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Masculinity At Its Straightest Essay

1857 words - 7 pages

The misguided perception of masculinity is the absence of anything remotely homosexual. In Michael Kimmel’s novel Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men he discusses the contradictions of masculinity and what it takes to be seen as a real men. In American, middle class white society, manhood is more than beards and sleeping around with women, it is being as far away from feminine as allowed. The most foreign idea to most would be to consider a gay man to be “manly.” This unfathomable idea is what spurs on homophobia and gives homosexuality a foul name. To be called a “sissy” or “faggot” is worse than being called a “bastard” or “dick.” Shaking a man of his masculinity and naming him a woman psychologically destroys a man. Guyland best describes this as, “Homophobia—the fear that people might misperceive you as gay—is the animating fear of American guys’ masculinity. It’s what lies underneath the crazy, risk-taking behaviors practiced by boys of all ages, what drives the fear that other guys will see you as weak, unmanly, frightened” (Guyland 50). This kind of methodology has been growing for generations, seen mostly in high schools as young boys get physically tortured or beaten for effeminate behavior. The lack of acceptance in culture is increasingly appalling for all age groups. It is a form of conformity of culture as psychologist Karen Franklin discusses:
Assaults on homosexuals and other individuals who deviate from sex role norms are viewed as a learned form of social control of deviance rather than a defensive response to personal threat ... in other words, through heterosexism, any male who refuses to accept the dominant culture's assignment of appropriate masculine behavior is labeled early on as a “sissy” or “fag" and then subjected to bullying. (Franklin)
The misguided notions of what it means to be truly masculine are creating pathways for bullying and hatred. Stereotypes and false media portrayals of gay and straight male interactions are inaccurate and allowing people to believe that these interactions are true. In society’s standards, masculinity is reserved only for those willing to deny all effeminate traits.
In high school and college, young men are fraught with ideals of popularity and acceptance. They avoid the things that will make them seem different or that will get them bullied. Oftentimes, “young adolescents, especially boys, are concerned about the physical changes of puberty and may develop homophobia in association with anxiety about their masculinity” (“Gay Teens Bear Burden of Homophobia”). This sort of development leads to the assumption that the most torment would derive from a high school environment. Ironically, despite the hatred towards homosexuals that many heterosexual boys display, hazing rituals often include degrading sexual acts that involve other boys. The older “brothers” of the fraternities claim that these rituals bond and unify the members, but are adamant that they are not gay acts...

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