Redefining Masculinity: Preface

The last several years have seen a rise in social media speaking up about fragile masculinity. Jokes have risen up about men needing to only get products or services that cater to traditional male stereotypes. A lot of men feel the need to defend their masculinity with acts of violence, abuse, or a display of logic that is relevant only to him; as if that would prove them right. But I think it’s time for all of us to have a serious talk about how damaged the perceived idea of masculinity really is. I’m not one to say ‘This is how things are, and this is how we should treat it’, But I would like to open up a dialogue with all of you about the issue of masculinity. Because whether directly or indirectly, all of us are involved in how it’s defined.

Please understand, I’m not here to defend my own masculinity either. I’ll admit that I’m also the victim of institutionalized gender role influence, and at times, I still struggle with the expectations thrust upon me. But I acknowledge that masculinity is a problem in a society where traditional masculinity is no longer a necessity. Whether you agree or not, the majority of today’s masculine views are all based on violence and dominance. Toxic masculinity, which asserts dominance over women as though they are objects, making rape jokes and slut-shaming women who won’t sleep with them, believing that showing emotion is a sign of weakness, and to be so insecure about our sexuality that we can’t possibly enjoy anything even remotely feminine for fear of being seen as ‘gay’. The thing is, this wasn’t even considered masculine 50 years ago. There are lots of things in media that go much further beyond this as well, but I’ll be addressing it in a later post.

I feel that this should be the year we seriously sit down and have a discussion, all of us, about how we’ve gotten to this point, and how we ultimately step out of this box we’ve created for ourselves. I understand that traditional masculinity has always been about being the strongest, providing for your family, and being a protector. I also understand that it wasn’t that long ago that this definition of masculinity was still relevant. But our situation has changed, and major aspects of masculinity have either shifted or become unnecessary. It’s going to be a hard pill to swallow, believe me, I know. And I understand that your first reaction to this might be denial or anger. But ask yourself: why is anger the first response?

Over the next few months, I’d like to go over what happened in our society to lead us to this idea of what masculinity is, including how it became so toxic, how it became so fragile, how the people around you have contributed to it, patriarchal masculinity in the media, the influence on women to respond to masculinity, how we can train ourselves to practice more common-sense masculinity, and more. But I also want to include your own thoughts on masculinity as well. I want you included in the discussion, and to help me to say what needs to be said so we don’t harm anyone else because of some toxic idealism. All of us have suffered and been hurt, because of it.

So the first thing I’d like you to do, regardless of your gender, is to go into the comments section and tell me all about how you see masculinity. Whether that be what it should be, or what it shouldn’t be. This affects all of us, so I want to hear what everyone has to say. Your words can help create a better basis for what should be considered masculine. You all deserve to be involved and to have your voices heard.

5 thoughts on “Redefining Masculinity: Preface

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  1. I think we should start educating children that masculinity and femininity aren’t gender specific. Either we need to be talking about femininity and masculinity differently. Or we change our language to decribe them as human qualities and human jobs and human hobbies rather than putting the extra and unnecessary label on it. Why put the extra divide there if that’s all it does, divide us.

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  2. Growing up, boys were supposed to be rugged. Blue jeans, work boots, flannel, driving big trucks to school and motorcycles. As a mother of 3 teenage boys, I see a spectrum of differences. I have tried to raise them to march to the beat of their own drum. My oldest is more what I call “metro”. He’s about name brand clothes and wants a Cadillac to drive. My middle son is the farm boy. Wranglers, work boots and of course he wants a jacked up dodge truck up drive. My youngest is a mix. He’s into nice clothes but he can go out on the farm and throw bales of hay with any grown man.

    Most of all, I tried to raise my boys to work hard, to get out of the town they are growing up in, to go to college and do whatever makes them happy. I don’t care if that’s a surgeon or a nurse, a veterinarian or a mechanic as long as they are happy and healthy and can make a living to support the lifestyle they desire.

    I’ll also note here that I had to fight hard for this too. Their dads family has the “manly man” attitude. The first time I encountered it was when I bought my boys a kitchen playset when they were little boys. I stood my ground and let my boys be who they were. I fought them calling them names and criticizing me for letting them play with that kitchen set. I still fight the ex and his family over this. It’s frustrating and I’ve cried and I’ve had to hug my boys and tell them to ignore those people and their backwoods, outdated opinions.

    In the end, I pray they will be better men and better fathers. I pray they will be more open minded and accepting of non traditional roles even if they might not agree with it.

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  3. I kind of feel that what makes a man a man isn’t too different from what makes a woman a woman. I mean, I see distinct differences when we’re talking about boys and girls, when I look at adult men and women beyond the superficial, the prerequisites look about the same to me:

    You own your shit. You take responsibility for your development and behaviour. You assess situations before reacting. You help others, especially those who can’t help themselves.

    Grown-up masculinity and femininity both strike me as similar in a modern context, but even older tropes, I’m thinking aren’t so different to each other if we dig a little deeper. I dunno, I’m still figuring this out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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