Friday, October 21, 2011

Masculinity of Color

Was reading this a short while ago. Its some pretty sound things on the things that young males of color should be focusing on in order become men that can operate in the real world. On the other hand there are some things that I have a bit of an issue with.
...I am convinced that traditional male behaviors are a barrier for our these young men. Because traditional male behaviors are not valued in today's society, these young men are at a serious disadvantage.
While it is true that traditional male behavior is a barrier for young men of color today I don't think its a matter of those behaviors no longer being valued. I think its more of a matter that they are being recognized for the limiting scripts that they are. Being expected to abide by these behaviors, as well as actually abiding by these behaviors, really put them at a disadvantage. With that out of way I want to tap on some things worth tapping.
We sometimes think of masculinity as a natural part of being a male, yet males and masculinities are not two sides of the same coin as masculinities are socially constructed identities. In fact, women can exhibit masculine behaviors and actions that can reinforce hegemonic (or dominant) forms of masculinity currently found in society.
Yes. Masculinity and manhood should not be considered hand in hand. If a guy wants nothing to do with masculinity then he should be free to do so. If a woman wants to be masculine then she should be free to do so. As I've said before its all about the individual. Everyone should be free to make up their own masculinity (and femininity as well) as they see fit.
I keep wondering how do we change or direct males to have masculinities that allow them to function in both their social and cultural contexts locally and in the larger society. I am not interested in telling young me that they should not talk or act a certain way. I am more interested in expanding their concepts of masculinities that will allow them to exhibit forms of masculinities in their appropriate contexts (i.e. Time and place).
I wonder if its worth looking to how these ultimately harmful masculinities came to be in the first place. This phenomenon doesn't just appear on its own. Look at the media. Young men of color are constantly bombarded with images of committing violence and glamorizing the idea that ignorance is hip. Also look at parenting. Let's face it there are a lot of parents out there that could really contribute to the well being of these young men. Perhaps in order to open up the minds of our young men of color it would be possible to use those same means.

Imagine a rap video in which instead of glamorizing crime how about glamorizing law abiding behavior. Instead of movies where men are praised for useless violence how about movies where men actually think twice and choose not to carry out the violence. Instead of shows where men have their manhood measured by how many women they have sex with how about shows where men are free of the pressure to have sex just because they are men (the SyFy Channel Show had a very good example of this during this past season).