Category Archives: Blog Group 1: Oct. 12 final

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For The Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity by Elizabeth Plank

When the world seems completely doomed, coming across glimpses of light provides a sense of relief and hopefulness. This is exactly what it felt like when I came across Liz Plank’s book: For the Love of Men, A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity.

When considering the old fashion two-gender norm, we have seen traces of toxic patriarchy influence both parties. However, Liz Plank mentions, “I’ve long focused on the numerous consequences of the patriarchy for women because there’s no shortage of them.” And while there is no shortage of the conversations we have about the patriarchy harming women, we rarely discuss how it has affected the men from within.

For years, there have been countless hills women have encountered at the expense of the patriarchy. Even during some of the most insurmountable battles, women miraculously triumphed over them and continue to do so today. Women have shown a great deal of strength to fight off the relentless effects of the patriarchy by initiating conversations, movements, and reform.

In Plank’s words, “take a moment to put a gender lens on men … although the news often focuses on the threats of terrorism, natural disasters, and nuclear war, there is no greater threat to humankind than our current definitions of masculinity.” On the surface, masculinity may seem like a regular component found within men’s genetic foundation. The common knowledge we possess is that men produce more testosterone, thus being more masculine compared to their female counterparts. But how do we define masculinity beyond biology? An even greater question is how have we been enforcing it? 

Today, masculinity reeks of ego, power struggles, and entitlement; or what Twitter refers to it as, “big dick energy”. These three traits collectively intertwine to fuel and promote global toxic masculinity. It is an unfortunate reality that starts at a young age. “It presents itself in subtle ways, such as the way we raise boys differently from girls. It starts when we equate emotion with weakness and direct boys to display strength no matter what.” Some ideologies we have imposed for boys to follow are to not cry, suppress feelings, and dominate. This becomes dangerous because, “… when half the population gets trained to block emotions, they lose the ability for compassion.” Not being allowed to have compassion narrows healthy emotional freedom, while at the same time giving no other choice than to behave aggressively thus; prompting multi-faceted violence. Our society has constructed this behavioral and  performance manual for boys to follow well into manhood. We encourage it through many ways starting with the well known phrase “boys will be boys”.

We imply the acceptance of a boy’s aggressive behaviors by never checking them. We have accepted their behavior to be normal because we assume a male’s natural way of being rests on masculinity. We then turn a blind eye to the fact that men continue to have the unfortunate burden to prove their masculinity on a daily basis. And then, we act surprised when men go on mass shootings or create organized crime or partake in terrorist groups. Overall men have been deprived of emotional expression, constantly pressured into proving their masculinity, while at the same time surrounded by emasculating narratives. As Plank mentions, “when idealized masculinity scripts go unchallenged, emasculation doesn’t just become a tool of the state against foreign enemies, it can become a weapon the state uses against its own people.” The faulty definitions of masculinity have been the driving force to keep susceptible men in line with their aggressive behavior to permit violent actions, causing inevitable long term consequences.

Masculinity can exist but overlooking toxic masculinity cannot be allowed anymore. Toxic masculinity has become an insidious radical ideology that has claimed many men and counting. It is time for the world to take a good look at how dangerous toxic masculinity has become and accept that we can no longer allow it to continue. Plank states, “we do not know enough about what a world without toxic notions of masculinity could look like to be pessimistic about it.” We are fortunate enough to see changes in our world regarding gender identity go beyond the constricts of the binary norm. We have also seen women reshape the lifestyles they were once limited to, it is now time to welcome a new age for men as well. 

The concept of behavior equaling gender identity has proven itself to be immensely harmful. It is a firm tactic that is structured and maintained by the same people who benefit from it. As mentioned by Plank, “the conversation we need to have about men is not distinct or separate from the one we’ve had and will continue to have about women. In fact the gendered expectations holding girls back are born out of the same system that creates limitations for boys.” We can no longer tolerate structured limits on each other through any means. We can start by having mindful conversations around these concepts, prioritize emotional intelligence, and promote the idea of a “good man” while abolishing the ideas of what it means to be a “real man”.

Planks’ book challenges the way we have been perceiving masculinity and how we can keep an open mind about the way it’s been dominating our world. Women have been amazing at fighting back the toxic masculinity found within the patriarchy because they were strong enough to highlight their pain. But have we ever thought to think how the patriarchy could be harmful to its own members? After all—hurt people, hurt people.

