Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Week Nine

1.) In The Etiquette of Masculinity and Femininity, the author details how “traditional” sex roles are constructed in opposition to one another. Masculine men are powerful, dominant, aggressive, and ambitious. Feminine women are dependent, submissive, and nurturing. When gender boundaries became more fluid, these character traits were interchangeable. One way to remove uncertainty was to conform to etiquette rules; the other was for men to retreat into separate spaces. It is weird how threatened men are by “aggressive women” because after all, “women” are still “women.” The author talks repeatedly about how men retreated into separate masculine worlds and how women regained their femininity to rescue men from emasculation. How can presumed inherent characteristics exist when aggressive women “so easily” cause men to retreat? How can men find solace in their threatened gender role if it is felt solely from women acting less aggressive than they naturally are? Are our gender traits only constructed oppositionally? Can women only assume power, aggressiveness, and other socially categorized masculine traits if men concede theirs?

2.) The traditional sex role dichotomy is that men are producers and women are consumers (Breazeale 226). I have always focused on the way that women are positioned as consumers within society and generally have bought into that sentiment. However, regardless of gender, it seems like we are hailed as consumers as much as other aspects of our identity (gender, age, citizen) or that through our consumptions we are able to fully embody masculinity or femininity. Do you think that male consumption is framed as a source of power similar to the way that is framed for women? Why was consumption initially synonymous with femininity? I assume this based on the notion that men’s magazines took such care in differentiating men’s consumptions from women’s “frivolous…gullible vulnerability to consumer’s trashy faddishness” (228). Just as an extra example, in a recent issue of Details, an article advised men about what types of vases and flowers to purchases as home accents that still maintain a sense of masculinity.

3.) Why is female sexuality so inherently threatening? Elvis Presley and Beatlemania were reminders of the emerging sexuality of young girls (Ehrenreich , etc. 92). Girls were admitting sexual attraction to these figures in an era when they were ostracized for failing to remain “pure” and “good,” during the early 60s (85). How has that changed today in an era that some refer to as post-feminism? Does a double standard still exist concerning sexuality and sexual activity? Just yesterday, I read in my roommates Cosmopolitan an article called, “Revenge of the Sluts,” detailing the way that women have become empowered through their sexuality by overcoming the negative repercussions from being sexually active or promiscuous as teenagers—is this just another example of sexuality existing under a guise of post-feminist empowerment? If Beatlemania era changed the sexual possibilities open to women and girls, does our current era qualify as a similar revolution?

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