Hear me out Opinions

Hear Me Out: There’s No Need To Flip The Table

How toxic masculinity plays on men’s emotions when watching sports

My friend came up to me the other day and started talking to me about her boyfriend’s sports-watching habits. She said that he becomes so violent when his team loses, that he has to take a 30-minute break before being able to have a conversation with her where he will not be verbally aggressive or loud.

How do I respond?

The short answer would be: send him to therapy. The long one is what I’m trying to unpack in this article.

This got me thinking about the culture of sports and how it ties into men and their emotions.

I love the idea of a community coming together to show support for a sports team, which is an important part of our culture and identity as a population.

In a digital age where we tend to not know our neighbour, literally and figuratively, sports can be a way for people to find communities, as they’re linked with territorial identification. Go Habs go, am I right?

But, was I the only one growing up scared of walking in front of a screen hypnotizing a group of men, or worse, to stereotypically ask them if they wanted another beer or more chicken wings in the fear of getting yelled at?

In a study on football hooliganism, six features are identified in the culture of sports and violence: “excitement and pleasurable emotional arousal, hard masculinity, territorial identifications, individual and collective management of reputation, a sense of solidarity and belonging, and representations of sovereignty and autonomy.”

As a sports fan myself, I understand the feeling of your favourite team winning. But I still cringe at the over-the-top reactions from men watching sports — whether it’s getting up from the couch to scream at the screen or making comments out loud on certain athletes’ performances as if they could hear them. Sometimes they even hug, but only because they’ve been made to believe that this is an acceptable time to show physical affection to another man.

If you’re having a hard time picturing what I’m describing, I’ll refer you to this Pepsi and Lay’s 2003 commercial where four men are watching a football game, taking touching each other in the slightest way too much to heart; but after a touchdown, they break into an orgy of hugs, butt slaps and grabs on the couch.

I won’t get into too much of a rant on homoeroticism and men’s sports, but in what other circumstances have you seen heterosexual men grab each other’s butts than in a football league?

In an even surprising yet probable instance, they also cry.

This cleverly goes against the way patriarchy brainwashes boys from a young age to think that their emotions are not valid or, at least, shouldn’t be shown in public.

Even male athletes crying or showing emotions that are deemed too “feminine” is accepted by society as the context of sports somehow gives it a stamp of masculine approval.

I’m not just saying that from personal experience.

In their study, Heather J. MacArthur from the department of psychology at Hamilton College presented participants with different scenarios of men and women crying in different contexts that were stereotypically masculine, such as firefighting and weightlifting, or stereotypically feminine like nursing and figure skating.

The results showed that men who cried during sports or professions that were deemed masculine were perceived as more emotionally appropriate and emotionally strong than the ones who cried in more stereotypically feminine settings.

Now I’m all for men showing their emotions. It’s just sad that they need an entire sports league in order to do so.

It somehow makes sense why men would cry watching sports because it’s something they are taught to care about.

After all, according to Michael Messner’s Televised Sports Manhood Formula, “boys are taught that paying the price, be it one’s bodily health or one’s money, gives one access to the privileges that have been historically linked to hegemonic masculinity — money, power, glory, and women.”

In their study, Messner also identified a link between violence and sports as he states that the stereotype of aggressive players getting the prize, and nice guys finishing last is impacting young boys’ views.

This is what concerns me the most about men watching sports.

Although Professor Daniel Wann attributes sports fan aggression mainly to alcohol consumption, he also points out that a personal identification to the team is an extension of the fan himself.

With that narrative, a sports fan watching their favourite team lose can be seen as a personal failure, or even worse, a personal attack from the winning team.

That is where the violence comes in.

Although I don’t personally feel the need to identify with a team so much that it would define who I am, I understand if that’s what someone else is into (though I might cringe a little).

It’s just frustrating as a woman to always be told that our emotions are uncontrollable, when men will flip a table or be verbally aggressive out of the blue because some other men in uniforms’ bodies did not perform well enough.

