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Examining Masculinity

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Examining Masculinity

Alejandro Paredes examines how masculinity is defined in different societies.

Alejandro Paredes examines how masculinity is defined in different societies.

Photo by Brooke O'Flaherty

Alejandro Paredes examines how masculinity is defined in different societies.

Photo by Brooke O'Flaherty

Photo by Brooke O'Flaherty

Alejandro Paredes examines how masculinity is defined in different societies.

Alejandro Paredes, Page editor

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The concept of masculinity has grasped a diverse range of meanings throughout the course of time. The saying “masculinity is fragile” is a realistic explanation of the current existential crisis of being male, and a result of the actions, stereotypes, and lifestyles instilled by man himself. As mediocre as it may sound, two men hugging one another can be perceived as an act of homosexuality. Dancing, a cultural act of expression, can be perceived as unmanly and imasculinating. Exhibiting styles of fashion which do not pertain to the man’s standard fashion code or that stand out are seen as a definitive quality of femininity. In worst cases, aspects of life like basic hygiene are viewed as rituals that only females commit to. Instead, as a male, you’re expected to be a devoted fan of sports like football or basketball; you’re expected to negate the use of emotional expression or share your feelings; you’re expected not be friendly with children because it’s unmanly and women are meant to nurture and care for a child; you’re expected to demonstrate behaviors like anger, recklessness, and immaturity to be accepted within the boundaries of gender stereotypes––these characteristics are the restrictions that ensue men to obtain destructive insecurities.

The effect of expectations and norms thereof begin to take toll on children at a young age––and the process of embodying the manliest male figure begins. When this process begins, every type of male respectively move themselves in their own groups among the social spectrum. Those who display such heteronormative traits, namely, those of the “alpha male” are truly the norm for how males should be perceived. Cultures outside of the United States have rather different perspectives on masculinity –– whereas kissing men as a greeting would be acceptable in European countries and some of Latin American countries, the majority of males United States would automatically assume, due to toxic masculinity, that it’s not manly enough and considered an act of homosexuality. Degrees of intimacy and emotional expression between males is non existential due to social norm that makes up a society. Our understanding of masculinity is restrictive to our lifestyles and awkwardly unsettling in communication.

Considering the effect of toxic masculinity on culture, the only way to fix this is by normalizing even the most basic things about being a human. No, I am not saying to make dudes start kissing each other when they greet one another––toxic masculinity is such a caustic force that drastic change will not be expected to take place even if normalization is attempted. However, that is no reason to not be the change in not conforming to what is considered masculine by society. One shouldn’t feel uncomfortable to dance, to take care of their skin, commit to basic hygiene, to hug others, to comfort a friend when they’re struggling––just because they’re male. In regards to mental health, men are less likely to search for help to treat things like depression, and as a fault of the miscommunication of emotions and problems––men are likely to commit suicide four times than women, according to Mental Health America. The toll on mental health by social norms, and disregarding our symptoms, substance abuse becomes a deleterious method in coping with things like depression and anxiety.

Constantly worrying about people’s preconceived notions or bias is an unhealthy habit that has the dangerous capability of tearing apart men’s self-esteem. Obeying certain ideals that uproot from toxic masculinity must come to end––preserving it in this very day will harm generations that are yet to come. It is in our power as the contributors in society to consider these issue at hand and address it to deter the rate of suicides for males, to deter the destructive insecurities that may ensue due by social norm, and to deter the effects of toxic masculinity.

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Examining Masculinity