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Imagen e identidad
Machismo: la palabra que define la masculinidad… ¿es así? Sepa lo que los jóvenes tienen para decir sobre la imagen del hombre de hoy. Vea cómo el cine, el arte y la cultura dan forma a la identidad masculina y si los hombres de hoy aceptan o rechazan esta noción más tradicional de masculinidad.

Observe la película “Otros”, de Gustavo Spolidoro, sobre la vida en Brasil y su visión de la vida que imita a los malos programas de TV. Lea las reflexiones de Gautam Malkani sobre la masculinidad de los jóvenes sudasiáticos británicos a través del lente de sus identidades étnicas, raciales y religiosas. Siga el ensayo de Curtis Stephens sobre el efecto de la película Scarface sobre la vida de las mujeres afroamericanas.

¿Qué significa realmente la virilidad hoy? Únase a la conversación.
Estados Unidos
What does it mean to be a man? I think that to some extent we live in a world of scripts; a world where women are expected to be nurturers, while men are expected to be custodians of power.

Do you agree with this idea; do you think these scripts hold true today? How does this script manifest within your own experiences? What is the effect of the assertion of male power? What other scripts are men expected to conform to today? These are just some of the questions I hope to dig into during our exploration of image and identity conversation. Don't just contemplate...join the conversation.
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Sunday, February 18, 2007 5:22 PM
what I meant was that the expectations are always there, and I agree with you we should have a choice as to whether or not to accept these expectations. This is truly a very interesting topic.
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Rick Robinson
Posted on Sunday, February 18, 2007 2:20 PM
I agree with Kathryn R. that a re-examination of the issues of masculinity is overdue. For a lot of young men in their adolescent and teenage years, life would be a lot less painful if they knew that such a discussion were even possible.

Paresh Kumar starts his beautifully written essay with the words, “Back in the day it was good to be a boy.” Sorry Paresh, I don’t believe that that was true for every boy. In the small town where I grew up in eastern Washington state 45 years ago, if a young man was not good at sports and interested in cars or hunting, he was simply not manly, and that was all there was to that. And it wasn’t only men who said the words “boys don’t cry” and “be a man.” It was also mothers and aunts and teachers and girlfriends.

As a defense and in order not be seen as sissies or gay, many young men learned, and still learn, to subjugate their emotions, interests and natural artistic proclivities in order to be “one of the boys.” This often results in young men who can’t express their emotions unless they manifest them in aggression and violence.

It’s not surprising that some young men, especially sensitive ones like Paresh, feel threatened, even emasculated, beside modern women who play the macho role better than they do.

That said, I think that the terms “roles” and “scripts” are only useful as analogies about gender roles as far as they go. We need to recognize that the inherent danger with analogies is that, however close, they are not the thing that we are talking about.

Clearly, as Michael indicated, much of what is manly is taught or “scripted,” but social rules are not the only contributing factors. Testosterone and estrogen balances must certainly have a strong impact as well as other hereditary and biological influences. As with music, sports or any other human behavior, some people are just more gifted at and inclined toward being masculine than are others. And that’s life! We can’t all be Michael Jordan or David Beckham. The important thing is to feel comfortable with yourself because it’s such a travesty to live your life any other way than that.
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 6:45 PM
Ahh, what a delight it is for a moderator to step away for a day and come back to a lively discussion. Many new and interesting themes have been brought to the fore, beginning with Kathryn's suggestion that more needs to be done to "rethink ideas around masculinity." Admittedly, this is a mammoth task, yet this is also partly the point of our discussion! Changing expectations, new roles, boundary permeability... How can we determine what is right or wrong about the way we are or what we do? Kevin rightly states that this is all very confusing. And this confusion seems to loom over our discussion. Jennie writes of flexibility in determining identity. But how much flexibility do we really have? With such easy access to flexible gender roles why is it that our discussion seems hung up on what Lloyd refers to as the "so many expectations that will forever be put on [men]?" It strikes me that some of this inertia is imbedded in the tension between our imputed freedoms and the expectations placed on us. Are we truly free to accept these freedoms? Do we need to accept these expectations?

Oh, btw, Happy Valentines Day... How many gender/sex "scripts" will we follow tomorrow?
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Jennie Stark
Reino Unido
Posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 5:25 PM
I really want to respond to Paresh Kumar's piece, "Men are the New Women." Paresh, I can't say I completely disagree with you, but at the same time, I don't think it's as extreme as you are making it out to be.

I know plenty of young women who are both genuinely feminine and genuinely powerful. Their femininity adds to their power, their strength genuinely makes them more feminine.

