Introduction: A New Way of Looking at Manliness
Gender stereotypes have existed since the beginning of time. Even though the tendency to subvert some of the existing gender related clichés has emerged since recently clearly not enough is being done in order to address the problems that gender profiling creates. While, in most cases, women happen to be the victims of gender stereotyping, men also suffer from the clichés concerning masculinity, which Zeilinger and Jensen address in their essays. Though both authors use unique and easy-to-identify styles, including specific and original imagery, they both succeed in trying to convey the same idea of the concept of masculinity not being worth imposing on men.
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Two Ideas, Back to Back: In Search for Connections
Seeing that both narratives belong to the genre that does not require the introduction of any characters, it is rather surprising to see that both Jensen and Zeilinger introduce ones into their essays. The functions of these characters, as well as their purposes, are quite different, though. While the homosexual friend of Zeilinger, whom she mentions at some point, is quoted in order to subvert the existing stereotype of gay men, the friend of Jensen’s, in his turn, only plays the part of a sad example of what masculine stereotypes do to people that cannot or are unwilling to follow the roles that were foisted on them by the society.
Both Jensen and Zeilinger create a range of unique images in order to support their point of view and get their message across. The images themselves, however, bare distinctly unique features; neither of the authors resorts to clichés in their attempts to render the issue in question, i.e., the concept of masculinity and the image of a man in the contemporary society. While Jensen tends to create the images that would appeal to the male audience, Zeilinger clearly tries to find a compromise between targeting at her female readers and at the same time trying to draw men’s attention to the issue discussed.
Indeed, Jensen creates the images, which speak mostly to men, by mentioning the subject of rivalry and fight for the place under the sun. In order to represent the struggle that men have to put up in order to get rid of the annoying and often harmful stereotype, Jensen creates an array of images that are traditionally attributed to the men, who dare to show their emotions explicitly: “Men who don’t measure up are wimps, sissies, fags, girls” (Jensen 535).
The use of graphically negative imagery is justified by the immense efforts that the author has to make in order to convince his audience. Zeilinger, on the contrary, is much more reserved in her portrayal of gender issues and the masculinity trope; as a result, the occasional graphic imagery used, such as the contrast between “feral beasts” and a “tiny bunny” (Zeilinger 539) makes a much greater impression.
Point of view
On the one hand, it may seem that Zeilinger and Jensen make the same point, even though they clearly use different approaches to convince their readers. Indeed, both authors seem to be certain about the negative effect that the trope of masculinity has on the modern society, and persuade their readers to abandon the concept that has clearly worn out its welcome. On the other hand, the focus of Zeilinger’s article is somewhat different from that one of Jensen’s essay.
Zeilinger is obviously trying to analyze the stereotype of men being emotionless and cold, whereas Jensen pays admittedly more attention to the concept of masculinity in general, including not only the emotional coldness, but also such exaggerated character traits as striving for dominance and the ensuing need for competition, as well as the outbursts of violence, which may be viewed as the side effects of the concept of masculinity being foisted onto men.
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As a result, both authors come to the conclusion that a stereotypical understanding of masculinity is harmful, yet each retains their own vision of the problem. Zeilinger scrutinizes the emotional aspect of men’s lives, stressing the negative effects, which stereotyping has on the former; Jensen, in his turn, pays considerably more attention to the effects of the aforementioned stereotypes on men’s social and family life.
The themes that Zeilinger raises in the work are quite numerous; apart from the discussion of masculinity and the problems that masculinity related clichés cause, she also introduces the reader to the key tenets of feminism, therefore, making it clear that the latter is not focused on solely women, but allows for an analysis of interactions between men and women.
Moreover, Zeilinger links the concept of masculinity and the current backlash that gay people all over the world receive. Jensen, on the other hand, talks mostly about gender and masculinity related stereotypes. Much to his credit, though, Jensen integrates such subjects as career chase, violence towards women, and even glances over the concept of sexuality in the modern world.
Setting and atmosphere
As far as the atmosphere is concerned, both essays seem to share a number of characteristics. Both Zeilinger and Jensen seem to depict a traditional urban setting in their essays. Jensen keeps talking about men’s desire for ultimate power being transformed into a career chase and the transfer of their battles into the workplace setting, whereas Zeilinger focuses on the analysis of emotional evolution of men without tying the process to any particular environment.
This does beg the question whether Jensen’s theory is only applicable for the people living in the urban setting; indeed, the author’s tendency to consider typically urban examples, including the mentioning of CEOs and the introduction of an office worker as one of the key examples to illustrate his theory. However, much to his credit, Jensen still manages to create a relatively neutral atmosphere, therefore, allowing suggesting that his assumptions can be adapted to any scenario, in which the masculinity related dilemma emerges.
Conclusion: What It Takes to Be a Man
Admittedly using two entirely different set of strategies for the most part, both Zeilinger and Jensen introduce their readers to the same idea of masculinity related stereotypes being extremely harmful to both men and women. At certain points, the strategies, which the writers utilize in order to convince the readers, cross; however, for the most part, neither the stylistic devices utilized by the authors, nor the manner, in which they persist in their opinion, are entirely different. As a result, they both make a valid point concerning society and the stereotypes that it creates, and they do so in an original way, which makes each of the essays truly impressive.
Jensen, Robert. “The High Cost of Manliness.” The Bedford Guide for College Writers. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2011. 534–538. Print.
Zeilinger, Julie. “Guys Suffer from Oppressive Gender roles Too.” The Bedford Guide for College Writers. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2011. 538–541. Print.