Men Up for Extinction?
When you think of a man, what image do you see? Does the image of bulging muscles, full beard and a chest full of hair come to mind? That might be accurate if we were still in the age of the Vikings. Last week Elizabeth Hasselbeck interviewed Australian author Nick Adams. The subject of the interview is based on Adams newly released book American Boomerang. Adams believes that men all over the world are losing their credibility as, well, men. He believes men are slowly losing their manly essence and should obviously get back to what men do best: crocodile wrestling, bare-knuckle boxing and beer drinking. He even quotes in the interview that “In Australia we’ve gone from wrestling with crocodiles, to wrestling with lattes”. Adams goes on to describe how feminism is forcing ‘manly’ men to become the image of feminism campaigns and that it is causing men to become more feminine thus eliminating what it means to be ‘manly’.
Claims made by Adams are clearly stating his views that American men are losing their masculinity. He speaks of the rise of feminism as some sort of epidemic and that men are susceptible to it. Is feminism a disease that is killing men all over the world and converting them to the ways of the female?
Hasselbeck asks the question of whether this rise in feminine men is a threat to national security or not. Adams then calls men who are not the image of pure manliness, wussies and wimps. Apparently men who are wimps and wussies are not fit to run a country and Adams is implying that if America doesn’t change, the wimps and wussies will take over the government and America will go from a country all about winning to a country that loses. All because of the feminine aspect of members of congress.
As a final note on the show they discuss how to eliminate the fact that boys are growing up in a society and becoming feminine. He proposes a solution to this by enforcing binary gender roles and making sure boys only do boy things and continue to do them for their life. Once continued these boys will grow up and they will teach people about the importance of being a manly man.
That was the gist of what happened in the interview, now, my views on this are that it is absolutely ridiculous. First of all when I think of a man I do not picture bulging muscles and testosterone and doing things that are absolutely crazy. I picture a man in a suit, briefcase, clean shaven and sharp haircut. the whole interview is loaded with stereotypes and assumptions. Not all Australian men wrestle crocodiles and go on adventures. Also according to him lattes are feminine? If I see a man buying a latte is he now considered not a man?
Adams conveys the idea that feminism is tabooing what are supposed to be manly activities and this negative image of common male activities is converting manly men to feminine men. I believe that the rise in so called feminine men is ,in fact, the feminist movement. But this is not a negative thing. It is simply opening up peoples eyes to other activities. Some men may not always want to watch football or shoot guns or whatever other ridiculous things Nick Adams considers manly. It is making it more acceptable for men to participate in things that a few years ago male stereotypes would have made them unavailable due to the unaccepting nature of human society.
On the topic of feminism when Hasselbeck asks whether he believes that feminism is becoming a threat to the government. Adams believes that feminine men lose, so in other words if only men can win, feminine men cant win, and if feminine men cant win then how bad does he think an actual female can be. I wonder if he realises that Australia has been a colony of Britain and for over 100 years there’s been two back to back women in charge.
Lastly they discuss how now it is imperative that we teach boys the importance of being manly men. This is so when they grow up they do not become a “metrosexual”. This statement is enforcing everything that society is trying to get past. To eliminate the binary concepts of gender roles and not force ideas upon young children so they can grow up to who they really are. He is saying we need to force male activities upon boys so growing up boys are boys and girls are girls. He is implying that if you are not a manly man you can not grow up to be great and accomplish things which I find astonishing.
In conclusion, the interview of Nick Adams has proven to me that there are still some people that are hindering progress when it comes to acceptance no matter what your gender, race, sexual orientation or even your mannerisms are. The fact that Fox would even air this interview confuses me, but it was certainly entertaining to watch the main reason why feminists are campaigning against misogynists like Adams and that there is still lingering unacceptance of feminine ways into modern society
Struggle, Internal or External
After attending Kingston’s annual LGBT Reelout film festival I have been left with a different perspective on the fight for LGBT rights. One of the movies I was able to see, called The New Black, follows the fight for those rights in the state of Maryland. Directed by Yoruba Richen, director of award winning films such as Promised Land and Take it from me, The New Black embodies the division and discrimination of the black community in the state of Maryland. It gives viewers an insight into the debate on the legalization of gay marriage and the LGBT communities struggle to gain their right. The opposing party, which is composed predominantly of the African American Church, is openly opposing the idea. The movie interviews dozens of people from both ends of the spectrum and gives the viewer the chance to form their own opinion without bias. The film makers leave much up to the viewer’s own interpretation. The debate throughout the movie is on a “Question 6” which in the 2012 election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will decide on whether to legalize gay marriage in the state of Maryland. In the previous election there was a proposition 8 which made it legal for domestic partnerships but did not give them the right to marriage. If voted for Question 6 will give the LGBT community the right to legally marry under God in the state of Maryland.
