Male Socialization


d be more receptive of their emotions and more able to help them deal with emotional distress. There is nothing wrong with a man wanting to share his emotions with a woman friend. What is wrong is men going to women because they feel they cant be emotionally free enough to confide in their male friends. It is wrong that men should always have the fear that other males cant or wont accept their emotions as a legitimate part of who they are. A mans doubt of other mens ability to accept his emotions inevitably reflects his doubt of his own ability to deal with emotions.Perhaps many men regularly choosing their female friends over their male friends to discuss emotional issues with is a result of and a perpetuating cause of the idea that a males intimate abilities are inferior to those of females.

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Mens groups strive to instill a true feeling of intimacy between men, not under the assertion that women are evil and should be avoided, but because men cannot have an intimate relationship with themselves if they cannot have intimate relationships with other men. Through this intimacy, men learn the universality of their problems. They can stop believing that they are the only ones going through pain, and they see how other men are affected by their own failures and insecurities.

The idea that they are the only ones experiencing their problems pressures them to believe that the only appropriate role for them in society is that of the silent stoic. Finding that there are other men who feel pain similar to theirs helps many men to break away from that role.One of the most eminent problems facing American society today is violence. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 9 out of 10 murderers are committed by males, and an estimated 50% of those males are under the age of twenty-five. In fact, the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four year olds is murder. What factors contribute to male violence? And why is the violent criminal becoming increasingly younger? Throughout the past few decades, there has been much controversy surrounding violence in males specifically in regard to biological and sociological contributions.

While most Americans are distinctly aware of the biological differences between boys and girls and the effects of testosterone vs.estrogen, most Americans are still largely unaware of the true impact society has on their childs development. From the moment of birth, boys are treated very different from girls. Even before birth, most parents know the sex of the baby and prepare accordingly such as wallpaper with pictures of balls, bats, gloves, etc. Mothers and Fathers also hold their sons further away from their bodies, and usually talk louder and less often to their sons. During play, fathers are more aggressive with boys than with girls.These actions, sociologists believe, create the foundation in which boys become aggressive, more easily aroused, and desensitized.

During adolescence, boys receive further clues pertaining to their roles as boys. Parents purchase and encourage toys that are made for boys, while discouraging toys usually reserved for girls. A majority of these toys, such as guns and action figures, promote an environment conducive to killing the bad guy. On the playground, boys from an early age form social hierarchies and taunt each other toward greater and greater risk-taking activities.Of all the activities employed to prove masculinity, none is more powerful than sports, specifically football. Starting in high school, boys who are good enough to make the varsity football teams tend to be highly admired. For many of their peers, male and female, they represent the essence of masculinity.

When it comes to music or film stars, there is often a generation gap in the taste of adolescents and their parents. But athletes get parents, especially fathers, stamp of approval. In fact, for many American fathers having a son who is neither interested in sports nor athletically inclined is little short of a tragedy.While nothing is intrinsically wrong with organized sports in school, there can be detrimental affects when there is an inordinate emphasis on competition and winning.

When 60 Minutes did a program in youth football they found that the emphasis was very much on winning. This emphasis in winning encourages boys to do whatever it takes to take home the trophy including violence. As on high school football player states, Youre afraid of getting hit in the knees, of having the wind knocked out of you, but you dont tell your buddies, only you know. You come through the crises, and you feel good about yourself, that you conquered your own fear.Life is filled with difficulty, danger, and suffering.

Many parents wonder what is wrong with teaching boys and men to overcome their fears, to be courageous, to withstand pain. But when a high school football player is drugged up with painkillers in order to play, when he plays with injuries that, if aggravated, could lead to permanent damage, he is learning much more than to withstand pain. He is learning to sacrifice his body unnecessarily and to hide all feelings of fear and vulnerability, however warranted they might be. He is also being taught to sacrifice the bodies of others.If he is willing to risk serious injury to himself, then why shouldnt he be willing to risk injuring others seriously? If he is not allowed to feel sympathy for himself when he is injured or justifiably frightened, why should he feel empathy for anyone else? Their willingness to sacrifice themselves has everything to do with proving their manhood. Another tactic used to decrease empathy and thus increase the propensity for violence in players is initiated by the coach. The tactic is language.

While at a superficial level language appears to be harmless, an in-depth analysis reveals otherwise. The language of sport is filled with insults suggesting that a boy who is not tough enough, who does not live up to the masculine mystique, is really a girl or homosexual. Football player David Kopay states that his high school coach like many other coaches, used sexual slurs fag, queer, sissy, *censored* to motivate or intimidate his young athletes. 60 Minutes reports the frequent use of this kind of language even among eight-year-old boys in Little League.Boys use expressions like Youre a faggot or God, hes gay. Each insult means that the target has not lived up to expectations of appropriate male behavior, and is being sanctioned. The significance of this type of thinking, talking, and acting on the psyche of young boys can be illustrated if we reverse the situation.

Imagine girls from age six on involved in an activity so highly respected, like football, that the women who are most proficient at this activity are regularly invited to the White House for celebrations and serve as role models for other children throughout the country. When they are involved in this activity, little girls and later women constantly use terms and expressions like dyke, mock (combination of man and cock similar to wuss), or You wear a jockstrap, to embarrass and insult each other.Imagine a respected and admired female leader of these activities putting a jockstrap in a girls closet or locker in order to insult her.

We are so accustomed to women and homosexuals being denigrated that we must do this reversal in order to appreciate fully how much such attitudes encourage disrespect and contempt for women and homosexual men. How many fathers would allow their daughters talking like this? But many mothers accept their sons denigration of women as part of being a real boy. Surely it is no accident that Bobby Knight, who puts sanitary napkins in basketball players lockers in order to insult them, has also commented on TV that if a woman cant do anything about rape, she may as well lay back and enjoy it. Fortunately, Bobby Knights career has come to an abrupt end recently due to excessive violence.As we have seen, it starts much earlier, but from high school on, the concern with dominance, winning, and manhood rather than just enjoying the sport becomes all to apparent. Football in particular affords boys a legitimate opportunity to deal with the self-doubts and insecurities of adolescence by asserting their physical dominance over others. If once combines this early reinforcement of physical dominance with the ongoing expression of contempt for girls and women, it is easy to see how the end product, for some of the more angry or disturbed players, may be rape.

A June 3, 1990, New York Times article states interviews with rape-crises counselors as well as results of studies of assaults on college campuses indicate that athletes are involved in a disproportionate number of rapes and other sexual assaults. The key to alleviating these incidents of male violence and depression is to be found within the study of gender socialization paired with biological findings regarding the human brain. Sociology Issues.