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Masculinity is aset of behaviors, qualities, and roles appropriate or associated witha man. In order to differentiate masculinity from the simplebiological quality of being male, socially and culturally definedfactors are also incorporated in defining masculinity. A number oftraits have been associated with masculinity such as independence,boldness, assertiveness, risk-taking, among others. However, thesetraits vary from one cultural setting to another. It is from thesequalities that the statement “the saddest, smelliest, mostshambling male individual still imagines that women will find himattractive and is prepared to act on that assumption.”, by Greer isderived from. The statement is true and it is linked to theupbringing and social environment of the individual.
Patriarchalsocieties have greatly dictated how women are treated for centuries.In the wake of numerous beliefs and assertions such as theaforementioned statement by Greer, it is worthwhile to think of theimpact such beliefs in men. Tony Porter described this impact in TEDtalk in reference to how young boys are raised as “The Man Box”.He gave an example of how a father would handle a situation involvinga crying son or daughter (Connell). The father would comfort thedaughter reassuringly and protectively. The situation would bedifferent in the case of the son crying. The father would disregardthe son`s reasons for distress and instead demand the son to wipe histears, and act his gender. In this example, we discern that manyyoung boys are taught to show no weakness, emotion, or fear butinstead develop physical strength, confidence, and assertiveness(Connell). Other than relegating women to a lower status, thesestandards serve to weaken the young boys’ egos.
Power is alsoassociated with masculinity. This quality is brought out in thestatement in the sense that the male individual does not expectrejection from women despite his physical appearance. This notion isa consequence of being compelled to adopt behaviors and attributesexhibited by an alpha male. Subsequently, his perceptions andtreatment of women changes. The situation is not helped either whenfamiliar remarks such as “You run/play like a girl”, “Stopacting like a girl” are directed at young boys indiscriminately.This usually robs these young men of expressing any emotions in theirinteractions with women (Connell). A tragic consequence of this isthe numerous cases of violent conduct by men towards women includingsexual assault. Such men express their emotions through anger andrage when questioned or challenged.
In a landmarktalk, Ted Porter highlighted the fault in the manner through whichmales were raised. Some factors were encouraged while others werefrowned upon as unmanly. For instance, girls were comforted andsoothed whenever they shed tears. On the other hand, boys wereroughed up and forced to change their perspective so as to be treatedin a dignified manner. Additionally, boys had to display little fearand emotion in how they dealt with various challenges. Physicalstrength has also been discussed as a key factor in the judgmentrendered by boys. The latter statement disagrees with the notion thatthe smelliest and most shambling boy would attract any interest fromfemales.
Males have beenlabeled as confident and non-assuming. In this regard, they wouldavoid any outward display of weakness. This would include showingsadness or vulnerability. Men would always be expected to exudeconfidence and enhanced self-esteem. Vibrancy would be required onall who claim to be respected as men. This also contradicts with theassertion that the saddest of men would attract any sort of attentionfrom females (Mani). As discussed, masculinity has different meaningsin various cultures. In the context of Germaine Greer’s statement,such a culture shows a warped view of masculinity.
On the otherhand, many females are rarely attracted to the outward appearanceportrayed by a man. They cherish the inner aspects more than theexternal factors. However, such occurrences are few and far between.In many instances, the external appearance is a reflection of theinner qualities possessed by a person. Western trends show that maleshave been displaying unique behavior. For instance, men have embracedrisk-taking behavior as a norm. This includes fast driving habits andplenty of alcohol consumption. Road traffic accidents have been onthe rise. Death statistics from road accidents feature more malesthan females (Mani). Moreover, men consume large amounts of alcohol.This makes them susceptible to diseases such as liver cirrhosis andstomach ulcers.
As discussed,masculinity is interpreted differently in various platforms. Thestatement by Greer has been disproved by a discussion of the societalexpectations of masculinity. Power is always associated withmasculinity. In this manner, personal appearance is given lessimportance. However, males have to be cautious about their appearanceas it portends to their inner qualities.
Connell, Raewyn. Masculinities. Berkeley, California:University of California Press, 2005. Accessed from:http://www.raewynconnell.net/p/masculinities_20.html
Mani, Sutheshna. What Does It Mean to `Be a Man`? 2015. Accessedfrom:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sutheshna-mani/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-man_b_7122590.html?utm_hp_ref=hpmasculinity