Confronting Toxic Masculinity - April 23, 2019
Activists Meet Researchers - Nov. 3, 2017
Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality - April 20, 2017
Sandro Bellassai , Ph.D.
The Disappearance of the Invisible Man
In this session, Professor Sandro Bellassai of the University of Bologna presened a lecture, "The Disappearance of the Invisible Man." Representation of hegemonic masculinity in late 20th century Italy reveal new characteristics when compared to preceding manhood models which had dominated that century. At the end of the millennium a very important phenomenon for the history of Italian masculinities has taken shape: the male gender definitively lost its historic privilege of invisibility. The ability to hide their own gender identity through the masks of neutrality and universality had been a fundamental attribute of heterosexual men in a strictly patriarchal era. But in the 1990s, the media increasingly disseminated images of the body of men as men; this situation may well be interpreted as one of a political nakedness, because now the gendered nature of men's identity can no longer be "covered" by a common rhetoric of patriarchal neutrality.
Yahel Kurlander , Ph.D.
Labor Approach to Human Trafficking Analyzed through Theories of Masculinities
In this session, Sociologist Yahel Kurlander, Research Fellow at TraffLab (ERC) presented her paper, " Permanent Workers in the Backyard'; Employing Thai Agricultural Labor Migrants in the Israeli Countryside (co-authored with Matan Kaminer at the University of Michigan), which focuses on the relationship between male farmers and their male Thai migrant workers in the past three decades. She discussed how the Thai migrants became visible but easy to ignore; a process amplified by the tensions between farmers' hegemonic masculinity and migrant workers' marginalized masculinity.
Jens Mazei , Ph.D.
• On the Role of Men in the Emergence of Gender Differences at the Negotiation Table
In this session, Dr. Mazei discussed the topic of gender at the negotiation table. Although research has made great progress in understanding why women are oftentimes hindered from negotiating successfully, it is less clear whether and how men contribute to gender differences in negotiations. The goal of this talk was to shed light on processes among men. The first part of the presentation presented relevant parts of a new theoretical model that explores the role played by negotiations in men’s pursuit of gender role fulfillment. The second part of the talk, Dr. Mazei shared two empirical studies that test hypotheses derived from the model.
Terry A. Kupers, M.D., M.S.P. • Masculinity Behind Bars: Violence on the Yards, Terror in Isolation
Dr. Kupers discussed a model for understanding gender and domination in society-at-large as well as in jails and prisons, and explained how the dynamics highlighted by the model become exaggerated in the prison setting. He spoke about prison violence, including sexual abuse and gang activity, in relation to gender and domination; and he examined how very tough men who are removed from “the yard” for fighting are damaged when they are warehoused in solitary confinement. Th is talk can be seen on the Center's YouTube page.
Antónia Barrada • Porn in the European Union: Problematizing Pornography and Engaging Men in Gender Equality
Ms. Barradas talk, Porn in the European Union : Problematizing Pornography and Engaging Men in Gender Equality was carried out under a primarily legal perspective, along with a sociological perspective. Some work which has traced the sociological, political and historical background around pornography was drawn upon for a more comprehensive view of the issues at stake. In its conclusion, this lecture raised issues around the need for further regulation on pornography. Th is talk can be seen on the Center's YouTube page.
Dr. Stanley Thangaraj • Competing Masculinities: Playing through Race, Class, and Sexuality
While works on immigrant communities and gender often position immigrant masculinities in relation to dominant white masculine normativity, Desi Hoop Dreams explores the means by which South Asian American men negotiate masculinity in relation to other men in their community, mainstream racializations, and other racialized masculinities. In particular, this talk examined the ways in which race is negotiated through masculinity with a focus on South Asian American participation in Asian American, South Asian American, Latino, and multi-racial basketball leagues. Through such an exploration, one can decipher the ways in which racializations as "terrorists” and “nerds” are negotiated and mediated through the racialization of black, Latino, and Asian American men. Th is talk can be seen on the Center's YouTube page.
