Response to “Hyper Masculinity and Heteronormativity”

By Shifra Freewoman

I was struck by how clearly you explained this phenomenon, in a very scholarly, yet understandable way. I certainly knew that there was a problem with harassment and other violent behavior from men, yet I never really contemplated why men acted this way in any great depth.

What you wrote about how men constantly need to prove their masculinity, helped me to make sense of men’s behavior. It’s kind of crazy that to prove you are a man you have to do all these nutty violent things and that you have to look like a rather crazy super action model. It would be much more rational to assume that if you have male genitals and body etc, then you are masculine, no matter how you dress or act etc.

It helps me to make sense of why men do what they do. It’s not that men are bad, or that this is just the way men are. This is a social problem that is created by our society. Boys and men are being socially engineered to act this way, through violence, and then they commit more violence, ie. harassment, rape, molestation, shootings, killings and mass murder etc.. It is quite alarming the consequences of hyper masculinity. I myself along with countless women I know, have been impacted by this violence. This violence has terrible real world consequences that I and many others are still suffering and healing from.

Your piece shows that this hyper masculinity is not just funny, absurd or harmless, it is actually very dangerous. Further, I think that it is very important and timely, that you show the link between hyper masculinity and heteronormativity, and mass shootings. I don’t think there is enough research into this terrible phenomenon. I am no expert on this subject, yet I think there is tendency to see this horror as something absolutely unexplainable, without any particular cause, just random mental illness and insanity. I think your piece begins to show us a way to understand these horrific mass shootings. They don’t come out of the sky, they are the result of patriarchal and homophobic violence that men and boys experience and then act out onto women and girls and other men and boys. It shows the terrible pressures that hyper masculinity and hyper heterosexuality put on men and boys that then result in the violence that we see daily and hourly. There is not enough research into the fact that these mass shootings are almost always committed by men, and almost always white men, (another topic for another piece.) People just assume that this is how things are. Your piece challenges this way of thinking.

Looking at the problem this way, makes it easier, in my view to solve. Because stopping this violence, would not require telling men how awful they are. Rather, it would help them to see that they too are oppressed by this patriarchal heterosexual system, and that this absurd definition of masculinity, ie hyper masculinity, is hurting them too; actually it is destroying them along with women.

I also liked how you connected the sexist behavior to heteronormativity and homophobia. They go hand in glove and reinforce each other. I learned a lot. I did not know how many of the mass shootings were motivated by homophobia. Is it accurate to say, that a lot of mass shootings were committed by boys or men who were gay or were perceived as gay?. It was slightly unclear to me if the shooters were gay or seen as gay, or if those shot were gay or seen as gay. I think the former, and it might help to state that more clearly, ie that the mass shooting were committed by men who were harassed for being gay or perceived as gay.

I also liked that you showed how the marketing of weddings reinforced heteronormativity, and this information that you shared with us, also shows the connection to capitalism. Because this is not just about people loving each other and wanting to marry and have a wedding, this is about selling people weddings at great cost. I had not realized how massive an industry weddings are. Among other problems, this can make marrying very stressful, because you are being engineered to spend loads of money on a wedding, rather than just celebrating your love and connection to your community.

I really liked how you took other people’s research and commentated on it and used this research to make the important points that you did. That shows that you did a lot of your own research and that takes a great deal of skill.

This piece is not only accessible, scholarly and informative. By clearly explaining this phenomenon of hyper masculinity and hyper heterosexuality, you show a way out of this problem. Again, the research you did, is not only scholarly, it is quite practical in showing how to heal this problem.

I think you did a great job, especially on your first published piece. You go Yolanda!!! I am very proud of you and hope you are very proud of yourself. Kudos!!

While of course, it is totally up to you, I would love to see more on this topic and hear your ideas on how we can use this research to begin to heal this problem. This piece really piqued my interest. I also look forward to reading more articles from you on whatever topics are of interest to you, if you are moved to write more. No pressure, just encouragement.

Great job and much love,

Shifra Freewoman