Word of the day: Emasculation

Language has immense power, which is why it behooves us to choose our words carefully. Words have the power to oppress or liberate, to include or exclude.

ANYWAY, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk in various media lately about emasculation (i.e. open disapproval, criticism, berating)  and how it’s one of the worst things you can do to a man, besides castration itself. The message goes something like this: “Women, don’t emasculate your man or he will cheat on you or leave you or fill in the blank.”

It seems pop culture uses emasculation as a valid excuse for all sorts of negative behaviour in men (See: Jon Gosselin, from Jon and Kate Plus Eight). After all, men are entitled to feel like strong, virile, dominant people; they should not be exposed to criticism or humiliation, particularly from women.

Before I continue, I’m not a proponent of humiliating men. I’m just not down with the word ’emasculate’ and what it implies. While http://www.dictionary.com is no Oxford English Dictionary, it offers something worth mentioning.

  • Emasculate (adj): deprived of or lacking strength or vigor; effeminate.

To emasculate means to reduce a man to a level of weakness…to a woman’s level. The word implies that men are on top and they deserve to stay on top, by virtue of nothing except for being male. By criticizing a man, we take away his essence, his supremacy. You can see why I ain’t biting.

To be clear, what I’m arguing here is constant disapproval, condemnation and humiliation isn’t emasculating, it’s dehumanizing.

In short, The Smiths had it right:

How can you say/ I go about things the wrong way?/ I am human and I need to be loved/ Just like everybody else does.


6 thoughts on “Word of the day: Emasculation

  1. I think emasculation is one of the worst things you can do to an insecure man; one who thinks that being effeminate is a bad thing.
    I’d just like to share that, since moving to Hamilton, I’ve become hyper aware of the fact that I act effeminate in lots of ways, and that it’s something people deem worthy of poking fun at. I have no problem with this, other than it becomes annoying after a while, but was just shocked since I had never felt that way in Toronto.
    Anyways, if it helps, I do not, in any way, mind being emasculated, and am proud of my effeminate characteristics.
    Also: you quoted the Smiths, and for that I’m proud of ya 😉

    • I’m going to take a stab at geograpical analysis here, and suggest that the suburbs surrounding the city of Toronto typically a) have a higher demographic of immigrants, and b) have a population that identifies with conservative values.

      People who move to the suburbs are typically family-oriented, want to leave the ‘wild city’ or keep their children from the sins of the metropolis.

      Could account for the difference…

  2. well, the theory of ’emasculation’ comes from the practice of castration, i think…where the genitalia of young boys is cut off to prevent the development of ‘male’ characteristics like a higher voice, hair expression, muscle mass, etc – traits which ARE found in females.

    what’s interesting is that being female – or displaying ‘feminine’ or ‘effeminate’ attributes – is somehow pejorative!

    last night, this group of four individuals – early-20s, three guys and a girl, all drunk – were on the streetcar i was taking home. one of the guys was upset that one of his friends had stepped on his brand new shoes. the girl in the group starts harassing the upset fellow with taunts of “oh you’re so upset. do you need a maxi-pad to make you feel better? are you more of a tampon kinda guy?” and so on and so forth. the other guys jumped on this bandwagon also. i was so disgusted, i had to get off the car and walk the rest of the way, seething!

    in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be genderized adjectives. however, until then, is it too much to ask that neither gender’s adjective be used as an insult against the other?! (see: pussy, mama’s boy, son of a bitch, yaddi yaddi yadda.)

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