Gender Communication Summer 2009

A space to critically engage gender and communication topics

Blog Activity 2: Masculinity May 19, 2009

Chapter two of our textbook summarizes how we develop gender roles and identities. Until recently much of gender communication studies has privileged the feminine. In fact, most of the clips available on our course Blackboard site critique feminine stereotypes in the media and unpack societal pressures on women to have the right image and persona. However, a surge in masculinity studies also helps inform gender and communication.  Please view these two clips regarding masculinity. The first is a condensed version of a Media Education Foundation video, Tough Guise, and the second is a clip from a major scene in Good Will Hunting.

How do the theories about the pressures facing men to be tough and aggressive that Jackson Katz discusses in Tough Guise come to life in Matt Damon’s character of Will Hunting in the movie clip? How do you see these theories and pressures played out in real life? Let each of your comments build upon the others.

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42 Responses to “Blog Activity 2: Masculinity”

  1. melaniebahr Says:

    I agree with what Katz says in his clip that males are pressured into thinking they need to have aggressive behavior and express dominance to be powerful. They are supposed to be stronger emotionally and physically than women. I was not surprised to hear the adjectives that the men used to describe masculinity. The role models in the media for males all seem to have those characteristics. So, from a young age males are learning to connect certain behaviors to masculinity.

    Will Hunting, in the clip, has an emotional break down. His whole life he has been forced to keep up the tough guy appearance, to not seem weak. He tries to seem put together, like he has everything under control when really there is an emotional battle occurring beneath the surface. Even when Robin Williams is trying to help Will takes an act of aggression (pushing him) before he lets his emotions out. He has been conditioned to be tough and has been his whole life. He had to let his guard down to let his feelings out.

    In my life I see this best through one of my best friends. He is one person when he is with me and when we are with our other friends (including other guys) he picks up some common masculine characteristics. He tells me and expresses to me things he would probably never say to another guy. He asks me for advice with problems and tells me when something is wrong and so on. When he is with his guy friends he does not do this. For example, one night a bunch of people we over at my house just al hanging out. After everyone left he stayed around for a little while and told me about a serious issue he was having. When everyone was around, you never would have been able to tell that something was bothering him. He had to keep the masculine face of acting tough and that nothing was bringing him down.

    • kirstenpowell Says:

      Luckily this guy you speak of was able to find trust in you to share his feminine thoughts that he could not express around “the guys.” Too often men do not have the chance to express these feelings or continue the “front” that Will begins im the film. All too often people cannot break through to reveal a man’s inner feminine feelings. I have never seen my husband put his guard down to reveal his inner feelings and I am his wife. So people are not able to break out the the constraints that masculinity places on them in society.

  2. ginasurrette Says:

    I find the title of the video “Tough Guise” to be very clever since the context of the title is taken from the word disguise. Jackson Katz states that men put up a front to appease the ideal of what a man should be, which moves the men away from what they really are; a decent human being. In the clip from “Good Will Hunting,” you see that Matt Damon’s characters front or wall of a tough guy act is slowly broken down by his counselor, Robbin Williams, reveling his hurt and emotional side. This would be thought of as a “sissy” recation as Jackson states, but what is should be considered is a healthy display of emotions that helps to relive Matt Damon’s characters inner pain.

    The theory of a man acting tough and violent in order to fit in holds true at schools. I have seen a close friend become scary angry to prove a point that could have been easily talked over in a non violent way. These young boys try to prove their man hood by body building and becoming physically fit to show their dominance over others. I have a friend that holds true to these theories.

    • chloea Says:

      I would agree that this is a healthy display of emotions. I think a lot of guys keep their tough guy walls up and let inner pain tear them apart. This develops a callousness and sometimes bitterness (depending on the situation) in pursuit of an emotionless front. While there are guys that deal with their inner pain when they’re alone, I think there are a lot that take the tough guy home with them and don’t deal with there emotions.

  3. Jessie Wright Says:

    I agree with the posts before me. I am not surprise in the clip Tough Guise male teens use tough, strong, independent, physical, ect to describe a man. Males are raised from day one that these are characteristics they MUST have to be a REAL man. In Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon’s character, Will Hunting, has had tremendous thing happen to him. To be a ‘man,’ he can not show any emotion. Robin William’s character had to repeatedly say “it’s not your fault.” It took over five times to break through Will Hunting’s tough guy shield. When he finally broke down you could tell he was not opening up, because he wanted to. He held his shield up as long as possible.

    Not a day goes by that this is not demonstrated in real life. I was talking to my brother in law about my nephew due in August. I said I got a new Winnie the Pooh outfit. He flipped. He insisted no boy of his will be wearing ‘sissy’ clothing. He went on to say I will not be teaching his boy to do my ‘girly’ things. The kid has not even been born yet and he is pushing these traits on him!

    I could go on for pages on my brother and his masculinity issues. He was raised in my house of one mom and three younger sisters. My mother was obviously in charge, but he did not like to think so. He would act like it was his responsibility to protect everyone. God forbid, if my sisters or I had a boyfriend over. Steven would drop his voice at least two levels lower to sound strong (didn’t work).

    In one of the post above me, someone mentioned their guy friends. My guy friends are the same way. In front of other guys, they are rock hard. Once everyone is gone, it is like they are a completely different sensitive person.

  4. sam1503 Says:

    I agree with Katz assesment of boys and men. From a young age boys are taught to “be a big boy” or “to be a man” , meaning be less emotional and more tough. While being strong and tough can be a good thing, when is it too much? Boys look up to the men they see around them or in the media and believe that in order to “be a man” they must be like them. If the media is portraying men as aggressive, emotionless, and power hungry then boys will grow up trying to achieve these traits. This explains why boys who grow up with an aggressive or abusive father figure usually grow up to be those things as well.

