Figleaf had a post on his blog recently about the meaning of masculinity, and an upcoming movie about men’s insecurity in that regard.
The trailer shows a number of people (male and female) talking about manhood and masculinity, and generally espousing the view that men nowadays have “questionable masculinity” or are “finding their feminine side.”
You want to know what I find masculine?
Men who don’t worry about it.
I tend to associate concern about masculinity with adolescence, when a young person is making that transition from boy to man. He’s insecure about whether he’s really a man because he’s not quite there yet.
To me, a “real” man is the one who’s just as comfortable doing dishes wearing a pink apron as he is target shooting. The activity does not define the man; his masculinity comes from within.
Unfortunately, men in our society are subject to the same social pressures women are. Women, particularly young girls, are constantly barraged with images and ideas of what they should be: thin, pretty eye candy with flawless skin and big boobs. And young men are bombarded with the notion that “real” men are rough, emotionally stunted people who ogle the big boobs. Our young men get the idea that expressing vulnerability, or pursuing gentle interests, is not what men do.
Or as Figleaf so aptly phrased it,
My metaphor for “masculinity” is cutting, carving, or tearing away of everything about biologically male humans that doesn’t fit the stereotype.
I’ve seen a lot of resistance to the female stereotype; women (quite rightly) are rejecting it in increasingly greater numbers. The social pressure to fit the stereotype is still a serious problem (particularly for girls and teens), but enough women are speaking out against it that they are no longer considered an aberration.
I hope that men will do the same; I look forward to seeing more and more men object to being told they aren’t “manly” because they enjoy découpage, or because they talk about their hurt feelings instead of stoically pretending they have none.
I’ve seen feminism described as “The radical idea that a woman should be treated like a person.”
Maybe masculinism would be “The radical idea that a man is allowed to be a person.”