Hegemonic Masculinity & Femininity

Our American society has hegemonic masculinity ideals  because of the peer pressure to conform to prevailing expectations of gender. This hegemonic societal pressure applies to men and women. Policing normative gender behavior is common practice, along with punishing violators of the gender norms. Sexualized aggression for boys is ‘normal’, along with the sexual discrimination, harassment, and bullying, that maintains the social hierarchy.   Our society reproduces this ideology because Failing to do them is failure to ‘Be a Man’ in our society.  ‘Hegemonic’ is a specific meaning that has become the dominant, normative, standard way of defining a concept [or a group of people] in a way that disadvantages other people and segments society. It appears natural and ‘right’; the white heterosexual ideology, is: young, virile, educated, employed, active, family man. Hegemonic masculinity categorizes and limits the characteristics, roles, behaviors, and potential of all males into a rigid set of meaning that benefits specific dominant-power-interests. Power interests like: government, law, family, education, heterosexualism, and whiteness.
A few men benefit from this ideology, even though most men do not fully embody masculinity, they also don’t do anything to challenge patriarchy. So they are able to reap the benefits without enacting  hegemonic masculinity. Heterosexual men have power in groups, but feel trapped/powerless as individuals. They grow tired of constantly having to prove their manhood, and they experience a level of anxiety.  Most of people are weakened by hegemonic ideology, boys display deficits in: emotional intimacy, affection , companionship, disclosure, and empathy.   Hegemonic Masculinity  rejects anything feminine, and measures masculinity by: power, success, status. It encourages unemotional behavior, favoring calm, tough, reliable attitudes, but also: daring, aggressive, risk taker behavior.   Masculinity is difficult to maintain because of how rigid these ideals are.    Boys are socially forced to disassociate themselves from girls, because friendships with girls without intent of sexual conquest signifies failed masculine performance. Subordination, dominance, and sexual harassment of girls becomes integral for boys to express their heterosexual masculine hierarchies. Females suffer harassment daily, but its culturally perceived as a normal part of boy-girl interaction.
In today’s society, hegemonic femininity is the enormous pressure women feel to be perfect; attractive, fun, smart, academic, caring. The ideals force women to equate identity with image, so that their feminine performance becomes their whole life. The social peer pressure forces women to think that romance/marriage/family is more important than academic achievement. Marriages and families are socially celebrated, but not career achievements.  Society’s standards are stricter for women than for men, and women aren’t given academic encouragement at any level. Women excel in school, but men still earn higher income and have better careers, because of the  gender biases in hiring/ promotion. Hegemonic feminine is not as strong/hostile as the masculine ideals, but it still exists in society and impacts cultural ideologies.
Something interesting I considered this week, is that society refuses to acknowledge that the male-aggression is the cause of social violence. Current violence prevention methods like increased security,  zero tolerance policies,  and harsh penalties, are superficial solutions since violence is perpetuated by our cultural ideals of heterosexual masculinity. This realization has opened my eyes to some of the man-issues that I’ve previously  considered a byproduct of their privilege. The reason violence against women isn’t viewed as irregular, is because the privileged men who commit these crimes feel justified in doing so, they believe it is  the correct thing to do. In our cultural traditions, bullying and abuse is how they achieve manhood.

This generation has more freedom to explore alternative behavioral styles than previous generations. The modern media has introduced us to ‘alternative’ lifestyles little by little, through television and internet.  Children’s TV programming in the 90s was really progressive in that way, with very diverse characters, always challenging gender norms. Hey Arnold, The Magic School Bus, Rocket Power, Recess, Power Rangers. Always had  strong girls and sensible guy characters, always multi-racial friend groups from different social backgrounds.
I’ve read a lot this week about ‘the quest for hegemonic masculinity in young men’, but I also see a recent trend of creating media that demonstrates a more sensitive kind of male, so I know that trying to embody traditional male behavior is a phase that most 21st century menfolk will tire of and move on from.
In modern media, dominant alpha male characters are seen as being primitive, and are frequently used as comedic relief, or as villains. These days, main character males are always flawed, corky, emotional, relatable, but strong in their own special way. Shows set in the modern day, like: Big Bang Theory, Parks and Rec, New Girl, Psych, 30Rock, ect.  do not support many ideas about hegemonic male practices.          We can conclude that the reach of hegemonic gender identity constructions are ingrained in society because of our cultural history, to a point that no one has to coach young men to behave traditionally masculine (they do it on their own). Even though modern society tries to veer away from these ideals, they are ever-present.


