Blog 5: Masculinity

Masculinity is a topic that has been debated in our society fairly often. Many wonder what it means to be masculine, and if we could even assign a definition to such a one-sided term. Men are primarily and secondarily socialized into believing certain characteristics (assigned by our culture ) are definitive in determining their manliness and masculinity. These characteristics range from not crying when they get hurt to being and playing violently.  

In “Masculinity as Homophobia “by Michael Kimmel, the author explains how homophobia is the basis of our social definition of “manhood”. He argues that American men are socialized into a very rigid and limiting definition of masculinity. He also states that men fear being ridiculed as too feminine by other men and this fear perpetuates homophobic and exclusionary masculinity. Men are scared to act “sissy”publically because if they will be doing so , they would be considered a “ faggot””. Therefore, the fear of being sissy dominates the cultural definitions of manhood. Men are scared to act, talk a certain way, they are scared to dress, in fear of being perceived as gay, and not as a real man. In my opinion, this is often an issue that happens for many men since it leads them to think that they aren’t masculine enough because there are certain “characteristics” to meet for you to be masculine enough. Men are forced to hide their feelings and become and remain emotional cripples which imprisons them by a system that undermines their mental health. When the author mentions “ Think, for example, of how you would answer the~question: How do you “know” if a man is a homosexual? When I ask this question in classes or workshops, respondents invariably provide a pretty standard list of stereotypically effeminate behaviors. He walks a certain way, talks a certain way, acts a certain way. He’s very emotional; he shows his feelings. “ Reading this, I had understood that manhood is socially constructed since we are socialized into this system and most of us learned about those “ gender expectations” in our family of origin, that are usually taught to us by our mothers. They were also reinforced in schools and religious institutions. In my opinion, each gender should act the way they want, dress the way they want, etc , and the way they eat, act, talk, walk, etc should not define their gender.

In “Understanding Patriarchy “by Bell Hooks, she talks about the definition of patriarchy. Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation. Hooks also defines that patriarchy promotes insanity. It is at the root of the psychological ills troubling men in our nation. Throughout the text, she gives many examples of situations that she had lived through with her brother because of the concept of patriarchy. Her brother was taught that it was absolutely his role to be served, to provide, to be strong, to think, he was taught that his value would be determined by his will to try and do violence, he was taught that a boy shouldn’t be expressing feelings, etc. What struck me the foremost is when she was explaining the traumatic even that she had to go through just because she wanted to play a game with her brother where marbles where involved. Her brother told her that it was a boy’s game, but she still insisted. This brought her to get beaten up by her father because she’s “just a little girl” and can not do what boys do. The fact that a young girl can’t play a game because of her gender, as if the game was made only for one specific gender is very absurd. 

The definition of masculinity should change since it has denied males access to full emotional well-being and is imprisoning them in a system that undermines their mental health. It also brings social issues like racism, homophobia, and sexism, and until we will collectively acknowledge the damage the patriarchy caused and therefore the sufferings it creates, we will not address male pain. As a nation, we must be willing to reveal the tough reality that the patriarchy has damaged men within the past and continues to break them within the present.

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