The Problem with Masculinity and Why It Affects You

I haven’t talked about feminism in quite a while now, for various reasons, but I feel like it’s about time to change that, or at least for today. See… while there’s a lot of focus on female empowerment within feminism, even today little attention is given to the issues of masculinity. While still not truly emancipated, women are being told over and over again about how they can define their own lives, independent of their gender roles. Sure, that doesn’t mean that every woman realises this already or that the problem is gone, but… who is saying this to men? How many men actually believe that they don’t have to be “masculine”?

Masculinity is everywhere. It’s not hard to find examples of that. I see it at my football club, where my teammates seem to think that the only way to keep their dignity is to talk about boobs and sex, and about how much of both of those things they’ve seen or had in their lifetime. I see it on television, where men are glorified in films full of war and violence, suggesting not just that the woman they get at the end is their prize, but even more so that men gain their reputation through violence, that being masculine is rooted in violence and strength and that it is something to strive for. I also see it in my everyday life, boyfriends paying for the expenses of their girlfriends, chivalry being a one-way street and men always taking on the role of the unemotional protector. I even see it in my family, where my brother and my father feel the need to protect whatever “masculinity” they’ve got left by demanding meat for every meal, because “real men eat meat.” ‘

All of these things, every single one of them, are not only ridiculous, but also extremely damaging to both the men affected by it directly, and the people in their surroundings who might suffer the consequences. Things like these are the reason why rape is still excused by some men, why violence is still so common and why men are so often led by pride and ignorance. They are told that that is their role, and while the woman’s role has been gaining liberty, the man’s role, in all its privilege, is being ignored, which goes at the cost of both men and women: men because they feel forced to act “masculine”, and women because this need for masculinity makes it a whole lot harder to get men to accept them as equals.

These are things we have to talk about more, things we have to discuss and think about. I am lucky enough to have ended up in an environment in which I have been taught that it is okay to be “feminine”, that it is okay to cry at sad movies or to talk about emotions. When I’m watching a film with my girlfriend and I’m the one crying, I don’t feel like my masculinity is seeping away with those tears, and I don’t feel like I am any less of “a man” just because I never get angry or because I hate violence. But not everyone is that lucky. In fact, most men aren’t.

Most men spend their time in environments in which such things as crying, an aversion for violence or even deep philosophical thought are seen as bad. They live their lives being taught that sex is the ultimate goal, that emotion is for women and that they should just keep watching the sports channel while their wife or girlfriend yammers on about feelings. And that’s terrible, that is something we have to change, yet so little attention is given to it except to blame the men themselves. We focus only on female empowerment, which, as important as it is, cannot get rid of gender roles all on its own. Privilege or no privilege, men too suffer from gender roles, and that is something that has to be changed. We need to fight gender roles from all perspectives, from all sides, because only then can we achieve a situation in which anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, can do as they want to do.

~

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More on this topic from Dean Richards:

The Death of Chivalry: Giving Up Your Seat For a Woman

Feminism is Losing its Touch

Our Purpose: A Simple and Concrete Explanation of the Meaning of Life

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About Dean Richards

A young student with a passion for writing. Aspiring author and human rights activist, but I write about anything. "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree!" New blog post every Monday!
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5 Responses to The Problem with Masculinity and Why It Affects You

  1. badernoaimi says:

    Yeah, I totally agree. The contemporary definition of masculinity in many cultures in the West and other parts of the world is pretty toxic. It always asks people to constantly “prove” their masculinity – usually through acts of violence or “sexual conquest”.

    In short; people are never allowed to be comfortable with their own personal masculinity. The same goes for women who are constantly told to “be feminine” but “not too feminine” or that they are not being “feminine enough”. It’s crazy!

  2. curiosetta says:

    > Masculinity is everywhere.

    Tell me about it. I’m sick of men dominating the high street with their men’s fashion shops, men’s jewellery, men’s nail bars, men’s underwear, men’s shoes, men’s magazines clogging up the aisles…. it’s endless!

    > I see it at my football club, where my teammates seem to think that the only way to keep their dignity is to talk about boobs and sex

    Disgusting! They should talk about the kind of stuff women talk about on daytime TV (boobs and sex). Or Sex in the City (boobs and sex and men). Or women’s magazines (boobs and sex and food). Or blogs (boobs, sex and feminism). Or at work when there are no men around (boobs and sex and men’s penises).

