Thus black men were depicted as ram paging sexual

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thereby rescue civilization. Thus black men were depicted as ram- paging sexual beasts, women as carnivorously carnal, gay men as sexually insatiable, southern European men as sexually predatory and voracious, and Asian men as vicious and cruel torturers who were immorally disinterested in life itself, willing to sacri fi ce their entire people for their whims. But whether one saw these groups as michael s. kimmel 192
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e ff eminate sissies or as brutal uncivilized savages, the terms with which they were perceived were gendered. These groups become the ‘others,’ the screens against which traditional conceptions of manhood were developed. Being seen as unmanly is a fear that propels American men to deny manhood to others, as a way of proving the unprovable—that one is fully manly. Masculinity becomes a defense against the perceived threat of humiliation in the eyes of other men, enacted through a ‘sequence of postures’—things we might say, or do, or even think, that, if we thought carefully about them, would make us ashamed of our- selves (Savran, 1992, p. 16). After all, how many of us have made homophobic or sexist remarks, or told racist jokes, or made lewd comments to women on the street? How many of us have translated those ideas and those words into actions, by physically attacking gay men, or forcing or cajoling a woman to have sex even though she didn’t really want to because it was important to score? ......................................................................................................................... POWER AND POWERLESSNESS IN THE LIVES OF MEN ......................................................................................................................... I have argued that homophobia, men’s fear of other men, is the ani- mating condition of the dominant de fi nition of masculinity in America, that the reigning de fi nition of masculinity is a defensive e ff ort to pre- vent being emasculated. In our e ff orts to suppress or overcome those fears, the dominant culture exacts a tremendous price from those deemed less than fully manly: women, gay men, nonnative-born men, men of color. This perspective may help clarify a paradox in men’s lives, a paradox in which men have virtually all the power and yet do not feel powerful (see Kaufman, 1993). Manhood is equated with power—over women, over other men. Everywhere we look, we see the institutional expression of that power— in state and national legislatures, on the boards of directors of every major U.S. corporation or law fi rm, and in every school and hospital administration. Women have long understood this, and feminist women have spent the past three decades challenging both the public and the private expressions of men’s power and acknowledging their fear of men. Feminism as a set of theories both explains women’s fear of men and empowers women to confront it both publicly and pri- vately. Feminist women have theorized that masculinity is about the drive for domination, the drive for power, for conquest.
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