The Power Of Group Mentality
Gender discrimination can be directed towards someone women, men, homosexuals, or drag queens alike. In Susan Faludi’s “The Naked Citadel,” the men of the citadel are naughtily taught to discriminate against women and homosexuals. The men see women as unequal subjects and believe that they should never be granted the opportunity to attend The Citadel. Similarly, homosexuality is looked upon as being abnormal and wrong and anyone who is homosexual is not considered a “real man.” Likewise, in Beth Loffreda’s “Losing Matt Shepard,” the gay men and women are fiercely ostracized. Group mentality plays a huge role in the reason why different groups of people are discriminated against. Large groups have the ability to influence and persuade people into mimicking the way the group thinks and acts. Some individuals oppress their opinions to fit in with a group while others simply abandon their old opinions and adopt new ones as a result of being heavily influenced. Either way, gender discrimination occurs. When one joins a group one understands that he or she has to conform to the group in order to be accepted. The need to be accepted causes one to either oppress one’s opinions or change them altogether. However, when one chooses to oppress his or her opinions, eventually one will act out against the group.
Some individuals oppress their true opinions for safety reasons and in order to fit in with a group of people. The Citadel practices an extremely misogynistic way of life. Once men enter The Citadel, they are taught from day one to hate women and homosexuals. If one does not obey by this rule and does not practice The Citadel’s views on women and homosexuals, one will be debased and will not be treated as a “real man.” If one does not oppress one’s own opinion and replace it with The Citadel’s opinion and if one does not adopt the violent way of life at The Citadel, one will be endlessly tortured and beaten. In order for an individual to be safe and fit in with the rest of the group, one must at least act as if he or she shares the group’s opinions. The institution of The Citadel creates the conception that in order to be a cadet, behaving aggressively and violently is imperative. Even if one is brave enough to outwardly support the rights of women and homosexuals, he or she must suffer the consequences. Therefore, the cadets are solely bound to each other by that factor. As Faludi states, “The military stage set offers a false front and a welcome trapdoor—an escape hatch from the social burdens of traditional masculinity” (Faludi 210). The Citadel is an institution that seems to welcome the men into their community, but upon their entrance, they are essentially trapped and have no way out. The cadets come to discover that The Citadel manipulates them and thrusts them into a world of exaggerated masculinity where they are forced to put up a front that adheres to the institution’s masculine status. It is nearly impossible for the cadets to be accepted within The Citadel’s community without at least oppressing their opinions. All men that attend The Citadel want to be safe and accepted. By oppressing one’s opinion and joining the group, it gives one a sense of unity and relief. “I know it sounds trivial, but all of us in one shower, it’s like we’re all one, we’re all the same, and—I don’t know—you feel like you’re exposed, but you feel safe” (Faludi 182). All aspects of the men’s lives are performed as a unit. If a cadet is not a part of this unit, he will not be a part of The Citadel family. Being in a group and fitting in with the group mentality is far easier for most individuals because they feel protected and united. Ultimately, the people who oppressed their feelings at The Citadel started to discriminate against women and homosexuals and conducted themselves in a violent manner did so to act like the masses. As some men at The Citadel oppress their opinions, the gays in “Losing Matt Shepard”...
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