2 September 2012
Summary of “The High Cost of Manliness”
In this essay called “The High Cost of Manliness” written by Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas, in Austin, he tells us that “if we could get rid of the whole idea of masculinity, we have a chance to create a better world for men and women.” He states that it’s not easy to be a man in our society, especially with the demands that come with the dominant conception of masculinity, which is where men are perceived to be tough, competitive and aggressive and must show those qualities in order to prevail as a “real man.” He mentions that DNA does play a big role in a person’s behavior and that our genetic endowment is influenced by culture. The guys that don’t meet these expectations and who are caring and show compassion toward others are often called sissies, fags, or even girls. Jensen states that culture also seems to be linked to a recurring intellectual fad called “evolutionary psychology”, which creates a gender difference between men and women, and thus making it necessary to choose which gender distinctly shows more masculine characteristics than the other. For example he reminds us of the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy when male firefighters rushed into burning buildings, risking and even sacrificing there lives to help save others, and recognizing this as a sign of strength and masculinity, who is to say that women wouldn’t have done the same if put in that same situation. Jensen explains that the reaction to rush in a burning building to help those in need by those firefighters was “simply human” and for society to automatically assign these type of human qualities to a specific gender is “misguided and demeaning to the gender that is assumed not to possess these qualities.” Yes there are obviously physical differences between men and woman such as size, and reproductive organs, but he says when you think about it,...