The New Black interviews and follows the lives of many different people from both sides of the debate. One of the main characters that seem to be leading the charge for Question 6 is Sharon Lettman-Hicks; she is the leader of a group called the National Black Justice Coalition which moves to empower individuals within the African American LGBT community. She herself regularly attends church and bears witness to the discrimination and oppression of the LGBT community. Coming from a family that shares the views of the black church and who are aggressively against the legalization of gay marriage, it fuels her desire to fight for her beliefs that all should be treated equal.
A second main character who is also a supporter and activist for Question 6 is Karess Taylor-Hughes. Born in Long Island, New York, she has worked in many campaigns and has years of experience with lobbying for LGBT rights. As an openly gay, black woman who has had to deal with gender, racial and sexually oriented discrimination she is able to convert all of the negative experiences she has endured into a fight for her right to be accepted by the community.
The film makers in an attempt to eliminate bias, also interviewed people who are blatantly against the legalization of gay marriage. Pastor Derek McCoy preaches out of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. He has served there for 18 years. He is also the president of the Maryland Family Alliance and Maryland Family Council which serve the community by overseeing the education of children, the strengthening of families and the implementation of a stable government in their community.
Yet not all members of the black church are opposed to the idea of gay marriage. Reverend Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church emphasizes the point that if he is able to preach his views about equality in the black community then he would be endorsing hypocrisy by condemning gay marriage. Gospel singer/songwriter Anthony Charles Williams II who uses the stage name “Tonéx” was also on the side of legalization. Considered celebrity in the religious community and holding considerable influence, it was a shock to say the least when he revealed himself as queer. These revelations delivered much support towards the LGBT community and many complications and confusion with the religious, homophobic community.
The characters of the movie could not have been chosen better. Addressing the concept of intersectionality, the intersecting of all discriminatory aspects in any given minority, an example of this would be Ms. Taylor-Hughes, being an African American, gay woman she is subject to monumental amounts of discrimination by oppressive groups. Whereas the reverend who is lobbying against Question 6 has generally a good intersectionality being a powerful man, upper class and respected by the community only with the sole grounds of potential discrimination being race.
From opening scenes to the final credits the film-makers make comparisons between the fight for gay rights and the fight for civil rights that the blacks went through 50 years ago. This is what has infuriated the black community, the fact that people are asking themselves, “Is gay the new black”. It is blatantly put by Mr. McCoy that the church does not think so. He addresses points of the segregation between black and white, the separate water fountains, wash rooms, the “black” section of buses, movie theatres and restaurants. He is infuriated that their struggle, which they were born with, is being compared to the struggle of the LGBT which he believes is internal and can be hidden. The only right that is withheld from them is holy matrimony which, described by him, is a sacred right, not a civil right. That gay marriage is not right in the eyes of god.
My personal opinion is conflicted, not in the sense that I don’t believe in gay marriage, it is in the sense that I empathize with both sides. The LGBT community should have the right to marry whoever they want without any opposition. They should be accepted into the community as equals and not as outcasts or subordinates as they are so often perceived. Society should stop referring to the LGBT community as “they” and more as “we”, acceptance is the only option and this belief should be taught from the day a child is born. This is the reason I believe that the religious community is so opposed to gay marriage. They have been taught since they were children that the definition of marriage is the formal union between a man and woman under god and law. The changing of that definition frightens them. People are generally afraid of change and things they don’t understand. During the movie many sympathizers of the church’s endeavour voiced that they believed being gay is a choice that is made. These people do not fully understand that it may be a choice for some but many are born this way and it is no different than being born Black, White, Asian or any other skin colour. It is understandable that they may be frustrated when people consider it the same as the Black fight for civil rights. Yes it is true that the LGBT community is not subject to the amount of discrimination and oppression that African Americans had to endure, but they do undergo their own struggles of growing up and living in a society that seems to accept only the binary girl/boy relationships. The two groups should be able to understand each other given the fact that they have both undergone the struggles of oppression by the majority population.
The New Black is quite inspirational and informative of some of the conflicts that are going on in our society every day. It is a movie that will invoke deep thought in its viewers and hopefully change or strengthen their views on cultural as well as gender and sex based equality. Director Yoruba Richen has made a movie that has the power to make a difference in modern society and bolster the impending idea that no matter what your race, sexual orientation or gender identity, society is making progress towards complete equality.