A huge thank you goes out to women, including Liz Plank, for their endless advocacy and humane efforts to encourage a better world to live in. However, it is important that we do not forget about our male counterparts. Let’s provide a helping hand through mindful conversations created in safe spaces for men to break away from societal constructs. It is a social responsibility we are very familiar with so its only fair we show them how its done!

Marriage!? by Rukhshona Uktamova

Marriage?! 

Rukhshona Uktamova 

          What is marriage? Two love birds living together? Escaping oppression or walking into oppression? A form of punishment? A form of freedom? Liberation? A form of slavery? Paradise? The book Women Race & Class written by Angela Y. Davis brought up many good important issues and topics about women’s history. Some topics are legacy of slavery, birth of women’s rights, racism during the women suffrage movement, women’s education and liberation, rape, women’s role in housework and more. Throughout the book Davis show how women throughout history has faced many unfairnesses, they had to fight in order to have rights to education and to get job outside of their homes. In the book Women Race & Class written by Angela Y. Davis, it states “Well – situated women began to denounce their unfulfilling domestic lives by defining marriage as a form of slavery” (Davis, 33). I respectfully disagree to some extend with this thought that middle class women had because slavery is just more than working for less to no pay it is when one person is treated as property with no rights. Slaves are not free, women are. In the text it said, “They seem to have ignored, however, the fact that their identification of the two institutions also implied that slavery was really no worse than marriage” (Davis, 34). Slavery in my opinion was so much worse than marriage, being taken away from your home, getting separated from your family, forcing to work in difficult conditions for long hours less pay and less food, getting raped by white men, and getting whipped and chained for trying to escape, cruel treatment is not same as marriage. Yes, marriage can be challenging, difficult, especially when the wife is a full-time employee, full-time mother, and a house worker but at least you are at your own home with your family. You chose to get married, to have kids, to work outside of home, slaves did not choose to be slaves.  

          During slavery, White women and Black women couldn’t really get a long because White women believed they were superior to Black women when they were really not. They treated them poorly, Black women were maids, and nannies. When White women started working outside of home, they faced similar unfairness like Black women faced. Long hours of work but low pay. Because of the similar conditions White women compared their situation to slavery. Then they came together and fought for their rights. In 1833, Philadelphia Female Anti – Slavery Society was created and “…enough white women were manifesting their sympathetic attitudes toward the Black people’s cause to have established the basis for a bond between the two oppressed groups” (Davis, 34). You don’t know what somebody is feeling and going through until you wear their shoes, so after experiencing similar treatment White women understood what Black women were going through. “….they learned how to challenge male supremacy within the anti – slavery movement” (Davis, 39). By helping others, White women’s political involvement increased. 

      So, marriage is still not a form of slavery, it can be a blessing, there are people who are out there who want to have their own family, kids and loving partners. There are women who are infertile, who can’t have kids and wanting to have kids. Taking care of your kids shouldn’t be a burden and shouldn’t only be the women’s responsibility. Men did take action in bringing the kids to life they shouldn’t say I am babysitting their own child or helping their wife when they are doing the home chorus. Because cooking and cleaning are basic life skills that everybody needs to learn and use. Women are hardworking, patient, strong individuals if they think marriage is a form of slavery because they are moms, wife, cleaning lady, cook, nanny, worker in factory all at the same time, they should look on the bright side. They are going to advance their multi-tasking skills, they can be role models for their kids, they can increase family income, enjoy their salary by spending on what they want they don’t need to ask for money. If they couldn’t handle this God wouldn’t give them all of this. God gave them all of this because he knows women are capable and strong enough to do anything that they set their mind to.  

Citation  

Davis, Angela Y. Women, Race & Class. Vintage Books, 1983. 

Gender Equality

Gender equality is having equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities for all genders. In some countries around the world, Men are given more power and have control over women. They believe that women should stay home to handle all the housework and take care of the kids while their husband goes to work. When the husband gets home from work, dinner should be ready, and the house should be clean. I don’t feel there is anything wrong with this if it’s what keeps a marriage in a good place, but I also feel that in a marriage there are many ways to support each other. Life today is very hard, and everything is very expensive. If there is more than one income at home, it is easier to cover the expenses.  In the S.T.A.R interview, Sylvia Rivera mentions that she doesn’t believe that a transvestite or a woman should do all the washing or all the cooking and do everything that’s forced on by society and the establishment that woman have to do this (12). I agree with what Rivera believes because if you are in a relationship and you really love someone, you will support that person in every way that you can.