Better Time Management

Have you been procrastinating some task? Have you forgotten to take a minute and do some trivial thing? Do you wish you could find time for your hobbies?
I’ve found that the key to time management is: making multiple things available to you at all times.
I used to hyper-focus on 1 thing at a time, thinking that by putting all my efforts toward completing 1 task at a time, I would do better. But instead, I Burnt Out quickly and needed to take breaks  where I’d lose focus and get distracted. In high school, was anyone else told to “not move from this spot until this assignment gets completed”?
Did you have to do that because you forgot to do it a little every day?  Studies have shown that there’s a cap on how long you can focus on 1 thing before your mind starts to wander. Switching up the task every time you get bored makes you  more productive because you are able to squeeze in more activities throughout the day.    I used to think that ‘setting up’ a task took the most time, but, Juggling works best with 3+ objects constantly in the air. And I’ve found that having 3 things on my plate at all times not only gives more variety to my day, but also demonstrates ‘progress’ on multiple jobs, which improves morale.
I have a few ‘stations’ in my life: my work desk, my home desk, my car, and the place I eat lunch. Those are my ‘usual places’. So, I keep various things I need to work on at those stations. So while I’m there, I always have something to do [aside from the main reason I’m there].
If I’m at work, and I get burnt-out for a minute, I have some other things right there that I can focus on for a few minutes.  It’s a mental recess from work, and it productively uses my break time for some other task without moving myself to a different station. Having multiple things available to me keeps my brain stimulated so I don’t get drained on any 1 activity.
Time in my car could be time that I spent making appointments, or calling my folks,  or catching up on podcasts/radio news/seasonal errands.  I keep things in my car that facilitates doing those things easily. I keep books/mail/non-urgent paperwork  at my other stations, so if I get bored of 1 thing I can give attention to the others. If I’m burnt out on 1 type of work, I have other work I can transition to at a moment’s notice, and still keep my routine.
The way this Manages my  Time is that it gives me an actual task to do. Instead of spacing-out, I’m giving real brainpower to things that I selected as worthy of my time. This way I’m able to stay on top of all the little things.    I think most people like having a routine, it keeps people on track so they don’t waste  too much time lingering on any 1 activity. Work, home, chores, ect. But the routine often forgets to allocate time for seasonal activities. These Little Things don’t take much time, but are somehow so trivial that we can’t find a spare minute to give them.

What are my little things ?
-Writing and sending cards to my grandparents a few times a year. This doesn’t take a lot of time, but I kept forgetting to do it, so now I keep cards at one of my ‘stations’ so I can write  without breaking routine.
-Drawing up marketing material for my side gig. I doodle cartoons for my friends company’s social media presence, about 1 a week.  Now, I keep a sketch pad in my lunch box, so I can draw while I eat, a little every day.
-Book club. I could never find enough quiet time to read at home, so I brought the book to work. Now I have the opportunity to read a few pages every afternoon in between work tasks [instead of zoning out].
-Giving proper attention to snail mail.  My brother misplaced important paperwork once, he left it on the kitchen table for months until it was Lost. When I get mail, I put it in my laptop so that I’ll remember to actually read it/file it/pay it the next time I use the computer. I also have a loose filing system, so I know where to look for anything remotely important.  Notices from the DMV, tax forms, bills, ect.
-Keeping up with hobbies. When life gets busy, personal interests are the first thing to get pushed to the back burner. Finding time for yourself can be tricky, but I think there’s time somewhere; maybe during the commute, or during lunch break.  There’s got to be something I can carry around with me to encourage my hobbies [on the go].

Realism and Video Games

I’m looking at an image, it’s a screen grab from a Halo video game. There are 2 figures in the typical game armor, in and around a vehicle. Both of the characters have guns, and the vehicle they’re on has a mounted gun. It is realistic in the sense that it depicts something as it would be seen by the eye; with realistic colors and positions.  It is a representation of how something in real life would look.
In this case, the image of the video game is an accurate representation of how a gamer sees the game world. Realism is about having art be an accurate representation of the world at any given time, but the ideas of what is accurate changes, depending on the art in the social/historical/cultural context. In this cultural Game context, it’s very real. “There is no universal standard for Realism”, it varies.  This image is created in the game setting, using computer graphic representations of people, in the context that you’re a character on an alien world, interacting and playing a game with other characters. A viewer would read this image  as real, even though they know it wasn’t, like a computer generated effect in a live action movie.
Realist art re-produces reality; But in different settings/techniques/ideas about culture/historical/geographical/national contexts. Aesthetics and Styles change over time, which leads to different ways of thinking, and historical codes. Realism usually refers to a set of conventions (a style of art) that is understood at a historical time to accurately represent real life, or convey accurately the meaning of something in the world.
Perspective means to see clearly, or look through. It’s a Set of Systems to produce representations of objects in space as if seen by an observer.   The video games realistic perspective simulates a real environment, similar to the real world as we would see it. It would appear to be believable to the player because of the linear perspective. Linear perspective is a cornerstone of pictorial realism, it’s where distant objects Converge on the horizon, where the floor recedes into space, at a vanishing point in the distance. A player would see this perspective and be able to interact with game features, and experience this technology-simulation as if it were real.
Before photos, paintings followed rules of perspective to give create realistic-looking art. These realistic paintings put the viewer in a world where they look at a painting as if it were a window.  With digital media, a person can see multiple perspectives. Digital is different than realistic paintings because of this interactive interface. A viewer would approach this virtual world with the idea that they have control over what happens and what they see. A person would feel more connected because of the ways that they can influence the settings.  Video games are different than photos/videos because they require interaction, a person needs to navigate elements to move the game forward; it’s a working action.  Games are designed to give players a sense of moving thought space. Video game addiction is a growing problem in the last decade because of how immersive the experience has become. The players experience something beyond the visual connection.  Virtual technology is a simulation; it aims to parallel what we think of as real.
The ‘push button’ sounds that our phones make are simulated sounds, a touch screen doesn’t actually need to make sound, but this simulated sound allows subjectivity to be experiences in/and thought the technology.  Games are simulations, they are not in 3D space, so it doesn’t conform to the laws of physical material. They are not real. It’s all a perspective simulation. It’s  a method and metaphor for the episteme which  captures the worldview of rationalism.   But still, the user game perspective inside the game-world is every bit as important to the players as real life things, maybe even more important, given that many of them neglect their basic real-life needs in favor their digital-life needs.
The game style is distinct in culture, and as a style that represents the modern computer age.      In comparison to how games looked 15 years ago, this Halo image is a modern marvel, so realistic and smooth. But in another 15 years, this image might seem old-fashioned in the same way we view vintage arcade games, which will then be antiques.

