Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Contributors for 'A Crisis of Masculinity and Male Bashing"

Frances Huang

Richard Lin

Frances Huang's A new definition of Manhood

Frances Huang
YE4A 1094100030
A crisis of Masculinity and Male Bashing 2006/10/25

A New Definition for Manhood

Things change so the world improves (or corrupts) and especially the ideas related to humanity are always “in flux”. The fixed definition of manhood can be found in the dictionaries - for reference only. Just like the roles of women have changed due to various social factors, the meaning of manhood has also been adjusted to harmonize with the new definition of the role of women. Men used to be the main financial support of the family, but women are capable of creating fortunes now. Men used to be physically stronger then women, but due to industrialization, city men hardly need to use their muscles now. Also, it is very common that men wish to marry financially-independent women so that they can pay the mortgage together. In order to avoid the irrelevant ideas about manhood, the definition of manhood in the dictionaries definitely needs to be revised.

“Medieval knights” and “heroes from movies” sound very romantic and attractive, but are not realistic. Modern women are strong enough to live independently and heroes as saviors to women usually appear in movies only. The popular “male-warrior role models” nowadays is called “Neo-fine man”. This type of men has “the spirit of a knight”. They are not necessarily handsome, but they pay attention to details. They don’t ride horses, but they do housework. They don’t dance with swords, but they take care of children. They don’t wear armors, but they wear smiles. The living style of urban citizens has changed a lot, so have the roles of men and women. It doesn’t matter how the roles have changed. The important thing is that men and women could live together peacefully.

However, male-bashing becomes another challenge for men. The main audience of TV commercials and situation comedies are women. Of course, the producers will produce ideas like male-bashing to please their female target market and make good profits out of women’s consensus of “It’s all his fault! Ha ha...”. Women could somehow express their emotions through making fun of men. These commercials or situation comedies provide a good outlet for women’s anger (or maybe other emotions) toward men. They don’t really do any harm to men-and-women relationships, men probably will also have a good laugh out of it if they ever watch these commercials and comedies.

I’ve done a brief survey (only five subjects and three questions) to understand more about what men think of the feminist movement and male bashing. Three of them don’t think it’s fair to describe all men with “Men know nothing about love.”. One of them agreed that some men actually don’t know how to love. And the last one answered, “I will examine myself if I, as a man, have this problem.” Also, all of them think the feminist movement is quite a positive thing, since it means that women are independent and don’t have to rely on men. Interestingly, opposite to the stereotype of “males aren’t communicative”, four out of five choose to sit down and talk to women when problems occur. From this result (if they are really honest), I think the definition of manhood has really changed and men are less self-centered than in the past.

Richard's Essay on "Crisis of Masculinity and Male Bashing"

YE4A 1094100028 Richard Lin

A Crisis of Masculinity and Male Bashing

The definition of "manhood" is in flux. Every historical era, in fact, seems to have been conflicted over the correct definition of manhood. In the late 19th century, it was the end of the frontier that was bemoaned as signaling the end of manhood. American men lost their freedom to do what he wants. Second, the industrialization and the great migration from farm to city were also changing men’s relation to their work. Before the Civil War, 88 percent of American males were small farmers or independent artisans or small businessmen. But by 1910, less than one-third of all men were self-employed. World War I represented another crisis for the male image. Americans were shocked when nearly half the recruits were physically or mentally disqualified for military service. American men in 19th and 20th centuries were having trouble meeting male demands. (Dunkel & Pialorsi, 2005, p66-P67)

One of the articles in Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with A Thousand Faces” mentioned that “ the hero as warrior, the hero as lover, the hero as emperor and as tyrant, the hero as world redeemer, the hero as saint.” Take Shih Ming-teh for example, Shih is a well-known political prisoner from the days of martial law. Shih is currently organizing a political protest seeking to overthrow the ROC president Chen Shui-bian in an effort to force Chen to resign. He is regarded by many pan-blue people as a hero. Shih was also seen as a brave warrior to fight against the powerful government. Actually, the male-warrior role models cannot become popular without reasons. It reflects the fears and desires of men. It is also created to help reproduce a new brand of toughness. It seems that men can get in touch with their inner masculine selves by involving with this issues all together. Wild at Heart is another very popular book by John Eldredge published in 2001, on the subject of the role of masculinity. John Eldredge has become famous for his "Wild at Heart," which says that a man needs "an adventure to live, a battle to fight, and a beauty to rescue." Regardless of the male-warrior models in movies, games, or books, they all focus on the personal triumph of the hero (Odysseus), a tale about the power of the rugged male individual (mission impossible), and rescue of women to gain affection from them (Trojan War).

On television, we are more likely to find men in action and drama roles and less likely to find them in situation comedies and soap operas. Men are also more likely than woman to be portrayed as having high-status jobs and are less likely to be shown in the home. Producers are likely to portray men as more dominant than women and as more prone to engage in violence. In situation comedies, men are more likely to disparage women than vice versa, but overall men are more often the object of humor or disparagement. They are even portrayed as selfish, lazy, and inconsiderate husbands and poor parents. The commercials in between aren't any better. Among them: A family game ad: A stupid guy and beautiful woman are playing Trivial Pursuit. He asks her, "How much does the average man's brain weigh?" Her answer: "Not much." Even simple camera techniques used on women and men seem to differ. Television camera shots are more likely to feature women’s entire bodies while more often showing men in close-ups of only their faces. I have a feeling that there is a sense of guilt on men today. We are not allowed to be proud of what we are. If I get promotion or any other accomplishment, it must be because of my maleness. That may have been true years ago, but things have changed, times have changed, the workforce and social norms have changed. In fact, I refuse to feel guilty for being who I am.