Crazy, Rich, “Hegemonically Masculine” Asians?

crazy rich asians

By Jane Hatfield

Although attempting to be progressive as the first Hollywood film with an all Asian cast in over 25 years, Crazy Rich Asians perpetuates traditional gender norms of hegemonic masculinity and femininity. The texts Everyday Women and Gender Studies and Gender Inequality help display the implications of the movie’s differing portrayal of both genders.

The bachelor and bachelorette party scenes in the film define typical gender roles as the men party, drink, and shoot guns while the women shop, gossip, and tan on the beach. At the bachelor party, the men are constantly surrounded by beautiful female models, all of whom sit around them or on their laps in tiny bikinis. This portrayal of women reinforces the belief that women exist only in order to appeal to men, to be seen as sexual, beautiful objects for the taking. As Judith Lorber explains in Gender Inequality, “one of the manifestations of men’s objectification of women is the male gaze, the cultural creation of women as the objects of men’s sexual fantasies” (174). The scene further supports traditional masculinity when one bachelor takes a bazooka gun and fires it off of the ship. Since this act of aggression and the use of guns is seen as stereotypically male, Crazy Rich Asians supports traditional gender norms. In “Racializing the Glass Escalator,” Adia Wingfield concludes, “contemporary hegemonic masculine ideals emphasize toughness, strength, aggressiveness, heterosexuality, and a clear sense of femininity as different from and subordinate to masculinity” (266). Through its bachelor party scene, Crazy Rich Asians perpetuates hegemonic qualities of masculinity and depictions of women as subordinate to men.

On the flip side, the Asian women in the bachelorette party spend most of their time on a shopping spree, squealing with joy at the thought of buying new clothes and products. The portrayal of characters Araminta, Amanda, and Francesca as product-crazy consumerists redefines the stereotype that femininity is defined by an interest and dedication to beauty. In “The Muslim Women,” Lila Abu-Luhgod states that America is “a nation that exploits women like consumer products or advertising tools, calling upon customers to purchase them”  (31). While reinforcing the idea that women are the primary consumer of beauty products, the film also suggests that women themselves are a product to be consumed, as evident in the sexualization and objectification in Crazy Rich Asians’ bachelor party scene. Further, when Amanda and some of the other girls leave a dead fish on Rachel’s bed with the words “gold-digging bitch” written on the mirror, Crazy Rich Asians perpetuates the stereotype that women are inherently bitchy and love to gossip, especially when it comes to their boyfriends.

Overall, whether overt or not, the differing portrayal of females and males in Crazy Rich Asians reinforces hegemonic masculinity, As Braithwaite and Orr state in Everyday Women and Gender Studies, “these are the characteristics of real men constantly              re-presented around us, in everything from popular culture (film, TV, music videos) to the workplace; indeed there is a long history of such representations of what has been called hegemonic masculinity” (311). Since the film constantly switches back between shots from the bachelor and bachelorette parties, Crazy Rich Asians helps to contrast and define what it means to be feminine and masculine.

 


Note: This essay was written by a student in Dr. Heidi R. Lewis’ First-Year Experience (FYE) course FG110 Introduction to Feminist and Gender Studies. FG110 teaches students how to examine, power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. The students visited a local theatre to screen Crazy Rich Asians, and this essay was written in response.

Stay Educated My Friends: Subverting Hegemonic Ideologies in Dos Equis’ Advertising Campaign

By Joey Brasch, Emily Komie, Kelsey Maxwell, Ethan Schick, Sam Suzuki, Noah Weeks (Block 2 2017)

Dos Equis (Original Print)“By providing advice on how to be ‘interesting,’ TMIM, who is framed throughout the advertisement campaign as rugged and adventurous, is suggesting that one must be interested in particular kinds of things in order to be masculine. Along those lines, it is difficult to separate what this advertisement refers to as boring (eating mild salsa and wearing khaki pants) from femininity or those who are often referred to as a ‘wimpy’ or ‘sissy’ man. This print advertisement pigeonholes consumers and viewers into perceiving masculinity narrowly, and serves to surveil and discipline men who do not meet these gendered expectations.”

Dos Equis (New Print)“In our version of the commercial, our main character is placed in everyday activities, such as exercising at the gym, playing basketball, driving in a residential area, eating lunch with her friends, and lying in bed with a sexual partner. However, instead of empty platitudes about how she is adventurous and unique, we instead have the narrator describe how the main character lives her life treating people with respect and without adhering to strict gender roles. In the end, we address the gendered positioning of beer that is often portrayed in the media and promote independent thinking with the final words, ‘stay educated, my friends.'”

Keep Your Douche to Yourself: An Analysis of Rape in Sausage Party

doucheBy Nan L. Elpers

In Sausage Party, when Douche realizes he’s been wounded and is leaking, he rapes and murders Juice Box, using his juice as fuel. Later in the movie, he tries to rape Brenda the hot-dog bun in an attempt to take revenge on her sausage boyfriend Frank, who accidentally pushed Douche out of the shopping cart, causing him to twist his handle. Analyzed through the perspective of feminist studies of men, the Douche’s assaults and motivation for rape reveal the dangers of hegemonic masculinity and the use of rape as a means to punish and assert authority. When Douche rapes Juice Box, he feminizes his victim in a way that reduces Juice Box to a state of female vulnerability. In “‘Guys are just homophobic’: Rethinking Adolescent Homophobia and Heterosexuality,” C.J. Pascoe explains that “the constraint and touching of female bodies gets translated as masculinity, embedding sexualized meanings in which heterosexual flirting is coded as female helplessness and male bodily dominance” (114). Though Juice Box is male, the scene likens him to a female rape victim in the way that Douche appears to be delivering cunnilingus while sucking out his insides. The graphic, sexually violent imagery emasculates Juice Box, allowing the rape scene to mirror a man-on-woman assault. Douche asserts his masculinity through this power structure, as dominance directly correlates to masculinity. And because Juice Box effectively stands in for a female victim, that masculinity is not compromised by any homosexual connotations of weakness or vulnerability.

