A series of proposals that question the phenomenon of hegemonic masculinity.
Among the contributions and controversies that have emerged from feminist approaches, especially feminism that advocates the diversity of identities, a line of research and action has emerged that is beginning to be known as “New Masculinities. “
This line has allowed us to rethink different practices related to gender and to understand in a more specific way the masculine subjectivities that have been consolidated as hegemonic and sometimes violent. In this way and in some spaces, it has been possible to act politically and therapeutically to counteract this.
Although it is something that is under development, we can outline here some antecedents and proposals that have emerged, as well as important fields of action.
The New Masculinities: response to a crisis
Gender approaches cause discomfort. They are uncomfortable because they question our places in the world, they force us to rearrange subjective positions, that is, identities and relationships between one another. In this sense, they are discomforts that generate a “productive discomfort” (Sánchez, 2017).
If we analyze the social transformations of recent years, and especially we look at the violent practices with which many men have tried to reaffirm their own virility; we can notice that masculinity is in crisis.
Crisis that is especially visible in violence against women, but that is also related to different gender discomforts experienced by men themselves. Gender approaches have allowed attention to this. They make it possible to understand some specific questions about relationships, subjectivities and discomforts that have been constructed through gender binaryism.
Until recently, the focus of attention on gender perspectives had been solely on women and femininity. Masculinity and its values had remained untouchable. It was then necessary to create models that offered new places and roles (more equitable and freer from violence) that not only focused on the experience of women.
An alternative to hegemonic masculinity?
The New Masculinities emerge as an alternative to hegemonic masculinity. The term “hegemonic masculinity” refers to the dominant masculine behaviors, which includes the more traditional models of domination by gender ; based, for example, on mandates such as “men do not cry”, “they are always brave”, “not feminine at all”, “unquestionably heterosexual”, etc.
In other words, it is about the values, beliefs, attitudes, myths, stereotypes or behaviors that legitimize men’s power and authority over women (and over everyone else other than straight men).
Hegemonic masculinity is what has given rise to a whole form of political and social organization based on the idea of male leadership and the predominance of the eastern worldview over other forms of life.
However, this hegemony can also be reproduced in models that are presented as alternative and new (and not only in traditional masculinity), which is why the very concept of New Masculinities is constantly revised. Thus, one of the bases for the rethinking of masculinity is its self-reflective and critical capacity towards the different models, values, practices and experiences of masculinity.
In short, they are known as New Masculinities because they try to consolidate alternative experiences and practices to hegemonic masculinity.
Political and therapeutic action focused on the male experience
It is quite common for men to take on the task of teaching women what to do to stop being violated. But this many times happens from the prohibition, and from the convenience of the man himself (do not wear such clothes, do not go out alone, do not speak in such a way, etc.).
Given this, in one way or another many women have explained that the way to show solidarity with feminist struggles, and against gender violence, is not through this path; Among other things, because the recommendations are made from experiences completely unrelated to gender violence, which in the end reproduce the same domination.
This has not only been expressed by women, but many men have responded by creating paths based on their own experience, which are translated into political and therapeutic actions.
Rethinking gender models
In general terms, it tries to generate collective rethinking of gender (specifically around masculinity) as a political action to address some phenomena related to violence and gender discomfort, from the male experience of men.
In other words, it is about “deconstructing” hegemonic masculinity. That is, to raise awareness of the historical and structural conditions that have generated gender inequalities and violence, and to take responsibility individually for what corresponds.
For example, assume when they have been participants in such violence and collectively seek some strategies to avoid them. Or, share their own vulnerability by making gender experiences and discomforts explicit; and from there, articulate them with the experiences and discomforts of the other gender and the non-hegemonic sexuality.
New Masculinities or Hybrid Masculinities?
The concept of New Masculinities has generated much debate. For example, Jokin Azpiazu, a pioneer in rethinking the masculine gender, suggests that the idea of New Masculinities is best understood through the concept of “hybrid masculinities”, initially proposed by sociologist CJ Pascoe.
This last term refers to the fact that masculinities themselves should not be presented as new, but rather that the effort should be towards incorporating non-hegemonic elements that generate new models and relationships.
Otherwise, there is the risk of adapting the same hegemonic masculinity to the new needs posed by gender approaches, which ultimately generates new forms of domination. In other words, apparently innocuous practices that ultimately reproduce the same structures of inequality.
In the same vein, the author reflects on whether it is necessary to claim a different masculinity, or whether it is more a matter of problematizing masculinity as a whole.
Men and New Masculinities Collective (2018). We. Learn about our actions and philosophy. Retrieved May 8, 2018.Available at http://colectivohombresymasculinidades.com.
Sánchez, J. (2017). Masculinity and feminism: a space of “productive discomfort”. Retrieved May 8, 2018.Available at http://www.pikaramagazine.com/2017/06/masculinidades-y-feminismo-un-espacio-de-incomodidad-productiva/.
Bergara, A., Riviere, J. and Bacete, R. (2008). Men, equality and the new masculinities. Emakunde Basque Institute for Women: Vitoria.
Segarra, M. and Carabí (Eds). (2000). New masculinities. Icara: Barcelona.