Martin A. Monto, Ph.D. • Ordinary or Peculiar Men? Prostitution, Power, and the Demand for Commercial Sex
While attention to prostitution has historically focused on women providers, the past
two decades have brought new
attention to sex buyers among both researchers and policymakers. Using a wealth of recent data, Monto argues that prostitution seeking is neither a natural nor an inevitable aspect of masculine sexual behavior. Monto will address
common misconceptions about prostitution, sex buying, and the relationship between buyers and providers. Finally,
Monto will describe the strengths and limits of a several contemporary cultural narratives on prostitution.
Iris van Huis • Engaging men in gender equality: obstacles, strategies and impacts on intersectional inequalities
How to engage men in gender equality issues? How to engage men who are in disadvantaged positions themselves? In civil society/ social work interventions in the Netherlands, social work professionals have tried to empower disadvantaged men - with working class, mostly unemployed and mostly with migrant backgrounds -, while also addressing gender (in)equality. Through ethnographic research of 23 of these “male emancipation” projects, this lecture will help understand obstacles and opportunities for engaging disadvantaged men in gender equality. The lecture will also show the impacts of various strategies on (conflicting) intersectional inequalities.
Iris van Huis is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities of Stony Brook University. She is a PhD candidate at the Nijmegen School of Management, Department of Political Science and affiliated with the Institute for Gender Studies of Radboud University Nijmegen. Her talk can be seen on the Center's YouTube page.
Cordelia Fine • The myth of the Lehman Sisters? Sex, Testosterone, and financial risk-taking
There is growing scientific interest in the role of testosterone in financial risk-taking – a topic of considerable public interest too, with complaints of there being ‘too much testosterone on Wall Street’. Both research and debate is often is grounded in an implicit model in which testosterone is presumed to be the proximal mechanism underlying the evolved masculine trait of risk-taking. This talk identified a number of conceptual and empirical problems with the underlying assumptions of this model, and reported preliminary findings from a meta-analytic study on testosterone and financial risk-taking.
Tom Digby • Love and War: How Militarism Shapes Sexuality and Romance
Tom Digby discussed ideas from his new book, Love and War: How Militarism Shapes Sexuality and Romance. Ideas of masculinity and femininity become sharply defined in war-reliant societies, resulting in a presumed enmity between men and women. This so-called "battle of the sexes" derives partly from a model of heterosexual eroticism that is characterized by male domination and female subordination. It is further intensified by the use of misogynistic taunts like "don't be a pussy" to instill emotional toughness in boys and men, which suppresses their empathy for both women and other men. All of these factors help explain why gender in culturally militaristic societies is inseparable from terror, violence, and sacrifice.
Dr. Phil C. Langer • A Fatal Desire for Masculinity—On Psychosocial Dynamics of Sexual Risk Behavior of Gay Men in the Global North
This presentation argued that the internalization of culturally dominant heteronormative images of masculinity significantly adds to the formation of a “spoiled identity” of gay men and that a fatal (since inaccessible) desire for masculinity fuels their sexual risk behavior in the Global North. With regard to trends towards hyper-masculine performances in (parts of) the gay community in the “west” today, Professor Langer discussed practical implications of these findings for sexual health strategies and outline promising research perspectives.
Rachel Hills •
The Sex Myth The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality
Coming of age in the ‘00s, journalist Rachel Hills felt like a romantic and sexual misfit. Raised on a diet of women’s magazines, teen soap operas and media panics over “hooking up” and “raunch culture,” she believed that everyone was dining at an all-you-can-eat sexual buffet. Everyone, that is, except for her. When she realized she wasn’t the only one whose experiences didn’t fit the script, Hills set out to understand how our beliefs about sex are shaped – and why, when it comes to sex and relationships, being “normal” matters so much. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with more than 200 millennials across North America, the UK and Australia, Hills talked about the cultural expectations around sex that are impacting the millennial generation, and why sociology is such a powerful tool for consciousness raising. Her talk can be seen on the Center's YouTube page.
