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Hegemonic Masculinity - Essay Example

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Hegemonic Masculinity

2000). A popular movement addresses men's problems in relationships, sexuality and identity (Connell, 2000).
Ironically, men remain the principal holders of economic and political power. Men make up a large majority of corporate executives, top professionals, and holders of public office. Worldwide, men held 93% of cabinet-level posts in 1996, and most top positions in international agencies (Gierycz 1999). Men continue to control most technology and most weaponry; with only limited exceptions it is men who staff and control the agencies of force such as armies, police and judicial systems (Connell 2000).
The form of masculinity which is culturally dominant in a given setting is called 'hegemonic masculinity'. 'Hegemonic' denotes a position of cultural authority and leadership, not total dominance; other forms of masculinity persist alongside. The hegemonic form need not be the most common form of masculinity. (This is familiar in school peer groups, for instance, where a small number of highly influential boys are admired by many others who cannot reproduce their performance.) Hegemonic masculinity is, however, highly visible. It is likely to be what casual commentators have noticed when they speak of 'the male role'. Hegemonic masculinity is hegemonic not just in relation to other masculinities, but in relation to the gender order as a whole. It is an expression of the privilege men collectively have over women. The hierarchy of masculinities is an expression of the unequal shares in that privilege held by different groups of men (Connell 2000).

In contemporary western cultures, hegemonic masculinity is defined by physical strength and bravado, exclusive heterosexuality, denial of 'vulnerable' emotions such as repentance and indecision, economic independence, authority over women and other men, and intense interest in sexual 'conquest'. Whilst most men do not have all of these qualities, society supports hegemonic masculinity within all its institutions (Trigiani 1998).

Hegemonic masculinity undergirds the division of labor between males and females. Much has been written about sexual harassment, the glass ceiling and the devaluing of women's unpaid work as homemakers, mothers, and societal caretakers. Major sociological work has been done on men's domestic and emotional exploitation of their wives, which occurs when they don't take equal responsibility for homemaking and relationship tasks. However, there is another side to this discrimination. Much research shows that when men do 'women's work', they are treated better than their female co-workers (Trigiani 1998).


Concept of hegemonic masculinity
Hegemonic masculinity is harmful to men and to women as well, it leads to destructive, uneven relationships between women and men. Hegemonic masculinity is the dominant cultural norm of being male to which men are held accountable, despite the fact that individual men depart, or try to depart, from this norm (Bird, 1996). This norm defines being male as emotionally detached, competitive, & aggressive, as associating intimacy only with sex, & masculinity with the viewing of women as sexual objects. The dominant cultural norm of masculinity defines being male as being 'not -female'. In other words, if a straight guy in western culture, the worst thing that could happen into his gender identity is to be associated with ...Show more

Summary

In the last decade, there has been an increased interest on the issues pertaining to men and boys. Publicly, there have been social movements focussed on the reform or restoration of masculinity, such as the 'mythopoetic' movement, the Million Man March and the Promise Keepers (Messner 1997)…
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