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Essay Questions On Masculinity PORTABLE


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Essay Questions On Masculinity



The main topic in the book is gender roles. Traditionally, a woman is assigned specific roles and expected to behave in a particular way. However, the modern woman challenges masculinity and beliefs that put women in a certain societal circle. For instance, the author is a masculine woman, and she comes out to defend her feelings which contradicts societal expectations. Women are not scared of expressing their sexuality and interests in modern society.


Expressions of this type highlight how cultures and societies have traditionally viewed males. However, these views can cause harm and embellish the idea of masculinity, leading to an even more toxic attitude toward these behaviors.


While some social, political, or religious groups may provide a set of guidelines for a healthy form of masculinity, it is better for an individual to stick to their own definition, so long as it does not harm themselves or others.


This does not mean abandoning all traditionally masculine traits. Including some traditionally masculine characteristics, such as strength and adventure, may help some people define their own masculinity.


Eliminating or changing toxic masculinity will not happen overnight. However, as more people begin to define their own version of masculinity and include other human experiences within that definition, gender roles will continue to change on a larger scale.


Deliberately questioning and working against exaggerated traits can help a person and those around them to redefine masculinity and work past outdated and potentially damaging patterns of thinking, such as those created by toxic masculinity.


Figure 1. Distribution of the TMF scores separately for men (n = 118) and women (n = 188) in the pilot study. The lines in the bars represent medians and bars indicate the range between 75th and 25th percentile. Error bars show the range of masculinity-femininity scores for non-outliers. Dots represent outlying values (1.5 SD above/below median).


The relationship between gender norms, social collectivities and the individual is complex, with each impacting on the other, with different force and effect at different times. Hegemonic masculinity has been largely utilised as a social structural concept to explain the legitimisation of masculinities through social institutions and social groups (Morrell, Jewkes, and Lindegger 2012). It can also be used in this way in interventions that seek to impact on social norms related to masculinity, but when interventions are with individual men or groups of men, its value is to surface (and then shift) values and attitudes and provoke reflection on behaviour.


Further, the relational construction of gender is critical and it is much more likely that interventions that engage both men and women in critical reflection on gender identities, roles and practices will be successful (Jewkes, Flood, and Lang 2014). The concept of hegemonic masculinity is predicated on the subordination of women and girls, yet the latter are a key element in the construction and reproduction of the social model (Jewkes and Morrell 2012). Thus, work with women and girls is needed to create an environment in which men can change and sustain change, and where this will be embraced by women as partners, or potential partners (Talbot and Quayle 2010).


Gender activists contribute to theory by translating in practical, hands-on contexts, an abstract concept into constituent parts and, at the same time, contribute to understandings of how gender relations, identities and regimes are transformed and what the obstacles are that prevent movement. As the example of Macho Factory shows, this involves a reflective process that constantly brings the theoretical concept of hegemonic masculinity into conversation with the practical challenges of intervention work.


Public and international discourse on the debate for gender equality focuses on the oppression of women, as it rightly should. However, the influence that traditional male stereotypes have on the perpetuation of gender inequality, at a transnational scale, also needs to be addressed. This essay asks how do male stereotypes affect the manner in which males engage with gender equality? By encouraging males to analyse their socially constructed gender profiles, it is possible to educate them on how their social roles may impact gender equality. This will involve analysing the entrenchment of traditional male stereotypes in society and their consequent impact on women. Firstly, the essay will establish that male stereotypes operate within a larger structure of the gender paradigm. Then, it will define gender equality and its various interpretations. This will then lead the essay to discuss the trajectory of the progress towards gender equality and why males must be viewed as fundamental actors. Certain masculinities preserve and promote the inequalities experienced between men and women, and, in order to achieve gender equality, they must be dismantled.


Male stereotypes affect the manner in which males engage with gender equality, and traditional masculinity acts as the dominant masculinity for men. Although different masculinities exist for men, the idea of traditional masculinity remains the most influential. Realising gender equality is difficult, because the fundamental characteristics exhibited by traditional masculinity defend against change. For global gender equality to progress, males must recognise themselves as fundamental actors and actively work to change the patriarchal structures, which benefit them to the exclusion of all others. Without the supportive contribution of males, gender equality is doomed to perpetuate existing power imbalances that favour traditional masculinity. To progress towards gender equality, efforts must be made to deconstruct traditional masculinity.


