Meditation On Gender Essay


Gender reflection: On identifying with a particular gender Until I took a class in critical theory, I never gave much thought to my gender. I am sure that some of this is by virtue of being a straight male. I have female friends who have experienced discrimination or harassment in school and at work by virtue of not being male. I do not believe I have experienced such direct prejudice as a result of my gender. Also, physical fitness is a very important part of my life, and many of my female friends and girlfriends have been very passionate about working out, yet unlike me they have been told not to lift weights or box because this would give them 'bulky' and masculine-looking muscles (which is not true). Obviously, I have never faced such discrimination based upon my interests or because I look strong.

I have come to understand that men -- just like women -- can feel compelled to perform their gender, or can feel restricted by gender stereotypes, although this form of discrimination tends to be more informal than the type of discrimination exhibited against women. I grew up in Russia, and there it is extremely important for a man to 'be a man' -- not to show emotion, to seem strong, and never admit to making a mistake. This is somewhat ironic because I know many very strong Russian women, including my mother, but the overall message in Russian culture is one of male dominance.

In Russian culture, many men tend to expect to 'rule the roost' and to make most of the decisions in the household when a couple gets married. However, my...


I believe this has affected my perceptions of women in a very beneficial way. I have never seen women as innately inferior to men, unlike some Russian (and American) men I know.
My anecdotal observations about masculinity and Russian culture are confirmed by people who have studied the region: "Supported by nationalist youth groups and glorified in certain pop culture productions, the escalating power of the church and state represent for many a re-masculinization of the fatherland. As Russia regains its virility, the boundaries that define ideal masculine subjectivity are redefined in particular and consequential ways. Gay men, as well as men who opt for fatherhood or other 'sensitive' careers over more 'manly' options, are denigrated as scapegoats for society's problems. Although alternative voices exist, they are oftentimes stifled by the increasingly authoritarian state apparatus" (Nowakowski 1). Being masculine in a particular kind of way is equated with being patriotic in Russia, even though many Russian men struggle to embody this ideal: they may have trouble finding jobs that enable them to be the main breadwinners for their families, for example. Even straight men who want to embody the ideal of the masculine Russian may have difficulties in doing so, because of the current social and economic pressures they face.

As a straight male without a family, I have not…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

"Dude, you're a fag." YouTube. 20 Sept 2011. [8 Apr 2013]

Fogel, Curtis. Review of Kath Woodward, Boxing, Masculinity and Identity: The 'I' of the Tiger.

New York: Routledge, 2007. Gender Forum: An Internet Journal of Gender Studies, 19 (2007): 1-2. [8 Apr 2013]
National Ideal." Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Mar 2011. [8 Apr 2013]

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