For example, Steve, the gay basher, he was you stereotypical man. He was hyper-aggressive, non-emotional, and extremely violent. He craved for attention and got it mostly by hurting others. Steve was your stereotypical college guy. He acted tough, was a part of a fraternity, and was an all around jerk. For example, every time Steve is mentioned in the novel he is either threatening or physically using force on someone, most likely Jake. For example, on page 887, chapter 12, Jake went into the fraternity house to pick up some of Alberto’s things, in case he woke up, but as he was leaving Steve showed up.
Even though Jake tried to walk away Steve had to engage in violence. He was hyper-aggressive telling Jake “you don’t go until I tell you to go, little faggot” (pg. 887). Steve was violent and didn’t want to let Jake go, even though he begged. Steve didn’t stop and tried to kill Jake because Jake punched him once telling Jake “I’m going to end this right here, right now” (pg. 887) as he pulls out a knife of Jake. Lastly, Steve was definitely non-emotional, not even caring that he had put Alberto into a coma, only making sure that he didn’t get in trouble.
He went to the hospital to threaten Jake even more so he wouldn’t call the cops, even though Steve wasn’t afraid because his dad was the sheriff. When he got to the hospital, Steve told Jake “… No, something tells me you’re going to keep you’re mouth shut. I can make your life a living hell, I promise you that. And your little boyfriend’s too. It’d be a shame to see him suffer more” (232 and 245). Steve possessed almost all of the traits consistent with toxic masculinity. On the other hand Benjamin was strong and sturdy, but also had a hard time expressing his feelings.
He was closed off at first, scared to get into something that would only lead to hurt and betrayal. He was closed off (non-emotional), hypersexual even, telling Jake that “It was cool…[and] he was glad they could get it out of their system” (page 2360). This was Benjamin response to Jake and his first time making love after he had left and disappeared the morning after. Benjamin was closed off at first making it seem as if he only wanted the sex. Jake was hurt and he left thinking he would be done with Benjamin, but he wasn’t.
Benjamin appeared and saved Jake from almost being beaten up again and took him back to his apartment (page 2711). After this we see Benjamin open up completely about his feelings for Jake. On page 2723, Jake asks Benjamin why he left and Benjamin opened up and told him he was afraid of getting hurt because his ex-wife cheated on him with his best friend. Jake assured him he wasn’t going to cheat and Benjamin told Jake how he felt. He told Jake “I tried living without you, but I just can’t…Don’t ever leave my life again” (page 2751).
Benjamin, although he possessed many of the toxic masculinity traits at first, grew as a person. He allowed you to see who he truly was. Benjamin was a real man, a man who protects his love when he needs to, but also knows how to be romantic. He had a sense of hyper-aggressiveness in trying to fight or beat anyone who tried to hurt Jake, but he was a protector. Something most people look for in a partner or even just a friend. So he wasn’t out of control and trying to pick fights, but he was protecting the person he loved.
One trait that both Jake and Benjamin possessed was being hypersexual, both of those men loved sex, but the difference was that they loved pleasing each other and weren’t focusing on just themselves or hurting someone in return for sex. For example, Benjamin tells Jake, “Baby you have no idea how good you make me feel, only you do this to me. Only you. ” (Pg. 2842). While Benjamin enjoyed Jake “tight ass” Jake fantaiszed of being Benjamin’s sex toy, he said “ as demented and bad as it was, the idea of being the man’s personal sex slave was alluring. ” (Pg. 2932). The dynamic in their relationship was equal and mutual, they way it should be.
Benjamin likes to be the dominator and Jake loved to be dominated. Jake had to question once, why Benjamin put his pleasure first. He asked himself “Why was it he (Benjamin) always put him first? Why was it Jakes pleasure was Benjamin’s pleasure. (Pg. 2944)” Should that even be a question, that you’re partner does and enjoys pleasuring you. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we, especially women, have become accustomed to not being pleased by our partner and become ashamed or afraid to ask. Secondly, Benjamin was open with Jake about his feelings after almost loosing him.
