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Coming to Terms: Masculinity and Physical Disability
Transcript of Coming to Terms: Masculinity and Physical Disability
Discussion Question #1
What are some dominant constructions of disability?
How do they contrast with the concepts of the video/hegemonic masculinity?
Many of the men resisted masculine hegemony
Saw masculinity as society’s problem (and not theirs as individuals)
They resisted by :
Creating new masculine identities
By making more supportive subcultures
Methods of Rejection
Replace dominant ideas of what it means to be masculine with their own standards of masculinity
Refuse to see masculinity as important for identity
Choosing to identify as “persons” first (common in the disability rights movement)
Bodies are the vehicles for determining status and prestige. Men's bodies allows them to demonstrate the socially valuable characteristics of toughness, competiveness, and ability (Messner, 1992).
Coming to Terms: Masculinity and Physical Disability
Accident at age 14 which left him an incomplete quadriplegic
Rejected dominant ideas by identifying as “nonconformist”
Considered his ideas to be better than society’s
Rejected media, and procreation stereotypes
Alex: "What Do You Know, I've Been Caught"
Found that he did indeed subscribe to hegemonic masculinity in some aspects of his life (i.e. financial independence, emotional stability)
Men with physical disabilities are marginalized and stigmatized in American society. the image and reality of men with disabilities undermine cultural beliefs about men's bodies and physicality. In American society the body is the central foundation of how men define themselves and how they are seen by others.
Therefore by the norms that society has created for what men should look like, it causes men with disability to be looked at differently in society. Men with disabilities are seen as weak.
Most use a combination of these frameworks
Three dominant frameworks used by disabled males coping with hegemonic masculinity:
Hegemonic masculinity is usually seen as self-reliant, independent, and having autonomy
Damon: "I direct all my activities around my home where people have to help me to maintain my apartment, my transportation which I own, and direction in where I go. I direct people how to get there and I tell them what my needs will be when I am going and coming and when to get where I am going" (pg. 247)
Asserts he is independent as he views himself as being very much in charge of his life
Reformulation of Independence
- Entails men's redefinition of
characteristics on their own terms
- Disabled men recognize the cultural ideals of hegemonic masculinity does not fit their life
- Reshape their view of their life with a cognitive shift to fit in with these standards
Reformulation of Occupation
Hegemonic masculinity is usually seen as holding a job and being the breadwinner
"Brent said that he drew much of his sense of self, his sense of manhood from his occupational accomplishments" (p.247)
Emphasized the success and the purpose of his occupation
- Those studied did not have issues paying for round-the-clock assistance, when in reality many people with disabilities depend on welfare which would make it harder to view themselves as independent
- Those studied also were employed, when in reality many people with disabilities are unemployed
Therefore, the hegemonic masculinity ideals would be much more difficult for the average disabled person to reformulate
Important to Note:
- Involves the internalization of ideals related to hegemonic masculinity.
- Men who use reliance as a strategy strongly identify with being masculine, rather than with being disabled.
- They do this is in order to cope with the stress of constantly being undermined by others in society.
Methods of Reliance
- Identifying with physical strength, athleticism, sexual prowess, and independence
--> Characteristics that are strongly tied to masculinity and not disability.
Reliance results in a conflicted identity
- Those who use reliance are likely to internalize their inadequacies and seek to overcompensate
- This strategy does not challenge society's current view of masculinity.
--> Rather, this strategy perpetuates current gender stereotypes
Based on the interviews conducted, men with disabilities depend on at least three patterns in their adjustment to the double bind associated with demands of hegemonic masculinity and the stigmatization of being disabled (pg. 250)
The reliance pattern is represented by independence, strength and control for appearances
As a result, members of the disability rights movement seek to reconstruct masculinity through three-prong strategy.
Focus on changing the frame of reference regarding who define disability and masculinity (changing the dynamics of social construction of both)
Attempt to help people with disabilities by more self-referent when defining their identities
Support structures: sub cultures must exist as an alternative.
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Example of reformulation since Terry Fox emphasizes his masculinity and independence etc.