Hardness, Softness – Masculinity Crisis in America

Amanda Phillip’s article “Dicks Dicks Dicks: Hardness and Flaccidity In (Virtual) Masculinity” explores toxic masculinity within America. According to gender theorist, Judith Butler, “gender is neither the casual result of sex nor as seemingly fixed as sex,” but rather is performed through acts of “bodily gestures, movements, and enactments” (Butler, 1988, p. 9 & 10). Similarly, masculinity and manhood are dependent on being oppositional to femininity and require men to perform various acts to prove their manliness.

Phillip’s argues that “society wants masculinity to be hard, from its cock to its biceps to its steely, impenetrable self-assurance.” The correlation between masculinity and a man’s penis stems from the primal and sexual nature of men. Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest places men who are sexually dominant as superior due to their ability to attract the best mate. This primal nature results in men feeling pressure to be the sexually dominant male that society requires. Men feel trapped to perform this “hard” form of masculinity to achieve approval by both women and other men.

Phillips constructs masculinity within the parameters of a hard penis and a flaccid penis. According to Phillip’s the video games The Tearoom, Second Life, and Genital Jousting, emphasize a variety of penises, primarily feature hard penises. The absence of soft cocks in digital dick modification symbolizes society’s dislike towards men that do not perform extremely masculine acts. Popular culture and the media position men that exude “soft” masculinity as those who are weak and inferior. However, Phillip’s believes that men need “celebrate the floppy dick, relax [their] expectations of hard masculinity,” which will help solve the masculinity crisis in America.

For this video, I decided to focus on two characters from Friends, Joey Tribbiani and Ross Geller. Joey Tribbiani represents the “hard” masculinity in his ability to attract women. Joey is known for his seduction tactics with the line “how you doin’,” which causes women to succumb to his charm. In contrast, Ross Geller represents the “soft” man who is weak, emotional, and sexually incompetent. Unlike Joey, Ross cannot attract women regardless of his ridiculous antics. Additionally, in one scene, Ross is seen being judged by a woman for his constant whining and self-deprecating comments. The lack of confidence and sexual dominance causes women to disregard Ross and for the men to view him as weak. I think that these characters and video clips perfectly represent Phillip’s argument of hard penises dominating popular culture over soft penises. If media-constructed “soft” men in a positive light like they do the “hard” characters, then society would view “soft” men as an acceptable option.

Questions:
– What are the societal effects of media only promoting “hard” masculinity rather than “soft”?

– Phillip’s argues: “Our masculine bodies must remain firm and disciplined, ready to penetrate enemy ranks with bullets that rip through flesh.” What does this mean for the soft man? Can he “penetrate enemy ranks?”
– In what media forms is the “soft” masculine viewed as more attractive than the “soft” masculinity?
– In 2018, why does the media still stress the “hard” type of masculinity?
– Are there any negative repercussions to the “soft” man?

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