Does masculinity need a makeover for the 21st century? Should your gender matter to who you are as a person? Why think there’s just one thing it means to be a man? This week on Philosophy Talk, we’re discussing masculinity and what makes a man.
What Is It
Strong, in control, and stoic—these are traits of the ideal masculine man. Men who fail to conform to this ideal are often penalized, particularly if they are men of color, queer men, working-class men, or men with disabilities. So how do we create different visions of masculinity that make room for all kinds of men? Should we abandon the idea of masculinity altogether, or would that be throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Which models of masculinity will bring us closer to gender justice in the 21st century? The philosophers man their mics with Robin Dembroff from Yale University, author of Real Men on Top: How Patriarchy Weaponizes Gender (forthcoming).
Does masculinity need a makeover for the 21st century? Should your gender matter to who you are as a person? Ray thinks masculinity is a tool of the patriarchy and should be rejected, but Blakey counters by suggesting that there may be multiple definitions of masculinity that need not all rely on narrow and stereotypical expectations. Ray is skeptical of a solution that would introduce more stereotypes into the mix, and they maintain that people should simply focus on what they have in common with all human beings.
The co-hosts are joined by Robin Dembroff, Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, who argues that any idea of what someone must be or ought to be on the basis of gender is constrictive. Ray asks how their critique differs from standard critiques of masculinity, and Robin explains that their view emphasizes the close connection between masculinity and maleness. Blakey questions the ability to separate the two concepts, which prompts Robin to define masculinity as standing in opposition to femininity. Ray then considers how men are advantaged and disadvantaged by sexism due to the intersectionality between gender, race, class, and disability.
In the last segment of the show, Ray, Blakey, and Robin discuss the connection between power and manhood and the behavioral aspects of gender. Ray proposes the possibility of broadening the definition of masculinity to be anything that a man does, but Robin warns that it may not be possible. Blakey asks what actionable steps could be done to create more gender equality, and Robin suggests degendering formal institutions such as on birth certificates, in schools, and in the incarceration system.
Roving Philosophical Report (Seek to 3:05) → Ariella Markowitz talks to people who are helping men rethink their relationship to masculinity, such as clinical psychologists, second wave feminists, and health researchers.
- From the Community (Seek to 42:42) → Ray and host emeritus John Perry discuss what constitutes incitement.
Does masculinity need a makeover for the 21st century?
Should your gender matter to who you are as a person?
Why think there's just one thing it means to be a man?