Josh Levs •
The Myth of the Modern Dad: What The New York Times, Pew Research and Everyone Else
False claims about modern dads are every where, says Levs. They’re in alleged “surveys,” shared in popular blogs, and even published by prestigious news organizations. These lies have disastrous effects on families and businesses, and propagate the laws, policies and stigmas that maintain a sexist infrastructure. Levs, who has teamed up with the non-partisan New Hampshire Women’s Foundation to make paid family leave a key issue in the nation’s first 2016 presidential primary, will offer simple steps to bring the United States into the 21st century, giving men and women the chance to build a real work-life balance.
In case you missed Josh's presentation "The Myth of the Modern Dad", it can be viewed it can be viewed here.
Dr. Jan D. Kucharzewski • “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat”: Homosocial Masculinities in American Sea Stories from Herman Melville to Pirates of the Caribbean
Movie Screening and Discussion • Majma
Directed by Rahul Roy, Majma’ explores the instability of working class lives and
its impact on male sexuality and gender relations.
Mas culinity, Criminality and the Russian State Building After the Fall of the Soviet Union
Marina Yusupova a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities and PhD Candidate at the Department of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. Her PhD project is based on life story interviews with Russian men living in Russia and Russian immigrants in the UK. It explores how ideologies of masculinity inform the lived experience of Russian men living in two different sociocultural contexts and shape individual life trajectories, migration and subjectivities.
Expression/Suppression: The Sexual Author and the Law, 1855-1885
Naomi Wolf is the author of eight books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Beauty Myth, The End of America and Give Me Liberty; and the recently published, Vagina: A New Biography. She has toured the world speaking to audiences of all walks of life about gender equality, social justice, and, most recently, the defense of liberty in America and internationally.
“Gender Equitable Men? Young men’s perceptions of gender relations and gendered violence
This lecture will focus on the results of a 2013 research study carried out by academics from the National University of Timor-Leste and partners from Monash University in Australia that examined the attitudes and perceptions of young men toward gender relations and gendered violence in the new nation of Timor-Leste (TL).
Fabio Santiago Nascimento- Department of English (Linguistic Studies) at the Federal
University of Santa Catarina - Brazil
Discourses of masculinity and same-sex desire in Brazil
In this seminar, I report some findings of two preliminary studies I have been conducting about the tensions and contradictions in the lives of men-who-have-sex-with-men in Brazil. In one of these studies, I analyzed the constructions of masculinity in a virtual space, specifically the dating website Badoo.com. This website is a very popular social network in Brazil (Alexa, 2012) and has been extensively used by men from the working and middle classes as a tool for setting up secret sexual/romantic encounters between men. In the second study, I identified recurrent themes or discourses present in the interviews conducted with ten men in Florianópolis-SC which were revealing of the ways they conceive masculinity and the problems regarding the experience of a queer sexuality. Results indicate that the interplay of a ‘family’ culture, material constraints (e.g. housing) and religious ideologies produce several limitations in the lives of some Brazilian men.
Brett Stoudt- Department of Psychology, John Jay College Gender Studies Program, John Jay College Department of Environmental Psychology, Graduate Center
Brooks Brothers’ Blazers & Ivy League: The use of participatory action research to examine and interrupt masculine privilege in an elite private school
In order to better understand the socialization and (re)production of privilege, most especially gendered privilege, within elite independent schools it is important to examine the masculine performances of its students enacted through bullying as well as the masculine environments in which these enactments are produced. This presentation will begin explicating the messages received and the representations shaped by Rockport’s hegemonic masculine curriculum and the embodiment of these dynamics through research conducted with students and faculty at Rockport on bullying. The data revealed that bullying between boys at Rockport helped to discipline and reproduce hegemonic masculine boundaries; it was as much an expression of Rockport’s culture as it was a vehicle for policing and reproducing its culture. However, not only were the boys within Rockport gendered, the faculty and even the institution itself was gendered. In this way, it was systemic, both students and faculty acted within this institutional culture and held and managed expectations about their gender. In addition, it will be argued that the use of participatory action research created collaborative spaces that developed relationships and critical discussions across hierarchical school membership. As a result, this work conducted inside a closed institution like Rockport – though fleeting - was a form of counter-hegemonic action.
