Toxic Masculinity And American Culture

Toxic Masculinity And American Culture

Culture affects perception and emotions.

I love when something in class prompts me to, outside of class, do more research and have discussions with others.

I'm currently taking a class titled "Family Violence: Theories and Research," where we examine not just violence in families, but violence across all sorts of intimate relationships. Whether that is physical, sexual, mental or verbal abuse, this can happen to anyone and everyone.

Last week we watched "Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood, and American Culture". At the start of the class, we talked about media and how violence is portrayed in music and entertainment. I did not expect this film to be focused solely on men and how an upbringing of watching and observing certain entertainment can influence their emotions (okay, yes, I did expect that a little #psychology).

While this has been perpetuating for thousands of years, through stories and men killing each other to have power, modern day society has been hurting immensely by these images of violence to create power and assert masculinity. One of the best lines in the film was an observance of middle class, white, suburban males imitating lower class, black, urban males, imitating white males playing Italian and Cuban males on film. What?

While video games and movies show gun violence and could potentially be a cause to increased anger in some people, it's also how those fake scenarios are interpreted in one's mind. Whether it's sexual aggression, homophobic slurs and actions or the thought of just violence equalling power, the literal interpretation of these can affect someone.

Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the creator of the Boy Scouts in the United Kingdom, created the group because he felt the men around him were getting "too soft." A direct response to the Suffragettes movement, Baden-Powell began the fear mongering of white men against femininity and...emotions. Can you imagine being that scared of your feelings you create a group in order to make yourself feel "manly"? I understand teaching children how to tie knots and live in the wilderness, but does that really support a manly image? Who let Baden-Powell create that by himself? Sure, he made "girl guides," but that isn't equality or equity in the slightest of aims.

Even more recent with the likes of our President's sexual and (honestly) weird aggressive tactics, men like Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones, there is more of a need to stop violence in all its manners from a continuing escalation.

This is an extremely complex issue with so many layers going back thousands and thousands of years through history and evolution. There is no right answer to solving it and I don't think there ever will be. Education is a powerful tool, teaching boys to be kind and not violent is the step in the right direction.


"Too often we define masculine strength by who can blow away the most people, who can flex the most muscle, who can impose their will and inflict the most damage. But this cheapens the real definition of strength and toughness. We respect the toughness of firefighters who rush into burning buildings, when others are rushing out.

Police officers and first responders who put their lives on the line, and the men and women of the armed services who show courage under fire, not because they're out to prove something, but because they steel themselves in the face of danger and face down their fears in service to others. For the same reason, we should respect the toughness and strength of men who challenge the myth of that being a real man requires putting up a false front, disrespecting others, and engaging in violent and self-destructing behavior.

We should respect all the men out there who aren't threatened by women's equality, who have the confidence to listen to women, learn from them, and grow in the process; who refuse to engage in homophobic abuse, and bullying to prove they're 'one of the guys'; who show empathy for others rather than joining in or remaining silent when other guys prop themselves up at the expense of others; and who meet change and difference with the willingness to make change and a difference themselves. Strength is about adapting to change, not about retreating from it and lashing back with violence out of fear. And it's high time we have a definition of manhood capable enough of meeting that challenge." - Jason Katz

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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When Your Enough Just Isn't Enough

Do what you can, and God will do what you can't.

Have you ever felt like your enough just isn’t… enough? I feel like often times, even in smaller situations, we belittle the greatness that we can achieve because of our own personal thoughts or what others lead us to believe. It’s like, yeah, I wrote this paper, but did I really put my all into it? Or, yeah, I did my Bible study, but was my heart really into it?

It’s times like this when I must sit back and remember that God is God and He knows every depth and shallow I’ve been through! Lately I’ve found myself wondering if I’ve been doing enough to follow my calling properly, or even if I’ve done enough to please God. Sometimes doing what you want to do for God can be disheartening because rejection and a whole lotta “no”s come along with it. The outcome will always be pleasurable, but the journey to reach out to someone’s heart can be difficult. 

Hebrews 10:36 (NIV) says “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” 

To me, this verse is saying, “Do what YOU can, and God will do what you can’t.” 

