How Masculinities Distribute Power: The Influence of Ann Scales
25 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2014 Last revised: 24 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 22, 2014
Ann Scales’s scholarship on masculinities in relation to sexual assault and militarism prompted us to consider exactly how power is distributed by assumptions about what is masculine. For instance, men privileged by association with hegemonic masculinities — those most dominant and preferred — are sometimes excused for acts of violence against people who are denigrated as unmasculine or excessively masculine. In one set of examples, communities excuse football players for sexual assaults on grounds that “boys will be boys.” The implication is that boys should be allowed to act out before taking on adult responsibilities, and that they need to do so in order to become men. Moreover, the “boys will be boys” narrative suggests the victims were asking for it. In another set of examples, certain types of men are granted exemptions from the normal rules of self-defense because they are seen as manly protectors of their communities. Men such as George Bush and George Zimmerman are allowed to preemptively strike men such as Saddam Hussein and Trayvon Martin because the latter’s denigrated masculinities suggested they were asking for it. Scholars should continue to explore the ways such hierarchies of masculinities distribute privileges and vulnerabilities.
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