Masculinity as homophobia 193 this feminist de fi

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masculinity as homophobia 193
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This feminist de fi nition of masculinity as the drive for power is theorized from women’s point of view. It is how women experience masculinity. But it assumes a symmetry between the public and the private that does not conform to men’s experiences. Feminists observe that women, as a group, do not hold power in our society. They also observe that individually, they as women, do not feel powerful. They feel afraid, vulnerable. Their observation of the social reality and their individual experiences are therefore symmetrical. Feminism also observes that men, as a group, are in power. Thus, with the same symmetry, feminism has tended to assume that individually men must feel powerful. This is why the feminist critique of masculinity often falls on deaf ears with men. When confronted with the analysis that men have all the power, many men react incredulously. ‘What do you mean, men have all the power?’ they ask. ‘What are you talking about? My wife bosses me around. My kids boss me around. My boss bosses me around. I have no power at all! I’m completely powerless!’ Men’s feelings are not the feelings of the powerful, but of those who see themselves as powerless. These are the feelings that come inevitably from the discontinuity between the social and the psychological, between the aggregate analysis that reveals how men are in power as a group and the psychological fact that they do not feel powerful as individuals. They are the feelings of men who were raised to believe themselves entitled to feel that power, but do not feel it. No wonder many men are frustrated and angry. This may explain the recent popularity of those workshops and retreats designed to help men to claim their ‘inner’ power, their ‘deep manhood,’ or their ‘warrior within.’ Authors such as Bly (1990), Moore and Gillette (1991, 1992, 1993a, 1993b), Farrell (1986, 1993), and Keen (1991) honor and respect men’s feelings of powerlessness and acknowledge those feelings to be both true and real. ‘They gave white men the semblance of power,’ notes John Lee, one of the leaders of these retreats (quoted in Newsweek , p. 41). ‘We’ll let you run the country, but in the meantime, stop feeling, stop talking, and continue swallowing your pain and your hurt.’ (We are not told who ‘they’ are.) Often the purveyors of the mythopoetic men’s movement, that broad umbrella that encompasses all the groups helping men to retrieve this mythic deep manhood, use the image of the chau ff eur to describe modern man’s position. The chau ff eur appears to have the power—he’s wearing the uniform, he’s in the driver’s seat, and he michael s. kimmel 194
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knows where he’s going. So, to the observer, the chau ff eur looks as though he is in command. But to the chau ff eur himself, they note, he is merely taking orders. He is not at all in charge. 6 Despite the reality that everyone knows chau ff eurs do not have the power, this image remains appealing to the men who hear it at these weekend workshops. But there is a missing piece to the image, a piece
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