#MasculinitySoFragile, Part 2: It Does Not Have To Be

My sister has a son, whom I love very much. (I love my sister, too, by the way.) One Christmas, when he was just entering his teens, he got clothes and accessories which were dominated by hot pink. He got pink Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers, a pink studded belt, pink shirts from skateboarder-favored brands, you name it. His father was there for the opening of these gifts. I noticed the entire time that he acted very stiff and threatened. What threatened him so? It seems that the color pink threatened him. Now, in this culture, pink has been assigned a feminine status, and is still worn mostly by women. During the time my nephew received these gifts, it was rebellious for a boy to wear pink. I think it still is today, for I have generally not seen pink in men’s clothing as an acceptable piece, unless it is upper class or for a cause. Relax, guys. His #MasculinitySoFragile, it seems to be threatened by pink.

Alright, let’s clear the air. The hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile is not an insult to men. It’s not even an insult to masculinity, unless you let it be. What #MasculinitySoFragile intended to do was to expose cracks in masculinity that needed to be fixed. Masculinity does not have to be fragile. What we need to do is allow certain things that are assigned as “masculine” and “feminine” and make them universal.

For instance, let’s look at what masculinity is. Masculinity seems to have evolved from a philosophy known as Stoicism. You can look up Wikipedia for the information on it, but stoicism believed negative emotions (such as fear and sadness) came from errors in judgment, and having a will to be brave and happy, independent of circumstance, was ideal. I will not give my personal judgment on the possibility of this ideal, but it seems to have heavily influenced the concept of what it means to “Man Up.” Another tenet of masculinity is aggression and strength. This I will give a personal opinion on. Aggression and strength are both fine in controlled manners. However, if you let them, they will rule you, as possible. The best example of uncontrolled masculinity in action is the general arena of professional wrestling. Now, don’t get me wrong: I used to watch professional wrestling well into my thirties. It provided some great emotional release, and very sexy men, if I may say so. My beef with wrestling is, aggression seems to be the only emotional response deemed useful and even appropriate. Any other response is relegated to the villains of the show, aka the heels. Everybody seems to be primed for a fight. The trouble is, constant fight response taxes the physical body to an early grave, and there are many professional wrestlers who have gone to an early grave. You can also easily find the names of these men in any web search engine. In many psychology therapy sessions, chronic stress is known to cause health problems. This is why men suffer from earlier onset of health conditions, as well as earlier death. This is what I can see.

How do we remedy this? The remedy comes in acknowledgement of men’s feelings, which do exist, and in widening the arena of appropriate masculine behavior. Men, if you feel like crying for any reason, go ahead and cry. A man crying is quite manly, if I may say so. It shows you are tender, and strong enough to do it. According to my current society, men are not supposed to cry, so for a man, crying is a revolutionary act.

Now, I believe masculinity and femininity are social constructs, where things are assigned one gender or another. Apparently, this is masculine and that is feminine and never the twain shall meet, but this standard is almost never met, especially in 21st-century America. Men cry all the time, for instance. It’s just that crying in men is triggered by different things than women. The winning of the Super Bowl by your favorite team? Assigned as a masculine crying trigger. A dramatic movie? Assigned feminine crying trigger. Now, if masculinity and femininity are social constructs, then are not the tear triggers social constructs themselves? Why don’t we accept emotions as universal experiences, regardless of gender? Society says not to, that’s why. But why don’t we change society itself? We can all do it together. And in this, Masculinity is NOT so fragile.

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