Hegemonic Masculinity

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Hegemony is defined as leadership or dominance over others. Masculinity, at least in an American setting is typically socialized to be hegemonic. Hegemonic Masculinity is the societal standard that makes men feel like they need into a box that is seen as stereotypically masculine. In America, this standard is physical and nonphysical, typically,

1. A provider/”breadwinner”
2. Strong
3. Emotionless
4. Authoritative
5. Violent

These are problematic because it teaches boys that anything that is similar to femininity is not good. This is a form of sexism/heterosexism. We see this when little kids are growing up. It is okay for girls to be considered Tomboys if they act more boyish, but if boys act more feminine, then they are called sissies, pussies, or a bitch.

Hegemonic Masculinity feeds into oppression of marginalized groups. The language that is used by people that feed into hegemonic masculinity, use language that is also typically homophobic and misogynistic (meaning strongly prejudiced against women).
Homophobic words used to degrade men for being too feminine are usually:

Misogynistic Words used to degrade men for being too feminine are:

There are other forms of overt oppression that hegemonic masculinity feeds into as well like able-ism, racism, and classism.

Other Readings:

Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept

Combining Theory and Practice in Gender Intervention


One thing that I have faced a lot of since becoming an activist is guilt. Whether it be environmental, feminist, or consumer issues, I feel like there is a lot of negative connotations for people that don’t always realize how problematic things are. We are a part of a system and that system is corrupt and we should not feel bad for feeding into that system because it is how we were raised. Our job now as activists is not to shame people into feeling guilty for taking part in the system either.

I was a vegetarian for 5 years, and this year I finally decided to be vegan. I face shame both from the vegan community and meat-eating community. At family parties, my cousins will say, why don’t you just eat it, and I feel like I am being pressured into doing something because it is the “norm.” While I was still a vegetarian, I constantly faced guilt from vegans who encouraged me to remove dairy and eggs from my diet, but at the time it was not something that I could do, not because of the discipline that it takes to be vegan, but because of health issues and the cost of being vegan. I never recognized that I should not feel guilty for factors that are out of my control.

Being vegan is difficult because society has made us rely so heavily upon animal products that we don’t know how to properly be vegan all while getting the right amounts of iron, protein, etc. Vegan products that are not just fresh produce are also much more expensive than nonvegan products.

Taking small steps to make a difference is a way to change the world. I got angry at first when people were using reusable straws all of the sudden because it was the right thing to do in the eyes of others. Of course, using a reusable straw is not going to clean up garbage island or reverse the climate change that we have already faced, but it is making a difference. That is however many straws less per person and that is still great! Not only are people making conscious efforts to reuse products, but they are also becoming more aware of how all of their garbage and disposable products add up.

The popularity of this is also making companies more aware of consumers and how they can appeal to this “new idea” of reusing things. Philz Coffee, a coffee chain, offers a DOLLAR off of your coffee when you bring your own cup. They are marketing a better deal for people that are willing to make a change and that reward may be what consumers need to be motivated to reuse more products.


Like I mentioned in my welcome post, it is okay to give into society’s standards when it comes to feminism. I felt guilty for so long because I did my nails or shaved my legs. There is no reason that I should feel guilty for feeling better when I do those things. So long as I recognize that this is a product of consumerism and sexism, it is okay. Realizing that also brought me to be more comfortable with myself too. Now, I can wear shorts and not shave my legs and I don’t think about who is looking at my legs to see if there is hair. I don’t give a fuck, so why should anyone else.

Feminist Myths

As a club at IUP, Women’s and Gender Studies holds a table semesterly where we debunk Feminist Myths. We try to keep it light-hearted and give people a place to ask questions about things that they might not necessarily know about.

We offer a true and false game to let participants guess whether or not specific things are upheld beliefs in the Feminist Community. The trick of the game is to let participants find out more about Feminism so that it doesn’t seem like such a scary concept like most people who are against feminism make it out to be. So, here are a couple of Feminist Myths and why they are, in fact, myths and not true.

First, the Wage Gap was eradicated by the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and women and men are now paid the same.

The wage gap is not merely just about getting paid the same amount for minimum wage jobs. It is about job opportunities and starting salaries offered to people. The wage gap is a bias against working mothers and women of color. Out of 50 states, 7, yes SEVEN, are considered states with “STRONG EQUAL PAY PROTECTIONS.”

Yes, 49 states do include Discrimination Provision; requiring that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work. This is enforced when taken to court. Most times, unfortunately, this isn’t taken to court, because people don’t realize that they’re being paid less than their male counterparts.

The State of Alabama actually has ZERO equal pay protections in place and 17 other states have severely weak protections. There are several occupations where women are earning significantly less than they would with equal pay. For example, female physicians and surgeons are typically paid $19 billion less annually.

Second, Feminists hate all men.

Feminists do not hate men.