 

Everything at home should be 50/50 like one day you will cook and the next day your spouse will cook. One of the first questions I get asked when I’m getting to know someone is, “Do you know how to cook?” I know many married couples who both the husband-and-wife handle all the responsibilities at home whether it’s cleaning, cooking or taking care of the kids. They don’t do it because someone told them they are supposed to, they do it because they love each other, and they are there to support one another. If we want to see change in the world, we must change the way we think. Growing up, I always heard “The man should always pay.” Why should the man always pay? Just because he’s a man? I don’t feel there is anything wrong with a woman treating a man to dinner or buying him a nice gift to make him feel special. I have been on dates in the past where I paid for dinner or movies. When you are in a relationship or married, you do anything you can to make sure that person is always happy. Just like women, men also love to feel appreciated.

 

Revealing the Truth about Science

TESTING As Stryker has said “Medical practitioners and institutions have the social power to determine what is considered sick or healthy, normal or pathological, sane or insane –and thus, often, to transform potentially neutral forms of human difference into unjust and oppressive social hierarchies”(pp. 51-52) 1. We, as a more progressive era of humans, have already started to blur the lines that separate humans into specific categories based on how we were biologically put together, in terms of sex, race, and body and how we present ourselves to the world after having experienced our version of life; while questioning, who gave the majority the power to enforce what is biologically right or wrong with human nature. We, as forward thinking people need to focus on “Dismantling a system that recklessly sorts all of us into biologically based categories of embodied personhood deemed more or less worthy of life” (Xii, Prologue) 2.

TESTING We tend to take on science as a fact without taking into account that scientists are humans with their own biases and perceptions which leak into the “impartial” data they are trying to convey to the public. However, science is not safe from the political nor how this “unprejudiced” data shapes our society and continues to be passed down through generations unquestioned. In the words of Stryker, “Society tends to be organized in ways either that deliberately or unintentionally favor the majority, and ignorance or misinformation about a less common way of being in the world can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and mischaracterizations” (p. 7-8) 3. To elaborate, even if it were possible to create a study that would include every human difference, be it biological, cultural, sexual, etc., there is still a group of scientists driven by their own thoughts or agendas deciding how they want to interpret the data and present it to the world. There is an audience that they intend to present to, or appease, and this could be for funding purposes, as a means to an end, or to support the belief of the majority in society depending on the social issues of the time.

TESTING If in some possible way we could have completely unbiased results of studies or tests, how that neutral data would be presented to the general public would still be leaning to appease the majority or risk being rejected, ignored, or tossed to the wayside regardless of factuality. Science has amended its facts many times over multiple eras and have deemed what should be relevant and therefore funneled to the public and also what should be retracted or disregarded due to ignorance, political shifts, or human error. My point being that medical science biases can make or break movements that lean toward inclusivity, to align with Stryker once more, “Medical science has always been a two-edged sword—its representatives’ willingness to intervene has gone hand in hand with their power to define and judge” (p. 52) 4.

TESTING In a society that profits off of exclusivity, it is necessary to break away from the social or cultural conforms, while focusing on pushing for the equity of all human nature rather than the equivalence of “lower” or “lesser” lives in terms of worth, be it class, race, sexuality, or gender also known as the minority being boosted up to the privileges of the “higher” or “better” or those more worthy of life, also known as the majority. Just as there are multiple perceptions, religions, and interpretations of the world we live in, there is also no way to measure which viewpoint is right or wrong or should be enforced or disregarded. Society tends to have a hard time identifying with the humanity of another person if they can’t understand what a person is trying to personify, especially if it is outside the knowledge of their life experiences. This tends to lead to an instant adverse reaction, usually resulting in a slew of negative emotions, to name a few, fear, panic, disapproval, disgust, contempt, hatred, dread or outrage. This then leads to physical violence, a couple of examples are genocide or murder, and/or emotional violence, directed against the person who is perceived as divergent. This leads to generational disparity, presenting itself in psychological traumas, the regression of the part of society considered outcasts, undeserving, or unfit to be a human amongst other human beings, and unconscious social biases that get perceived as truth.

TESTING I am not saying we should completely snub scientific fact, as we as a people crave recognition and understanding of the world around us, what I am saying is to use the information for inclusivity of all people, rather than to label, demean, or exclude any group or groups of people based on genetics, biology, psychology, or different ways we present our person. There is a historical pattern where science has been used to berate, disregard, or choose who is worthy of having the better quality of life, when we all begin with life and we all end with death and there should not be a need to categorize life, but learn about it and accept each other no matter the difference of person. Our goal moving forward should be to acquire acceptance of all through knowledge, be it scientific or experience based, and not to use this newfound knowledge for means of exclusion, politics, social agendas, the suppression or eradication of a people.