    Katz focuses primarily on aggression but I also see this in the type of “facade” that teenage boys and men in their early twenties create. Sometimes these age groups act as if they need to be what we have called “players”, or at least portray that they are. They believe that they must have a form of “swagger” because this is what is seen in the media. In the media these are the men who are appealing to the ladies . An example of this could be James Bond films. I call this a “facade” because most men who feel the need to act this way, act differently when alone with someone, especially women. This goes along with what Katz was saying about a solution. Women are continually supporting this behavior instead of wanting “more”.

    Throughout Goodwill Hunting you see these theories in action, and they are built upon up until this scene. Katz theory of the affects abussive fathers have on their sons is obvious here. Not only does it affect men in a physical mannor but also in an emotional one. Robin Williams portrays a case of a man having an abussive father who has overcome his obsticles and grown into a better man. Will is shown as the man who needs help to overcome those obsticles. Will’s emotional breakdown shows the progession of Katz’s theory. First he rebels and resists, then uses aggession, and slowly shows his emotion. However, we should notice that this is in private with only one other person, with someone who he feels close to, and is man to man.

  5. jenwaybright Says:

    Along with the others, I agree with Katz’s view on masculinity; it is definitely widely accepted in our culture for males to be tough guys who are hard as rocks. It is reinforced in so many different ways from sports, where men’s sports are always much more contact filled and to the idea that women want the bad boy and “nice guys finish last.” When he describes the box that men fit in you realize how much pressure is put on males to not be wimps, but to be tough, strong guys who never let their emotions get the best of them. After showing the statistics about violence and such, it made me sad to think that those statistics are so disproportionate because our men are taught to fight it out instead of talk it out.

    In the movie clip, we see Matt Damon transition from being tough to letting himself go and getting his emotions out there. As previously stated, he would be considered a wimp by Katz’s theory, but it is a very healthy tactic to not bottle things up. His tough guy front sabotages his life and by Robin Williams breaking down the front, he can finally get his emotions out and start to heal. Holding his abuse from his childhood in wreaked havoc on his life and he needed to get it out there to move on. Had he kept the tough guy front forever, he would have never been able to get past his troubles.

    One example of these pressures getting to guys in my life was at my grandmother’s funeral; my one uncle was completely distraught over her death, but instead of letting his emotions out and dealing with it in that particular way, he felt he had to be strong and keep his chin up for my mom and her sisters. He walked around telling jokes to everyone and offering a shoulder to cry on to any of us, but never once did he let his guard down and just break down with us. He felt he had to be the rock of the family and not show any sort of sadness. It was weird to talk to my cousin, his son, a few months later when he said he came home one day and my uncle was letting it all out to my aunt in private, instead of doing it at the same time as the rest of the family, because he felt that he had to be strong for the rest of us. it’s not that he would have even been considered a wimp or anything, he just felt the pressure to be strong and keep his emotions in during that time.

  6. Lauren Says:

    I agree with Melanie about how when the boys were asked to describe what it means to be a man in one word and when they said things such as ‘tough’, ‘independent’, and ‘powerful’ I was not surprised because men today do feel pressured to be stronger and more powerful. A lot of guys are afraid that if they do not act in the sort of way they are expected to they will be called names like the ones mentioned in Katz’s film, sissy, wimp, and wuss. Katz mentions that media plays a big role in influencing men on how they should act, for example, in movies and tv shows. I think too many movies and tv shows are a bad influence on males, especially young males, because when you are young you are very susceptible to what you see on tv and boys want to be like these action heroes they see on tv, but all they are doing is teaching boys that to be a “real man” and a hero you have to be tough and physical. I agree with Jen when she said that sports teaches men to be tough, like football and wrestling. Those are predominantly male sports and they are both really aggressive and physical. You can see the aggression in males every time you watch sports from their competitiveness to the name calling they do with the opposite team. You also see a lot in society that since males are taught to be tough and independent, it is hard for them to open up and be emotional when they want to. I can recount so many times when I knew a guy that just wanted to break down and cry, but didn’t because he was either around his friends or he just thought it would be too embarrassing to show his true feelings. I agree with Katz when he said there needs to be a change and it should be okay for guys to express their true emotions. Though, I do believe it would be hard to because it’s not easy convincing all guys that it is okay to express their emotions especially since the media is so powerful in our culture and I don’t think they are going to change their portrayal of males anytime soon.

    In the previous blogs, some people mentioned how Matt Damon’s character felt he had to be strong his whole life because of the abuse he endured with his father and I definitely agree with those people. One thing I also noticed was that when Matt Damon’s character told Robin William’s character about how his dad just laid out belt, stick, and a wrench and told him to choose, and he would choose the wrench. I think this is another example of how Matt Damon’s character wanted to be a tough guy in front of his dad and show his dad that he was not afraid of him. Also when William’s character was telling Damon’s character that it wasn’t his fault, Damon’s character was trying to act tough because that is how he had to be his whole life and he did not want to break down in front of another male, he saw William’s character as some sort of father figure to him, the dad he never had, so when William’s character was trying to get him to open up Damon’s character said “don’t f**k with me, not you” because he felt like his father did that to him his whole life.

    Overall, I believe that guys should be okay with expressing more of their emotions and not feeling like they have to act tough all the time. If they do it because they do not want to look like a wimp in front of girls then they must misunderstand girls because I know a lot of girls, including myself, that like it when a guy feels comfortable enough to show his true feelings even if they have to break down their tough guy facade. If it is because they do not want to look like a sissy in front of their friends, than they need to realize everyone’s human, everyone has emotions and it’s perfectly fine to show those feelings. I think they would be a lot let pressure of guys if they just broke down this ‘tough guy’ wall they always have up.

  7. kirstenpowell Says:

    When I saw the title “Tough Guise” I immediately thought of the mask that our society forces men to wear or be subject to the words and connotations that come along with being seen as feminine. I never in my life have met someone who enjoyed being called a sissy or a fag.
    I have heard my little brother be called such names because he is a caring compassionate young boy, however when someone calls him derogatory feminine name he turns angry and violent very quickly. I remember an instance where another boy called him a fag and I witnessed by brother knock the other boy out. This is so shocking to see from such a kind and caring boy but it is completely understandable due to society’s pressure at a very young age for boys to “man up” and “toughen up.” I have heard my father say to him “don’t cry, toughen up, crying is for sissys, do you wanna be a sissy.” I am certain that my brother is not the only boy that has heard these phrases over and over.
    The idea of relating a male crying to being a sissy is seen through Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” he initailly begins to feel emotions that would cause a female to cry. He mans up, resists and at first gets angry. Robin Williams character is persistant and eventually breaks down one of the walls of Matt Damon’s masculine “box” (as Katz referred to it as).