Is that not amazing to think about? We have the honor of having a God that will never leave our side. Receiving your calling and attempting to do the best to please God can be difficult – there’s no doubt about it. God never said it would be easy, but He did reassure us that He wasn’t going to leave us behind. Whether your passion for God is to sing, minister, be a missionary, or absolutely anything, do what you can and God will do the rest – with your drive, of course. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve backed out of opportunities or denied my calling to others, just because of how selfish I am about it. I felt like my enough wasn’t enough! But, if we’re doing what God wants, under Him and for Him, He will be pleased. That’s the beauty of it all!

So next time you feel like you’re not doing enough, take a step back and look at what’s in front of you. 

Are you doing what you can so that God can do what you can’t? 

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Black British Viewpoint On The H&M Ad

Why his mother is unbothered? And why South African Protestors are?

You've seen it everywhere. A photo of this beautiful Black Boy wearing a sweater (aka Jumper) stating "cutest monkey in the jungle". Now many people immediately expressed outrage about the entire situation but when I saw this, my original response was as follows:

And it seems that the boys mother agrees with me:

“[I] am the mum, and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modeled. Stop crying wolf all the time, [it’s] an unnecessary issue here. Get over it.. That’s my son, [I’ve] been to all photoshoots and this was not an exception. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about this… I really don’t understand but not [because I’m] choosing not to, but because it’s not my way of thinking. Sorry.

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT TO THE AFRO CARIBBEAN EXPERIENCE

A fellow Brit writes:


Like this commenter mentioned, I've heard white and black parents in the UK refer to their kids as a cheeky monkey. You see before moving to the USA, I use to say all the time "racism DOES NOT exist". Yeah don't get me wrong I'd experience two moments that I remember, that had a slight racial bias attached to it. But it was two separate incidents in the twenty-something years of my life. It was really nothing. Scrap that maybe three. After all my family is multiracial. Many family members includng my uncle, brother in law, cousins in law are white and my lineage is mixed. I could go to a pub meet a white person or a person of any other race, and have a deep meaningful conversation about a plethora of issues with no judgment and feel like there really is a deep connection and acceptance. Heck, I could have that conversation at a bus stop.

My family member writes:


It's not the same in the USA. It's a constant barrage of judgment, of questioning everything and every experience. From the moment you walk out of your door, you could be subjected to multiple incidences of racist bias that leave you raw and unable to know how to process or to cope. ou leave your house and if in an affluent neighborhood, your neighbors can make you feel like you don't belong.Y You walk into your nearby Krogers, where until you are labeled as ok, you could be followed all around the store on a daily basis. You see your neighbors who do not acknowledge and often do things that let you know, you are un-welcomed (you don't belong) in your very own neighborhood. You go to work, where you are isolated and made to feel that it was not designed for you. Where you micromanaged and made to feel less than in so many ways. You drive home from work where if you are a black man, one false move could be the end of your life.

You see, the African American experience is one that dehumanizes you. It has become so polarized that it's difficult to even know which way to look. I mean my daughter was subjected to bullying with a racial element, at the age of 4. FOUR years old. It's heart-wrenching and just unacceptable. I can go to an event be it a birthday party or a school led event where everyone knows me, but many if not all at times, choose to not speak to me. It's a brutal experience.


Opposing views


Another view:


HERE'S MY POINT

The experiences are so different that I honestly can relate why for the Swedish black Mum took no issue with the sweater/jumper or the ad. But I also being black in America where it is common to dehumanize black people, and where this subjection is daily and constant can understand why there is such outrage and why many people take offense. There is a school of thought out there that believe H&M did this on purpose. That this was an opportunity to gain free publicity. I truly hope not. Either way I shout You Cannot Define Me, I am Beautiful, Learned, Adorable, Capable a King (aka BLACK) for that little boy. I also understand why those in South Africa protested to the point that H&M has had to close its door.

The divisive nature of the country, nay, the world needs to get on a better track if we are truly to move forward. When will we learn?I really and truly just don't get it. Let me know your thoughts?

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Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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