Likewise, I know plenty of young men who are both genuinely masculine and also somehow okay with vulnerability, fluent in the language of emotions. And the same holds true for them-- their fluency in these languages stereotypically reserved for women actually makes them more masculine-- like you know their strength is more real, not just trumped up stereotypical tough guy stuff.

And finally, I know plenty of couples of these types of men and women above-- and damn it, they're beautiful. They're *real* partnerships, the type where one plus one equals more than two. And I can't tell you how badly I want this for myself. I choose to wait to find the right guy so that this is the kind of relationship I can have.

Honestly, I think about the flexibility we have now, as both women and men, to define for ourselves how we want to be women and men...

I think of the kind of great beautiful young women and men I know who have embraced this...

And it makes me so happy to be part of this generation. Genuinely happy and proud.

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Posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 10:13 AM
With regard to Kevin's missing "the ease and simplicity of a
more rote concept of gender differentiation", I dont think a rote concept is possible anymore with the continuous intermingling of scripts from different cultures and the post WWII existential crisis faced by western world. Even without external influences, societies have evolved their gender roles - so the confusion now is, but natural. But sex will affect gender no matter how much we blur the boundaries, as long as women being the source of creation remains unalterable.
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Posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:50 AM
This post detracts slightly from the conversation but bear with me as I just joined.

It is interesting to read Gautam Malkani's take on the assertive masculinity of "Londonstanis"(I like the coinage. Is it original or used commonly in London?). But then again, a cornered community feels a strong urge to express itself aggressively. Or maybe there is something unique about the British-South Asian equation. In a similar vein, a few thinkers, notably Ashis Nandy, have argued about the effect of British colonialization on Indian psyche that lead to a hyper-masculinated response and gradual devaluation of androgyny. It took a great mind like Rabindranath Tagore's to embrace its feminity(or androgyny) and find a creative outlet for it. His novels, particularly Char Upadhyay, highlight this particular dilemma of that era and how even thinking men fell prey to this trap. Or, it took someone like Gandhi, who could even make his androgyny acceptable to masses again.
Ashis Nandy even argues about how "fighting to be a man", "in opposition to overbearing mothers" was critical in shaping not just aggressive revolutionaries but even some overtly feminist men of colonial South Asia. Perhaps its a rarer phenomenon, but a family situation such as the one Gautam describes, can lead to a androgynous response too and I can relate to Ashis' thesis from my (contemporary) personal experience.

Gautam is right in pointing out the "misogyny in the traditional South Asian culture" but I do not agree with it being "inherent". Perhaps if South Asia were colonized by a lesser hyper-masculine culture like the Spanish/Portugese, (who in fact were the first Europeans to come there), the misogynous traits would not have become so predominant. I do not consider myself equipped to make such an argument but the two regions(in S. Asia) where women enjoy a better degree of freedom are Goa and NE India, both of which incidentally were least affected by British colonization.
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Monday, February 12, 2007 5:19 PM
Well first off as I said earlier in response to Kathryn Robinson's post:
being men there are so many expectations put on us rather than women, that has always been the case and always will be, it's not what we made up or created it has always been there. I don't have children of my own but if I had I wish I had girls since there were we 3 boys and I never got to have a sister and see what girls go through. Kathryn you are right not much has been done enough to rethink ideas around masculinity.
Kevin, your post is quite interesting but did you really say near the end of your post that 'it is not that I necessarily believe that men and women have different roles in life'. You said it and well let's face it we do have different roles in life. I worked for law firms for years and still there aren't many female lawyers where I worked, I worked for 3 different law firms in SF, CA, and clients who meet female lawyers as possible lawyers to represent them, tell me off the record they just don't feel comfortable having a female lawyer working for them.
Again, we did not say these things and create 'how it is,' it is how it is, and being young men there are so many expectations that will forever be put on you. Look at the news channels, look at their so called 'experts,' any wonder/coincidence most are of a certain sex and nationality and race? Young men and men in general will forever always be seen under the microscope as compared to women, and me personally I have never liked being noticed or watched but, it is as it is being a man.

Michael, I don't agree that men should be custodians of power but they are. All of my jobs in the 3 law firms where I worked, I was hired by a sr. partner who was a middle aged male, and most of the office managers were middle aged WOMEN and they had soft baby voices, I kid you not

