Posts Tagged ‘gender’


The Other Woman

16 April 2014

My wife and I saw yet another ad for the revenge-flick, The Other Woman. In it a woman discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her. He has another girlfriend and, as it turns out, a wife. The three become conspirators, gleefully torturing the adulterous man, usually through demeaning sexual pranks.

I told my wife that men would never be able to get away with that sort of thing, making a movie about systematically humiliating a libido-driven woman in such ways.

But I was wrong. That’s the script of most every porno ever made.


Public Property: My Eyebrows

5 October 2011

Last week, again, a hair stylist took the liberty of trimming my eyebrows and ear hair without asking.  Should I feel a little violated?  What if I want me overambitious ear hair to demonstrate my maturity?  What if I want my eyebrows to mimic Rowan Williams’?

I’m probably just depressed over middle age cosmetic issues, but the whole thing makes me wonder why my hair stylists – who so happen to be women – feel the freedom to trim hair other than that on my scalp.  Were a stylist to do the same thing to a woman, a considerable tussle would ensue, maybe a law suit.  Women do these things themselves, after all.  Since appearance matters so much to others, women  get used to making decisions about every part of their body.  That is their burden and pride, so how dare someone else make that decision for them.

Since we men don’t own our own bodies so much as to care enough about cosmetic details, women take up a stewardship role.  At least in the cosmetic sense, male bodies belong to women.  Now, how is the opposite true in our society?


Hitman Sniper and Zombie Blood: Drinking Masculinity

6 September 2011

There was once a day – I’m thinking of the late 19th century – in which special drinks with dubious medicinal effects were sold on the basis of overconfidence in scientific breakthrough.  What has changed isn’t the wild claims and general quackery, but the kind of willful ignorance we as American consumers exhibit as we buy such products.  We know that 3 mg of Echinacea isn’t going to restore our entire psycho-somatic equilibrium.  But it sure feels good to buy a pretty can of sugar water labeled “Overdrive.”

As long as we’re buying 16oz containers of fantasy, why not market them with a gendered identity in mind?  With gender is more and more an ornamental accessory to our lives, we can finally drink ourselves into manliness.  Such has become the reality of 7-11 stores everywhere.  Marketers have pegged young males as the primary consumers of energy drinks, so much so that you’ll never see something advertised as “manly.”  That would unpoetic, stating the obvious.  Instead companies sell the feeling, offering something akin to the experience of primitive hunters amplifying their own power by consuming the life-essence from the slain.  Accordingly, we’re offered a veritable smorgasbord of dude-drinks with names like “Mountain Dew Game Fuel,” “Adrenalyn Stack,” “No Fear Bloodshot,” “TAPOUT,” and (my personal favorite) “Zombie Blood Energy Potion.” 

“Of course I’ve been awake for four days straight.  I’m an assasin-dunkmaster-executive-rockstar-bodybuilder-fratboy-ninja-warlord-executive who drinks zombie blood for breakfast.”

Not to leave anyone out, there are a handful of opened up for women’s energy drinks: “Redline Princess,” “Pink,” “Vixen Energy Drink.”  But the fact that these libations broadcast their femininity as loudly as possible just underscores the fact that marketers by and large have oriented sales to the peddling of masculine identity.  Kathleen E. Miller found that college undergraduate men on average consumed 2.49 energy drinks a month, compared with a modest 1.22 cans of the stuff among women (Journal of American Journal Health 56:5 [April 2008]). 

Miller does not claim a 1:1 correlation between energy drinks and irresponsible risk taking, but she warns that energy drink consumption is a good predictor of “toxic jock identity.”  I wasn’t aware that “toxic jock identity” was a condition, but, dear me, it sounds serious.  If only the energy drink industry would devise thirst-quenching technology with extracts to offset the symptoms of such macho ridiculousness in the first place.


Targets Your Gender Right Where You Need It

6 May 2011

It made my day to find this gem in Good Shepherd Episcopal’s rummage sale, totally unused and only a dollar.  The receipt, dating to 1971, was even in the box. 