    • kmacklin1107 Says:

      I work at a dropzone on the weekends and I am constantly hearing guys calling other guys “pussys” or saying other derogatory names just to get someone to do something that is daring or stupid. It is like they have something that they must prove to each other in order to prove themselves. Also if the guys have done something to hurt themselves they just look the other way and pretend that it was nothing big. I have noticed that some of the girls who want to fit in are now trying to do this but they are told to just let it out. It is a very big double standard that I think society needs to let go.

  8. daniellemstern Says:

    Just checking in to share that your comments are great so far. I’m glad you all are picking up on the “Tough Guise” as a mask, facade and such and relating it to more current examples. Now, what do the men in the class have to say?

  9. katelyntemple Says:

    Going along with what has already been said, katz is correct with his assessment of how boys and men and molded by society how to act. The boys in the clip define real men as independent, strong, athletic, tough, ect. None of them consider real men to have any emotional characteristics that are thought of as more feminine. They do not consider a “real man” to be caring, trust worthy, or even intelligent. All the attributes they place upon men are descriptive of physical traits.

    The “tough guise” clip verifies what we read in chapter 2 of Gamble & Gamble. Gender identity is learned through culture and the media. It also supports the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy. This is evident with violence; if a boy is subjected to a violent father it is more likely he will be a violent husband/father because this is what he was exposed to. Unlike with daughters, boys are rewarded for tough behavior. Fathers want their son to tackle the opponent in football, which is started at a young age. When a young boy cries they are frequently told phrases like, take it like a man. This leads to boys being raised to believe it is not ok to show emotion, and as a man they must be tough at all times.

    Matt damon demonstrates the tough image as a result of his violent father. He put on an act that he was always strong because he was subjected to violence by his father growing up. Damon said it was usually a stick, belt, or wrench his father used. Williams assumed he would take the belt but Damon said the wrench. This makes it seem as if he wanted to lead his father to thinking he was not scared and he would ‘take it like a man.’ When Williams discussed he experience with an abusive father he said he would provoke him to protect his mother and younger brother. This also shows a male trying to be strong by feeling he is protecting his family. Damon was reluctant to break down in the end of the scene. It was obvious he was feeling emotions but he tried to be tough and pick a fight before he finally broke down. It is as if the tough act is used as a defense mechanism, guys don’t want to have the emotional breakdown.

    Katz nailed it when he mentioned the role the media plays. Growing up, my neighbor was a boy just a bit older than me. He would watch Ninja Turtles while I would watch sing-a-longs. Even more so than TV, video games promote violence and a tough guy mask. While girls play with their doll house boys are out playing the violent ‘superhero’ they see in their video games and on TV. A more recent example for teenage boys can be seen in the show The OC. Ryan was the tough, bad boy, yet he was the ‘cool’ one. He had a violent past and continued to be violent throughout the show.

    What I noticed most was Katz said girls and women must play a role in encouraging men to express emotions and not trying to always appear tough. Girls and women react horrible when they see a male cry. The reaction is typically laughter or babying them, two extremes that males try to avoid. One of my guilty pleasures is watching VHI’s show I Love New York. In one episode the ‘tough’ guy got emotional with his brother and mother and New York saw his breakdown. She stated “I don’t think less of him because I saw him cry, it is natural.” As ridiculous as that show is, her attitude needs to be taken by more females. Of course men are going to put on a tough mask when females more or less punish them by reacting so poorly to emotions.

  10. McNally Says:

    Okay, being the only guy to post so far I can see how in our society what women tend to think about how boys turn into men and what is expected of them. Katz has a point about how boys are supposed to take on a role that encourage them to be athletic, strong, tough, and independent and in our society this is true this is how boys are raised. But i can’t agree with Katz view on how they dont consider real men to be emotional, carring, trustworthy and so on.

    I know there is man role that every little boy looks up too, and wants to be and will do everything it takes to try and live his life that way to play out the role. However, when i was growing up i was also taught to be a gentleman and that although the other boys in the neighbor hood would make fun of other kids because the clothes that their parents made them where werent for boys, or that their parents wouldnt let them play with tools yet among other things. These are all just examples of the things little boys look at to be manly. But i feel their are also things that have been done to boys that make them get in touch with their caring and emotional side.

    In Good Will Hunting, that emotional break down i feel is so important. As we watched you notice that it takes him a while to finally open up to Robin Williams. This is the problem with raising boys to have that tough outward appearance on life. They become so stressed and get so much built up anger inside them that its nearly impossibl for them to open up to others and let it out because they dont want to let their guard down.

    I think that Katz was right when Women should encourage men to open up their feelings. I feel it would be much better if the moms of our society helped their boys develeop this when they are young however so that when they do finally get to the point in their life when they are a man they will be able to open up if necessary.

    • Jessie Wright Says:

      I agree with Chris. I think woman should start being more acceptable to men showing emotions. Men may think they are being ‘unmanly’ to cry, but it is a great way to show emotions. I know if I am struggling with something, sometimes it makes it so much better to get out a good cry. I’m not saying everyone should become big cry babies, but crying is necessary sometimes.

      Also, my mom is a preschool teacher. In the summers, I sometimes help out with her class rooms. There was this one boy who would do all he could NOT to cry, but tears would be streaming down his face as he refused to admit he was crying. I would try not to laugh at his stubbornness, but even at his age he knew, boys do not cry. How does a four year old know he shouldn’t cry? I even found myself saying…your a big boy stop crying. Looking back, it is so wrong for me to deny him of his feelings.

