Hegemonic Masculinity and Emphasized Femininity

The interrelation of gender on a very large scale is centered on a single structural fact: the global dominance of men over women.

This structural fact provides the basis for relationships among men that define a hegemonic form of masculinity in all of society.

"Hegemonic masculinity" is constructed in relation to other subordinated masculinities as well as in relation to women.

A patriarchal social order is based on the interplay of these different masculinities.

Masculinity is hegemonic among men. No femininity is hegemonic.

Definition of "hegemonic masculinity" is: "a social ascendancy achieved in a play of social forces that extends beyond contests of brute power into the organization of private life and cultural processes."

Ascendancy achieved through violent threats is not hegemony.

Ascendancy embedded in religious doctrine and practice, mass media content, wage structures, the design of housing, welfare/taxation policies, is.

Two common misunderstandings of hegemonic masculinity are:

1) though it does not refer to ascendancy based on force, it is not incompatible wit it
2) it does not mean total cultural dominance, the obliteration of alternatives, i.e., subordination not elimination

Cultural ideals of masculinity need not conform to the personalities of actual men or the realities of everyday achievement of men.

Hegemonic masculinity is very public through the mass media. It is not what men who are powerful are, but what sustains their power and what they support.

Most men benefit from the subordination of women.

Hegemonic masculinity contains a mix of strategies such as, "openings towards domesticity and openings towards violence, towards misogyny and towards heterosexual attraction."

It is constructured in relation to women and to subordinated masculinities. Hegemonic masculinity is heterosexual and closely tied to marriage. A key type of subordinated masculinity is homosexual as is dominance over young men, i.e., in the trades.

New forms of femininity may emerge and disappear at the mass level: however, all forms of femininity are constructed in the context of the subordination of women to men.

There are two main aspects of this asymmetry described above:

1) The concentration of social power in the hands of men leaves little room for women to construct
     institutionalized power   relationships over other women
2) The organization of a hegemony around dominance over the other sex is absent from the social
     construction of femininity

Actual femininities may be more diverse than actual masculinities.

In "emphasized femininity" the option of compliance is central to femininity.

Forms of femininity are clearly defined on a large social scale.

Differentiation is obvious based on the global suordination of women to men.

Forms of femininity are:
1) compliance with this subordination by accommodating the interests and desires of men.
    This is called "emphasized femininity."
2) resistance or forms of non-compliance
3) complex strategic combinations of compliance, resistance, and cooperation

The dynamics of change in the gender other depends on the interplay among these forms of femininity.

What examples of this does Connell give in the public cultural construction of "emphasized femininity?"

In conclusion, Connell states that, "Central to the maintenance of emphasized femininity is practice
that prevents other models of femininity gaining cultural articulation."