In this lecture, we look at how the gender construct of masculinity is being reconsidered across many societies.
Big Question: What does it mean to “be a man” these days?
Science now recognizes the complexity of gender diversity: Between the (Gender) Lines: the Science of Transgender Identity
“Check Your Privilege”
For conversational purposes, I would describe myself as a “straight, cisgendered male.” A partial list of things I’ve never had to worry about:
- People thinking my bad driving is because of my gender
- Getting paid less for the same work because of my gender
- The chikan on the bus behind me might rape me or kill me
- Not being able to legally marry the person I love because of gender
- Being forced to wear another gender’s clothing
- Being so uncomfortable in my gender I consider suicide
The concept of toxic masculinity is used in psychology and media discussions of masculinity to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves. Traditional stereotypes of men as socially dominant, along with related traits such as misogyny and homophobia, can be considered “toxic” due in part to their promotion of violence, including sexual assaultand domestic violence. The socialization of boys often normalizes violence, such as in the saying “boys will be boys” with regard to bullying and aggression.
Featured TED Talk
Yes, we all know it’s the right thing to do. But Michael Kimmel makes the surprising, funny, practical case for treating men and women equally in the workplace and at home. It’s not a zero-sum game, but a win-win that will result in more opportunity and more happiness for everybody:from TED
Questions for Reflection (reply below)
- Is “toxic masculinity” a problem in your culture? Why or why not?
- What is Kimmel’s main point?
- In your own family, how much of the housework is shared between the genders?
- What are your expectations of gender equality in your future family?