      • melaniebahr Says:

        I think that women are accepting of men expressing their emotions. It is other men that are not. The other men call them whimpy or babies. The women seem to be more caring and willing to understand that men have problems too and just sometimes need to be heard.

  11. flipmyflops06 Says:

    I can understand why McNally said he didn’t believe Katz idea that real men are not considered emotional, caring, and trustworthy. Many females are interested in males that have these traits and might consider them masculine. I also believe that if you had to place those adjectives with what you consider to be either masculine or feminine, most people would chose feminine.

    It was interesting that Katz pointed out how social deviation is often caused by the aggressiveness that males today feel they need to possess. I agree with Katz in that there is a connection between being a man and being violent and that our media and culture conveys it. Because of this boys grow up thinking real men are physical, strong, and powerful.

    In this clip from Good Will Hunting, when Will said he chose to be punished with a wrench instead of the stick or belt, i think it is showing the extreme tough guy wall he had built. Robin Williams breaks this down when he tells Will that its not his fault for being hurt. Will cries uncontrollably when his tough guy exterior dissolves.

    As with Will, I believe that men act different when their masculine image is not in danger of being scrutinized. Males tend to talk about less emotional things in the presence of other male perhaps because they feel more guarded to keep their masculine image.

  12. mransone Says:

    I agree with the post before me, and its nice to have a guy’s perspective as well. I agree with Katz theory that our media and really our culture instills in little boys that they need to be tough, strong, powerful, and independent. Boys are told when they are little that they should not show emotion. If a little boy falls on the playground and cries, his mother or father is more likely to tell him to suck it up than they would a little girl. If boys show any sort of emotion they might be made fun of and called names. Violence is a characteristic linked to masculinity, and it promoted through movies and television shows. The boys will see this and then they think that they need to be just like the characters they see. If we want it to change we need to stop allowing the media to display these negative role models. I agree with Katz, women also need to stop promoting the “bady boys”, so men will no longer be afraid to show emotion.

    In Good Will Hunting, we can see Katzs theory being used. Matt Damon’s character felt that he need to be a tough, strong, and independent man because he was abused as a child. Matt told Robin Williams that his dad would give him the choice of what he would be abused with, a belt or a wrench. Robin thought the belt was what he picked, but Matt chose the wrench to not show any weakness in front of his father. When Robin Williams was telling him that its not his fault, Matt was very defensive at first. Williams kept repeating it to Matt he finally let this wall he had built up be broken down. Showing that it is really had for males to show any sort of emotion.

    I have three older brothers and when we were little they would always pick on each other if one would cry or whine. They would call each other whimps and sissys all the time. They would wrestle and when one got hurt they would tell him to suck it up and be a man. They also never wanted to show any sort of weakness towards each other. And as they have grown up they stopped showing emotion because of what they told each other when they were little. So Katzs was right our society needs to show boys at a young age that its okay to show emotion.

  13. emily9988 Says:

    The tough guise article was very interesting to watch. I agree with the idea that boys were raised with the notion that they have to be tough, defining manhood with language such as control, independent, and tough. Once I heard all of those boys in the video describing manhood, the song “I’ll Make A Man out of You” from DIsney’s Mulan immediately came to mind. The song talks about men going to war and how they need to be tough and can’t wimp out. The chorus of the song suggests that men need to be swift, forceful, strong, and mysterious and one of the verses asks the question “Did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?” This song identifies feminine traits with being unfit for the men the song is speaking to. This song definitely displays the media’s role on how boys and men should view themselves.

    Good Will Hunting shows how that “tough guy” facade is put up and torn down. Will had been hardening his feelings of blame for what his father had done to him. Therefore, wouldn’t show his emotions and made it seem like he has everything together. It took Robin WIlliams’ character several attempts at saying “It’s not your fault,” for Will to break his facade and reveal his true feelings about his guilt and blame for his father’s actions.

    These two videos stated how men struggle with this idea of putting on a facade of being tough to the world around them and not revealing who they really are. While I agree with this statement, it is not only men who are at fault for these actions. I know several women who put on a mask like everything’s ok and seem very put together but break down once their hardened facade is torn.

    I think as young men and women of today, we can definitely keep each other accountable. Women can follow Katz’s instructions by not encouraging the “bad boy” approach as much and validating men who go against the norm. Men and women can be helping out their own sexes in their gender roles by recognizing facades that our friends put up and not letting them go unnoticed or, even worse, hardened even further.

  14. vrobbins Says:

    It’s hard to post after so many people already have. I agree with everyone’s posts before mine, for the most part.

    I love hearing about the struggles that men go through because I feel like women are always the ones who are being shown in the media as the victims, when in fact, males are just as much, or more of the victim. Since society and our culture, specifically, defines men as being strong, courageous, tough, etc., it would go against that definition to point out that the male is the victim. Shouldn’t they be strong enough to win whatever battle it is that they are faced with?

    Katz explained men in society well. They are told to fit into this box and if they reflect any type of characteristic that isn’t of masculine form, they are called wuss, sissy, fag, etc. which drives men back into the narrow box. This is what happened in the video clip of Good Will Hunting, however Robin Williams character wasn’t trying to push Matt Damon’s character back into the box. He was trying to get Damon to accept those inner feelings and allow them to be released.

    Men have struggles and deal with them in ways that they need to express, and it isn’t always by being violent. I think males should be free to cry without being judged. I hate that society puts such a strict definition on how men and women are supposed to act, talk, and behave. It doesn’t allow us to react to experiences in a natural way because we fear that we are going to be rejected, made fun of, or alienated.

    My little cousin is a great example of a boy who doesn’t try and fit into society’s narrow box. He is an all-around American pre-teen boy. He is a tough guy, don’t get me wrong. But, he doesn’t have a problem showing some tears. My mom told me, at his last baseball game (which by the way he is REALLY GOOD for his age), he was the last to bat and he struck out, which ended the game and his team lost. He has such a passion for sports and when something like this happens, it is devastating to him. He had a little bit of an attitude, but more importantly he dealt with his emotions the way that felt natural to him. He cried because he was upset.