He was straightforward about their relationship and knew what he wanted after getting over his fear of being hurt. He told Jake “ I tried living without you, but I just cant. Don’t ever leave my life again. (Pg. 2751)” The quote was in response to the fact that Jake was angry at Benjamin and had not answered any of his calls. He was telling Jake just how much he cared. Benjamin did something that most men don’t do, something most men are too afraid or ashamed to do, to talk about their feelings. Society has programmed men into thinking that expressing emotions is a trait of a woman nd is not masculine.
Most children learn what constitutes as feminine and masculine during an early age when most kids begin to police gender, but Bell hooks also states “Male children are often subjected to abuse when their behavior does not conform to sexist notions of masculinity. (Pg. 75 Feminism is For Everybody)” Bell Hooks sums up the fact that as kids grow up we teach them not to cry, telling them to man up when they hurt their selves or feel some sort of pain, they then grow up with the preconceived idea that men shouldn’t cry because crying is for girls.
Lastly, the third type of male that Jamie Lake presents in I Got You is the male who possess many feminine qualities, Jake and Alberto. One I must state that although a male possess some feminine qualities it does not necessarily mean that he is gay, although in Jamie Lake’s book the character was. Jake possessed many feminine qualities although he tried to hide them, stating that “though he’d done well at hiding the fact he way gay from anyone, Steve would make fun of his voice and the rags he wore at school” (pg. 218).
Jake was the type of guy who possessed many feminine traits; he was small, fragile, and soft spoken. He was the type of male that many parents try hard for their sons not to become. He was the type of male that other men made fun of and looked down upon. Bell Hooks explains how many children are raised to conform to the sexist notions of masculinity by not only their friends, but by their parents in their own home. She states “Male children are often subjected to abuse when their behavior does not conform to sexist notions of masculinity” (pg. 5).
She says that this is often done by “abusive shaming,” rather the abuse is physical of mental. Many parents mentally abuse, though many not on purpose, their children into behaving like they want them to behave and some even resort to violence. For example, in I Got You, when Genie, Jake sister comes to visit him in the hospital, she reminds Jake about the abuse his dad put him through just for playing with dolls. “…From what I remember, you were more interested in their Barbie’s than them [girls].
That is before Dad beat that shit out of you” (pg. 179). I believe that beating or even shaming your child to be not play with dolls because it isn’t masculine is pointless because children grow up and soon realize who they are, but in most cases they hid who they really are, ashamed of themselves. As Jake showed, it is pointless because kids grow up to be who they are no matter what. Even his sister, Genie threatens to out him at one point when she found out about his relationship with Benjamin, which she eventually did.
People who are part of the LGBTQ community may not even be safe with their family, as portrayed in I Got You, many families care more about how people will judge them and less about how they (the LGBTQ person) many feel in this situation. For example, Genie kept asking Jake did he know what being gay would do to their dad, but she never considered how all of it made Jake feel. “ This will destroy dad. Are you really that selfish” (Page 2585). She asked her Jake was he selfish, but she should have been asking herself the question.
She tried to force Jake to keep his sexuality quite and even threatens him if he doesn’t end his relationship with Benjamin. Genie was the direct opposite of what family is suppose to do, but unfortunately the LGBTQ community lacks support. Toxic masculinity is society made. I believe its something that we are trying to get rid of, but fail to do so because we have so many different conflicting viewpoints on how we want and think men should act. We say we want them to open up and express their emotions, but turn around and call them pussies or punks because they are crying.
We say we don’t want men to be violent, but most women want a man to fight for them. If a man just walks away from a fight, we say he was scared when in reality he is just being the bigger person. In Bell Hooks feminism is for everybody, she explains why men are holding on to their masculinity saying that we are a society of “domination”. She says “Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive our sense of being from domination over one another” (pg. 70).