Tal Peretz- Department of Sociology, University of Southern California
Enagaging Diverse Men: An Intersectional Analysis Of Men's Pathways To Antiviolence Activism
Increasingly, scholarly and feminist attention has been drawn to the place of men in gender justice activism, but nearly all of these discussions have problematically framed "men" as a unitary category, using white, heterosexual, middle-class, educated young men as a false generic. While all men share in the benefits of an unequal gender order, they share them unequally based in part on their locations along other intersecting axes of oppression (race, class, sexuality, religion, etc.). Using my previous research with white men as background, I conducted a year of multi-method, comparative, qualitative fieldwork with two gender justice groups directed towards men of different social locations: Muslim Men Against Domestic Violence, and the Sweet Tea Southern Queer Men's Collective. By evaluating the applicability of previous pathway models to the mostly-Black members of these groups, I show how intersecting identities affect men's pathways to allyship and illustrate the importance of an intersectional analysis when researching men's engagements with feminism or attempting to engage men in gender justice activities.
Anna Sofie Bach- Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Visiting Scholar at Stony Brook University
Husbands and Power Women? Negotiating masculinity and status-power relations within heterosexual dual-earner and career couples
Women’s entrance into the labor force has been claimed to have caused one of the biggest changes of ‘the family’ in history. Even though women have always worked, their changed relation to paid labor as well as increased levels of education has provided women with a new kind of autonomy and power within the family. This paper discusses men’s experience of being the partner of a powerful and high-achieving woman. Inspired by the conceptual work of sociologist Theodore Kemper, I examine how the relationship between power and masculine status is negotiated in qualitative interviews with Danish men who are partnering women with career jobs. My analysis shows how the loss of male breadwinner authority can be positively reconstituted within a Scandinavian gender equality discourse. Further by introducing a concept of the heteronormative power of attraction, the paper argues that the loss of ‘traditional’ masculine power can be renegotiated as masculine status trough being attractive in the eyes of a successful woman. Concluding, the results are put into perspective in relation to the ongoing discussion of men and masculinity in crisis, that is taking place in both academia and media in Europe as well as South East Asia and the US.
Svend Aage Madsen- Head of Department for Psychology, Play Therapy & Social Counselling at the Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet Denmark
Men's Mental Health: The Underdetection of Men's Mental Health Problems
Men’s depression and other mental health problems are under detected and under treated in all European countries and probably also in the US. More than three times as many men as women commit suicide and the difference increases to up to five times among the elderly.
This under detection and under treatment of men’s mental problems seem to be due to men’s difficulty in seeking help, health services' limited capacity to reach out to men, and men’s presentation of symptoms, which seem to be different from women’s symptoms, with men’s higher levels of anger attacks, withdrawal reactions, substance abuse, and challenging behaviours. The higher suicide rates in men are linked to undiagnosed mental health problems. Furthermore some of the undetected male depressions are hidden in the fact that men can suffer from post natal depression which is a scarcely recognised problem.
There is a need to develop techniques such as screening instruments to detect the 50% of men’s depression, which might remain undiagnosed, as well as the development of methods for referral and treatment models better suited for men. Along with this it is important to prevent much more of men’s suicides – especially older men’s suicides. Finally it is necessary to acknowledge that parenthood is a massive transition for men, and that around 7-10 per cent of all new fathers suffer from post natal depression.
Özgen Felek, MEMEAC, The Graduate Center Center, CUNY
Circumcision and Military Service as Indicators of Turkish Masculinity
After the Turks’ conversion to Islam beginning in the 8th century, Islam led significant changes in their understanding of gender and sexuality. These changes were strongly established over the centuries during the Ottoman Empire, the center of which was located within the boundaries of present day Turkey. During the 19th century, the traditional Islamic gender concepts were challenged by the interactions with the European world. Beginning in 1923, these new concepts were promoted and even forced as the secular Turkish Republic was established. Yet, despite the Republic of Turkey’s strong focus on establishing a Westernized, secular society, Islam has always remained a significant agent in constructing masculine identity. The best two examples of Islam’s active role in this construction of masculine identity are socially compulsory circumcision and legally compulsory military service. While circumcision is seen as the first step into manliness, military service points to the next big step. Both are replete with religious symbols and maintained by a range of social rites and rituals as prescribed by Turkish culture. Interestingly, the Turkish state, which proclaims secularism as one of its six fundamental pillars of its official ideology, defines the Turkish military as “the home of the Prophet Muhammed.” Islam is employed only not by religious factions, but also by secular factions in constructing idealized Turkish masculinity.