    It just makes me think, I wonder if more boys would accept the fact that it’s okay to cry sometime; maybe they wouldn’t lash out on people and cover their emotions with anger. Hmm…what do ya’ll think? Or am I totally crazy!

    • Jessie Wright Says:

      Reading through post made me start thinking of how did these traditional characteristics come from. I know we read in the book about biological, psychological, and social influences, but how did they start? Men are biologically physically strong. The book stated men usually form more muscle than woman. How did this put them in charge? Going ALL the way back… to even cave man times, how did this mean they could take charge? Woman provide the most important factor…she gives life. Her body has the magically power to build a child and give birth to it. I would think this would mean woman were the ‘higher’ power. Like with bees, there is a queen bee and everyone provides for her. It is just interesting that men stereotypically have the high power, when woman are the ones to bring them into this world. Maybe because of this, men do try to provide (be tough, strong, ect.). Where did this become necessary for men to unhealthily hide their emotions. I know there are influences that effect gender, but their had to be one person to sit down and start thinking I am a man and this is what I should be doing.

      • kirstenpowell Says:

        It is logical to think that women possess the higher power because of their ability to give birth, however it is common for men to suggest that they are the ones responsible even though the woman does the real hard work. Why does society give the male the upper hand? I think it was because men have dominated history and erased the part that shows their weaknesses and emotions. Through time the winners of wars and battles have written the history for their perspective. These writers were mostly men. These men may have eliminated details of their emotions so that enemies would not see them as weak. Maybe this set a precedent that calls for men to conceal their feminine emotions.

      • mattymac Says:

        Although women are the carriers, men have to provide the means for the women to become pregnant. It is through this biological function–it takes two to create life–that men and women share the responsibility equally. Because the man provides the means for the woman to become pregnant, he is often viewed as the one to provide for the woman during pregnancy and after, as well as provide for the child he helped create.

  15. daniellemstern Says:

    It may be difficult at first, as we get used to this type of discussion format, to comment in the later portion of the blog conversation–especially with almost 30 people enrolled–so I want to extend my appreciation for each of your contributions, ideas, and creativity as we keep the ball rolling.

    • mmpike Says:

      Torrie, you’re not crazy I agree. I think its hard to do though. And the media plays such a huge role in our society, and how we think we should be, both men and women. We see it a lot with women, so its interesting to see how the male population is affected as well. Its something that I never would have considered. I have strong feelings against the media and how they affect adolescent girls, and because of that I plan to teach middle school to instill confidence in them. I think girls need be taught to question and break away from what the world is telling them to be, and I think the same is true for boys. I think boys need to be told, constantly and in their surroundings that violence and “toughness” isn’t what makes a boy a man. But that there are factors all different. These guys need to know, that living up to the persona the media has created is not necessary for being a strong man. They need role models, and mentors, just as young girls do to deal with their pressure issues. Granted, I am a woman, and really don’t know everything there is to know about men so this could not be received well why by them, but I believe it is essential.

      I like how Katz explained men in society, and you see this so well in Matt Damon’s character. At the beginning of the scene he puts on the “tough guise” he’s asking all of these important questions with an attitude and sarcasm. Then when he is challenged to let go, and let free, he fights it. He tells him to stop messing with him, and tries as hard as he can to not let it get to him. Then finally he lets go. I love that. Not that I know anything about men (meaning their minds and emotions), and the way they work but I feel like what happened to Matt Damon is an important step in guys over coming this. I think they have to have one break through or break down to be able to let go of the “tough guise”

  16. catherineporter07 Says:

    I loved the title of Jackson Katz’s “Tough Guise”. Society tells us that by nature of a man being male they are inherently the tougher and more emotionally controlled sex. These “tough guys” are putting up nothing more than a disguise. While women may be geared differently, it is evident through our interactions personally with men that they too have things that deeply affect them, yet their vunerability with others tends to be more reserved than that of women.
    In the clip from Good will hunting, a noticed several things that illustrate the point Katz was making. First, we note that that the description of the father was an alcoholic, who would come home with the intent to harm his mother and his brother. Will then tells the audience that his father would let him choose between a wrench, stick, or belt. During the time they described the situations, their tone and facial expressions remained stale- expressing little to no emotional connection to the events that occured in their past.
    Next, we notice that when Will is asked if he would like to talk about his breakup, he quickly says no. Following this, when Will is told that it is not his fault what had happened to him, Will continually says that he knows and avoids talkign about it further. Until he was told almost 10 times, was he able to admit the hurt he was feeling.
    Although this clip certainly does portray the unfortunate affect of society on the way a man believes he must act, I also appreciated this breakdown scene because through it it demonstrates to it’s viewers that men are in fact individuals who have struggles that need healthy releases too. While at first he pushed away, ultimately we see Will vunerably and honest about what’s truly going on in his life.

    • flipmyflops06 Says:

      I believe with your first paragraph in that our culture makes it so men feel as though they have to hide their emotions to appear stronger, less vulnerable, and ultimately more masculine. Our culture has sent the message that showing your emotions makes you weak and incapable. I think masking emotions occurs not only with men, but with women as well. It seems as though today more women are taking on leadership positions and outside jobs. With this I feels as though women are beginning to mask their emotions more in order to create a stronger image.

  17. kmacklin1107 Says:

    I liked the fact the Katz used the phrase “Tough Guise” as it not only plays off of “tough guys” but it also plays off of the idea of a “disguise” that men and boys are constantly putting on it front of people. I think that it is just stupid that in the society that we are in today boys are taught that they must be strong and tough and not break down and give in. My boyfriend just recently lost his first grandparent. I got to compare how he reacted in the circumstance and how his younger sister reacted to what was occurring. His sister was in tears and tried to be around the family as much as possible, she did not want to be alone. My boyfriend on the other hand showed almost no emotion majority of the time. The only reason I knew that he was grieving was the fact that he would go off by himself with no one else and when he came back I could see the tears in his eyes. The only time he really let me see him cry was at the actual funeral, and even then he tried to hide it. He had grown up in a household in which he was taught that boys are tough and independent. They show no emotion and go on even if they are in pain. He was also raised in an abusive household so I think that that as well helped him to grow the tough exterior that he has. It is only over the past two years that he has really let me in and allowed me to see what has happened and understand why he is the way he is at times.

