Toxic Masculinity And American Culture

Toxic Masculinity And American Culture

Culture affects perception and emotions.
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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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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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My Date Did Blackface And That's Absolutely NOT OK

Only through education can we have a better society.
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I went on this date with a guy we will call Mike. He was from Argentina, he was a Coca-Cola distributor and he was very nice. We had coffee and drinks, then we shared a good-night kiss. Then I went home.

When you’re excited about someone, you want to know more about them. I went online and found his Facebook profile. When I was looking through the few pictures he posted, he had one from four years ago. He had one of him in blackface.

I asked him about it, and he said it was from high school. He didn’t understand why Americans were so sensitive to racial things. I ignored him. He Snapchatted me later and asked how I was, then said, “I don’t get why you are acting like I’m racist?”

Maybe because you are being racist.

When people say, “You’re racist” or “You’re being racist,” it’s automatically equated to “You are a bad person.” That’s not what it means. It means you’re being racist. Almost everyone is racist from time to time.

Blackface is super racist. Its origins can be traced back to the mid to late nineteenth-century when white people would put on grease to depict black people, most often free blacks or slaves, in minstrel shows. These shows mocked black people and depicted them as inferior to whites. Blackface has also been on Broadway and Vaudeville shows, and these shows were played as late as “The Black and White Minstrel Show” in 1978. Consider this excerpt from David Leonard, chair of Washington State University's department of critical culture, gender and race studies:

“Blackface is part of a history of dehumanization, of denied citizenship, and of efforts to excuse and justify state violence. From lynchings to mass incarceration, whites have utilized blackface (and the resulting dehumanization) as part of its moral and legal justification for violence. It is time to stop with the dismissive arguments those that describe these offensive acts as pranks, ignorance and youthful indiscretions. Blackface is never a neutral form of entertainment, but an incredibly loaded site for the production of damaging stereotypes...the same stereotypes that undergird individual and state violence, American racism, and centuries worth of injustice.”

Some people say it is harmless and all in good fun, but it’s not. It offends people of color and enforces stereotypes about black people. It’s a privilege to say you didn’t know blackface was offensive. “The ability to blame others for being oversensitive, for playing the race card or for making much ado about nothing are privileges codified structurally and culturally," writes Leonard.

If you have done blackface, it is forgivable. You just need to admit to yourself that it is unacceptable behavior, then not to do it again. If you know someone who has done blackface, please educate them. Only through education can we have a better society.

Cover Image Credit: BET.com

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