So now, what do I tell my friend? That her boyfriend is just another victim of patriarchy and that his handling of his emotions is just a result of that? No, that’s much too academic and pointless to be honest.

However, it’s the real answer that I found in my research. Even though it’s no small task, we need to address the general attitudes on gender dynamics and sports before ever getting to the case of my friend’s boyfriend.


Pink Sweat$ talks his quick rise to fame and disproving stereotypes

The Philadelphia up-and-comer shows confidence and promise as he wraps up his first-ever tour

Pink Sweat$ is tired- and justifiably so. The R&B singer is curled up in a ball on the cement floor of L’Astral, recognizable only by the heap of pink hues that make up his figure. He is sound asleep despite the sound check for guitar and drums happening feet away from his toes. As the Montreal date marks the second-to-last show of his Pink Beginnings Tour, the up-and-coming talent recoups his energy where he can, harvesting it for when the lights dim and all eyes are on him.

The Philadelphia-native may be new to touring, but his wide-scale exposure came quick. The former songwriter garnered a buzz with the release of his 2018 debut EP Volume 1 and the success of its single “Honesty,” only to carry on with the momentum with its successor, Volume 2.

The acoustically-driven R&B sound that distinguishes Pink Sweat$ from the rest of the league’s top contenders is not his only differential. The artist describes himself as a brand – encompassing everything from his music, his stage name, the pink aesthetic that surrounds him and the barriers he’s trying to break in a hyper-masculine dominated industry.

“We’re just trying to break the toxic masculinity vibes,” he says, draped from head to toe in his own pinkgang merchandise and fuzzy sandals strapped over his pink Cam’ron high socks. “I think it starts with one thing and leads to another, so like, how men view men, versus how men treat women. It’s all a trickle down effect, y’know? Pink, at the end of the day, is just a colour. If you have an issue with someone wearing a colour… you’re assuming someone’s this way or that way, based on the colour of their hoodie or clothing. That’s kind of weird.”

Pink Sweat$ performs in front of a floral display to a sold-out show on June 12. Photo by Jacob Carey.

Apart from dealing with the connotations associated with the colour pink, Pink Sweat$ also notes that his brand struggles with stereotypes that come along with being a black male artist.

“Literally, people be thinking I’m a rapper,” he laughs. “Or they’re just like, ‘what kind of music do you make?’ And then they hear the song and they’re like ‘this you?’ It’s not even a racist thing, it’s just programming. That’s how you’re programmed.”

A near-death experience with achalasia, a serious condition that affects the esophagus, was the turning point in Pink Sweat$’s career where he would transition from songwriter to singer. However, he says he wishes that he hadn’t needed to rely on such a traumatic experience to push him to follow his passion and that more black male artists would readily embrace their talent.

“You don’t have to follow every trend to be successful,” he continues. “That’s not being an artist. Behind the scenes, a lot of black male artists are always compromising because they don’t believe that there is a monetary value in their art… Once people find their confidence to just ‘do them,’ and they’re actually talented, usually that’s when you win. It’s just that inner thing. Once that key goes in, it locks, and you feel it.”

Hours later, Pink Sweat$ demonstrates that aforementioned confidence on stage as he performs to a sea of pink hoodies and pink bandanas. Despite performing only six shows before heading out on tour, the showman shows no signs of being a rookie on stage. His vocals sound as raw as they do on his projects, while his impromptu drum kit solos show that he was a musician long before being a singer. However, Pink Sweat$’s most magnetic characteristic may be his onstage charisma, shown most evidently when he asks two fans from the audience to get on stage and sing a song of their choice to the crowd in front of them, encouraging them to shout out their Instagram handles to give their singing careers a boost.

As Pink Sweat$ performs the entirety of his two EPs, the artist promises that new material is coming soon, despite being on the road.