Are Women a Class?: Wal-Mart at the Supreme Court

6 December 2010

While this blog is devoted to men’s issues, this bit of news about women is too important to pass up.

Today the United States Supreme Court agreed to take on a court case in which female employees of Wal-Mart have filed a class action law suit, claiming payscale discrimination.  The nature of court case, however, is not whether Wal-Mart has paid many of their women less than men (this fact is largely obvious).  The Supreme Court is to decide whether women in the organization can sue as a class action suit.  In other words: Does “woman” classify as a category of discrimination on this enormous scale?  Sure, a hundred female employees working in a single factory might sue for the sexual bias – but what about hundreds of thousands of women, working in thousands of different locations under different conditions and management?

While the monetary consequence of this suit might amount to billions of dollars going to Wal-Mart’s female employees, the greater significance is what this case means as a litmus test for the nation.  Is America sympathetic to the feminist concern that women are chronically underpaid?  And the significance for governmental oversight: Will sex-based discrimination be regulated much more on a federal level?


Tall and Bearded: Augustine on the Resurrected Male Body

5 March 2010

Early Christian theologians were concerned to maintain a real sense of continuity between this life and the next.  If the resurrection of the flesh meant that the male/female differentiation was erased, then it stood to reason that men and women should downplay their gendered characteristics here in their earthly life.  That was not an option for those trying to preserve a gendered hierarchy.  Patristics scholars have done work on what how the theological argument was addressed toward women.   I want to offer a few ideas on the resurrected male body in Augustine’s City of God.

Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century addressed the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh, which was widely held in Christian communities but still considered scandalous by many.  In book 22 of City of God he addresses many of these objections and misconceptions, including the idea that the resurrection would mean an elimination of maleness and femaleness.  Not so, says the bishop.  They retain their bodies, including the genitals and basic bodily features.

One preserved feature of the male body is its size.  Augustine defends the resurrection of infants and children, claiming that God will fulfill their full bodily stature according to the “seminal principle” in them (22.13-15).  They will be raised in the full bloom of youth, around age thirty perhaps, after the model of Christ.  But does that imply that all be raised after the pattern of Christ in a very literal sense, viz., Jesus’ exact size?  Men and women would then all be the same height and weight.  Augustine does not allow this, claiming that the preservation of the fleshly material in the resurrection will not permit men with large mass to be raised without their full stature (22:14).  They will, presumably, be taller than women.  The sheer physical ratio is kept in the eschaton.

Beauty is also valued prized by Augustine, and he mentions male bodies as possessing this beauty in a very ornamental way.  Women’s bodies will be beautiful too, beautiful in a way that “excites praise” rather than lusts (22:17).  Their breasts and vaginas and wombs will be aesthetically pleasing in a pure way, not desired for pleasure or function.  Nevertheless, it seems that Augustine highlights even more strongly men’s bodies as those possessing beauty.  In particular, men are raised with their nipples and beards and rough skin (22.24).  Since these features do not serve any real function, thus unnecessary to the human constitution (as proved by the fact that women’s bodies are different), nipples and beards and rough skin are to be understood as ornamental, as beautiful adjuncts to the resurrection body. 

In short, the male body in Augustine’s vision of the resurrection holds onto key masculine features.  Whether the basic size of the male body or its decorative aspects, it is to be raised powerful and beautiful, and celebrated as distinctly male.


Open Forum: Is Avatar Pushing Traditional Sex Roles?

15 January 2010

Take one part Star Wars, one part The Matrix, add a dash of the Smurfs – and voila, you have Avatar.  What would sound like an improbable sci-fi blockbuster has become the smash hit of the winter, and rightly so.  The plot line is engaging and the screen effects are unrivalled.  It is certainly worth your $11.00 to see it in the theater. 

The movie’s agenda regarding native cultures and the environment notwithstanding, what do you all think about the way it portrays roles for men and women?  Does the Na’vi tribe strike you as patriarchal or equalitarian?  Does the movie embrace traditional views of gender, or does it suggest something more progressive?