It is important that Douche feminize Juice Box so that he prove himself more masculine.  In “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept,” Raewyn Connell explains that “hegemonic masculinity was distinguished from other masculinities, especially subordinated masculinities” (256). Hegemonic masculinity describes those men at the top of the social food chain. This hierarchy necessitates the subordination of not only women, but other men as well.  The way that Douche emasculated Juice Box through rape made him, crudely, more like a woman.  In doing so, Douche both took power from Juice Box and amped his social status on the masculine ladder by forcibly putting yet another person beneath him. In the scene, Douche literally grows in size and strength as he sucks the life force from Juice Box, illustrating his rise to power.

Douche employs the age-old military technique of sexually violating a woman to punish her tribe.  In “’National Security’ and the Violation of Women,” Sylvanna Falcón asserts that “rapes occur because sexual assault is in the arsenal of military strategies; it is a weapon of war, used to dominate women and psychologically debilitate people viewed as the ‘enemy’” (228).  Although raping Brenda will do no physical harm to her boyfriend Frank, Douche understands that in debasing her he will cause Frank psychological harm.  In fact, Douche appears not to care about Brenda at all, against whom he holds no grudge other than for her tie to Frank, taking advantage of her status as Frank’s belonging.  Because we charge women with guarding their purity and in doing so maintaining a people or a couple’s morality, Douche’s rape of Brenda directly attacks Frank’s image and morale.


NOTE: This essay was written by a First-Year Experience (FYE) student in FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies taught by Professor Heidi R. Lewis. FG110 teaches students how to examine power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. Near the end of the block, the students visited a local theater to screen Sausage Party, and this essay was written in response.

Video

No Pain, No Game: The Roots and Effects of Violence in Contact Sport

This video, written and produced by Malone DeYoung, Claire Hotaling, Emily McBride, and Ashley Sawyer during the First-Year Experience (FYE) section of FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies at Colorado College during Block 1 2016, explores the relationship between hegemonic masculinity and contact sport.

 

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The Reinforcement of Masculinity through Violence

nemethBy Jade Frost (‘17)

Last September Fidel Lopez disemboweled his girlfriend, Maria Nemeth, after she screamed out her ex-husband’s name during sex. According to Lopez, he and Nemeth were having “rough sex” in their Florida apartment when he became angered by this Freudian slip and proceeded to shatter glass, punch walls, and take doors off their hinges. When he returned to Nemeth, she was passed out unconscious on the bed. He proceeded to shove various objects into her vagina and anus and then put his forearm inside her, at which point he started to rip out her intestines. Lopez then carried Nemeth to the bathroom to try and revive her with water. When that obviously didn’t work, Lopez washed his hands, smoked a cigarette, and then called the police. Lopez at first told police that she died from the rough sex that they had and it wasn’t until later that he told the authorities what really happened. Fidel Lopez is currently being charged with 1st degree murder.

The disturbing thing about this story is not just the blatant horror of this murder, but that this is not the first time we have seen physical and emotional domestic abuse reinforced through various mediums of media. In Victoria E. Collins and Dianne C. Carmody’s “Deadly Love: Images of Dating Violence in the ‘Twilight Saga’,” they site James W. Messerschmidt and write, “Under hegemonic masculinity, which is both youthful and heterosexual, force may be acceptable in romantic relationships. Such gender stereotypes, reinforced by mediated messages may certainly encourage dating violence and perceptions of romance that reflect traditional gender roles” (357). With this, I think that Lopez felt that his masculinity was threatened when Nemeth didn’t scream his name and thus reverted to violence to assert power and reinforce his masculinity.

We also see this violence in pornography that focuses on objectifying the woman rather than pursuing pleasure. Jane Caputi uses E. Ann Kaplan’s definition of pornography in “The Pornography of Everyday Life,” writing, “Pornography in this view is not about the ‘joy of sex’ but about the domination and ‘denigration of women and a fear and hatred of the female body” (374). The way that Lopez mutilated Nemeth’s body appears to be out of pure hatred and even possible fear that he might be emasculated. Lopez wanted to dominate his girlfriend and wanted to be in complete control. Caputi goes on to write in her article, “The rightness of male sexual domination of women is assumed, even when there seems to be a challenge” (375). The way that Lopez sodomized and violated her body seems very deliberate and premeditated. I think he saw the disembowelment as a challenge in itself, and then once that was conquered the new challenge was how he was going to tell the police. Later, Caputi writes, “When the penis is represented as a weapon, rape becomes its purpose, intercourse becomes a kind of murder, and the will to hurt becomes definitive of being a man” (377). Violence in relationships is nothing new in our society. Lopez is one of the many products of what happens when masculinity becomes so fragile that murder is the only way to strengthen it again.