My name is Emma. This is my feminism.

Tough Guise: Men, Violence and the Crisis in Masculinity – Jackson Katz, 1999

on February 21, 2012

I think it’s really important to look at masculinity as well as femininity when examining gender roles in the media.  This documentary is a little dated, and a little on the boring side, but it definitely brought up some really important points.  Unfortunately, although the movies and video games he used as examples are clearly outdated, the problems he was talking about are still everywhere.  

As a straight, single 21-year-old woman, these issues affect me constantly.  Dealing with men who seem to have no emotions can be extremely frustrating, and I can only imagine how hard it must be for them.  Emotions are a huge part of what it means to be human, and denying those emotions is obviously not exactly healthy. 

As I watched, I was suddenly struck by the fact that I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be a man.  I have thought a lot about the social construction of masculinity, but I have mostly focused on how it affects me, other women, and society in general.  Maybe I’m completely self-centered and selfish, but I really never considered the actual experience of being a man in this society.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to constantly be policing your own emotions for fear of ridicule, bullying, name-calling and rejection.   This society has stripped away a huge part of men’s humanity and has allowed men to be only a fraction of what they could be.

It’s obvious that defining masculinity in terms of power, control, and violence creates problems for women, who, as a result, suffer physical and emotional harm.  But what I never stopped to consider is that the vast majority of victims of men’s physical violence are other men.  It sounds obvious, but somehow it’s not.  Women would not be the only ones benefiting from a new definition of masculinity.  Men need this change as much as, if not more than, women do. 

This is definitely something that I wish everyone would watch.  It is just as relevant today as it was 13 years ago when it was made.  Clearly, something needs to change.  Men need to stop attacking each other and being afraid of showing a little emotion and vulnerability.   Those of us who date men need to make it clear that men with emotions are desirable.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you need your boyfriend to be crying all the time – but he shouldn’t be ‘tough’ all the time either.  In general, we need to stop using words like ‘fag,’ ‘pussy,’ etc. to maintain this narrow, exclusive definition of masculinity (and for many other reasons of course) that is so harmful to all of us. 


One response to “Tough Guise: Men, Violence and the Crisis in Masculinity – Jackson Katz, 1999

  1. […] of femininity, like clothing, hair dye, and tanning.  Such control is rarely imposed on men (we police masculinity in different ways).  Men** are also taught to see women as objects to which they are entitled.  One example that […]

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