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Police Brutality: The Intersection of Masculinities

December 19, 2016

The recent report[1] by the Department of Justice outlining the Baltimore Police Department’s history of racial profiling, discriminatory practices, as well as excessive force, especially in black communities, highlights an important issue – the intersection of masculinities. The report accused Baltimore police officers of using their authority in ways that violated the rights of many Baltimore citizens. The report outlined the failure of officers to follow up on sexual assaults, sexual harassment of women, both in and out of the department, and even mentions incidents of strip searching men in public, arresting individuals for being disrespectful, and flexing their authority as if they were above the law. I will not say that all officers in the Baltimore Police Department should be blamed for the egregious actions of a few, far from it. However, the incidents between the police and the black community can provide insight into an important issue relating to masculinity. When the masculine needs of those in authority create an abusive system aimed at a group of people who have worked to overcome degradation and emasculation, the resulting tension has torn communities apart in the city and eroded public trust in the police department. We must not only look at the need to dominate and abuse one’s authority, but also focus on the screens on which that abuse is focused in order to get a clear picture of the drastic impact. The riots of April 2015 could possibly be the consequences when abusive masculinities intersect with black masculinities at a time when young black males have been made to feel that violence is the best means of exercising their manhood.

Building Bridges, or Building Walls?

November 04, 2016

What happened to the level of our [un]civil discourse? Why do so many people seem just not to like Hillary Clinton? How did Donald Trump (not really a Republican) and Bernie Sanders (not really a Democrat) do so well in the primaries? What is this “change” we all seem to want? Have Republicans already lost the Hispanic vote, like the African-American vote? Why is trust in the media and in the candidates so low? Is it time for a third party? Could the whole electoral system really be “rigged,” and if so, could it be under foreign influence?

Our hybrid class this semester, “Voters, Campaigns, and Elections,” has been looking at these and other questions. Among terribly polarized professional partisans and a vast middle unhappy with the whole thing, Americans of all political persuasions share one idea about this election: it has been a crazy year.

Precious, Fragile, Delicate Masculinity

October 27, 2016

American men are in crisis. Gone are the “Waynes” of the World—John and Bruce—and all of the coveted, unrelenting manliness they embody. Instead, the modern man is dangling in a delicate, fearful balance; he is desperately trying to live up to the masculine standards of these “Real Men,” while anxiously avoiding the moment his masculinity could be revealed as nothing but a ruse.

American heterosexual men constantly find themselves trying to prove that they are, in fact, men. The goal here is not just to be proven as a man, but to be the manliest man in all of manhood. The competition men impose on each other and themselves—a never ending one-uppery of he-man masculinity—often creates the opposite intended effect, leaving these men feeling fragile and insecure in their identity. A consequence of such is a man’s hyper-consciousness of any perceived impending threat to his manhood. The smallest mishap could tip the scales; the tiniest prick could burst through his sphere of masculinity.

The Right to Bear Arms

September 20, 2016

Guns and gun control are undeniably hotly contested topics today. Yet even before the United States was founded, debates about the ethical implications of gunpowder weapons had been raging for centuries.

In fact in the early 1600s, Emperor Maximilian I outlawed handguns shortly after they were invented because he believed that they promoted duplicity and posed a security risk to the empire. Not surprisingly, middle-class citizens of the Holy Roman Empire had a lot to say about his ban. But that was only the beginning.

A Labor of Love: The Heart of Liberal Studies

June 30, 2016

I didn’t know him; and although I wish I had, I’m certain that I’ve known a few people like him. In each case, these are the individuals who ultimately shape one’s intellectual development, not just in the classroom but also well beyond.

In a recent reflection in Loyola magazine, Michele Wojciechowski (’90) presents a loving tribute to Dr. Charles Hands, Professor Emeritus at Loyola and designer of the Master of Modern Studies program (now the Graduate Program in Liberal Studies). The image Ms. Wojciechowski gives us is that of a man imposing in his intellect and yet affable in his approach to others. Reading her words, even if you had never met Charlie, you can’t help but feel a touch of his warmth or be inspired by his proclamation that “poetry is all around us.” For my part, I also can’t help but think of Wolfgang Walter Fuchs, my first professor as an undergraduate student in philosophy.

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