What is a man?

by ilhabela on November 8, 2015 - 1:28pm

After reading an article by Soraya Chemaly, called “Why Won’t We Talk about Violence and Masculinity in America?” a question pop out from my head “What is a man?” The article was written in December 17, 2012 after the mass murder shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, and she talks about violence in young men lives, how white young male are portrayed by the media, how the media portray mass shootings, and gun problem in the US. She believes that violence is a part of how American masculinity is defined and guns are part of that violence, and I completely agree.  Since the beginning of times, men are inserted in a box, and society tells them how to act. Violence is part of that culture, it’s part of being a “real” men, and the answer to many. However, what is a man? You are not a man because you’re violent or because you don’t show your feelings, but society makes you believe you are. You are a man if you have a male organ, and the rest is gender.

            As she comment, media portrays mass shooting as rare and they ask why is this happening, but it’s not rare and we do have many answers. According to Harvard research, there is a mass shooting every 64 days since 2011 in the US. Furthermore, before it wasn’t much better, there was a mass shooting every 200 days, in average, from 1989 to 2011. We can conclude it's not a rare occasion, this happens constantly and we need to prevent it and not pretend everything is good. However, we need to know how to prevent it. We can start by not allowing kids to use guns and restrict the laws for guns. According the the Washington Post, there are 88.8 guns per 100 people in the US, not to mention there is no law restricting children’s access to automatic guns. Unfortunately, the gun lobby provided financial help for many senators, besides the NRA invested more than $81 millions into the House, Senate and presidential runs, destroying many that did not agree with their believes, and when the time was right to change the law, many vote in favour for pro-gun and no more restrictions.

Of course there are other ways, as how we teach and how we act. Media put inside of many men that you need to be violent, strong, and have the power. A way to show dominance for many it’s to destroy others, but is this real power? Real dominance? Of course not, being rule by fear and the idea that it’s necessary to be in power is the problem. Few of the mass shooting started with just a few kids making fun of another non stop, until this one kid could not handle anymore and did what he thought it was right and necessary. Bushmaster Firearms made an ad campaign “Consider your man card reissued” when you by a gun, which means if you have a gun you are a man. What kind of future do we want to show our children? The future that guns are the answer or guns are the last resource?

Everything we do impact in others life, what we buy, the ads we see, how we treat others. That is what we should change to show what a real man is, to show that you can be however you want and the man box it’s a lie. Guns is a big part of the american lives now, but everything with time and willingness can change.



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I chose to comment on this article summary because I believe the relationship between violence committed by men and men's masculinity is an important subject to address. It seems nowadays that not many people are aware of the expectations imposed upon men to fit this idea of "male masculinity". I feel that this man "box", the combination of everything expected of a typical man, is similar to the race concept of "stereotypes". In a sense, both are things very much expected of a certain type of individual; the only difference being one is tied to sex while the other is tied to ethnicity. Much like how a common stereotype for African-American individuals is for them to be violent and rowdy, the mindset of male masculinity only makes this worse. I agree with the author when they say we should change how what a real man ought to be. I believe males should be raised in a more gender-neutral way and exempt from the media's expectation of power, dominance, and violence. If we teach men that they have to act so tough to live up to an expectation so similar to a social construct, men will continue to be violent as they grow older. Should we teach children about gender stereotypes in school? Perhaps it would be a way to put a rest to this 'man box'.

I chose to comment on this post because its a well written post that deals with the issues of gender and their stereotypes. It's interesting to see just how quickly masculinity and violence are grouped together, as if they're synonyms. As you brought up in your post, the media is a heavy influence of this, and that itself is an interesting topic.

If we were to relate this issue to the one of race, we could say that certain races are more affected by these stereotypes than others. Typically we see African Americans as the "violent" race. When a black man commits a crime, it's seen as something in his "nature" to do. When a white man commits a crime, he's considered to be "unstable". There are ridiculous stereotypes like this for each race, so it could be that someone who's black feels more of a need to be dominant because that's how society sees him to be. There is a reading called "A Family Guide to Talking About Race", in which there's an activity about understanding discrimination. If kids were taught this from the beginning of time, we would grow to be a society that doesn't place more pressure on one race to try and appeal more to their stereotypes.

In conclusion, it's true that the media places pressure on men, more than others depending on their race. Do you think that there is a certain "race" that is excluded more than others from this pressure men face to be dominant? If so, do you think that the people within this certain race feel like less of a man?