Masculinity And Men's Perceptions Of Manhood

1969 Words 8 Pages
How do boys learn the rules for what it means to be masculine? What are the differences in what those lessons are based on a person’s social economic status (SES)? What happens when a boy does not have the resources available to meet what society defines as being a man? The answers to these questions influence how boys grow into adulthood. The process of how boys mold their perception of what manhood is determines how they interact with society and contributes to their values and life goals. Violence has been an American staple for manhood since its conception. Early movies depicted wild west gun fights and strong, fearless, womanizing men as heroic role models for American men. Since then men have continuously been portrayed as independent, …show more content…
Victor Rios found that masculinity was being used as a mechanism to control young boys in a study he conducted in Oakland, California. Dr. Rios noted multiple examples of government institutions using masculinity as means of shaming boys in an attempt at influencing their perception of manhood. While perhaps their shamming tactic is well intentioned and aimed at changing the boy’s likely outcome of engaging in criminal activity, the effect Dr. Rios found, was it perpetuates a self-concept that lends itself to deviant activity, which is also articulated as a consequence in labeling theory. In addition, Dr. Rios highlighted a number of instances where government employees working in schools, the police force, and in community centers suggested to the boys that real men have jobs (128), are hardworking, and obey the law. However, getting a job in their environment is a very difficult task. First, job opportunities are not in abundance. Second, the boys lack the skills necessary to get jobs that are available. Dr. Rios termed this phenomenon of institutions using masculinity to control young people as the youth control complex (133). The paradox of this method is the mainstream expectations placed on these boys, the positive working-class masculinity (133), does not work on the streets (134). When they attempt to embrace these positive working-class attributes their peers see them as sellouts, punks, snitches, and are harassed by their peers. The Result is the boy’s face a double blind dilemma where the they believe that being a hard working law abiding man is what it means to be a man, but the lack of employment opportunities and institutional guidance lead to hypermasculinity (134). To compound the problem, these boys are taught that police are not people to go to for help. Dr. Rios points out that police are trained to use “rogue and hostel masculinity” in their effort to fight crime. These practices are highlighted by

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