Stereotyping violent masculinity

20 Oct

In most places in the world, violent and sexual crimes are most often committed by the male sex. This also happens in Africa. There are way too much examples of individual gendered aggression and the association between masculinity and violence. This contributes to the problem, which Dr. Jackson Kats calls, ‘violent masculinity as a cultural norm’. This dangerous affiliation makes violence seem normal, while there are many men who do not fit the stereotype. The men who are husbands, fathers and inspirations to many people.

QuietThat’s why the South African photographer Jodi Bieber has been fighting the relation between violence and masculinity for the past three years. She photographs men who do not fit the stereotype. The photo report is called “Quiet”, and shows powerful masculinity, but without its brute force and its machismo. The photos show us the soft debility which every human being possesses, regardless of gender.

“For this project, I asked everyone I knew to get me in touch with men they might know, who would help me with my project. Finally, I found a few men from all walks of life who would collaborate with me. Together we created a quiet portrait of themselves. I did this by asking them to ‘take of their uniform’, by only wearing their underwear. To make them feel comfortable anyways, I photographed them in their safe spaces, like their home,” Jodi said.

stereotype 2She spends one to three hours with every man who wanted to pose for her. This would be enough time for each man to literally strip his clothes, as well as his ‘invisible clothes’. By invisible clothes, is meant the threshold the men need to pass before they’re comfortable within only their underwear. As a result, the images show a calm and soft side of manhood, which isn’t often broadcasted in mainstream culture. This piece of art should open up the space for boys and men to see themselves in another way then society forces them to. They don’t need to be the traditional stereotype we are used to seeing anymore. If we keep seeing men as the aggressive types we see them now, it will still be the cultural norm.

To strengthening the message, Bieber asked each of her models the question: “Who are you in the world?” Every single man gave their own answer, ranging from their familial roles to more abstract position they see themselves in the world, like “one in a million.” Those different types of responses, show that masculinity is not just one thing.

Jodi’s artwork creates a space for the coexistence of masculinity and susceptibility. She hopes that she can make people aware of the fact that men don’t have to struggle anymore to fit a certain gender stereotype. She wants her images to serve as an example for this awareness. If more and more men can be themselves without pressure from society telling them what a men should be like, it’s possible that the cycle of violence can be broken before it reaches the next generation.

This piece of artwork fits the trend Masculinity & Femininity, because it gives us a new perspective on what a men really should be. Does everybody have to fit the stereotype to be a man, or can everybody just be themselves? Society has a certain look of what a man should be, but does that mean that, if you don’t fit the standard, you aren’t a man? This project shows us the contrary of society’s view.



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