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The tattoo and the theoretical concept of hegemonic masculinity

After Chris McKinney finished his novel ‘The Tattoo’, readers have a significant impression to a few characters in the book. This novel is telling the life story of Kenji “Ken” Hideyoshi at the point of view from Matthew “Cal” Brodsky, who is a tattoo artist and also the cellmate of Ken while they while they stayed in the Halawa Correctional Institute. The life story includes the relationship between Ken and his family, especially the relationship between Ken and his dad when he was a child. Also, after Ken has grown up as an adult. The conflicts and arguments rapidly affect the perspective of Ken to his dad. During Ken’s growing time, his best friend Koa, whose come from the royalty family. Koa’s dad is the king of Puana Castle which means Koa is a should-be Hawaiian prince. Then the relationship between Ken and Claudia is not only just romantic, but also involved complex emotional attachment. Besides, Cal as Ken’s only audience, he comprehends Ken’s personal struggles as a Japanese who has been growing and living in Hawaii, exposing in poverty and colonialism, getting involved into gangs, gun fight, drug deals and other violence behaviors. This essay will argue whether the hegemonic masculinity sharp one man’s personality and identity, which the image of this kind of masculinity is from the interpersonal relationships, such as family and friends. In saying that, this essay offers the theoretical perception looking in particular at the concept of hegemonic masculinity by R. W. Connell after introducing her gender regime concept, and the criticism to theory of hegemonic masculinity on the problem of reification. In The Tattoo, we were introduced to Ken’s father, who was born in Hawaii because his father is the first Hideyoshi came to Hawaii in his family. Regarding Ken’s birth, the father started wonder if he could survive or even if he was worth keeping. The childhood was described in a pattern of fear and dislike, The metaphorical description regarding Ken’s dad not only require him to be tough, but also more important is fear is not allowed. As in the book, “My father, I think, pulled most of the fear out of me. In fact, he transplanted the hate. Armed with the scalpel-katana, he cut my cranium open and removed the malignant tumor of fear. Lobotomy. Exorcism. He spit on the hole and sewed me right up. The fertile saliva blossomed red”. The fear is a forbbition in his father’s rule that Ken is supposed to live by. The vivid example by explaining how his father teach him to be a “boy” is drwawing on the story that his father throwed Ken into the ocean and force him to swim as a three-year-old boy, even Ken hasn’t learn how to swim yet. “Eh, you better learn fo’ swim arready. We live by da beach, what if you drown?” The voice sounds concern about Ken’s safety, on the contrary, Ken’s father is more concern about he can not be act like a “real man” after he grown up as an adult. when their family take a trip to camping Kualoa Beach Park, Ken’s father asked him to touch the tiger shark. When Ken failed to do so, he forces Ken by grabbing the poor kid’s forearm and making it on its back. Even though Ken was refusing to obey this order, then he cried. As a four years old boy, he failed to touch the back of a shark that he believed the shark is danger and might bite him, however, his families who surrounded of him, were laughing at him at that time when hs was crying. As mentioned in the book, “It was the closest to cat-like I ever got. My father was furious”. In addition, the perception of them is socialized and culturalized within the ideology or hegemony model, more specific, within the masculinity. It is the nature of childhood, kids are curious about everything but meanwhile they have their own recognition about their fear, on something or someone. In this case, the young Ken is not aware of that his father said about “you need to be tough” be like a boy, since that children do not initially see masculinity and femininity as opposites, although they got older, their views became increasingly contradictory. The idea that men and women are opposites, and their respective traits, is completely learned. We have internalized these traits with a concrete male/female association, although the traits and qualities belong to a woman, could just easily exist within any man. (what is hegemonic masculinity?: 4, p387) Hegemonic masculinity, the most significant aspect of Connell’s theory, is “defined as the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of patriarchy, which guarantees (or is taken to guarantee) the dominant position of men and the subordination of women” (Connell, 1995, p77, as cited in Lusher & Robins, 2009, p387). Before we go any further, it is essential to introduce the concept of the masculinity with the perspective of Connell’s theoretical results. Masculinity, which is a pattern of practice, so it is not an attitude, it is not what’s in people’s heads, it is not the state of their hormones. It’s what they actually do in the world, and that’s something has the relationship to do with your body to your biology, but not fixed relationship. These identities are conscious chosen behaviours to act within our social norms and boundaries. Masculinity and femininity are formed by social cultural expectations, not biological differences. We have explored femininity and we can accept a wide variety of personalities outside the norm, as feminine. The acceptance and fluidity is not the same for men and masculinity, and men are still widely expected to live within their impossible stereotype. (4, p389) Hegemonic masculinity is a multilevel concept operating at local, regional, and global levels that also simultaneously engages cultural, individual, and structural factors. Furthermore, these cultural, individual, and structural components are interdependent. Connell refers to the temporal context of an individual, the personal context, but there are other ways of positing context. Specifically, we are interested in the interactions and gendered expressions of a number of individuals with one another in particular local settings. In The Tattoo, the hegemonic masculinity is reinforced by the cultural influence by their family’s perception to boys. In particular during the time of Ken’s childhood, the influence of Ken’s father is significant for the growing process of Ken. The certain society circumstance implied the connections and relations between Ken’s identity and his masculinity as a represent of his chosen personality. However”,as Demetriou (2001) argued, it is evident that the attribution between individual’s personality and hegemonic masculinity can not be indicated as psychological trait. Thus, the significance of hegemonic masculinity referring its stable represent position that can be take on any quantities without the change of social structures. Regardless, the argument of Demetriou (2001) indicates the power relational component and individual qualities is part of a construction of hegemonic masculinity. Our ideals of masculinity allow men to maintain a socially dominant position over women and other gender identities. This social dominance of masculinity is known as hegemonic masculinity. It draws on male privilege creating an idea of superiority and enforcing a dominance over others’ perceived weaknesses. This idea of superiority sometimes leads to violence, as a man overcompensating for his masculinity tried to prove that he is not shy, afraid, or worse of all feminine.

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