Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of rap music by a variety of artists. One of my favorite rappers, Wax, has a song called “I Ain’t A Real Man.” The catchy hook qualifies the title:
I ain’t a real man, real men work
Digging, digging, shoveling dirt
The kind of work, that when you get home your back hurts
Blood stains cover your shirt, that’s real work
The rest of the song goes on to explain how Wax doesn’t consider himself a “real man” for working in the music industry as a rapper when there are firemen, soldiers, plumbers, migrant workers, coal miners, truckers, and even McDonald’s employees who are laboring under worse conditions for worse compensation. I thought it was an interesting perspective, considering most rappers take pride in boasting about their masculinity and degrading that of any competition in the industry.
We learned that masculine identity is often expected to include certain elements of success and self-reliance in one’s field of work, but in spite of this, Wax admires laymen who work more labor-intensive jobs for less wages. Listening to the song is helpful in understanding the dynamic logic he offers, so I encourage you to check it out!
A couple of days ago, I watched an episode of Friends that called my attention and made me think about some of the things that we are discussing in this class. In this episode, Ross’ son, Ben, seems to enjoy playing with a Barbie, which makes Ross feel very worried because it isn’t really a toy that boys “should” play with. In his efforts to make Ben drop the Barbie, Ross brings a G.I Joe for Ben to play with since he is the “toughest guy in toy land”. I thought this had to do with something I read in Chapter 7 about growing up masculine. One of its themes was to be aggressive, which involves being tough and not run from confrontations. When I read about it, I thought that of course it would make more sense for a boy to play with a G.I Joe rather than a Barbie, but this shouldn’t mean that it is “wrong” to play with toys that don’t reflect the traditional views of feminine and masculine. I remember that my sister and I used to play with Barbies while growing up but we would also ask our parents for Max Steel’s since we thought they were pretty cool too. But to conclude this thought, I just don’t think that we should be as worried as Ross because we see a toddler play with a toy that is not very “according” to their sex. In the end, a toy wouldn’t make that much of a difference because there are so many other factors that influence how we will decide to perform our own gender.