Man Up Monday: Tough Guise and Intro

I recently watched the movie Tough Guise in my Gender and Race in Political thought class.

Here is a portion of the description from where it is available for purchase. It is also available online for watching.

“While the social construction of femininity has been widely examined, the dominant role of masculinity has until recently remained largely invisible. Tough Guise is the first educational video geared toward college and high school students to systematically examine the relationship between pop-cultural imagery and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century.

In this innovative and wide-ranging analysis, Jackson Katz argues that widespread violence in American society, including the tragic school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and elsewhere, needs to be understood as part of an ongoing crisis in masculinity.”

Perhaps because I have a young son, I was inspired by this movie to do something to promote alternate views of what masculinity is or can be. I’m calling it Man Up Monday. I will try to post something on (hopefully all, but certainly most) Mondays dedicated to the healthy raising up of our boy children in to whole and healthy men. So, with that in mind, here is an except from another essay that I turned in in that class. It’s a 5 page letter to my son about masculinity and role models. This time I can break up the text into more manageable chunks-unlike the last one.

My Dear Son,

I love you and am enjoying watching you grow into a young man. Let me tell you that I will do my level best to keep society or family or even your Dad and I from confining you into a box that defines who you are based on some stereotype of masculinity. I promise to help you follow your dreams, whatever they might be, even if they are seemingly hyper-masculine like racecar driver and bull rider. I will help you learn to be strong in the face of adversity, not because men must be strong, but because people must be strong and persevere when we feel like giving up.

I will make every effort to show you alternate definitions of strong. In challenge to the mainstream media’s sledgehammer definition of strength, I will find role models who show you how to be strong in quieter, softer or more subtle ways. I think we may be off to a good start, given my obsession with dance shows. Male dancers are often some of the strongest athlete’s in the world, but they are so graceful at the same time that it is often overlooked. I will teach you to look at our culture’s stereotypes with a critical eye. I will show you how to “win battles” with words and knowledge. I will preach to you of Dr. King and Gandhi whose strength was not brutish and violent. Their strength came from nonviolence and peaceful ideals.

Look for Role Models in Football (his other love) next week

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Belinda
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 12:39:16

    It’s funny because this past weekend, I was just thinking about what my thoughts are on “masculinity” and “being a man” and how they may or may not be tainted by mainstream culture. I have a son who’s 4 and I want very much to be a guiding light for him in terms of what it means to be a boy, and not have his gender be a source of identity-crisis. Your letter reflects some of the same thoughts I have and most of all, I want my son to define who he is as a human more so than a boy or man. I’d like him to ask questions more about whether he is becoming the person he’d like to be rather than the “man” he’d like to be. I’d like to put humanity at the forefront more so than gender, as I feel there is currently not enough focus on what it means to be human.


  2. liz
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 12:55:11

    Hey now I think we should just crush all this and force all men to play with dolls, cry, wear pink princess pj’s and join the cheer leading squads! JK love this topic, as my sister in law told me one day ” would you like these trucks, my son is not a ‘truck boy’.” Unfortunately it was very apparent this was not his idea but hers in an effort to force him into being more feminine. He was given dolls under the guise that he wanted them. I personally have always been fascinated by the fact that my daughter came out wanting to dance, wear pink, wear makeup, and rock baby dolls while my son wants to go fishing, drum, watch sports and eat hot dogs. This is by no count my doing, this has been from day one! I just think we should go with it, let them explore who they want to be.


    • 2bdancing
      Feb 24, 2011 @ 15:48:25

      It would be great if we could all be allowed the freedom to explore who we want to be without being judged for it.
      You know the art isn’t a real job, right?


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