Darnell Moore, Columbia University, Institute for Research on African American Studies
The Shapings of Black Masculinities
Darnell's talk builds on his article published in The Feminist Wire.
Byron Hurt, Filmmaker and Activist
Byron is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, anti-sexist activist and lecturer. He is also the former host of the Emmy Award nominated series “Reel Works With Byron Hurt.” His documentary Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was later broadcast nationally on PBS’ Emmy Award-winning series “Independent Lens.” In 2010 MSNBC’s TheGrio.com named Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes one of the “Top 10 Most Important African-American Themed Films of the Decade,” and in 2011 The Independent named Hurt one of the “Top 10 Filmmakers to Watch.” His latest film, Soul Food Junkies, which aired nationally on “Independent Lens” in January and April 2013, won the CNN Best Documentary Award at the American Black Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City. In his lecture, Hurt will talks about his evolution as a man and show clips from Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.
Dr. Niobe Way, New York University
Boys Friendships and the Crisis of Connection
Drawing from hundreds of interviews conducted throughout adolescence with black, Latino, white, and Asian American boys, Niobe Way’s new book reveals the intense intimacy among teenage boys especially during early and middle adolescence. Boys not only share their deepest secrets and feelings with their closest male friends, they claim that without them they would go “wacko.” Yet as boys become men, they become distrustful, lose these friendships, and feel isolated and alone. Way’s book reveals the ways in which we have been telling ourselves a false story about boys, friendships, and human nature. Boys’ descriptions of their male friendships sound more like “something out of Love Story than Lord of the Flies.” Yet in late adolescence, boys feel they have to “man up” by becoming stoic and independent. Vulnerable emotions and intimate friendships are for girls and gay men. “No homo” becomes their mantra.These findings are alarming, given what we know about links between friendships and health, and even longevity. Rather than a “boy crisis,” Way argues that boys are experiencing a “crisis of connection” because they live in a culture where human needs and capacities are given a sex (female) and a sexuality (gay), and thus discouraged for those who are neither. Way argues that the solution lies with exposing the inaccuracies of our gender stereotypes and fostering these critical relationships and fundamental human skills.
Dr. Anna Kłonkowska, University of Gdansk, Visiting Scholar at Stony Brook University
Masculinity: assigned – reassigned – socially constructed. The situation of transgender people and the social reception of trans-masculinity in Poland
The paper concerns the situation of transgender people in Poland and the specific social, legal and medical issues which transgender people have to face when living in Polish society. Based on the results of author’s own research (both qualitative and quantitative) and her experience from running a support group for transgender people in Gdansk, the paper focuses on differences in social reception of transmasculinity and transfemininity. The particular situation of transmen is shown in the context of specific social pressure put on them, aimed at conforming to the normative patterns of masculinity commonly acknowledged in Polish society. Polish transmen's attitudes to these pressures and their response – oscillating between passive conformity and conscious, performative resistance – is analyzed.
Dr. Lauren J. Joseph, University of Pennsylvania, Schuylkill
Who’s the Man?: Fragile Masculinities, Consumer Masculinities, and the Profiles of Sex Work Clients
Some research on male clients of female prostitutes argues that clients are simply seeking unemotional sexual release or looking for wild and varied sexual experiences. Yet other sex workers portray clients as lonely, vulnerable, and desiring of emotional connection with women. Rather than view this as an ‘‘either-or’’ scenario—in which all clients fit one profile—we construct two dichotomous models of masculinity for clients and explore their attitudes toward women and sex. Men in the fragile masculinities category feel uncomfortable around women, unattractive to women, and rejected by women in the sexual marketplace, while consumer masculinities men get excited by approaching a prostitute, seek a variety of partners, and do not want the responsibilities of a relationship. We find that fragile masculinities men may be more dangerous to women than consumer masculinities men.