    In the “Good Will Hunting” clip it was interesting to see how Will could go through listening what had happened and tried to seem calm and not really worried about what had occurred. It had learned to grow such a tough outer shell that he was afraid of breaking down. He knew it was not his fault but he never really thought about it until he continuously heard it over and over again. It was at this point that he finally let down his tough exterior and the tough, independent, strong way he had come to know finally released and he let his emotions out. I think it was what he needed in order to move on with life and realize that he did not always need to hide his emotions.

    I feel that guys should be allowed to let their feelings out with having to worry what other people/guys are going to think. I would much rather know how a guy is feeling in a certain situation rather than have to guess and hear that he is okay when I know that he is not. Guys are people too, and they have emotions. Emotions should not be put on women alone, if it was seen this way then maybe people would not feel as though women are ran by their emotions.

  18. scnuhoy87 Says:

    In Jackson Katz’s “Tough Guise” he does make a great point that the nature of being a male in today’s society is to be tough in all situations and to be the one who is in control. I completely agree with the previous statement in that while women can be more open with their emotions, men and personal experiences have shown me that when ever I have had a problem or known any guy with a problem, the way that it is handled is either behind closed doors with a close group of friends or it dealt with by never truly addressing the problem and letting it go. I do not believe that it is weak to admit a problem or even to put it behind you without properly addressing it, in fact I think that it still shows that men are following the what society wants by not publicly displaying they’re problems.
    In the movie, Good Will Hunting, Will does let down his guard throughout almost the entire scene until it gets to be to unbearable to which he lets down his guard to a close personal friend, and after the true breakdown Will goes back to being a strong individual. This displays what Katz’s was saying in his video, a man will follow what is expected of him in society but that is truly only a disguise to what he may be feeling on the inside and because of this pressure I have known many men that are agree and ill-tempered because of suppressed feelings that they may have, but after talking out some of the problems in a small environment they are better and then continue on every day like there was never a problem. It is this scene in the movie that Will truly expresses himself and a weight is lifted off of his shoulders.

  19. katelyntemple Says:

    “In Good Will Hunting, that emotional break down i feel is so important. As we watched you notice that it takes him a while to finally open up to Robin Williams. This is the problem with raising boys to have that tough outward appearance on life. They become so stressed and get so much built up anger inside them that its nearly impossibl for them to open up to others and let it out because they dont want to let their guard down.” -McNally

    This is a good point that I hadn’t really considered. Because boys are raised to have that tough appearance, breaking down and openly displaying emotions seems unacceptable to them. As a result of this, it seems like when a guy does show emotions after avoiding it the incident is a much bigger deal and they may think of themselves as weak after. For a girl, talking about feeling & emotions is no big deal typically, but fo a guy it may be more of a ‘wow… I can’t believe I just did that’ type of moment.

  20. mmpike Says:

    One thing that I noticed from reading everyone else’s responses and from Katz’s video, was the emphasis that women should be encouraging the feeling, and emotion aspects in men. Its funny to me how much the opposites sex has an affect on us. Not because I think its absurd, it makes some sense, but because in reality, we have no idea what the opposite sex “prefers” or supports. So many women have certain perspectives on what they think a man wants, skinny, tall, curvy, smart, bubbley, friendly, whatever, but I would say that what men really want to see in women is confidence in who they are. I would say that goes the same for women and their desires in men. How this relates is that this “tough guise” is a reflection of that. Men are taught this by fellow men. But why? Where did this whole idea come from? Where was the beginning of this tough guy mentality that takes over our culture. Because no one should try to be anything they’re not.

    McNally mentioned that Mother’s should be teaching their sons to express their emotions and let go of the tough guy persona. I never would have thought of that. I think its very true. But I think more then anything, both parents need to be teaching their children, girl or boy, that who they are is something great and that they should be proud in that.

    But how do we do that now? How can we as women encourage and support the men in our lives to let go of the “tough guise” in our everyday lives (deep, meaningful conversation aside, and just focussing on everyday interactsion) ? (this is a real question guys, I really wanna know)

    Sorry if this is kind of tangenty.

  21. tgbaldwin32 Says:

    Many things that Jackson Katz talks about in “Tough Guise”, play a part in this particular scene on “Good Will Hunting”. In this scene we see that Will Hunting has been raised from an early age to have a tough guise about him at all times. Like Katz says in “Tough Guise” this particular trait in Will Hunting is a survival trait against whatever peer culture he has been in all of his life.
    As a male that has been a part of some sport or athletic team most of my life I have seen many of the theories that Katz talks about in “Tough Guise” and many different fronts that males put on in different situations. I have had teammates that have good friends of mine turn into stone cold individuals when participating with that team, only to one hour later be an easy going fun loving individual when surrounded by other good friends of his.
    As a guy I can say that we have been raised this way to act tough and put on a front, but I can also say that in recent years I have noticed great change of this way of thinking. I have noticed now more so than ever, that this tough guy front is being gradually broken down in the young people following us, and I was just wondering if anyone else has noticed this?

    • mbest88 Says:

      I have noticed that the “tough guy” front has been broken down some in the young people following us. I think this is because of the role that women now play in our society. Men are no longer always the bread winners and women are out in the work force doing everything that men can do. Women are no longer only housewives. When women were just housewives the men were forced to put on that “tough guise” and be strong for their family. Yes, this is still true in some families today, but I would say that it less today than it was years ago.

