Monday, November 16, 2015

Jackson Katz, "Tough Guise 2" and Michael Kimmel, "What Are Little Boys Made Of?"

If there’s anything today that can make a man second-guess his behavior and impose an entirely different aura for how men should be conducting themselves, it is the film by Jackson Katz, “Tough Guise 2.” And yes, the title of this film is inspired with every pun intended, as “guise” is a term for an appearance or projection, quite like a mask, to disguise the true identity of something; and in this case, it is the toughness, which men are, and have been convinced from adolescence that needs to be achieved and sustained in order to climb the ladder on the manhood-totem pole.

It’s really not up for debate when Katz reveals the simple fact that ninety percent of violence is committed by men. As we see all of the violent acts that take place every day it is without a doubt that the media euphonizes the true root of these acts through expressions, which Katz elucidates as “violence in America,” or “kids killing kids,” or “youth violence.” In “Tough Guise 2” Katz says, “All of this is part of the functions how dominant ideologies work linguistically to conceal the power of dominant groups.”  Of course, when women commit such crimes, though they are just as morally wrong, the media likes to capitalize on these incidents and magnify the subject matter because it’s outside the lines of our social norms—it makes headlines—headlines make news—news makes money. We all know about these social norms and dominate groups, as they were covered in class a while back: straight, Christian, white, able-bodied, (American), male, and property holding, which formed the acronym (SCWAMP), all remain invisible when mentioning addressing the problem. Many would agree with Michael Gurian, a therapist and author of A Fine Young Man and The Wonder of Boys, mentioned in Michael Kimmel’s What Are Little Boys Made Of?, as he mentions that we should let “boys be boys” and the education system is being ruined by feminists. Gurian is said to argue the fact that “our educational system forces naturally rambunctious boys to conform to a regime of obedience. With testosterone surging through their little limbs, boys are commanded to sit still, raise their hands, and take naps.” It’s almost comical that there are grown men out there willing to blame feminism for the “supposed failure in manhood.” It’s as if these guys couldn’t let go of the fact that their little sister beat them in a game of checkers thirty years ago and haven’t had their opportunity to reclaim their title as the “Checker-King.” I almost feel that this behavior actually makes these guys look like the “little bitches,” the ones you lost all their sense of security to women wanting to be paid the same to do the same job. So what’s the proposition? Should we let “boys be boys,” accept the reasoning for testosterone playing the leading role and cheer them on while they wreak havoc on their schoolteachers like little gremlins? Believe me when I say, I was probably one of the most reckless little boys growing up, and my father, definitely had a good dose of masculinity to punish me with. He didn’t accept my behavior, my mother didn’t accept my behavior, and although I said I wouldn’t be a thousand times, I am thankful for their discipline.

The problem that seems to be more relevant in this situation is the parenting—it usually starts within the home. The one thing Katz, Kimmel, and Gurian would agree with is that this is mainly psychological. I don’t argue with the fact that we are seeing a major increase in depression with young boy today. I do believe that the reasons for the lack of confidence and early stages of depression in young boys are more so because we have installed the idea that they must become more successful, stronger, powerful, athletic, and in all ways, more dominant than women; correspondingly, we have a much more competitive structure with females, young and old, in all areas of society including sports and education, which fashions a smaller margin of victory for boys over girls. In addition to dealing with the stresses and peer-pressures to conform to our societal analysis of manhood, it is because of this reason that young boys feel failure: rather than the idea of just loosing to an individual, if they are overachieved or outplayed by a female it becomes much harder to accept because they will be looked at as a “pussy.” It’s as if the favored team just suffered a major upset in the championship game. If the expectations did not exists in the first place then the loss would be less impactful. Of course the losing team isn’t going to feel so hot about the loss. As humans we still need some type of motivational drive to excel in life, just not the wrong ones. Take away the expectations then the fear of failure and shamefulness will dramatically decrease, which would also generate more time for young boys to focus on the areas where improvement is needed rather than focusing on masking their image just to appear suitable for our “manhood challenge.”

Having a better understanding for equality and feminism will only educate men and help us learn to control our frustrations and anger by gaining a new and adding to our perspective. Many want to blame the masterminds behind the video games, movies, and the media and music industry but I believe this goes much further than them—it’s a cultural. I don’t believe many of the normalizations are all intentionally scienced to hypnotize everyone, although there are many that are, but it seems that most people are desensitized because of the social norms we have created for ourselves. What sells sells and is going to capitalized on if the consumer is taking the bait.

This is a video clip from the iconic mobster movie "Goodfellas," where Tommy, played by Joe Pesci, is challenged by a young bartender while playing a game of cards. Tommy's character, like a majority of roles played by Joe Pesci, is a colonel of violence, dominance, and ego, which is challenged by "Spider." Tommy reacts to Spider telling him to "go fuck [himself]" by shooting him after Tommy's friends (Robert Di Nero and Lay Liotta) cheer Spider for standing up for himself, which pressures Tommy to use the only method he knows, violence, when reacting.

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