A relevant issue; however, is Hegemonic Masculinity. Hegemonic Masculinity can be defined as “behaviors and language associated with the idealized male group that is seen as having the most power and status in society.” America is a Patriarchal culture. This means that we run under the rules, laws, and traditions of men. Yes, this was the way that the world was when the United States was formed.

Yes, we do have founding fathers, but we also lit rooms using candles when that happened. Many many things have become updated since 1776, for example, slavery has been abolished, women gained the right to vote, we have gone to space. Still, the percentage of women in Congress is at 23%. I am extremely grateful that the state of women in the US is better than before, but there are many things that you, as a straight, white man will never understand. Feminists want equality and equity, not dominance and hegemony.

Last, you can’t be a feminist if you’re a man.

You never need to be a certain gender or fit into a box to be an Ally (read more about how to be an Ally here). You also don’t have to say she’s someone’s mom or sister, or cousin, etc. to need to sympathize with survivors of sexual assault. Recognize that women make up half of this world, yet they are constantly being discounted because a biological factor that is out of our control.

Feminism is about equality for all marginalized groups. As a feminist,  you can fight for LGBTQ+ groups, P. O. C, the class system, just remember that it affects women and see how you can make small changes in your life to recognize that.

Education is always the easiest and best way to get involved, do not be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know something.

Helpful Links:

 Myths About Feminism

The Simple Truth About the Gender Wage Gap

Cisters and Sisters

Today, we’re gonna have a quick review session on gender with some definitions to make everything clear.

  1. Gender: a socially constructed concept that categorizes people based off of their social and cultural roles (may differ cross-culturally). This term is not as rigid as sex is and can be seen on a fluid scale or a continuum.
  2. Sex: Biological differences between males and females. Not everyone fits into the category of male or female, some people may have a combination of X and Y chromosomes that don’t adhere to the “norm.”
  3. Cisgender: someone whose gender identity aligns with their assigned or biological sex. This comes from the Latin root “cis” which means ‘on this side of’ while “trans” refers to ‘across’ or ‘opposite’
  4. Transgender: someone whose self-perception of gender is not congruent with their biological sex. Trans people may go through gender reassignment surgery to correct this, but it does not always happen. Regardless of body parts, they are transgender and their pronouns and identity need to be respected. The flag on the left (referenced above) represents the transgender community, “The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional color for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional color for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender.”
  5. Agender: Similar to the non-binary identity we talked about in my previous post, agender is a person who sees themselves as non-conforming to traditional gender identity. The flag on the right is the agender pride flag. The black and white represent the absence of gender, the gray is semi-genderless (between identifying with a gender or being agender), and the green is representative of being non-binary
  6. Pangender: is someone who identifies with more than one gender. The Greek prefix, “pan” means ‘all.’ This could be a fluidity within one’s experiences with gender in their lifetime. The middle flag is the pangender pride flag, here, the yellow stands for all genders that are neither male nor female, the light red color is the transition to the male and female genders, the third is a light violet pink which is a combination of male and female genders, and the white is a combination of all genders.

Important Links:

  1. Sex and Gender: What is the difference?
  2. Understanding Gender
  3. The History of the Transgender Flag
  4. The Language of Gender

A is for Activism

Activism is defined as working to bring about social, political, or economic change. There are a ton of ways to be an activist, it doesn’t always mean marching and holding up a sign. Types of activism include digital/cyber activism, grassroots, peace activism, petitioning, and striking. Without activism, the whole concept of feminism is futile. As I mentioned before, I believe the best and easiest way to be an activist is to educate yourself. In 2019, we have the internet in the palm of our hands, all it takes is a click or two to start finding out more and more.

Another word I debated using for a was Ally/Allyship, which is another form of activism. It is important to take a step back when looking at social, political, and economic elements that are in place in our society and recognize that it’s not always just you that it affects. You do not have to be a part of the LGBT+ community to care about gay rights, just like you don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist. Allyship does end at feminism or LGBTQIA rights either, it is standing alongside marginalized groups and listening. As an ally, it is important to take a moment to analyze your own biases, unfortunately, as much as you may think you don’t have any, we all have internalized prejudices that society has led us to carry, even if we’re not always aware of them. It isn’t always fun to be critical of yourself, but having humility makes you a better ally.

Activism and allyship go hand and hand much more than you would think. Just look at the #metoo movement. The movement was initially created by Tarana Burke in 2006 when she realized how many women had faced sexual assault and harassment in their lives. She thought that by speaking up, it would empower women to create a safe space to recognize these issues. In 2017, the movement spread and celebrities took to the #timesup movement to make it even more global after Alyssa Milano used the phrase in a tweet.

Alyssa Milano’s Tweet which sparked conversations about #metoo in 2017.

Like I mentioned before (and will probably say a million times) activism can be achieved so easily by educating yourself, just like allyship. It is important to realize that it takes a degree of selflessness to do this, and sometimes you have to just sit back, shut up, and listen.

Other Sources:

Guide to being an Ally to WOC

How to be an Ally

Famous Activists that Sparked Feminism