When talking about masculinity and stereotypical gendering that can occur in a society, we have to begin by paying attention to what is happening behind what is being shown to us. By looking at the three-fold structure we are able to recognize a few different focuses that are taking place. The force of power relations, production relations, and Cathexis bring forward the main topics about the main issues of masculinity. “To recognize more than one kind of masculinity is the first step” (Ward, 2020, p. 58). Growing up, I was shown there are two genders and they are very specific. There is being a woman, which means being feminine, liking the color pink, wearing dresses, and knowing exactly when to speak and to not. We then see the complete opposite in being a man, and the masculinity that follows. To be strong, never cry, be the leader of your household, and be more aggressive.
“Masculinity does not exist except in contrast with ‘femininity’” (Ward, 2020, p. 54). As I grew older, I began to realize this idea of gendering more. While understanding, that there were a lot more layers to humans and not a singular definition to describe who we are. Being feminine means a hundred different things, but so does being masculine. There are moments you are able to do both, and it all depends on who you are as a person. The three-fold structure that we are able to take note of through the text gives deeper explanations to the truth that there is not just one layer to a definition. One of the first being, power and the relation it has to masculinity. Although, there are moments in the world where women have grown to be more in charge then men, there is this long line of power that men subconsciously don’t know how to let go of. The dominance of men can be found in various forms, whether it is in your household, church, school, boyfriend, etc. It is this idea that even though times have changed through the past few decades, there is still this want from men to be more than women. It has formed from a long line of dominance that began with our ancestors, and fights to never be completely forgotten.
We also are able to recognize the relationship between masculinity and production. We see this perspective mainly through the work force and how economically there has always been a war between men and women. This constant thought that a man deserves to make more money than a woman in a job. They are supposed to be the ones in charge and the leaders, yet it has been questioned time and time again. Lastly, we notice cathexis and the emotional aspect of masculinity. Emotionally, men are told to either force down all of their emotions, or have it be shown through anger. With sexual desire, there is this place where both masculinity and femininity live, but in two completely different ways. The way a masculine man shows sexual pleasure, and a feminine woman, can bring about a whole new topic of conversation. This revolves around how the world of sexual pleasure can just be a reflection of decades of bottled up emotions being shown the only way it knows how. For example, if a man has a lot of built up anger that he does not know how to manage, he will be incredibly more aggressive; whereas if a woman never takes control in her own life, she most likely will through sex. All of this to say
that masculinity has so many various chapters to explore, and is not a singular definition by any
A term that comes to mind when diving deeper into the topic is what is known as hegemonic masculinity. Now, what exactly does this mean? After reading, it becomes clear that it surrounds the thought of men being dominant, while women are subordinate. It follows cultural dominance in a whole society and how it can go into micro groups as well. Time and time again, men have always benefited from the subordination of women everywhere. I see it constantly, whether it is in my family dynamic, school, work, and especially dating. I have spent my life dating in a society that tells men that they are always going to be more than a woman. The word ‘more’ is used in every different category. More in their relationships, more in a job or work force, more in sports, always more. “…they benefit from the patriarchal dividend, the advantage men in general gain from the overall subordination of women” (Ward, 2020, p. 60). Hegemonic masculinity shows the centuries of domination men have felt they deserved, while subordinating women in the process. It is understanding there has never once been a singular form of masculinity in the world. By paying attention to the world around you, you will begin to see the various layers of masculinity that surround society.
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