Enter “Black and Male in America.” It’s a three-day conference organized by activist and author Kevin Powell. He talks to Farai Chideya about what people can expect to take away from the event. Audio File
THE HIGH COST OF MANLINESS
It’s hard to be a man; hard to live up to the demands that come with the dominant conception of masculinity, of the tough guy.
So, guys, I have an idea — maybe it’s time we stop trying. Maybe this masculinity thing is a bad deal, not just for women but for us.
We need to get rid of the whole idea of masculinity. It’s time to abandon the claim that there are certain psychological or social traits that inherently come with being biologically male. If we can get past that, we have a chance to create a better world for men and women.
That dominant conception of masculinity in U.S. culture is easily summarized: Men are assumed to be naturally competitive and aggressive, and being a real man is therefore marked by the struggle for control, conquest and domination. A man looks at the world, sees what he wants and takes it. Men who don’t measure up are wimps, sissies, fags, girls. The worst insult one man can hurl at another — whether it’s boys on the playground or CEOs in the boardroom — is the accusation that a man is like a woman. Although the culture acknowledges that men can in some situations have traits traditionally associated with women (caring, compassion, tenderness), in the end it is men’s strength-expressed-as-toughness that defines us and must trump any female-like softness. Those aspects of masculinity must prevail for a man to be a “real man.” Continue
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