by Fred Griffiths Vern L. Bullough's article, "On Being a Male in the Middle Ages," addresses how vital it was for a man living in the middle ages to be sexually active in order to maintain a masculine identity by explaining:Quite clearly, male sexual performance was a major key to being male. It was a man's sexual organs that made him different and superior to the woman. But maleness was somewhat fragile, and it was important for a man to keep demonstrating his maleness by action and thought, especially by sexual action. It was part of his duty to keep his female partners happy and satisfied, and unless he did so, he had failed as a man. (41) If we are to use this reference to explain what constitutes maleness in the middle ages, then the question naturally arises as to how Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight retains his masculine identity while abstaining from sex. I believe the answer to this can be found by looking at the structure of the story, in which we will find that Gawain is surrounded by father figures who create a superego that requires Gawain to repress his sexual desires. At the same time, these parent figures are testing Gawain's ability to abstain from sexual intercourse to see if he is worthy of a courtly masculine title. Therefore, the only way Gawain can achieve and maintain this masculine identity is to abstain from sex. We should begin our observations into the question of how Sir Gawain's masculinity works by focusing on the Green Knight. The Green Knight, the first father figure introduced in the story, tests Gawain's masculinity. Before the Green Knight can test Gawain, though, he must prove that he is in a position to pass judgment. Clare R. Kinney in her article "The(Dis)Embodied Hero and the Signs of Manhood in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" explains: "To support his assertion that the Green Knight is as much man as 'etayn' [assumed to be Gawain in the original text] he describes the stranger's well-proportioned male body, with its broad shoulders, slim waist, and flat stomach" (48). Kinney presents a good foundation for the Green Knight's role in the story, but she fails to see that as the tester of Gawain's masculinities the Green Knight must prove that he is more of a man than Gawain, not just his equal. The Green Knight validates his superior masculinity by proving that Gawain can not stop him from being a man. This is evident in this passage, which takes place after the Green Knight has had his head cut off by Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:Yet the fellow did not fall, nor falter on whit,But stoutly sprang forward on legs still sturdy,Roughly reached out among the ranks of nobles, Seized his splendid head and straightway lifted it. (433-436)As you can see from the above quote, the Green Knight did not show any signs of being less of a man even though Gawain had cut off his head. This enforces the Green Knight's fatherly identity since, according to Freud, a child has a fear of being castrated by his father for wanting to engage in a sexual relation with his mother. The Green Knight has proven that he is a father figure for Gawain by showing that he can never be castrated by his son. Therefore, as a father figure that is in possession of a masculine identity above that of his child, the Green Knight gains the position of tester. We have came to a point in which we should digress a bit and look at how, scientifically, sexual urges are formed and repressed. Freud theorized that there are three parts of the psyche that make up our sexual urges and repress them: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is thatpart of the psyche which is unconscious. The id is governed by instinctive impulses that seeksatisfaction in accordance with the pleasure principle. The ego is that part of the psyche that responds to the outside world, thus mediating between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the individuals social and physical environment. The superego is the part of the psyche, which represents the conscience, formed in early life by incorporating the standards of parents and other models of behavior. Returning and tying Freud's theory in with my argument on Sir Gawain's masculinity crisis, we can see that Gawain is having a conflict between his superego and his id. The parental teachings of Gawain's superego are telling him to repress his urges or else his father will castrate him. On the other hand, as Bullough said, "it was important for a man to demonstrate his maleness by action and thought, especially by sexual action" (41). Society is saying Gawain should dwell in his id to be given a masculine label while his superego is saying to abstain from sex to keep his masculine identity. Therefore, the question arises as to which road Gawain will take when he leaves the family setting in the next section. A year after the Green Knight has left Sir Gawain prepares to leave the castle to search him out. It is in this section that the second father figure, King Arthur, presents his role: devising some restraint to keep Sir Gawain from engaging in any of his sexual desires. A critic could argue that King Arthur has no role in protecting Sir Gawain because it is Gawain who asks for his armor, "He dwelt there all that day, and at dawn on the morrow asked for his armor. Every item was brought" (566-567). But I believe that this only strengthens my argument that Gawain is the child doing what the father would force him to do anyway. This is true not only of the armor of which they brought "every item" but also of the shield, "Then they showed him the shield of shining gules, with the Pentangle in pure gold depicted thereon" (619-620). By supervising Gawain and making sure he is prepared, Arthur, since he essentially is in charge, is the one who is making sure Gawain is prepared. When we look at this section thinking that Arthur is the father figure whose job it is to force Gawain to abstain from sex, we can realize that Arthur is forcing Gawain's repression by locking him within his armor and giving him a shield to protect him from the desires he may face. Furthermore, if we are to believe Bullough's argument that masculinity in the middle ages was maintained by "keep[ing] his female partners happy and satisfied...." (41) and my argument that Arthur's parental role is to eliminate Gawain's ability to have sex, then we should look for the ways that Arthur prepares Gawain for this venture out into the world, focusing on what he devises to make it physically impossible for Gawain to live up to society's view of masculinity. Therefore, it makes sense that this ceremony in which Gawain puts on his armor would be controlled by King Arthur and that indeed it is his job to