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Kevin Jones
Estados Unidos
Posted on Monday, February 12, 2007 5:00 PM
Admittedly I feel like the whole state of affairs in regards to gender identity
is tremendously confusing for young people today. Even biological differences
between genders are frequently blurred. I appreciate and even celebrate this as part of cultural growth and evolution, but I also miss the ease and simplicity of a
more rote concept of gender differentiation. There are aspects of heteronormative thought that I am more comfortable with -likely because of the many active scripts you mention Michael. It is not that I necessarily believe that men and women have different roles in life, but that some of the biological and/or chosen gender identity attributes are beneficial to society. I just wish I knew what they were.
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Posted on Monday, February 12, 2007 1:17 PM
I just read Paresh Kumar’s thoughts about gender in “Men are the New Women.” When I hear about men who, like Paresh, feel stifled and emasculated by the professional growth, freedom and new opportunities that are emerging for women worldwide, I feel confused, a little angry and sad. But it also reminds me that not enough has been done to rethink ideas around masculinity. Men are still expected to live up to an old standard that conflicts with our constantly evolving world.
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Thursday, February 08, 2007 11:58 PM
Thanks, Curtis, for addressing each of these points. With regard to your final point, I would like to put a new question out there: does it even make sense to speak of gender in a world where a man or a woman's identity ought to be expressed simply as that of an individual? That each man and woman are individuals is certainly true, but are we not either male-individuals or female-individuals? And why does this matter? In answering this question I believe we will come closer to making sense of male image and identity.
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Curtis Stephen
Estados Unidos
Posted on Wednesday, February 07, 2007 6:02 PM
Michael -- thank you for moderating this very important discussion. First, Lloyd: you made a powerful point on the crucial role that steady guidance can play in the lives of young men. A lot of folks slipped up in wanting to give their children "all the things I never had" in material things while neglecting the substance of nurturing and guidance that they received. It's needed now more than ever as young men are exposed to far more than either of us could dream of being exposed to through "popular culture" in your day or in mine. Very inspiring message you offer!......Michael, thank you for tackling this fascinating question. I think that the "scripts" as you have laid them out have long been ingrained into our global consciousness. From the moment we're born we enter a world that makes it clear that men and women are supposed to "act" and "be" a certain way. Men are supposed to provide, display confidence, be assertive. Yes, the image of the "Macho Man" is supposed to come to mind now :) I'd like to think that we're evolving in a way in which men can, say, stay at home to take care of the household as his wife is a major CEO -- and not receive the private snicker of others. But we're clearly not there yet. We're dealing with concepts of manhood as old as time itself. I think we need to revisit some of those scripts and expand them a bit. For example, if it's expected for a man to be a financial provider for his family under the age-old "script" of "family protector" then why is it ridiculed if he wants to provide a different level of nuturing for his family? I think the concept of what it means to be a man has long been limited. Is a woman who is bold and assertive or displays the characteristics of a protector being manly? No way. Ideally, men and women should just be. There are many things that have changed over the years, but the belief of what a man is supposed to be and do hasn't....Paresh, your points are valid like anyone else -- so there is no need to apologize. Indeed, there shouldn't be a universal concept of what men are supposed to be. And that's a liberal view that you have -- that anyone can do what you can do. I think, however, that society is constructed upon those "scripts" we know all too well. There has been some evolution, but it's a slow process. I guess what we should be working toward is an understanding that men and women should be allowed to express themselves not as men or women -- but as individuals.
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Sunday, February 04, 2007 9:55 AM
I want to refocus the conversation onto my initial simple questions: what does it mean to be a man and what do you think about the notion of "scripts" that I mentioned?
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Paresh Kumar
Posted on Saturday, February 03, 2007 11:53 PM
Michael, you got me, with that.
Well, my only response to the fact that roles change with time is that if this is a fact then this entire forum is really quite irrelevant.
If we accept the fact that traditional concepts of man/woman have changed to such a degree that they no longer hold good, then what frame of reference is our discussion based on. For that matter if gender roles have changed to such a degree that we need to define what we mean when we say "Man" or "Woman" I am out of my depth.
I believe that men are men and always were/will be, women are women and always were/will be. I know it seems un-intelligent and may be considered stupidl and chauvinistic, but I believe that is a good thing.
Like I said I believe that is an essential difference, that in my opinion needs to be celebrated not annihilated.
I also realize that people who have thought much more extensively on this subject generally tend to disagree, many even subscribe to the philosophy that out entire concept of gender is something that is outdated and is being redone today. They believe that is a good thing - I disagree.
As far as defining what being a man is, I cannot do that. I think every man has a different concept of what it is to be a man. All I can say is that I feel that I am not man enough - and the reason I feel that way is because society has no need for the man in me.
What I do anybody can do, man or woman, any being with the similar intelligence. In all honesty this is not a very nice feeling. I would be at greater peace with myself if I knew that there was something which only I as a man could do, something relevant. That's why I say what I say, personal inadequacy is the basis for all my commentary on this issue. I have nothing earth-shaking or revealing to say. I am sorry.
