Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of ideas of what it meant to be a man. As early as elementary school, I remember being told, "Men don't cry" and that was one of my first real introductions into the world of hypermasculinity. Wikipedia defines hypermasculinity as, "a psychological term for the exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior, such as an emphasis on physical strength, aggression, and sexuality. I would define hypermasculinity as an unrealistic depiction of what being a man is supposed to be. Looking back on my childhood, I definitely saw many unrealistic and exaggerated examples of what it meant to be a man in my everyday routine. I would turn on my television and see men regularly associated with danger and violence. Many times, these programs showed men having to be very aggressive and apathetic to get their point across.
When we talk about gender roles, many times people jump to the conclusion that women are the only ones being oppressed by unrealistic expectations. While it's true that women have many stereotypes generally associated with them, many times we overlook the stereotypes and assumptions that are associated with men. For example, The Huffington Post states, "It's not only women that are affected by sexist advertising. "Psychologists Megan Vokey, Bruce Tefft, and Chris Tysiaczny at the University of Manitoba analyzed advertisements in men's magazines to see what it means to be a man. "They found that a significant number of the advertisements portrayed or promoted one or more of the following beliefs: "Danger is exciting, Toughness is a form of emotional self-control, Violence is manly, and It's fine to be callous about women and sex. This study clearly shows that there are deep examples of misguidance in our society.
I feel hypermasculinity is a huge problem in our culture, but it's hypocritical to analyze any subject without seeing how popular culture and media is adding to the very problem we might condemn. For example, a regular theme still portrayed in many tv shows is the objectification of women. It's common to see male characters discuss women in a negative light, often times just making them an object for sexual desire and nothing else. One person might say well the average person will know that it's not okay to objectify women, or anybody for that matter. The truth is, culture can be very influential on how a person views the world. If young boys are constantly being told that to be a man is hide your emotions, what do you think the outcome will be?
We will get a society of a bunch of emotionally repressed men who don't know how to express themselves in a healthy way. Personally, I've had to deal with many misguided views on manhood from others and from mainstream society. For a while I honestly believed that manhood meant being tough and barely ever showing who you are as an individual. I realized that it was frustrating to prescribe to this naive concept of what manhood meant. Hypermasculinity is a problem because it doesn't just affect men. It also affects the relationships these men have with other people. It affects our entire society. In conclusion, every issue has major root causes. One of the biggest causes of hypermasculinity is the misguided concept of manhood promoted by popular culture. If people really want to put an end to this issue, we should re-evaluate how men are portrayed in our culture.