Why We Need Humane Education: Manipulating Masculinity

Image courtesy of  Paul Needham
via Creative Commons.
Recently I came across a couple of great resources that highlight another reason humane education is so important: the messages our culture sends men (especially young men) about what it means to be men.

The first I found on the great blog Marketing, Media and Childhood, which posted the trailer from a new film from the fabulous Media Education Foundation called The Bro Code: How Contemporary Culture Creates Sexist Men. The film looks at the cultural forces that help shape young men to dehumanize and disrespect women. Filmmaker Thomas Keith dissects a range of media that glamorize and promote sexism, violence against women, and certain very specific definitions of "American manhood."

The film is divided into four steps:

Step 1 Train men to womanize.
Step 2 Immerse men in porn.
Step 3: Make rape jokes.
Step 4: Obey the masculinity cops.


TRAILER: The Bro Code: How Contemporary Culture Creates Sexist Men from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

The Media Education Foundation has several other great films exploring media, culture and masculinity, such as Tough Guise, Hip Hop: Beats and Rhymes, Dreamworlds 3, and Generation M.

The other resource is a news story posted on Sociological Images (and other sites) about IKEA's new "Manland" -- a pilot program providing a separate area of the store for men to watch TV, play video and other games, and hang out in manly ways while the women do their shopping thing. Women are given a buzzer that goes off after 30 minutes to remind them to pick up their men. Manland not only perpetuates stereotypes about men, women, gay couples, and consumers, but insults men and frames them simultaneously as too macho to shop and as so infantalized that they must be constantly distracted and entertained. The media has picked up on IKEA's new plan and is happily trying out new labels, calling it a "playpen for men," "daddy daycare," a "nursery for men," and "a holding pen for bored male shoppers."

Both resources offer important opportunities to explore the messages we send men (and women) about what it means to be masculine -- to be a man.

~ Marsha

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