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In today’s society there is a stigma that males are predominately more aggressive than females. This stereotype is upheld when we take a look at nearly every prison in America, males are the dominant population. “Masculinity [is] usually characterized by dominance and aggression” (567). This assumption is also enforced in media, television, and especially in movies. In movies, most crimes, whether they are robbery, rape, murder, or drug related, are performed by a male or by groups of men.
This stigma is especially present in the movie “Crash.
” The movie displays multiple criminal acts including, but not limited to, murder, grand theft auto, and rape, all of these crimes are performed by men. Gender roles have been around for thousands of years; there is no arguing that men and women are usually complete opposites when it comes to certain characteristics. Men are supposed to be strong, intelligent, forceful, in-charge.
Men aren’t supposed to wait around for what they want, they are supposed to take it.
This quality can be good in some situations, but when getting what you want involves criminal activity, it’s not so good anymore. In the movie “Crash” a policeman, Officer John Ryan played by Matt Dillon, is extremely racist, especially against African Americans. In an act of power, he physically assaults a black woman, Christine played by Thandie Newton in front of her husband, Cameron played by Terrance Howard.
Cameron is powerless against John Ryan, not only because the man touching his wife is a police officer, but also because he knows that the color of his skin will get him into big trouble if he tries to defend her.
Christine is stunned by what the officer is doing to her and in such a state of shock that she cannot bring herself even to move in order to get away from him. Cameron is ‘smart’ enough to know that if he does anything to defend his wife from the police officer he will be the one who winds up in jail and not the other way around. Characterizing femininity and masculinity in such a way does not portray the two clusters of characteristics as being in a hierarchical relationship to one another but rather as being two different approaches to the same question, that question being centrally concerned with the goals, means, and use of power” (568). Another act of violence that is typically performed by men is theft. Majority of people who break-and-enter and who perform bank robberies are men. In “Crash” two black man played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Larenz Tate car-jack Rick Cabot and his wife Jean, played by Brendon Frasier and Sandra Bullock.
This event causes Jean to be very frightened and in the future she is wary around people of different races than her own. Her husband, however, is barely fazed by the event and doesn’t understand why she is so frightened. “Popular conceptions of femininity and masculinity revolve around hierarchical appraisals of the ‘natural’ roles of males and females” (568). So it seems only ‘natural’ that Jean be extremely frightened by being car-jacked and for her husband, Rick to be strong and unaffected by the occurrence. Her role is to be timid and afraid, and his is to be brave and comforting to her.
Another act of violence that is commonly performed by men is murder. In real life and in movies, most males usually commit intentional murderers or crimes of passion. Perhaps it is because of maternal instincts and the need to take care of others that makes women less likely to kill. “Gender role characteristics reflect the ideological contentions underlying the dominant gender schema in North American society. That schema leads us to believe that female and male behaviors are the result of socially directed hormonal instructions which specify that… males are innately aggressive and competitive and therefore will dominate…” (572).
In the movie “Crash” police officer Tom Hansen played by Ryan Phillipe offers a ride to an African American hitch-hiker. Tom has displayed very anti-racist characteristics throughout the movie. When his partner Officer Ryan violates Christine he is very upset and immediately asks to be assigned a different partner who is less racist. Officer Hansen and Lorenz Tate’s character begin to get into an argument. Lorenz suddenly reaches into his pocket; Tom thinks that he is about to pull out a gun and in a quick reaction Officer Hansen shoots him before he gets the chance.
Tom quickly realizes that Lorenz was trying to pull a small statue of Jesus Christ out of his pocket, not a gun. But it is too late, Lorenz is dead. Whether it is in movies or in real life, society’s pre-determined gender roles are always present in daily life. Women are the weak, timid, and feminine sex, and men are strong, brave, and aggressive. When people brake these roles society questions their place in the gender equation. “It seems most likely that gender roles are the result of systematic power imbalances based on gender discrimination” (572).
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