The traditional idea of masculinity is still strongly abundant throughout western culture today. From the age we are old enough to understand the concept, to the time we kick the bucket. Countless times I have witnessed boys in the playground in tears told to “stop crying and be a man”. Numerous physical education lessons where boys were told through roars of laughter and condescending giggles that they “throw like a girl”.
When puberty begins to rear its ugly head and the ingrained competition for being the most masculine man gets even more tedious. Girls are pushed about, skirts are lifted, trousers pulled down, bra straps are pinged and we’re taught to fall all over them for it. Our mothers will tell us that it just means that boys like us and we should feel flattered we got any attention at all. This is obviously a time before I learn about sexual abuse and realized just how damaging these actions can be. These are long term issues that have been rife since before my time, although they might have worn alternative disguises throughout the decades.
My question isn’t why this constant competition of one upmanship and why it’s still prevalent in a supposedly evolved culture. But if it’s so integral to our society, then how is it so fragile?
All it takes would be a few ‘effeminate’ actions to bring the entire system down on its head.
Would that be so terrifying? To not hide a friendship behind the term bromance, because it’s weird to hang out with the same sex, but to instead call a spade a spade? No you’re not wearing a manbag, you’re wearing a handbag. Not because you have a vagina but because you have the same limbs as a woman. That’s not guyliner on your face, it’s eyeliner, because you have eyes, not guys. Well, you might have guys, but that’s neither here nor there. You want to give someone of your gender a hug or do something that might be considered feminine or homosexual? You can do so as long as you say “no homo” as you do it. Of course there are many males in society who have no qualms with abolishing these norms, but I can still see it like the big pink elephant in the room.
When you ask a girl if another female is attractive, they will have no qualms with being completely honest, we don’t question our sexuality when we do it, and we don’t question others when we ask them the same thing. But ask a self proclaimed masculine guy if another guy is attractive and all hell breaks loose. They won’t even look at them, and will start melodramatically claiming that they aren’t gay. I just asked you if a guy was attractive, not if you wanted to bang them. But how are we to stop this ridiculous facade that’s so damaging to our society that you can practically choke on its toxicity?
I don’t think these overtly hetero guys really mock homosexuals for having sex with men, but because they’re jealous of the freedom that homosexuals have had to attain to even come out. All these various types of homosexual men are the complete embodiment of what these poor masculine guys need. But can we blame you for hating on someone who hasn’t had to suppress their emotions and boundaries their entire life? Yes it’s a ridiculous construct, but one that is so salient we might as well consider it nature instead of nurture. Did you know studies show that it’s likely for a man’s self esteem to drop if someone holds the door open for them? Also that when they find out their female counterparts who they’re in relationships with perform a task better than them that that can also bruise their ego? That sure doesn’t sound healthy to me.
Internalised sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, bigotry and violence all stems from this traditional gender ideal of masculinity. This is why it needs to be redefined into something harmless, something where freedom of expression is the norm and eccentricity is celebrated. This is why mental health is such a stigma for men, because when they want to reach out they are taught they can’t which results in a higher suicide risk. And everyone knows what happens when feelings are bottled up inside for too long, there will come a point where you explode, and that explosion is sure as hell going to result in some casualties.
How many boys need to kill themselves? How many transgender people must be murdered? How many women sexually assaulted while their children have to stand by and watch, helpless? Because if you raise a man to think he is nothing but his gender and the pride he has in it, once that is stripped of him, even for one moment, I’d hate to be a bystander when that mask is ripped off. Because it’s going to be the most terrifying thing to ever witness. So next time you tell someone to grow a pair or be a man, understand that masculinity is a killer and it has no place in this world.