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Emasculation

“Bitch Niggaz�, a clip from Beyond Beats and Rhymes, addresses that when one man truly wants to insult another man, he will feminize the other man’s character. By calling him a “pussy�, “sissy�, “bitch�, or even “bitch nigga�, he is taking away from his opponent’s masculinity and making his component seem less of a man.

In her book Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks states, “Patriarchal masculinity teaches men that their sense of self and identity, their reason for being, resides in their capacity to dominate others� (70). Therefore, due to the male-female dichotomy of our society and the duality of American gender systems (which state that you must be a man or a woman, and you must act in accordance to the social construction of your gender), men define themselves according to their degree of masculinity. To be a man is to have power, especially power over women. To be labeled as a womanly-man, is, to men, worse than being a woman. Another man has emasculated another man to the point where he is no longer seen as a man, but a feminine man. In our society, femininity alludes to a powerless person, or a person having less power.

While African American men were the perpetrators of assigning feminine qualities to other men as a means of insulting the core of each other’s beings, this abuse of the gender systems dichotomy is prevalent in all races. Boys and men, no matter what color their skin or country of origin, will call other men “fags�, “sissies�, and “bitches� because they know the other man will take offense to it. It is an intentional act done by one man to emasculate another.

On the topic of using “fag� to insult a man, the terms “fag� and “faggot� are overused in our society in a way that negatively reflects homosexuality. Homosexual men are biologically no less a man than his heterosexual counterpart, but our dichotomous society has shoveled homosexuals (of both male and female variety) into the “no-man’s land� between the clearly defined “man� and “woman�. Our society assigns feminine qualities to homosexual men, and masculine qualities to homosexual women, which gives them less power than if they were in either clearly defined gender. Homosexual men and women deviate from our constructed gender norms and are therefore socially and sometimes physically punished for it in our society. Consequently, calling a man (whether homosexual or not) a “fag� is demeaning, degrading, and insulting to that man. You have taken away the power he has by conforming to the socially constructed gender norm of “man�, and at the same time you have assigned him as feminine, which in our society reflects powerlessness.