Hegemonic masculinity refers to the culturally normative ideal behaviours of males. This concept is based on the assumption that there is a hierarchy of masculine behaviour, suggesting that most societies encourage men to exemplify a dominant version of masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is competitive and reflects an inclination for males to pursue domination over other males and subordinate females. Contrary to feminism, anti-femininity demonstrates a male’s strong aversion and fear of being attributed to feminine characteristics.
Men’s identity strategies are stablished through their complicit or resistant stance to prescribed dominant masculine styles. Masculine characters are not given. Rather, a range of possible styles and personae emerge from the gender regimes found in different cultures and periods of time. It is undeniable that the definition of a man is the same today as it was a decade ago. Among the possible ways of being masculine, some become winning style and it is this with which men must engage.
This manufactured image of the male projected the appearance of an educated man, the talented athlete, hardworking good family man, with the ability to always provide. This has become the standard definition of manhood. The workplace became the arena that allowed manhood to be tested and, proving to other males. It provided the space for which men could prove opposite characteristic of women, although women were one of many vehicles available to males for the purpose of exhibiting levels of success.
Through the gender identity model, demonstrated by Christopher T. Kilmartin, this paper will view the different dimensions of male and female gender roles. Moreover, through the work of Ann Ferguson, the crucial interpretation of gender performance nd transgressive acts will be fundamental in identifying how hegemonic masculinity is identified as anti-femininity. In all societies the obvious biological difference between men and women is used as a Justification for forcing them into different social roles which limit and shape their attitudes and behavior.
That is to say, no society is content with the natural difference of sex, but each insists on adding to it a cultural difference of gender. The simple physical facts therefore always become associated with complex psychological qualities. It is not enough for a man to be male; he also has to appear masculine. A woman, in addition to being female, must also be feminine. However, once the contrast between men and women has been increased and accentuated in this fashion, it is usually taken as a further manifestation of biological differences, which confirm the need for different social roles.
Thus, from an early age, boys are helped to acquire a masculinity that allows them to assume and maintain that position. By the same token, girls are taught to cultivate a submissive femininity. The resulting difference in the male and female character is then described as inborn and used to defend the existing power rrangement. Only those who accept it are normal, and only they can expect to succeed. The male social role is designed to reward masculine men, while the female social role offers its relative advantages only to feminine women.
Gender identity is ultimately derived from both chromosomal makeup and physical appearance, but this does not mean that psychosocial influences are missing. Socialization, or the process whereby a child learns the norms and roles that society nas created tor his or her gender, plays a significant role in the establishment of her or his sense of emaleness or maleness. If a child learns she is a female and is raised as a female, the child believes she is female; if told he is a male and raised as a male, the child believes he is male.
Beginning at birth, most parents treat their children according to the child’s gender as determined by the appearance of their genitals. Parents even handle their baby girls less aggressively than their baby boys. Children quickly develop a clear understanding that they are either female or male, as well as a strong desire to adopt gender-appropriate mannerisms and behaviors. This normally occurs ithin two years, according to many authorities. In short, biology sets the stage, but children’s interactions with the social environment actually determine the nature of gender identity. The gender identity model also carries the assumption that, ‘being like a woman’ is a negative outcome in personality development” (Kilmartin, 39). Early psychoanalytic theorists were quick in assuming that poor motherhood was the primary drawback in a male child being overly feminine. Other Justifications point to an absent father who was away often or very distant from his children. The feminine male has been demonstrated as a scary unwanted image. A teenage boy is not supposed to cry during a romantic movie.
If a young boy associates with too many feminine things, he may end up identifying more with women than with men. All females are not necessarily feminine and all males are not necessarily masculine. We are never provided with a definitive answer to what constitutes masculinity, but instead we are provided with details and examples of how an why masculinity cannot be reduced to the male body and its effects, asserting as well that dominant asculinity relies on alternate masculinities, such as female masculinity.
Masculinity in this society inevitably conjures up notions of power, legitimacy and privilege, a fact which closely ties the idea of masculinity to conceptions of race gender, sexuality and class, yet this power is only recognizable in opposition where masculinity only become legible as masculinity only in certain social settings. Ann Ferguson highlights three strategies in which males display masculinity. Heterosexual power; “always marked as a male” (Ferguson, 81). This refers to the social theory that men ave unearned advantages or rights granted to them solely on the basis of their sex, but usually denied to women.
In societies with male privilege, men are afforded social, economic, and political benefits because they are male. Second involves role reversal, which is described by Ferguson as the disruption of the normal direction of the flow of power. Girls are outperforming boys at every level of education; women are overtaking men in the workplace in both status and pay. More men are becoming househusbands. Girls are becoming more assertive and aggressive whilst boys are becoming more feminine. Females are graceful in becoming the dominant gender. Third, Ferguson identifies violence as a strategy in displaying masculinity.
This displays the conflict between authority and masculinity. These masculine strategies reassert the notion that gender is a performance. Contrary to feminine behavior, males are at constant battle to upkeep the masculine image. C. J. Pascoe’s representation of the anti-feminine male exemplified the anxiety males have of being labeled as feminine. She implied through her research that it is acceptable to be gay, under the conditions that you are masculine as well. Her rendition ot the tag discourse argues that labeling other’s as a tag is central to boys’ joking relationships.
Joking about the “fag” both strengthens relationships among boys and soothes their social anxiety. The high school boys from Pascoe’s study bond by throwing the fag nickname at one another where boys call their peers fag for a number of reasons, such as being incompetent, showing emotion, caring about appearances, dancing or expressing interest in other guys, all these trait subjective to the female identity. Another aspect of fag discourse is the enactment of the fag, in hich high school boys would act out exaggerated femininity or pretend to be sexually attracted to men.
Through this behavior, boys reminded themselves and each other that at any moment they could become fags if they were not sufficiently masculine” (Pascoe, 60). The notion of compulsive heterosexuality is based on the idea that one’s sexuality is not chosen, but rather forced through society. This term does not refer to a sexual orientation. Rather, it refers to a variety of behaviors, social interactions, and institutional structures. This is a good umbrella term for a lot of different physical, erbal, and emotional actions.
Pascoe describes how male students exhibit compulsive heterosexuality verbally when referring to their sexual interests. It is all about “the ability to exercise mastery and dominance literally and figuratively over girls’ bodies” (Pascoe, 78). Whether a boy is objectifying, privately or publicly, a woman’s body directly at her or in the company of other men/boys, these are forms of compulsive heterosexuality. Pascoe examines how masculinity is present in not only in media, sexual practices, and desire but also in politics.
This leads to how it also ffects economics and gender inequality in both physical and emotion ways. It can be seen in television shows, clothing ads, or unequal pay wages between men and women. In terms of anti femininity, hegemonic masculinity is the display of behaviors opposite to those deemed feminine. A hegemonic male will allow himself to suppress feelings of emotion and vulnerability to qualify as a manly man. Through the works of Pascoe, Ferguson and Kilmartin we have understood that the social construction of a male is what defines hegemonic masculinity rather than biological features.
The egemonic male is seen as anti-feminine because of the social pressures he is presented. A male’s fear of being labeled as feminine is primary in defining hegemonic masculinity as anti-femininity. The competitive male who seeks dominance over others and especially females, demonstrates the strong aversion a male has over becoming a subordinate himself. Through Kilmartin’s gender identity model, it was argued that being like a woman is negative in any way, shape or form. Ann Ferguson’s three strategies argue that gender is a performance and one that must be up kept through constant displays of power.
Pascoe’s fag discourse and ompulsive heterosexuality concepts present the anti-feminine in males through name-calling and, again, displays of dominance.