    > I see it on television, where men are glorified in films full of war and violence, suggesting not just that the woman they get at the end is their prize, but even more so that men gain their reputation through violence, that being masculine is rooted in violence and strength and that it is something to strive for.

    I know isn’t it disgusting!? Thank god in the real world women do not practically have orgasms at the sight of ‘men in uniform’ (men dressed up as contract killers), women do not enjoy strip shows where the men are dressed as killers, women do not actually MARRY these murderers and have their children, and women certainly do not give pacifist men who refuse to go to war ‘white flowers’ as a symbol of their disapproval. And even though the majority of voters are women they never vote for wars. They never buy their little boys war themed toys either. These movies cannot possibly be reflecting reality because women simply do not behave like that. Women are precious little flowers who only want to heal the sick and pet kittens.

    > I also see it in my everyday life, boyfriends paying for the expenses of their girlfriends,

    Oh the oppression! The inhumanity! The suffering!

    > Things like these are the reason why rape is still excused by some men, why violence is still so common and why men are so often led by pride and ignorance.

    Yes society is full of men excusing rape. On TV, at work, on public transport, at job interviews, in blogs,…. they’re everywhere!

    And then there are the men who spread vicious lies that there are almost as many male rape and domestic abuse victims as female. And that men deserve shelters and sympathy too. And that males are much more likely to be attacked in public than females.

    > I am lucky enough to have ended up in an environment in which I have been taught that it is okay to be “feminine”, that it is okay to cry at sad movies or to talk about emotions.

    Yes we now have tractors, cars, electricity, running water, comfortable offices, central heating, birth control, GPS, water proof clothing and wifi. As a result women do not need men to do quite so much strenuous, dangerous, unhealthy, gruelling manual labour just to put food on the table. This in turn has allowed many men to explore their softer side. The bastards!

    > Most men spend their time in environments in which such things as crying, an aversion for violence or even deep philosophical thought are seen as bad.

    Yes not all men are able to afford to be emotionally sensitive. Working with your hands creates physical callouses. And working in stressful, dangerous and even traumatic environments (coal mines, battle fields, ocean trawlers etc) creates emotional callouses. Many men still do jobs that require them to suppress their emotions, for their own safety and psychological well being. The bastards! Women who do dangerous, high stress, traumatic work also tend to be a lot less ‘touchy feely’ than your average feminist who works in a comfortable socialised sector like teaching. The traitors!

    > They live their lives being taught that sex is the ultimate goal

    A narrative invented by men because it… er ….. ensures men will always be prepared to put up with all sorts of shit from women just for the privilege of being granted access to her lady parts. When men tire of this ‘Holy Quest’ and decide to just live for themselves and they give up trying to please and pursue women they are also shamed by women. Either way men are bastards!

    > We need to fight gender roles from all perspectives, from all sides, because only then can we achieve a situation in which anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, can do as they want to do.

    Yes and if men suddenly decide they no longer want to be garbage collectors, coal miners, construction workers, policemen, soldiers, road sweepers, truck drivers, security personnel, crane operators, IT techs or welders there is an army of feminist women all ready and willing to step into these ‘male dominated’ professions and bring some much needed ‘gender equality’ to society. And if this helps to balance out workplace death rate (currently men die twenty times more frequently at work than women) all the better according to feminists! The troopers! Hurray for feminism!! 🙂

    • Well… you’ve certainly got me confused… 🙂 At first I thought you were criticising me as a feminist, but after a while it seemed more like you were an anti-feminist. Now I’m not so sure anymore…

      There does seem to be some criticism in there anyway. I just honestly don’t know what!

      • curiosetta says:

        Yes I was pointing out the double standards, hypocrisy, bias, irrationality, false premises, sexism and outright lies that are the hallmark of modern feminism. All feminist claims – including its central thesis of ‘patriarchy theory’ – are either (a) lies (b) only half the story (c) a gross and misleading over-simplification of reality.

  3. maevakap says:

    I love this article, probably my favorite one. Well done Richard, well done !

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