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Saturday, February 03, 2007 12:11 PM
Paresh, I want to ask what you mean by "we can no longer be men" and "women need to be more than women." These are imposrtant statements to consider in our discussion of Image & Identity. Is there flexibility to notions of identity? Can ideas about these roles change with time?
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Saturday, February 03, 2007 11:39 AM
Reading Mr. Curtis Stephen's response as well as Paresh Kumar, you two are right on; however mr. stephens, I too am a black man and I am older now, 51, the bottom line is not movies or a movie as you stated or hip hop, it call comes down to home and how you are raised. I am 51 as I stated, I remarried 2 years ago a long lost friend from high school who has a 12 year old son from her last relationship, for me it has been an interesting experience being a step dad at the age of 49 and the patience that it requires.
For anyone in my situation the mother must let the man to some extent put his two cents in. Sure he may not be my child but I am a man, I am black as he is and I have been there. In this day of the Internet and so much technology literally at your fingertips, these kids and young men nowadays need to get it together and put down the WII/Nintendo/Game Boys. This is the computer age and sadly so many young men are getting left behind due to their peers and life in general, eg. hip hop, movies, video games and television. This is the computer age and we need future programmers and system analysts, and no matter what as long as you are men the expectations will forever be high. I know it isn't easy to be either the first one or the only one in your family who has gone to college but you must do what you need to do and what you you must do to survive, and that is education, the less education you have the harder it will be for you to get your foot into the door of life, like a good job, apt., etc.
Like I said I have been there being the youngest of three black boys, I had a brother who went to junior college like myself but I am the only one who went to a university and the only one who is still pursuing his dreams as a pianist and an author.
The expectations are always high for all young men and it will never get easy in adult hood. As I have said many times before anyone can be a girl friend, but to be a wife is not for everyone. Any man/young man can have sex with a woman, but to be a father and take responsibility is a big chore and it is not for everyone. The world is watching us, all of us, each of us, and especially you young men out there. Good luck to you young men out there, I pray that you will all make it into adult hood and make something of yourselves. Always dream, go after your dreams and DREAM BIG! Remember, the world is watching you!
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Paresh Kumar
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 4:44 PM
The biggest change in my opinion is the fact that niether men nor women can get a sense of validation today. everybody's trying so hard to be similar, at par, equal to each other, that we can no longer be men and find that good enough. On the flip side I feel women need to be more than women all the time.
I personally feel it would be a whole lot easier on both men and women, if we just respected each other because of our differences.
My question is whatever happened to the old fashioned, two halves making a whole, bit.
Have we decided that we want nothing to do with. Is neutered competitiveness going to be the way men and women relate to each other in the future, or are we going to nurse on each other's differences, celebrate men and women, and go back to what was considered "Normal" as little as 100 years ago.
And by that I don't mean, women all cloistered and the men raping and plundering. We can keep the good, while realizing that men need women and women need men because they are essentially different. Nowadays somehow even that thought seems stupid - Utopian!
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 11:33 AM
Wow, Peresh, you raise some good points about the effect of PC on our notions of identity and on our behavior. But what does it really mean to say "Men are the new women - women are the new men?" In what sense is this true? It is now socially acceptable for men to stay at home with the kids while women can go to the office. But what has really changed?
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Paresh Kumar
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 9:30 PM
After Reading Machismo & Masculinity in Londonstani.
A liked a lot of things about your story, a lot of it seemed true, but what is hyper machismo. Is Arnold Schwarznegger calling the Democrats Girly Men Hyper-Machismo? Or are you refering only to the Lil' John kind.
I think you are right - Men want to be recognized as men - especially by women, and though you have studied and written about this phenomenon amongst South Asians in London, I think this is universal.
Wasn't Fight Club about this - East or West or somewhere in between, Men everywhere need to be assured that they are men. What's more is that given half the chance women would oblige them too, but given the fact that today it's so un-pc to be a man or for that matter a woman, this is never going to happen.
That's one reason why hyper-masculine social aberrations roam the streets. And that's why we don't have actresses any more.
We are all actors now - Men are the new women - women are the new men - the remnants are caricatures of what used to be two natural, different, unequal sexes.
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Estados Unidos
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 12:19 PM
You're right about the examples in the fatehrhood conversation, but when I try to think about examples within our popular culture, I'm hard-pressed to think of many. Stevie Wonder comes to mind. Can you think of other examples within our popular culture?

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Katrina Pagoulatou
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 11:41 AM
I think today there are more men who are trying to break that mold of being "custodians of power." Like the fathers portrayed in this exhibit who are taking on these more nurturing roles of caregiver. I don't know. I like my men to be manly in the traditional sense. But there is nothing wrong with sensitivity. I think men are oppressed by these expectations. i see men suffer from these ideals... I would like to see more men try and break the mold.
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