make sure that Gawain is prepared to venture out into the open. After Arthur has prepared Gawain for what he will face away from the family he throws Gawain his lance. To understand the importance of giving Gawain his lance after he had put on his armor, we again need to look at another of Freud's theories. Freud argued that our minds create associations to express our unconscious fears and desires and their importance to the situation. The preparation section of the tale ends with an association that symbolizes that Arthur recognizes that Sir Gawain is ready to leave by allowing him to leave with a large part of his masculinity, his penis. The text states:Now Gawain was ready and gay;His spear he promptly caught And gave them all good day . . . (666-68)In Freudian terms, by throwing the spear to Gawain the other characters are presenting a phallic association to show that they acknowledge Gawain is prepared to face the challenges as a man. After Gawain has left the castle he ventures all over England looking for the Green Knight. The text explains: He rode far from his friends, a forsaken man,Scaling many cliffs in country unknown.At every bank or beach where the brave man crossed water,He found a foe in front of him, except by a freak of chance. . . . (713-717)I argue that Gawain has successfully passed the first of his trials in that he did not break his vow of celibacy he had made with Arthur. The text supports this argument by not having any references to Gawain's sexual desires being tested. Therefore, since it was never mentioned, Gawain has not given into his sexual desires and thus far has maintained his courtly masculine identity. Sir Gawain's temptations, though, are severe enough to warrant some stronger means of protection than his armor and shield. Gawain must discover other parental figures to protect him, which he does by praying to Mary and Christ. The reason Gawain asked Christ and Mary for help is that they are the only ones that he could possibly believe are watching him. Therefore, Gawain's superego is maintained during this stage by Gawain's belief that parents, Christ and Mary, are watching his sexual actions. Shortly after praying to Christ and Mary, Sir Gawain finds himself at the doors of a castle. He is met by a Civil Porter who greets him and asks why he is there. Gawain asks theporter to request the lord of the castle if he may stay at the castle to rest and eat. The porter says that Gawain is welcome at the court, and takes him to meet the lord of the castle, Bertilak. Bertilak welcomes Gawain to his court saying, "You are welcome to dwell here as you wish" (845). Bertilak goes on to explain that the Green Knight lives close to his castle, and since Gawain has traveled so far, he is not prepared to meet the knight but should rest in his home. By offering a place to stay in this fashion Bertilak has become the fourth father figure of the story. Bertilak's job as father to Gawain is basically the same as Arthur, make sure that Gawain does not dwell in his sexual desires. Because of Bertilak's role, he concludes this evening by presenting a game in which he and Gawain will exchange whatever the other gains during the course of their day. Bertilak then tells Gawain he is to stay at home with his wife who will take care of him, which makes her the mother figure, while he goes out hunting. This allows Bertilak to make sure Gawain does not engage in his sexual desires because he will be safe at home where he cannot get in trouble. All this would be fine and dandy, Gawain's superego would be maintained, if Bertilak's wife did not want to have sex with Gawain so badly. So, the next day begins with Bertilak leaving Gawain in his wife's care. As soon as Bertilak has left, the lady goes to Gawain's room. Immediately she begins to tempt Sir Gawain. She directs her attack at society's ideology that sex defines masculinity. She explains that Gawain and she are utterly alone in the castle, therefore, his superego is not going to do him any good. She then says that she has heard so much about him and that it would be an honor to have sex with a hero such as himself. Finally, she says that her body is his and for him to do whatever he wants with it. Sir Gawain cleverly avoids her advances by saying that it would be a pleasure to please someone like her, but that he does not deserve the respect she gives him, because he is not the hero she thinks him to be. Gawain thus ends this day by giving the lady a courtly kiss so as not to insult her. Therefore, Gawain has suppressed his id by using clever words and phrases to build an ego to protect him. Bertilak returns later that day with a deer that he has killed which he gives to Gawain. Gawain accepts the deer but having acquired nothing himself that day to exchange agrees to continue the game the next day. The next day begins much as the first day did with Bertilak leaving for another hunt and the lady again going to Gawain's bedroom. This day, though, the game begins when Gawain explains that he feels that words can protect him and that they must if he is to keep to the codes he seemingly is trying to follow, his chivalry codes. The lady responds to Gawain by trying to prove him wrong in his assertion that words can protect him by rearranging the argument she presented the day before. She explains that his honor and fame are known everywhere, but she has been with him twice now, and he has not had sex with her yet. She finishes this argument by saying that he must have sex with her because that is what a young hero with such a willing young woman at his disposal should do. Gawain replies that she is obviously better at the game of words than he is, that he still will not have sex with her, and gives her a kiss. The lady, realizing she has lost this day's argument, finally gives it up and leaves Gawain to rest. The lord returns latter that evening with a killed boar and again, in accordance with the rules of the game, exchanges it with Gawain. Gawain accepts the boar but explains that he did not get anything this day either. So, they eat, drink, and say that the next day they will again continue the game, exchanging whatever they get. The final day finds Bertilak out hunting and the lady going to Sir Gawain's room a third time. This time the lady enters his room with her breasts exposed, gets in bed with Gawain, andpresents an argument that forces Gawain to either insult her or give into his sexual desires and have sex with the mother figure. The lady argues that if Gawain does not have sex with her that either he has another love at home or he is not interested in her. At this point the game has gone too far, Gawain is forced to make a decision: he is going t


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