By Melvin Bui
The East Los Angeles College Sociology Club had a discussion on how hegemonic masculinity is related to popular culture and the media.
The topic was approached from a socio-political perspective. The panel was led by sociology professor Renato Jimenez and political science professor Rogelio Garcia.
All of the in-person events that were planned for the semester have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom Video Communications has allowed panels to continue, by bringing together people online from their homes to discuss controversial topics.
“Some of the elements that are being discussed here may be triggering. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the discussion, please, go ahead and take a step back and gather yourself and then rejoin the conversation if you deem it necessary,” said professor Jimenez.
Professor Jimenez spoke about about sexual assault and sexual violence, while professor Garcia spoke about how hegemonic masculinity ties into current day politics and media. Sexual assault is the sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent from the victim. When people think of sexual assault, the first thing that comes to mind is something physcical.
However, it can also be caused by psychological force or manipulation that coerces a victim into non-consensual sex. Jimenez said people choose not to report the sexual violence crimes to the police because they feel like they wont help and fear being retaliated against.
“Donald Trump’s toxic masculinity is more fragrant than most politicians, his rhetoric promotes violent and sexist values,” said professor Garcia. Garcia said Trump normalizes and promotes behavior that is reckless and detrimental to society. Hegemonic is a synonym for dominant and masculinity is the characteristics of men.
Hegemonic masculinity is social practice that helps reinforce male dominance and the subordination of common women and men in society. Jimenez said men do stupid things to prove their masculity, respect is earned not given. It was a term that was pioneered by Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell.
It was used as part of her gender order theory in gender studies. Gender order theory is a system of ideological and material practices that are performed by individuals of a society, through which power relations between women and men are made, remade as meaningful.
Hegemonic masculinity is interchangeable with the term “toxic masculinity.” Jimenez said the media helps spread toxic masculinity by advertising unhealthy behavior to children.
Jimenez said the idea of manhood is centered around dominance, aggression by categorizing a suppression of emotions to be emotional, is to be feminine and to be feminine is to be weak. “The dominant culture always resorts to violence, shaming and mockery when things don’t go their way,” said Garcia.
Jimenez said it has been popularized in the media, women are used to entice people as a way to promote business, Burger King is well known for being misogynistic by making women take on stereotypical explicit roles in commercials.
Jimenez said people of different cultures, ethnicities and social class experience masculinity differently, people that are less masculine were thought to be homosexual, traditional male gender roles discourage emotional expression.
Rape culture is the experience men and women face from continued threats of sexual violence, ranging from comments to rape itself. The Rape Assualt Incest National Network (RAINN) said that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a spike in sexual violence, as people are forced to stay home with their abusers.
“In times of national hardship or war, women have been co-opted to complete male-dominated tasks, but always with the implicit understanding that it is a temporary condition” said professor Garcia.
Garcia said having more women in the workforce has been one of the main reasons why there has been a flux in sexual assault cases.
“People who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities experience sexual violence, and may face different or additional challenges in accessing legal, medical, law enforcement or other resources than other population,” said Jimenez.