Reading Comprehension Practice Quiz – 3

Men are primarily and secondarily socialized into believing certain characteristics are definitive in determining their masculinity. These characteristics range from playing violently to not crying when they are injured. The socialization of masculinity in our society begins as early as the first stages of infancy, with awareness of adult gender role differences being internalized by children as young as two years old. Studies show that advertising imagery equates masculinity with violence by portraying the trait of aggression as instrumental to establishing their masculinity. Lee Bowker, who researched the influence of advertisements on youth, asserts that toy advertisements featuring only boys depict aggressive behavior and that the aggressive behavior produces positive consequences more often than negative. Bowker also looked at commercials with boys that contain references to domination. His results indicated that 68.6% of the commercials positioned toward boys contain incidents of verbal and physical aggression. However there were no cross gender displays of aggressive behavior. Interestingly, not one single-sex commercial featuring girls showed any act of aggression. Bowker’s research helps explain that it is not just the reinforcement of a child’s close caretakers that lends legitimacy to aggressive masculine tendencies but society as a whole, using the medium of television.

William Pollack, a Harvard clinical psychologist, talks about how males have been put in a “gender straightjacket” that leads to anger, despair and often violence. Pollack states that society asks men to put a whole range of feelings and emotions behind a mask and shames them if they display any emotion. Pollack contends that boys are ‘shame phobic’, even killing, in extreme cases, to avoid dishonor. It appears that the standard defined by society allows men to express their emotion only through anger. Ironically, though these rigid stereotypes of what it means to be a man have been inculcated from an early age, men are often criticized for being one-dimensional in
their behavior and emotions.

Women often verbalize a desire for males to be sensitive and express their emotions. But male insensitivity is the culmination of a societal indoctrination begun at birth. Realistically, men are in a damned if they do, damned if they don’t situation. If they fail to show their emotions, they are berated for being detached from the essence of what constitutes a human being. On the other hand, if a male decides to expose his emotions, he is often branded effeminate and regarded as inferior to other males who stick closer to their gender’s traditional doctrine.

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