Saturday, June 25, 2011

Male Studies vs. Men's Studies

The Study of Man (or Males)
By Charles McGrath
The New York Times, January 7, 2011

Since Lionel Tiger is on the side of Male Studies, you know you don't want to be there. Young men are having problems, however. How to square this...?

According to Professor Tiger, the trouble with men’s studies is that it’s “a wholly owned branch of women’s studies.” ...The people in men’s studies, like those in women’s studies, take a mostly sociological perspective and believe that masculinity is essentially a cultural construct and that gender differences in general are fluid and variable... The male studies people, on the other had, are what their critics call “essentialists” and believe that male behavior is in large part biologically determined... Professor Tiger...worries that the changes that have allowed women to control their own reproductive process have unnaturally and disastrously altered the balance of power between the sexes... the male studies movement is less an expansion of that debate than a response to a specific crisis, the nature of which both sides agree on: academically at least, young men are in trouble.

Starting in grammar school, they lag behind girls by most observable measures, and the gap widens through high school and college. If males go to college at all, that is. College enrollment tilts at almost 60-40 in favor of women, and once enrolled, women are more likely than men to do well and to graduate.

There are a lot of explanations for why this is so. A popular theory, set forth in books like “The Trouble With Boys,” by Peg Tyre, and “The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Hurting Our Young Men,” by Christina Hoff Sommers, is that grammar school classrooms have become excessively feminized, impatient with boys’ naturally boisterous behavior and short attention spans and inattentive to the way in which boys learn differently from girls...

Professor Tiger believes that by the time girls get to college, there is a Darwinian component to the achievement gap: women are aware of the divorce rate and the likelihood that they may raise children without ever marrying in the first place. “They’re studying for two,” he explained. “Guys just don’t have that sense, that inwit. That’s biology at its most essential.”

And then there are the various cultural arguments: that at least by some standards of masculinity, learning — reading and writing especially — is “uncool,” and that college campuses have become inhospitable to men, who now suffer from fragile self-regard. People associated with the male studies movement frequently bring up the date rape seminar now obligatory on most campuses. On their very first day at college, awkward young men are gathered into a room with their female counterparts and, the argument goes, made to feel like sexual predators...

Miles Groth, who teaches psychology at Wagner College and was host of the conference there last spring, says that what he hears all the time from male undergraduates on his campus is “I just don’t feel welcome here”...he has himself established a men’s center at Wagner, a small, private liberal arts school where only 36 percent of the students are men and a quarter of them are recruited athletes on scholarship.

Professor Groth’s courses examine what it means to be a man from the points of view of psychology, anthropology, literature and even movies. “Why the silence?” he said between classes one day. “Why hasn’t our generation been more vocal about what’s happening to our young men?” And then he partly answered his own question: “It’s the continuing myth of male power. If I as a man raise these issues I’m just raising that old specter of male power because I want to keep women under control.”

Guerilla Girls

Divisions in the Guerilla Girls. Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker, May 30, 2005.

In October, 2003, on behalf of Guerrilla Girls, Inc., two of the original Girls, “Frida Kahlo” and “K├Ąthe Kollwitz,” filed a federal lawsuit against the on-tour and broadband entities, and against several of their former colleagues, including Gertrude Stein, charging them with, among other things, copyright and trademark infringement and unjust enrichment.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

When is a man's bared chest obscene: if he has breasts

The cover of Dossier, bagged at Barnes & Noble and Borders. Read about it here.

(But was Barnes & Noble really guilty?)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

sexual assault fashion ads

This discussion relating the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case to broader issues of sexual assault, from Feminist Wire, is remarkable in particular for the fashion adverts that it reproduces. Please read the entire piece. But look at these ads! Some pertinent quotes from the article are below each one.

in the United States alone, every two minutes somebody is sexually assaulted. Over 90 percent of the victims are girls and women.

One in six women in the United States has been sexually assaulted; 60 percent of rapes are not reported. Almost all perpetrators, about 99 percent, are men.

sexual assault is neither an aberration nor an abrupt tear in the social fabric. It is, rather, a routine fact of social life.

Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, and Relish look pretty hip now, don't they?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't look butch in Dubai

Watch out, 'boyat'! (Boyat is the derogatory Arabic term for butch females in the UAE.)

Women who wear men’s watches, douse themselves in male deodorant and wear baggy gents’ clothes are at risk of arrest by undercover police at Dubai’s malls and college campuses.

Read more here.


Recasting the meaning of "slut." SlutWalk started in Toronto in April, and has migrated to the UK, and beyond.

An article in New Statesman discusses some of the logic behind the event: 'Young women, in particular, are expected to look hot and available at all times, but if we dare to express desires of our own, we are mocked, shamed and threatened with sexual violence, which, apparently, has nothing to do with the men who inflict it and everything to do with the length of skirt we have on...sexually active women deserve protection just as much as those whom polite society considers "pure".'

Can slut, like nigger and queer, be invested with new meanings?

Update, July 2, 2011: Katha Pollitt of The Nation weighs in.