Masculinity and Violence: School Shootings and Mass Shootings

In June of 2012, a man opened fire inside a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. He killed 12 people and injured 58 more. Only days ago, a man in Oregon opened fire in a mall and then killed himself. On Friday, December 14 it happened again, only this time it was at an elementary school where 27 people were killed, most of them children, in Newtown, Connecticut. Mass shootings like these make us wonder how people can simply take the lives of so many others. We think about motives, the shooters complete disrespect for human life, and most often we cannot think of how to describe such atrocities without using words such as monstrous, horrendous and sick and we wish something like this would never happen again. Mass shootings and school shootings are rare, but leave us mortified every time. Many of us also remember other school shootings, some of the more high profile ones being the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, and the Columbine High shootings in 1999. There is an overall pattern in terms of both school shootings and mass shootings; the perpetrator is almost always male, and is often emasculated in one way or another.  [Read more...]

Hungry, tired or unhappy? Go after her appearance!

For a while now we have been annoyed by one particular Snickers commercial that is part of a compilation of commercials under the name “You’re not you when you’re hungry”.

The commercial depicts two young women talking to one teenage boy and one older man at a party. One of the girls asks: “You guys grew up together?” and the teenage boy answers “Since the 3rd grade”. Then Joe Pesci, who plays the older man, requests to know what the other girl is looking at. Pesci then goes on to throw a fit, verbally mistreating the young women as he literally yells at them “We’re not good enough for you? You looking for something else?” As one of the girls tries to defend herself Pesci starts to attack her appearance: “What are you, a big supermodel or something? Supermodels, what do you model? Gloves?” The teenage boy then pulls Pesci into the kitchen and Pesci states: “What are you doing? That girl is totally in to me!” his friend says “Brad, eat a Snickers, because you get a little angry when you’re hungry”. As Pesci morphs into the teenage boy Brad, he suddenly feels better and is again ready to party.

[Read more...]

Open Thread: Do Boycotts Work?

2010 seems to be the year of the homophobic commercial. Why is it that so many companies feel that it’s necessary to sell their products in the name of shoring up traditional masculinity? The recent call for a boycott of Target, due to the corporation’s support of a right wing political candidate who may or may not have made homophobic comments, resulted in Target’s CEO issuing a letter of apology to his employees and customers. Target does not, after all, hate the queers who love to shop there.

With the recent success of the Target “boycott,” do you think that the LGBTQ community and its allies should boycott companies that employ homophobic ad campaigns? Do boycotts even work? I’d love to get your take.

What Would a Feminist Gym Look Like?

I recently had a minor altercation with a meat-head at the gym. You know the type . . . uber-muscly dude with an attitude problem, likes to look at himself in the mirror while he lifts weights. You know the guy I’m talking about.

I was lifting weights last week with my work out buddies, and we were all rotating on 3 different machines. This guy totally cut in on us without asking and proceeded to talk smack when we asked him to wait his turn. Things got heated, a manager was brought over (who sided with the meat-head), and words were exchanged that can’t be repeated in mixed company. I walked away from the situation while my friend went toe-to-toe with this dude because I needed to cool off. I have a tendency to throw punches. In the end, the guy told my friend that we didn’t know what we were doing and shouldn’t be at the gym anyway, and that’s when the wheels fell off the car.

Let me tell you about my friend. She is a marathon runner and long-distance cyclist. This woman has ridden the DALMAC multiple times. For those who don’t know, the DALMAC is a 400 mile bike race. Home girl is at the gym every day after running several miles in the Arizona heat. If anyone knows what she’s doing, it would be her.

The problem with this scenario is that meat-head’s hyper masculinity came up against our perceived femininity. My partner is transgender, so meat-head read him as a girl. He let us know that we’re chicks, so we shouldn’t be lifting weights. That’s boys’ territory. It’s not hard to understand why all-woman gyms like Curves have been so successful. But Curves supports anti-choice organizations, and they’re not transgender-friendly. Which leaves me to wonder . . . where can I find a feminist gym, and what would a feminist work out space look like? [Read more...]

Redefining Masculinity: Are Feminist Men Getting the Job Done?

protesting violence - cartoonThis has been an exciting week when it comes to men, masculinity, and feminism. From so called “men’s rights” groups, to male feminists strategizing about ways in which masculinity can be redefined; the male-feminist hype has definitely surfaced. I’ve always operated from the assumption that men are completely capable of being feminists. Hell…i’m a feminist. With that being said, things tend to get tricky once you move past the basics.

Can feminist men contribute to feminism? If so, to what extent? Do men threaten the feminist agenda? How do the perspectives of queer men differ from heterosexual men, and what does that mean in terms of feminism? Is rejecting hegemonic notions of masculinity enough? The litany of questions could go on for days, and the responses to those questions could last even longer. [Read more...]

Pro-Choice Politics Challenge Male Privilege

I recently opened dialogue with like-minded Dudes for Choice (DfC) with the hope of piecing together common threads that bring us together as a united political voice. This brief entry will serve to open that ongoing dialogue and encourage other DfC to jump in on this discussion.

This week’s topic: privilege. In discussing feminist politics with 15 DfC the idea of male privilege surfaced more frequently than any other. Indeed, one of the primary reasons that I am pro-choice has to do with my ability to challenge my male privilege.

[Read more...]