On (Black) Masculinity: It’s Fragile + Illusive

Harry Brod’s essay “Studying Masculinities” has some straight ahead information on teaching and understanding masculinity.

I reread it last night and was reminded of how good it is.

I am going to post excerpts below, with some comments.

On How Privileges Work

[All]Men, as do whites [men and women], have a vested interest in not asking questions about sources of privileges. Any form of oppression maintains its power by masking how it operates, making its structure as invisible as possible. To shed light on masculinity is therefore at least potentially to threaten patriarchy.

Ahhh. This why my conversations with @beautynubian are so illuminating on Twitter. We stay talking about patriarchy, gender roles and what it means to have a gendered political identity and be? going out on dates. #somuchwin.

So much of masculinity and femininity rests in asking the why people do what they do? Is it natural, taught or a combination therein?

Or we look at what is being assumed when an action is taken, ie, walking on the outside when walking down the street with a woman. Who gets to walk on the outside when TWO women are walking down the street?? #ummhmm.

On Questioning Masculinity

Quoting Michael Kimmel “…for a man to admit that he has questions about masculinity is to admit that he has failed at masculinity.”

So eloquent. Yet so direct.

On the Uselessness of? Blaming Men for Sexism

For at least some men, moving away from being personally blamed for sexism facilitates moving toward taking personal responsibility for it.? It is difficult, if not impossible, to take effective steps towards positive personal and political change if one imagines oneself thereby to be taking steps in opposition to oneself.? But if I see that my target is not myself but rather social forces and what they have done to me, I find such steps become not only possible but desirable.

I found this to be really useful, in terms of ally building. It is ONE thing to read this stuff in books.

Its another thing to be at brunch and my gentleman friend feels like I called him a four letter word because I said that he did something that was patriarchal. What he doesn’t know is that there are SOME WOMEN that I don’t care to be around because THEY are hella patriarchal. The issue isn’t whats between your legs, but your politics, whats between your ears. How you think about stuff. #ummhmm.

I like this paragraph by Brod because it gets at getting men to see the social forces at work, and not simply blaming them for being sexist. What is the benefit of doing something like that? Where is the space being created for education or transformation. There is none with blame. That doesn’t mean I’m not gonna call a negro man or woman out if they are outta pocket. But it does mean that I will open up a discussion, if the person is willing. Or leave them alone if it is taking too much work.

On Men In Masculinity (Feminist) Studies Classes

Men who are willing to question masculinity to the extent of devoting a semester to examining it therefore pose? threat to their own and other men’s power.

The act of simply being willing to question masculinity and learn about it threatens how society is organized. #ummhmm. Peace to the men who are willing to learn.

Another quote that I found interesting is from Global Gender Issues in the New Millennium.

“…Heternormative masculinity is an extraordinarily fragile and unstable construct and identity that leaves men having to prove repeatedly that they have “it”. They are put in constant fear and anxiety that they will be dubbed less than real men and therefore, be demoted down the gender hierarchy and be subjected to greater violence by other, higher men.”

This has me thinking about how men are subjected to violence in similar to how? women are, but under difference circumstances. It all turns on “conform to the way its done”? or get smashed. Gimmie your number, or imma call you a ______ and slap you. Act like a man or imma sock you in the face and call you a _____. You get my drift?

How do men deal with this psychologically?

Especially Black men, constantly having to be on guard, performing.

Isn’t this shit a lot of work? Ya’ll get tired. How you deal with it? Do it ever drive you crazy?

Thoughts about the fragility of masculinity?