03/11/17
This is an interesting time to be a sociologist especially if you are teaching or studying the AQA unit Culture and Identity or the OCR unit Introducing Socialisation, Culture and Identity. Both units require an examination and understanding of gender identity, especially hegemonic masculinity and femininity. The allegations against the film producer Harvey Weinstein, the theatre director Max Stafford- Clark and the ex-Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon have re-opened the debate about how the dominant hegemonic version of masculinity is often toxic in terms of its negative effect on relationships between men and women. This toxic masculinity often underpins patriarchy and legitimates the abuse of male power in many areas of social life. In October Jordan Stephens who is one half of the hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks, spoke out against the way masculine norms and boundaries have been so distorted that some men believe that sexist and abusive behaviour especially against women is socially acceptable. Stephens argues that gender role socialisation, that is, the way boys are brought up in modern Britain partly accounts for this. He believes that males are ‘hardwired’ to behave in a patriarchal way – to jump from girl to girl, to brag about breaking hearts, to watch porn, to touch and speak to girls and women inappropriately and to see the investment of love and trust in others as vulnerability. He argues that many males have experienced a traumatised childhood in which they were not allowed by older men, often their dads, to express weakness in any shape or form. Instead they are told to ‘man-up, to exert their male power over others via physical violence and emotional manipulation. Consequently, he observes that as boys become adults they fail to learn from these childhood experiences and to understand why they desire power over others. He argues that men need to recognise that the way they have been brought up is a problem, that they are suffering a crisis of masculinity which denies them the capacity to acknowledge and understand their childhood pain. It is this which prevents them from ever truly loving themselves, understanding others and treating women as equals. He argues that males need to learn that it is OK to feel sad or to cry and to have loved their mum and dad whilst growing up. They need to understand that it is OK to miss their parents and to have wanted more affection from them. It is only when young males acknowledge and realise that they have been wounded by their childhood socialisation that masculinity will undergo detox.