|The Story of Gender Construction|
A fictional short story, illustrating hegemonic masculinity,
based on Demetria Lucas's article "She changed his flat tire. He never called her again. Is this a case of a fragile male ego?"
Maxwell reminded Michelle of her father. He paid for everything, he ordered for her at dinner, he always seem to have the right thing to say, he spoke for them both when they went out, and many other things that reflect a traditional/stereotypical Western man. There were more pros than cons. But Michelle experienced how fragile his ego could be, and it was never pretty. In the 3 months they dated it was like like she had to babysit him, tiptoeing around certain things as to not upset him, purposely avoiding questions about her past relationship, and dumming down her career. Michelle is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company; My Picx. She's been featured in online publications, print, magazines, and newspaper columns. But Michelle has been reluctant to share the magnitude of her career with Maxwell. Maxwell also works for a prestigious company, but he does not make as nearly as much as Michelle does. She's opted to reveal that she's an entrepreneur. However, she does overshare and boost her love of cooking and desire for kids.
Once he invited her to dinner at Rockefeller Center but it was snowing and freezing out. Michelle had had a long work week and just wanted to kick back. She offered to make them both dinner at his apartment in New Jersey. Maxwell pressed the issue saying, "you need to allow me to treat you and take care of you". She insisted and won the battle with making dinner, despite her fatigue and restlessness.
There were plenty of red flags, warning signs, hints, to Maxwell's hyper masculine, patriarchal, and shameless sexist point of views. But Maxwell was adaptive and knew how to position his "manhood" in a way that was digestible. Anytime Michelle was tempted to address a problematic comment, Maxwell smoothed over her worries with, "that's not sexist. I'm a feminist". She'd rolled her eyes or laugh it off and brushed it under the rug as one of the cons of dating a man in the 21st century, they just say stupid things.
Interestingly enough, Michelle came across an article that addressed this very topic; male privilege. The author quotes an acquaintance, "the first big privilege which whites, males, people in upper economic classes, the able bodied, the straight, can work to alleviate is the privilege to be oblivious to privilege ".1 The way in which Maxwell makes comments that he's has not acknowledged his male privilege. Maxwell told Michelle a story of being tormented by his classmates for wearing the color pink, and being jumped by several kids at his school over the course of weeks because of it. This tidbit reminded Michelle of another article she read that referenced this malicious treatment of boys. The article states, "There is other training that keeps us in the box. Besides getting into fights, we are ostracized and teased, and girls don't seem to like us when we step out of the box"2 In that way that young boys are forced in a box of not being able to express their emotions. The manifestation of this life long suppression produces anger, resentment, sadness, confusion, and low self-esteem 3.
These high expectations are dangerous and put those "boxed" men on a ticking time
bomb clock. Michelle experienced this very anger and resentment on their 12th date. She changed Maxwell's flat tire. He never called her again. It was reminiscent of the fragile male ego?4 " The night was going great — until Maxwell car got a flat tire. He had pulled over on the side of the road and called AAA. It was dark and late; Michelle didn’t feel safe. It would take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours for AAA to show up. Michelle changed the tire in less than an hour.5 Maxwell did not speak as he drove Michelle home. Before demanding her to get out his car, he barked at her for emasculating him. After 3 months of dating, she never heard from him again.