Redefining Masculinity

Masculinity has been regarded as the ultimate attribute of a human male throughout the course of time. In historical times, masculinity was deemed as the traits inherent to human males. from birth. While masculinity used to be classified as a biologically-created construct, it is widely apparent that the traditional definition of masculinity is false. However, today’s definition of masculinity still reflects masculinity as a biologically created construct rather than a social construct. Though masculinity is traditionally defined as “having qualities usually associated with men,” a more accurate definition would be “a learned pretense of supposedly superior behavior imposed onto males starting from a young age under the threat of social emasculation”.

Masculinity is a construct that has existed for generations upon generations. It’s a tradition that has been passed from father to son and so on. A main component of redefined masculinity is that it’s a learned pretense which is imposed onto male children at a young age.

Boys grow up encouraged to participate in what are perceived by society to be masculine; young boys are encouraged to explore and adventure, wrestle and fight, run and climb. While these activities aren’t inherently dangerous for boys to participate in – they are inherently dangerous when associated only with masculinity, they are inherently dangerous when suggested that boys are biologically predisposed to enjoy such activities.

Such a small component in such the complex gender role, illuminates the true nature of masculinity perfectly. Exploring, fighting, and running are all activities in which young boys participate. However, these activities are all learned – and to argue that boys are biologically predisposed to these activities is ludicrous. In the same sense, masculinity is a behavior in which young boys participate. While boys may act masculine, it is a learned behavior and there is no scientific proof to suggest that boys are biologically predisposed to act masculine.

While there is no proof to suggest that masculinity is a biologically-created construct, there is proof to suggest that the gender roles that boys are conditioned to conform to play into the social construct of masculinity. According to Professor Robert Blum, who conducted a six-year study on gender roles internationally, “We found children at a very early age – from the most conservative to the most liberal societies – quickly internalize this myth that girls are vulnerable and boys are strong and independent”. This shows that the definition of biologically-created masculinity is accepted on an international scale. However, as Professor Robert Blum states, that definition is simply a myth – a dangerous one at that – that children are conditioned to conform to. Furthermore, Professor Blum’s statement verifies the fact that masculinity is a learned behavior – not a biologically-created construct.

The redefined version of masculinity also states that the behavior imposed on young males is socially accepted as “superior”. The biologically-created definition of masculinity depends upon masculinity being the opposite of femininity. Where feminine women are considered affectionate, empathetic, tender, and powerless – the biologically-created definition of masculinity dictates that men must conform to the opposite; that masculine men must be unaffectionate, apathetic, callous, and powerful.

Nevertheless, every characteristic that the biologically-created definition of masculinity dictates a masculine man both to conform to and to dismiss, are not exclusive to either gender. To state that men are biologically predisposed to power, callousness, and apathy would be scientifically incorrect. In fact, the brain structure of human males and human females are almost identical, and completely invalidate the idea of the biologically-created definition of masculinity. To quote Daphna Joel, a behavioral neuroscientist who conducted a study on the differences in the male and female brain, “There is no sense in talking about male nature and female nature. There is no one person that has all the male characteristics and another person that has all the female characteristics.” Moreover, this proves that the biologically-created definition of masculinity is false in its nature – as there are no scientifically proven differences between the brain of females and males; no true differences in female and male nature. Since the argument of biological masculinity is invalidated by science, it leaves only the suggestion that masculinity is a social construct in which men are encouraged to engage in toxic behavior that society deems as “superior,” and masculine in its nature.

While society deems masculinity as superior in nature –  it all comes down to human nature. Humans are the only animals to engage in stereotypical gender roles; humans are the only animals to create social constructs; humans are the only animals that conform to the social construct of masculinity. In fact, humans are the only animals that conform to gender as a whole. Humans share multiple similarities with other animals – but where a human male is supposedly biologically-masculine and as a result acts with apathy and callousness, that’s not the case in any other species. Furthermore, this refutes the definition of biologically-created masculinity and further suggests that masculinity is a social construct.

Finally, is the fact that the performance of masculinity is performed partly through coercion under the threat of social emasculation. The social construct of masculinity forces men to conform to an idea with toxic behavior – however, the alternative of refusing to conforming to society’s expectations for men would be to lose their sense of manhood as a whole. When it comes to masculinity – there are only two options: to conform or become labeled as something less than a man by society.

For example, headlines like “5 Ways That Men Are Becoming Little Bitches,” and “20 Things Every Man Should Be Able To Do,” that speak of manliness and spread the rhetoric of toxic masculinity – they confine men with a single story: that a man can perform masculinity or be labeled “a little bitch,” or “incapable,” – a man can perform masculinity or his status of manhood can be revoked. Society has coerced and conditioned men to perform masculinity under the threat of social emasculation. Moreover, this invalidates the biologically-created definition of masculinity, because if men are coerced and conditioned into performing masculinity, it refutes the idea that men are biologically predisposed to masculinity.

To conclude, though masculinity is traditionally defined as “having qualities usually associated with men,” a more accurate definition would be “a learned pretense of supposedly superior behavior imposed onto males starting from a young age under the threat of social emasculation”. Starting at a young age, boys are taught to conform to what society perceives as masculine. Seeing as boys are taught to conform to masculinity – it disproves the biological definition of masculinity. Boys are conditioned to act in ways that are viewed as superior – to avoid the characteristics of femininity and conform to those of masculinity. Once again, the biologically-created definition is disproved by the fact that the characteristics that boys are conditioned to conform to – aren’t exclusive to the human male. Lastly, the biologically-created definition is refuted again by the fact that men are conditioned and coerced to perform masculinity – and if a man can be coerced into performing masculinity, then it invalidates the argument that men are biologically predisposed to masculinity. In conclusion, masculinity cannot be defined from a biological standpoint. Masculinity is quite literally a man-made social construct in which men are considered superior and women, inferior. That being said, the most appropriate and accurate definition of masculinity would be, “a learned pretense of supposedly superior behavior imposed onto males starting from a young age under the threat of social emasculation.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply