Boundaries Of Masculinity Essay

Submitted By nmhood7
Words: 902
Pages: 4

Nora Hood
Claudia Castañeda
IN 154 02
October 28th, 2013
The Boundaries of Masculinity
Even today, in a society that has not only gone through two feminist movements but seems to be primed for a third, male privilege is a very real thing. The patriarchy allows men to receive greater opportunities than women in the work field, government, military, and legal system. Additionally, traditional concepts of male privilege can still be found in the home – the mother is often seen as a more nurturing figure, whether she stays at home or works, and the father is still often assumed to be the leader of the household. Of course, these notions are all preconceived stereotypes from an older era and seem to be well through the process of evolution. While the female image and definitions of femininity have expanded over time, the concept of the “real man” may be the driving force behind gender inequality and male privilege that exists today. The struggle of equality within a gender binary system revolves around the forces acting against each of the genders. Not only does one have to combat female discrimination, but in order to level out the playing field, one must reduce male privilege, as well. Of course, to those benefiting from privilege, namely, men, the idea of giving up an innate advantage isn’t necessarily attractive. Why would it be? Being classified as a man automatically grants a higher paycheck than a woman would receive, a lesser need for a higher education degree, greater ease both in finding employment and in rising to a position of authority. Society caters to the traditional male: the United States possess a national focus on sports teams that celebrate male athletes, a legal system primarily led by men (that is still debating the merits of female reproductive rights), and a tendency to idolize the male hero in the film and television industries. Realistically, one would most likely not want to sacrifice such benefits. It is absolutely crucial to keep in mind, however, that like women, men also suffer from the crippling boundaries of a gender binary system. Judith Lorber analyzes how gender is not only socially constructed, but is consistently maintained in “Night to His Day” – a critical part of her analysis revolves around the assessment that society itself has created the distinction between feminine and masculine. Baby boys are dressed with blue clothing and blankets because that is an easy way for society to classify gender; there is nothing inherently masculine about blue, just as without the association to women, pink would not be a particularly feminine color. From the earliest possible age, individuals are taught to obey the gender construct. Girls are given dolls to play with and boys are given trucks and cars. Interestingly enough, boys are given something remarkably similar to dolls, but adamantly refer to the same toy by a more “masculine” title – action figures. As Lorber writes, “Where there is inequality, the status “woman” (and its attendant behavior and role allocations) is usually held in lesser esteem than the status of man” (209). This truth also concerns aspects of society that are associated with women. For example, skirts and dresses are clothing that are typically worn by women, while men have traditionally worn pants. Several decades ago, it finally became socially acceptable for women to wear pants, but even today, if a man were to wear a skirt or a dress, both his masculinity and his sexuality would most likely be called into question.
Some interesting theories can