What does it mean to be a real man?
I’ll just summarize what I think you answered: A real man is athletic, dominant, financially successful, and never cries. He is respected by all, and if he isn’t, he will take care of it, one way or another without any illogical emotion.
Is this somewhat accurate?
I believe that Hegemonic Masculinity is the root of inequality, today. In one of my previous articles, I had touched on Gender Socialization, and its effects on girls because of the media’s perpetuation of female stereotypes. The media perpetuates masculine stereotypes just as much as feminine stereotypes. I’ve watched two documentaries, The Bro Code and The Mask You Live In, which has touched on this subject. The Bro Code is an in-your-face documentary that talks about contemporary culture and masculinity. The Mask You Live In touches on socialization and the impact of masculinity on young boys and how dangerous it is to both men and women. While both are interesting, The Mask You Live In seems more sympathetic, while I would describe The Bro Code as a “blame game”. On that note, I’ll be using The Mask You Live In as my basis for this piece.
The assumption of manhood starts at a young age and is taught by society and/or through fathers, coaches, and other parental figures, whether male or female. There are three lies that are told to all of us at a young age; that being a man is the pursuit of athleticism, economic success and sexual conquest. Because of this socialization (which is designed to promote competition), it is important to think of the ways in which it affects male political platforms and their need to hyper dominate. Putting these harsh expectations unto men is basically telling them that they can’t be themselves, which is giving into their basic human instinct to show emotion.
This kind of suppression can lead to depression. According to The Mask You Live In, men tend to drink to forget their loneliness, or to be able to express their affection without being labelled as weak. We don’t acknowledge their depression because it appears differently. A boy is more likely to be aggressive and act out, as opposed to the symptoms that appear in girls, which is much quieter yet more noticeable to many as a problem. We never stop to think why a boy may be acting out, because our first thought is to punish him.
Masculinity comes in many forms, or archetypes. For example, the Man-child is a basic part of masculinity. They aren’t physically masculine, but they make up for it in the degradation of women and being “silly”. You can see these men in the roles that Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell plays. On the opposite end, are The Thugs which are stereotyped as gun toting players that have a “kill or be killed” mentality and sleep with as many women as they please. They are usually the typical “macho” man.
Technology plays a big part in “re-wiring” boy's brains. Video game violence, movies, porn. “21% of porn is used daily”. There is so much culture displayed such as Rape Culture and Hook Up Culture, where men think that women exist for their pleasure.
And that’s where we fall into oppression of women, class separation and superiority. It all adds up. A man is supposed to be these set characteristics, which makes him the dominant one, in control or able to take control. It’s the basis of the hierarchy, because if there is a top, then there is definitely a bottom. Setting these nearly impossible standards, there will always be those individuals that succeed and fail and make the system what it is. The same goes for women.
But this mixture of bottled emotions, high expectations and the fight for dominance is dangerous. Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten or assaulted. Boys are more likely to flunk school. Where do you think that leads? Drug culture, violence, rape, and eventually jail.
Women are objectified and abused. Men are turned into emotionless androids. We are in this perpetual state of inequality. All because a coach called a boy a “sissy” or a “fag”. All because a man was sexually abused. 1 out of six men are.
All because the media, the government, or somebody wants us, males and females, to be two separate entities, even though we are more alike than different.
Hegemonic Masculinity is wrong, but social conditioning seems inevitable. I think it would be best to encourage our children to be more open, if anything. I am not sure how to solve this problem, but the first step is to be aware. Men are players and victims, they hurt and get hurt, they are human beings and we should start treating them as such. I think if we worked on this, it would be one step closer to equality for everyone.
It is time for men and women to become full human beings.