MALE SUPERIORITY IN AMERICA HAS MET ITS CHALLENGER
If you look around in the media today, there are many examples of men in power in the United States. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and multiple other political figures in Washington D.C. are just a few examples. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 24.9 percent of state legislature is made of women in 2017.
Examples of male superiority don’t stop at politics. One can find examples of men’s dominance in entertainment, business, and in the classroom.
Dr. Brenda Kauffman, a political science professor at Flagler College, says she sees examples of this in her classroom frequently.
“Oftentimes a male student will talk more assertively and the female student will back down. Group dynamics show this as well. The women will bond and do the organizing and multitasking, while the male will want to be told what to do and where to go.”
Flagler College sociology teacher Dr. Travis Beaver, who teaches Gender and Society in America, also spoke a lot on the trend of male superiority in America. Beaver explored topics of male domination in politics, economics, entertainment and the workplace, showing the trends of male superiority in all aspects of our day-to-day lives.
“We could think about gender and inequality and dominance and submission in lots of different areas in our day-to-day lives. We could think about examples of male domination as the fact that most of our elected officials are men. We can think about it on the cultural level that most films focus on men’s stories that are written by men and directed by men. If you want to look at economics, the gender wage gap is a really clear objective measure of male domination in our society,” says Dr. Beaver.
But, because of social media and the rise of feminism today, these issues are being brought to light and talked about more.
Examples of this can be found in the recent #MeToo campaign that took over social media in mid-October. The #MeToo campaign was organized for men and women to realize just how frequent and common sexual harassment and abuse. The #MeToo hashtag currently has over 550,000 posts on Instagram and even more on Twitter and Facebook.
“There are lots of women saying ‘look, every woman I know has been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted.’ This campaign has amplified people’s voices and have allowed women to come out publically about these experiences,” says Butler.
Even more recently, are the multiple sexual assault accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein that arose at the end of October. Around 64 accusers have come forward in the last month about Weinstein abusing his power as a movie producer to sexually abuse women by promising them the roles they were auditioning for in exchange for sexual favors.
“Harvey Weinstein illustrates that there is a long history of powerful men abusing their positions of power and that there is a lot of reasons why women in that industry who were harassed are afraid to come forward,” says Butler.
Some of the cases involving Weinstein go back to the early 1990s.
This topic of sexual abuse and men not getting what they want has been explored by sociologist Michael Kimmel in his book Angry White Men. There he talks about the concept grieved entitlement in his book. This concept is about white middle class men who feel entitled to particular kinds of positions and feel entitled to women's bodies.
“And when they don’t get that, they are grieved and they react out of that type of anger,” says Dr. Beaver.
This concept of grieved entitlement also comes into play in the workplace. As the modern workplace progresses, more types of people are coming into positions of power.
“When you hear things like ‘oh, these women and minorities are taking our jobs’ there was an assumption that that was your job to begin with,” says Beaver. He explains that when women, people of color and other minorities move into positions of power, there’s a kind of backlash of white men who’ve lost these position of authority and positions they feel entitled to.
“Male colleagues go out of their way to show they are better. It’s a subconscious thing,” says Kauffman.
Another way to look at male dominance in America is through the media and how women and their relationships to men are portrayed. Graphic designer, Alyson Beckdale, has a test for what films she will see and won’t see based off of this. Her test is that if a film doesn’t contain two women, who talk to each other about something other than men, Beckdale will not see the movie.
“It’s kind of surprising how few films actually pass that test,” says Dr. Beaver.
Tests like this are challenging the topic of how women are viewed in relation to men.
Prior to Trump’s election, studies from The Atlantic found that men found Trump as a reaffirmation of masculinity in America. A lot of men felt that “society as a whole has become too soft and feminine.” This motion has caused many men to feel the need to make women feel lesser through verbal abuse and harassment.
A prime example of this type of behavior is the way Trump talked about his opponent Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. Because his opponent was female, his “manliness” was an appeal to voters.
“Who knows how the election would have ended if it was against another candidate,” says Kauffman.
As time goes on, the horizons are looking hopeful for those in favor of the equality of sexes. Issues like sexual harassment and abuse are becoming more well known and consequences are being put out for those who offend. Mainstream media is even tackling issues of equality with the show The Handmaid’s Tale and other shows. One thing we do know for sure is that we definitely aren’t in the 1950’s anymore.