The American Man in Crisis

 

We will be asked to betray our own values about what it means to be a good man in order be seen as a real man.

Michael Kimmel SUNY Distinguished Professor, Stony Brook University; Author, Healing...
Session

The American Man in Crisis

Setup

In aggregate, men in America are suffering. As many as ten million are missing from the workforce; jobs their fathers and grandfathers held have been automated and outsourced. Millions fewer boys are enrolling in college. Tens of thousands perished last year, victims of the opioid epidemic. One in ten black men in his thirties is incarcerated. What is the story behind all this data, and is modern masculinity part of the problem? How do we save the American man?

It’s the end of an era for unquestioned male entitlement
It’s the end of an era for unquestioned male entitlement
When their masculinity is challenged, men tend to double down on machismo
How should we navigate the evolving definitions of masculinity in everyday life?
What’s the harm in acting masculine?
1.

It’s the end of an era for unquestioned male entitlement

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05:54

Progress towards gender equality has been disjointed, contentious, and sometimes painful, but there is measurable progress being made. How have men reacted to this creeping equality? Some are panicked enough to label it a crisis. Listen to Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University, explain the historical roots and current downfall of what he calls an “era of unquestioned male entitlement”:

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It’s the end of an era for unquestioned male entitlement

2.

When their masculinity is challenged, men tend to double down on machismo

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15:59

In a discussion about whether masculinity is still alive and well in today’s society, Tristan Bridges, assistant professor in psychology at University of California Santa Barbara, draws on sociopsychological research to help answer the question. What happens if we challenge men in ways that would traditionally threaten their masculinity? Often, they react as many would expect: they double down on the behaviors that they see as masculine to prove they are who they outwardly identify as. In context of sociopsycological theory, Bridges explains, this is seen as a response to a social identity threat.

A concept called social identity theory can help us understand why people double down when their identities are criticized. Social identity theory says that people inherently protect their identities, and when their identities are maligned in public their natural response is to stand up for what they see as fundamental to their being. Is your masculinity being challenged? It’s safest to act more masculine.
3.

How should we navigate the evolving definitions of masculinity in everyday life?

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22:01

When Joseph Derrick Nelson, visiting assistant professor of education at Columbia University, got his start in education as an elementary school teacher, he was faced with the challenge of working around institutionalized conceptions of masculinity to best educate his students. Watch him explain how navigated this challenge:

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How should we navigate the evolving definitions of masculinity in everyday life?

4.

What’s the harm in acting masculine?

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44:53

Writer and author Thomas Page McBee draws on scholarship from researcher Nyobi Way to explain just how damaging masculinity can be starting from adolescence, and how it fuels feelings of alienation amongst men today.

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What's the harm in acting masculine?

When young men eschew emotional intimacy and resilience in favor of traditionally masculine traits, there’s a tacit understanding that they will benefit from this metamorphosis. Now that male privilege is being directly challenged, however, many men are grappling with never having developed the capacity to constructively address this changing landscape.

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