“Now we’re trying to get the production to the optimal level,” he says. “All the writing, foundation production, I think I did most of it already… I don’t want to be stagnant just ‘cause I’m on the road like ‘Oh, I’ll get to it in two months.’ I’d rather someone be working on it now so by the time I get back, I can make the critiques and do the things I need to do.”

With an upcoming debut album and the recent release of the music video to “Coke & Henny, Pt. 2,” Pink Sweat$ shows that he likes to stay busy.

“I’m just looking forward to getting these notches under my belt,” he says. “Experiences. Every show. No matter it’s small ones, big ones. It’s like ‘Alright cool, let’s do that, boom.’ I’m just trying to get as much experience and knowledge as fast as possible so I can be the best at what I do.”

With all his recent experiences and knowledge being absorbed in such a short time, Pink Sweat$ remains a prime example of how quickly confidence, faith and self-love can propel one to fame. However, he knows that staying busy and releasing content is essential to longevity, as one can easily be forgotten just as quickly as they were discovered.


CJLO’s Femme AM reaches out to men

Feminist radio show surveys men for episode on mental health and toxic masculinity

When CJLO’s Women’s+ Collective decided to put together an episode on toxic masculinity and mental health for their bi-weekly radio show, Femme AM, they knew they needed to include men’s voices.

Recognizing that people may be wary of speaking on-air about their mental health struggles, Lily Roy, a Women’s+ Collective volunteer, thought the best option would be to set up suggestion boxes at five locations around the Loyola campus. The boxes were set up from Jan. 21 to Feb. 8, allowing men and male-identifying people to leave an anonymous written comment.

“You could say whatever you wanted; just let it out,” Roy said.

Along with each suggestion box was a poster asking men and male-identifying people if they thought there were adequate services available in the community for men who face harassment and abuse. It also asked how they deal with negative emotions such as anger, sadness and stress. The results were discussed during the Feb. 8 episode of Femme AM.

Toxic masculinity is a loosely defined term, something Roy and her co-hosts, Sophia Hirst Barsoski, Cassie Doubleday and Megan Flottorp, acknowledged at the beginning of the episode.

They noted that academic studies use the term “hegemonic masculinity” instead, something Marc Lafrance, a professor from Concordia’s department of sociology and anthropology, concurs with.

“I tend to go with ‘hegemonic masculinity’ when I’m in an academic context,” he said, adding that the term “toxic masculinity” was constructed largely through popular media.

Lafrance pointed out that hegemony still means power and dominance, and in this context, refers to the idea that certain traits typically associated with men, such as emotional stoicism and a desire to dominate, when exhibited at an extreme level, can lead to violent consequences for those around them and mental health issues for the men themselves.

Femme AM’s suggestion boxes yielded six responses, which Roy said was more than she expected.

Two responses described the triage system at Concordia’s mental health services as inadequate, suggesting an overall lack of mental health resources for Concordia students. Another agreed that there is an expectation for men not to show emotional vulnerability or talk about their feelings.

One response claimed a prevailing narrative that cisgender, heterosexual men aren’t affected by social inequality can lead them to disregard their own feelings and develop mental illnesses.

Roy said this was the most difficult response for her to read. “The goal of social justice, for me, was never to take away someone’s voice. It was just to give voices to other people,” she said during the episode.

According to Roy, the suggestion box project was intended to be a conciliatory gesture towards men who think feminism is anti-men or that it obscures important men’s issues.

“We’re pretty unanimous here at Femme AM that feminism is for everyone and that it benefits everyone,” Roy said. “I think the idea of ‘us versus them’ is foolish.”

Allison O’Reilly, the co-founder of the Women’s+ Collective, said they remain primarily focused on the goal of increasing the involvement of self-identifying women and other gender minorities in community radio.

“Most of our discussions will be about women and gender minorities,” O’Reilly said.

The Women’s+ Collective will be holding an informational meet-and-greet on Feb. 26 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Concordia Student Union’s downtown office in H-711.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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