Encoding and Decoding Culture

The Dominant–Hegemonic reading is the obvious meaning of something. It’s the passive understanding of what something means, the face value. Negotiated meaning is a different interpretation than the dominant meaning. Oppositional reading is the opposite view, disagreeing with the ideological position or rejecting the dominant.
Example: The pop idol tv talent show. Dominant -It’s about talent, succeed, star power, competition. Negotiated- voting  for talent is democratic, national identity in the name of show, it’s local. Oppositional- there’s product placement,   it’s cheap programming with no writers/ no actors/ no special effects.
Something/everything means all these things at once.

Bricolage means changing the way something [like a consumer product] is used, so that it serves a different purpose.  Like using safety pins as a fashion statement. This is how subculture fashion and counter-culture trends happen. Doc marten were 1940s orthopedic work boots, and then it became punk fashion. Fashion mining from previous decades, is pulling out old trends and reusing them as current fashion.  Some things eventually pick up in mainstream-culture. Hipster style/Vintage style. Tattoos and piercings started as sub-culture and became mainstream in time. Somethings are all fashion. Low-rider cars flaunt their impracticality, they are defying their function as usable cars. It’s style.        Independent-self-expression becomes difficult when companies are Marketing fashion styles that signify resistance and sub-cultures. It blurs the lines between subculture and mainstream.  ‘Traditionally preppy’ clothing is now being worn by hip-hop artists, as ironic fashion.  The Codes of Irony  is when  a style exaggerates the scale in which things are utilized to signify resistance to it. Like, excessively ridiculous fashion, a dress that’s too ridiculous to wear, or a car too ridiculous to drive. Culture Capital can trickle up as well as down, starting as high-class and becoming low, Or starting low-class and becoming mainstream.
Appropriation and Cultural Production: Appropriation is defined as taking something for oneself without consent, borrowing and changing the meaning of cultural products, slogans, images, fashion.  Like Political art, when you Refabricate well-known images to show social exclusion and inequality.  Applying someone else’s slogan in a different context. Some Fan Cultures re-edit shows and changing the meanings, like slash fiction and Parody media.
Re-appropriation and Counter-Bricolage is the other direction from the last idea. Re-appropriation is when ‘producers/manufacturers’ incorporate fan ideas back into their products. It’s what happens when manufacturers Mine the Counter Culture styles to market  that Subculture to the mainstream masses. Those products lose their political meaning when they switch sides,  and don’t mean anything specific after they become mainstream fashion.  Appropriating strategies go back and forth until  the distinction between the margins and mainstream is unclear. High and low end cultures have been rendered meaningless because of the class-crossover.   It’s fluid and ever changing.
Culture is not a set of objects that are valued in some way, but  IS a set of processes through which meaning is constantly made and remade. Reordering, Redisplaying, and Reusing images in new and different meaningful ways.

Reception is the way people are consuming cultural products, watching and interpreting them.  The Majority of cultural production is done through entertainment and business industries. Presented and advertised  so Viewers can interpret, reject, or reconfigure the cultural texts they see.
The entertainment industry is able to change the meaning of words from an insult to a positive meaning. Example:  Black, Queer, ect, are no longer brash insults.  These changes take time, but  have been embraced in music and cinema.  Black movies in the 70s, initially insulted the colored community, but actually showed their sub-cultures to the world, and ultimately popularizing it with the mainstream audiences.
Mainstream is all marketing.