  22. sbarmstrong Says:

    I do agree with many of the previous posts. It was interesting to watch the “Tough Guise” video, seeing the stereotypical male characteristics, the front that many men have and how the media supports and almost encourages the typical traits of a “real man.”
    In the very first part of the “Tough Guise” video, Jackson Katz states that men “show the world only certain parts of [himself] that the dominant culture has defined as manly.” In the “Good Will Hunting” clip, Matt Damon has built up a resistance to the feelings from his previous abusive relationships. In relation to Katz statement, Matt Damon’s character had this resistance as a sort of “survival mechanism.” Regardless of his true emotions, portraying a disguise of brave and strong might have helped him deal with the struggles of his past, though only at the expenditure of his “emotional and relational lines.” As Robin William’s character stands over Damon, he states, “It’s not your fault.” At first, Damon says, “I know”, shrugging off the statement. Nonverbally, Damon stands as Williams comes closer and repeats himself as a way to almost challenge him perhaps interpreting the situation as a power struggle, especially when Damon uses both verbal and physical agression to defend himself. When Williams keeps repeating himself, Damon lets the disguise fall and releases his true emotions. The world may view Damon’s ultmate response as “sissy”; however, from where did the standard come that men cannot openly express emotions of hurt and pain?

    It is interesting to see how my male friends act differently around just me in comparison to “me and guys.” I find that my male friends seem like they have something more to prove to the guys, whether they are always trying to win out over the other or trump the conversation. It mostly seems like a competition as to who is best, funniest, etc. When I hang out with that same guy friend, one-on-one, it is much different. The guy has nothing to prove to me and the conversations tend to be more meaningful, emotional and deep. In my experiences, it is much easier for a guy to open up in a one-on-one situation and are typically more honest and transparent.

  23. cahendy Says:

    I agree with a lot of the posts before me and a lot of the things that katz says. I think that boys are encouraged to be manly men, athletic, strong, and brave. If you think about some of the men in movies young boys watch there are a few things that stand out about them. Most men portrayed in movies only really show emotions of anger, happiness, and a saddness that is focused on gaining revenge. Men in movies are never shown as handling saddness the right way. A mans whole family can get killed in a movies and the first thing he wants to do is gain revenge on whoever killed them, not respect them and grieve over them. I enjoyed when katz talked about how diffrent races are portrayed in movies. I have spent a lot of time working with inner city kids from 1st through 8th grade. One consistent theme I notice with almost all young boys is they have no father around. Whatver male is around whether it be an older brother or moms boyfriend at the time is typically a drug dealing thug, an alcoholic, abusive or all three. It is very sad but african american boys who grow up on the streets really do have a hard life. I have noticed that around the age of sixth grade inner city boys will begin to accept that their life is going to be just like the one of older males around them. Up until that point for the most part they are pretty simple minded and most will want to be a pro athlete or a rapper or actor and believe they still can. Then reality sets in, as it does with most young boys dreams, but for these boys reality is they do not know how to get off of the streets. The men these boys have to look up to in movies often are portrayed as strong, independent, womanizing gang members who make life living as a gang member in inner city seem so glamorous. I jsut rambled a bit but my point is these boys have nothing healthy to base their view of masculnity on. I grew up being encouraged to be athletic succesfull and tough, they grow up being encouraged to be rich, powerful, and ruthless.

    Matt Damon’s character in the movie is one of my all time favorite characters ever. On some level I think most men can relate to him if they are honest with themselves. The whole movie he is putting up a “masculine” front in order to convince himself he is doing great when in reality he has issues that need to be dealt with. In this scene it is almost like he subcousciously wants Robin Williams to break through his rough exterior but he is to scared to just let it happen so Robin Williams just pushes and pushes until he breaks through.

    I am reading some comments and a lot of girls are saying things like they would like it if men openly cried because to them it takes a real man to cry. I am not saying I have never cried because deep down I am just a big baby. 🙂 Girls have been saying that for a long time but that is not enough to just make men cry. I will use myself as an example but I believe I can relate to a lot of other men in many ways. I typically will stop at nothing to impress a girl but no matter how much you encourage me to cry I most likely never will around you.

    For me there are a few things that go into not crying around girls. First, men and women are obviously very diffrent emotionally so you cannot expect men to cry at the same things as women, or even show the same emotion as women to the same things. If a girl has a bad day, gets fired, had to change a tire in the rain, and a car splashed them with a a puddle as it drove by they will most likely at some point cry. Not that I am any tougher than you girls but we just show diffrent emotions to diffrent things. I would be pretty pissed off and most likely wanna go out and have a beer and just get away from those problems.
    Second, if I were with a girlfriend and something did happen to us where we both wanted to respond to it by crying chances are I would hold back. In my opinion that is a situation where I would need to be strong because I am the person she will turn to for strength. I am not saying I would not be sad, and I would not hide my sadness from her, but if I could keep myself from crying for her sake I know I would.

    I hope this did not piss any girls off haha, I kind of rambled and may not have fully explained some thoughts so feel free to comment. Don’t hold back!

    I

  24. mattymac Says:

    First off, I agree with Torrie that I like hearing about the issues facing men, not just because I am one and it is more relatable to me, but also because you hear so much about the issues that women face. Often times, the plight of the man is ignored.

    I will try not to repeat a lot of what has already been said, but I do agree with Jackson Katz’s metaphor of the Tough Guise and with a lot of the comments you all have posted.

    This issue definitely hit home for me. Being a male who is involved in music and theater, which are often described as “girly” activities, I have put up with having to live up to the stereotypic image of masculinity of being tough. When I hang out with my guy friends or when I am around guys, I usually feel as though I have to act more “manly” than my demeanor truly is. Perhaps I am compensating for the fact that I what I enjoy is considered to be more feminine by our culture, but as Tripp mentioned, even men who participate in athletic activities feel that need to be more “manly” around members of the same sex.

