Tough Guise

2.29.2012

The other day in my Women and Popular Culture course, we watched a documentary called Tough Guise: Violence, Media, & the Crisis of Masculinity. I thought it was pretty strange to be watching a film about masculinity in a women's studies course, but I really enjoyed it. Having a young son, it made me really worry for him. The standards that are set for boys to be "manly" and "masculine" are just as disturbing as those for girls to be "beautiful" and "skinny".

More and more it seems that the term "man" is simply defined as being strong and tough. We do not expect them to be emotional or have feminine features.  And often, when they lack masculinity, they are bullied and teased. They get called names like "pussy" and "fag", which is essentially saying that they are girls. This leaves young boys feeling powerless and weak.

What really caught my attention in this film was that it discussed school shootings and how they are portrayed in the media. Over 80% of violent crimes are committed by males, including school shootings. Every time you see something about these in the news, they are never gender specific. The Dr. Drew show posted on it's website "Violent teens: What makes them murder?" about the most recent school shooting in Ohio. By a male.

And when you sit there to really think about it...they are usually always males. Honestly, I cannot believe that I didn't even notice it before. We are seeing things in newspapers and on television telling us that "Kids are shooting kids" and that is the issue at hand. But really, if we are being factual, it is BOYS shooting kids. That is what is going on. The majority of violent crimes, including shootings, are at the hands of a male.

Why doesn't anybody ever talk about this? It really, sincerely bugs me. Even more so seeing all the news about the recent school shootings. Have you ever even thought about this? I definitely think it is something we, as a society, need to figure out quickly. Why do boys feel the need to bring guns to school? Does it make them feel powerful and manly in a place where they are bullied for not being masculine enough?

Everybody should definitely watch the documentary; it is extremely eye opening. I will continue to encourage my son to play with baby dolls (he got one for Christmas at age 2) and to openly express how he is feeling. I definitely want to raise him knowing that being a "man" is more than just being strong and tough.  He should be nurturing, kind, considerate, and loving. That is what makes a man, not muscles.

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