Masculinity and violence essay

In current society the ideas of masculinity and femininity are changing, and the actions of both men and women also change. This essay is aimed to analyze the processes that lead to reproducing violence and aggression as “typical masculine” traits and regard audio and video examples of the statement.

The article of Jackson Katz called “Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: from Eminem to Clinique for Men” describes the aspects of masculinity today in the following way: today’s dominant image of a “real man” implies a white aggressive man, tall, powerful and the one who has big muscles (Dines & Humez, 2002). Aggressive and violent behavior is nowadays regarded as the specific feature of masculinity; it is opposed to feminine traits such as obedience and patience. If we trace current messages that are contained in modern advertising trailers, video materials and songs, we can notice that indeed, the main heroes often show aggression and have a harsh expression on their face, which is considered to underline masculinity.

As a vivid example, we can take the video trailer which advertises Nokia N96 and the convenience of accessing videos with its help. The video shows a man whose unlucky destiny doesn’t let him to watch the favorite sports game on the TV: first the TV breaks, then the notebook is burnt, then the spouse becomes indignant and throws out the disks, and only the new device Nokia N96 may save the situation.

From the first sight, there’s nothing linked with above-mentioned manifestations of masculinity, but let us analyze deeper:

ü    Main character is white and tall person with muscles

ü    The whole video consists of struggle with something and in indirect form shows aggression and opposition of the “real man” and the whole world (which is similar to “rebellious” actions of modern stars)

ü    The whole macho-like image of the main character shows the type which is referred as “heroic masculinity” by Katz.

So, this video addresses the ideal image of an ideal man, and encourages customers to associate owners of Nokia N96 with true masculine men. In fact, it is a well-thought out message to male audience and it does address their perception of what they want to be.

Second video material is a trailer of a 2009 year movie “Pulling John”. It is about a prominent athlete who is already ageing and young competitors are doing everything to break his dominance. Again, what do we see? A giant white man who possesses physical strength and power, the atmosphere of aggression going through the whole trailer; unambiguous expression of masculine dominance and non-ending struggle together with rebelling ”“ again, the whole world seems to be against main character. Heroic features can also be witnessed in the main character’s behaviour. In other words, the trailer is made 95% of scenes that show violent masculinity.

One more vivid example is an extremely popular song of Eminem called “Stan”. It’s a sad story of a rap fan writing to his idol ”“ Slim – about the events of his life and getting desperate because there is no answer. Finally, the boy gets totally disillusioned and ends life in a suicide, in the same car with his pregnant girlfriend”¦

Again, what does this sad story has to do with masculinity? The growing aggression of the character and the situation of opposing oneself to the whole world (“She doesn’t know what it was like for people like us growing up”) and self-violence (“Sometimes I even cut myself to see how much it bleeds”) show the same symptoms as the video advertisement of Nokia, but empowered with different emotions.

What are the reasons of such strong tendency for masculine violence? (Dines & Humez, 2002) state that it happens because of the impossibility to equalize the existing standard of masculinity (power, physical strength etc.) with the reality of life. Indeed, men who do physical work usually belong to low or medium class and lack power, and vise versa, those who have a lot of power usually spend their time sitting at the office table or in the car. But in my opinion, there should be something else that fosters male aggression. Could this be the speeding pace of life or the attack of women onto men’s positions? Or it this tendency just a natural realization of male aggression? This topic is worth further researching because the understanding of such gender issues can help reduce the level of violence. Taking into account that more than 80% of violent crimes are today performed by men, the importance of such gender research is evident.

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