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Masculinity And Race Essay

2561 words - 10 pages

Masculinity and Race

Historically, masculinity in the United States has been constructed as being White Protestant Anglo-Saxon, furthermore heterosexual and in charge of all matters, and this definition sets standards against which other men are measured an evaluated. Michael Kimmel provides a good definition:

[…], Young, married, white, urban heterosexual, Protestant father of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight and height and a recent record in sports(271).

This definition refers to a so-called „hegemonic masculinity“ because it describes a man of power, in power and with power(272).
Racially and ethnically other men have always been equated with characteristics that symbolically effeminate and disempower them. Those other men are African Americans and Asian Americans as well as Latinos and Native Americans, which are not my concern in this essay. I want to argue that race and masculinity cannot be regarded as distinct matters but are closely linked and intertwined with each other because the hegemonic masculinity by definition is only valid for Caucasians and also constructed by them. Ethnically and racially other men can never fully become masculine by that definition, they have to content themselves with the role of a marginal other. To emphasize the importance and historical significance I like to quote Dollimore:

„No consideration of cultural and/or racial difference should ever neglect the sheer negativity, evil and inferiority with which „the other“ of such differences has been associated throughout history“ (Dollimore 18) .

These Others have the opportunity approach masculinity, in terms of the definition provided by Kimmel, when they assimilate to white hegemonic structures, mannerisms and habits, but they have to depend on those same hegemonic structures to grant them this reward, for the dubious price of neglecting their own heritage and culture, at least that is what I think.
Others can always help the Caucasian hero to reach his goal and safe „the world“ because they might possess a specific and peculiar skill that helps to achieve the aspired goal and this capability furthermore marks their otherness. But they can never possess the whole package like the white hero does.
Historically, African Americans have been made hypermasculine as well as they have been emasculated. They were portrayed as either the overwhelmingly strong, sexual aggressive invader or the harmless boy not to be feared.
Asian American have been depicted as malicious, sneaky and evil minded others that always threaten to rape innocent white maidens. They are thought of as not being able to speak...

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