What is masculine hegemony and how does it hold the masculine ideal in a headlock?
There have been many approaches to give women much more equality and a much better opportunity to gain an equal place in everyday life, on the work force, as well as in politics. There has been an enormous effort, many campaigns and social movements aimed to back up on the possibilities for an equal social development. Many progressive and forward looking men have joined in this campaign and it is today a relatively accepted fact that men and women should be allowed to develop an equal opportunity to live, function and develop themselves in the world around us. But unfortunately much of these actions become just words and there is very little real action aimed at breaking down the enormous cultural traditions and models that men have lived in and developed their identity through for the last thousands of years.
Shortly after the demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo in February 2011, there appeared a drawing in a very popular newspaper in Copenhagen which tried to show how the voices calling out "free at last” were not really able to see that they were just fighting and had just overthrown the symbol of their repression and now necessarily the cultural and traditional representation itself of repression itself. Today it is very possible for us to see how true this was. The repression still exists in Cairo and in Egypt even though Hosni Mubarak is no longer in power and is being tried in the courts today. When I saw this drawing I immediately thought about the women’s movement and its enormous efforts to create a world of equality. They have demonstrated, rewritten many laws, made campaigns, written books, made many speeches, and developed a whole field of Women’s Studies in many universities in order to confront this institutional and cultural discrimination. But the problem is much bigger and ingrown into the culture and the tradition. These actions are just words and the power of masculine hegemony still exists in the walls. It is necessary to address directly the character and the influence of the masculine hegemony in all cultures. This necessitates that men themselves have to begin to see how they are a part of a culture and a tradition which protects their privileges and will not permit a fundamental change of values and approaches to the whole concept of gender thinking.
The problem with the entire movement regarding women’s liberation is that the men were left to themselves and now stimulated to take a stand and reflect on how the masculine culture fundamentally was able to create a societal structure and a cultural expression which is able to allow the continuation of inequality between the sexes. Now it is necessary to take the spoon in the other hand and work on men’s own understanding of how they lean up against the masculine hegemony in the culture and how this silent support of the existing masculine hegemony is able to prevent a real equality between the sexes and continue a repression of any real attempt to develop a real equality. Men have to develop a reflective understanding of their own identity in order to develop real changes in themselves as well as in the world around them. Otherwise they remain the powerful invisible and silent guards on the top of the wall, allowing for the women to proclaim "free at last”, well knowing that men support a secret and unarticulated masculine hegemony which will now permit a real equality between the sexes.
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