Blog Against Sexism (Take 2)

God, I’m stupid. Five minutes after I make my post saying I can’t think of much for Blog Against Sexism Day, I realize I do have something to say. Hegemonic masculinity sucks. For those of you who know what hegemonic masculinity is (it might be limited to rhetoric students, I’m not sure), you can skip this post. If not, more information follows the jump

Hegemonic masculinity is the ideal of our culture. Notice that I don’t say the ideal masculinity. No. Because in our culture (and most others that I can think of), women are thought of in relation to men. (In Spanish, for example, women do not just take the last name of their husband, they add de, meaning “of”. So if Mercedes Valasquez marries Juan Dominguez, she becomes Mercedes Valasquez de Dominguez, which translates to Mercedes Valasquez of (or belonging to) Dominguez.) Therefore, the ideal woman is ideal only in the way that she is ideal in her relationship to men.

So, what does hegemonic masculinity have to do with sexism? Every-fuckin’-thing. In order to be a “true man” in our culture you must conform to hegemonic masculinity. The basic characteristics of hegemonic masculinity are physical courage, physical prowess, limited display of emotions, heterosexuality, being married (though this is changing to being a playboy) and self sufficiency. If you are male, and you don’t fit this mold, you are a “fag,” “wuss,” or “pervert.” If you are a woman and you meet any of these characteristics (with some exception for physical prowess, and a big one for heterosexuality and being married) you are a “dyke,” a “bitch,” or, even worse, “unfeminine.”

So, hegemonic masculinity forces us into molds we don’t belong in. I am personally heterosexual, prefer monogamous relationships, and (as far as a college student can be) self sufficient. To call me “courageous,” “athletic,” or “stoic,” however, would be like calling a mouse “large,” “scaly,” and “purple.” Throughout middle school, and most of high school, this drove me crazy because people assumed I was gay (the fact that I like turtleneck sweaters and am a little bit vain about my hair didn’t help either), which I imagined hampered my attempts to get dates (of course, it would have helped if I had the guts to ask someone out before my senior year). There were two problems with this assumption: A) I’m not gay. B) I promise you that most of the gay guys in my school were far better athletes than me. Likewise, a few of my female friends were assumed to be lesbians, when they were rather far from it, because they wore their hair short, or were actually confident about themselves. Imagine that.

In the end, I became very comfortable with the fact that I’m not particularly masculine, and for the most part overcame my under-confidence. But the stigma of being “limp wristed” and liking turtle neck sweaters still follows me to some extent (less so in my wonderful liberal arts college than at my somewhat conservative high school), and I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I actually were gay, or if I were a strong, courageous lesbian.

Change it. Now.

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