    I find it funny, though, that there are several stories of how men turn into more sensitive and emotional individuals when exclusively around females. You would think they would continue their tough act because that is typically what is embrace by our culture. Instead, it seems as though men primarily but on the tough guise when they are around other men. I believe that because women are less judgmental about a man’s masculinity and are more emotional, that is why guys feel as though they can express themselves more openly and emotionally with them. One thing that really bugs me is that one of my really good guy friends will chill and hang out with me, but open up and talk about his issues with all his female friends. I care about him, and want him to open up to me about his problems, but he almost never does probably because he does not want me to think of him as a “sissy” or a “wuss”. Matt Damon’s character did this in the film. When he said if it was his child abuse that caused him to break-up with his girlfriend, Skylar, Robin Williams’s character asked if he wanted to talk about it. His response? Nah. I am guilty of this, too. When my friends, both male and female, can see that I am bothered by something, they always ask if something was wrong and if I need to talk about it. Several occasions, I will simply respond with, “No,” because I do not want to have to unpack my emotional baggage. If men do not feel as though they can open up to others, whether they are male or female, they bottle it up and avoid it at all costs.

    Even though the media does have a strong influence, I would argue that a man’s social influences such as his friends and peers affect him more. I know that all the ladies out there want to know what they can do to help with this issue, but in all honesty, the most influential figures in helping to address this issue would be the guys. One way to address this issue would be for the males who are aware of this tough guise to break through this social and cultural norm, especially those that grow up to be fathers. I attribute a great deal of my personality and demeanor to my father, who taught me, like McNally’s father, what it means to be a gentleman. He taught me that caring for others was more important than what society tells men to be.

    • daniellemstern Says:

      Good point about guys supporting other guys. I can’t help but think of Entourage’s success post Sex and the City. Ari and “hugging it out,” while a silly comic trope might be on to something. And, of course, the Judd Apatow-style buddy movies show a different side of male friendships.

      • mattymac Says:

        I was thinking about that after while I was typing my response. Although a great deal of media portrays men as being tough and strong, recently there has been a wave of media that is promoting a sensitive, emotional male. Actors such as Paul Rudd and Michael Cera are becoming the lead players in films and do not fit the typical super attractive, muscular, testosterone-infused leading man.

        However, a friend of mine pointed out that movies such as Judd Apatow’s seem to always have to wrap up their messages about men being more open in a crude, grossly sexual, and vulgar package.

      • daniellemstern Says:

        Yeah, it’s like permanent adolescence. On one hand these types of films allow men to explore their emotional sides, but on the other they limit it to a man-child experience wrapped in silliness.

  25. mbest88 Says:

    I totally agree with the “Tough Guise” video. I think pretty much the same things that most people have already said. Society forces our men to put up this tough front. I personally believe this is the cause of a lot of the violence and criminal activity in our society. If men didn’t feel the need to prove themselves to be the tough guy then they wouldn’t need to be as violent. A lot of the criminal activity today is just men trying to prove that they are strong, and tougher than the other guys out there. I’m not really sure how society could work to change this strong guy image that is associated with men, but if it changed I’m sure it would do our society a lot of good. I like what Katz said about how women aren’t the cause of violence, but they do play a role in encouraging it. If women didn’t support the strong, tough guy image then it probably wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

    Will Hunting is shown as not being able to hold up the tough guy front anymore. He has been forced to be the though guy for so long, and act like everything was okay, but he can’t handle it anymore. He finally breaks down and shows that deep down he isn’t as much of a tough guy as he may seem. It is important to remember that guys have feelings. Even though they may seem strong, they tend to hold things inside, and in turn make those feelings even strong. Society should accept men who show these feelings, and men shouldn’t feel like they have to put up this tough guy front. If men felt like they could show their emotions I bet the amount of violence in our society would go down.

  26. chloea Says:

    I, too, agree with most everything that has already been stated, so I won’t repeat everything. In general, I agree with Katz in that guys do put up a tough guy front, the character, Will, clearly depicts that fact.
    Bouncing off of Matt’s post, I agree with Katz and Matt regarding relationships man to woman and man to man. I think there’s a happy medium of sensitivity that men should be able to express to women, but we are different for a reason and fulfill distinct roles within our relationships that wouldn’t be met otherwise. As Chris stated towards the beginning of this blog, men do need to be strong for us women. This being said, we need to offer our support to you guys when you need it. I also think that being “real” within your guy friendships is important. You have the same perspective in regards to the tough guy image and can offer each other support and encouragement. I do find that guys are more concerned about looking tough to other guys more than they are to girls. If you can be real with each other (doesn’t have to be tears), then I think you’ve accomplished a great and necessary task to defeat the tough guy image.

  27. emily9988 Says:

    So I’ve basically had a lazy day and watched a whole bunch of the Office- Season 4, and the idea of gender roles with masculinity was extremely prevalent. The lead character-Michael Scott- is very naiive and doesn’t mean to say half of the things that come out of his mouth. Therefore, he constantly insults the men of the office that show their sensitive side and calling them “girls,” “wusses,” or other derogatory-implied terms. One particular episode that I watched entitled “Survivorman,” Michael makes fun of his boss for inviting some of the managers out for a camping trip, making remarks about how a bunch of men sleeping in tents together is really girly and whatnot. Later on in the episode, Michael gets one of his employees to drive him out into the woods and leave him so that he can rough it by himself, just as he thinks a real man should.

    I think The Office definitely touches on the issue of masculine stereotypes, but they approach it in a way that makes people realize it’s wrong to generalize the masculine stereotype. Michael Scott is extremely naiive and the entire office knows it and obviuosly doesn’t agree with his stereotypical notions of men and women. The Office uses Michael Scott to show how people really are influenced by the media and reflect on how we can recognize and avoid this stereotype.

    Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite shows. 🙂

  28. melissam4 Says:

    Everyone made some really good points and i’m a bit late in adding mine but wanted to make a point. Along with everyones comments about women always being portrayed as the victim, i’ve learned that it actually isnt uncommon for men to be the ones afraid of their female partners and being the ones going to the police for protection. It’s not heard of much but because it’s stereotypically wrong for men to be afraid, the word doesnt usually get out, far at least, that some man is scared his wife might abuse him in his sleep. This further adds to everyones comments about letting men be and feel without the restrictions of masculinity. If men and women are trying to reach a state of equality then we need to start by letting people feel and express themselves freely regardless of their sex.


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