While I may be generalizing a bit here, most men are taught by mainstream society to solve their problems through fighting or violence instead of talking things out, for example. Men are taught to be dominating over women, and that women are to be seen as objects for sexual conquest, but not necessarily love. The more women a man can sleep with, the more credibility he gets in the figurative “Guyland”. Men are expected to be the masters of all sports, and if one is not athletic, he is immediately cast aside. A good example of this (and one I can relate to) is when men choose to do band or theater in grade school instead of athletics. Words get thrown around for men like these, including “band nerd”, “faggot”, “queer”, “gay”, etc. These words can be very detrimental to men at a young age, because, as popular consensus holds, being called anything that is in the “homosexual” realm, is, in a sense, taking away the manhood or “man card” of that man. It is not necessarily claiming that the man is literally homosexual when these words are thrown around. Instead, it is emasculating them and labeling them as “feminine” – the last thing you want to be labeled as a man in Guyland. 

Living in Guyland is cut throat. You are expected to appease and please your male peers at all times, for fear of ridicule and mockery. You are expected to dress manly (basically anything that is not feminine) and treat girls with respect yet use them as objects for sexual conquest at the same time. Anything that goes against this culture is subject to the rejection of your “man card” by your peers. Because of this, a culture is created where men cannot really trust each other, even their closest friends. They know that one little slip can lead to the dismissal of their masculinity. Emotions are never to be expressed – this is a sign of weakness. Weakness = femininity in guy culture. Instead, everything must be bottled up and suppressed. We are just supposed to “man up” and “deal with it”.

For an idea of what it is like to live in Guyland, I encourage you to watch this trailer for “The Mask You Live In” (http://www.upworthy.com/the-problem-facing-young-men-that-needs-to-become-a-household-conversation) What is described in this video describes atypical Guyland to a “T”. While I acknowledge that not every male experiences all of this growing up, I know that it is very accurate of the masculine culture I grew up in. These are the expectations that are generally held of all males despite their sexual identity. Again, these are the expectations that society tends to hold, and not every male may experience these things, nor may they be met with all these expectations. I am just trying to describe it the best way I know how – through Guyland as I experienced it.

References:

http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/10/masculinity-fails-men/

http://www.upworthy.com/the-problem-facing-young-men-that-needs-to-become-a-household-conversation