Smashing Male Stereotypes

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About Justin Cascio

Justin Cascio is a writer, editor, and activist. He has written on food, lifestyle, gender, and sexuality for The Good Men Project, xoJane, and other publications; his work has been selected as Editor's Picks on Open Salon.
Justin is a former managing editor of The Good Men Project Magazine and editor of The Good Life, and a founding editor of You can follow him on Twitter, Google, and Facebook.


  1. The problem is a group of people have this idea that masculinity needs to destroyed and rebuilt, based on negative stereotypes of masculinity and men that they can’t get out of their mind.
    To them men are flawed and need to be shown the way.

    I don’t see the difference in a man questioning me on why i don’t watch much sports and a woman questioning me on why i don’t get pedicures.
    Both are questioning me on why i don’t fit into their view of what a man should be.

    • Yup It is hard to figure out what is good if all you get is feedback in the negative!

    • Yes. The goal needs to be not try to build (or rebuild) masculinity in a limited scope to replace the current masculinity (which is also limited) but to simply open up the field so that men are free to build their masculinity as they see fit.

      • Well I agree – but actually the first step is to acknowledge that men own their own masculinity .. and after that the remodelling and demolition can be discussed. Presently it’s a wild west land grab and men are being herded onto the reservation.

        • but actually the first step is to acknowledge that men own their own masculinity…


          I guess I should have said that the ultimate goal aka final step should be to open up the field of masculinity so that men can built it as they see fit. Yes acknowlegement on one’s own masculinity is the crucial first step. It is from there that one must decide on what remodelling and demolition is necessary, or even if it’s needed at all.\

          Ultimately though any and all who embrace masculinity should be open to do that as they see fit.

  2. wellokaythen says:

    Considering I can only ice skate by holding onto the side boards for dear life, I’ve never considered male figure skaters to be all that unmanly. It takes some real toughness to learn how to spin through air by launching yourself off of and down on solid ice. The falls are very unforgiving.

    I had a teacher in high school who was from Cyprus. She thought Balki Bartokamus, the simple-minded peasant on the show _Perfect Strangers_, was totally hilarious. (Yes, I was in high school in the 1980’s. Don’t do the math.) Her accent was virtually identical to his. I’ve met at least one person from India who thinks Apu is a really funny character.

    The worst stereotype may be the most fundamental myth about men, that we are inherently much simpler than women are. We have simple programming, only one thing on our minds, cannot think two things at the same time, and have to have clear instructions because we are totally simple-minded beings. Not just stupid, but completely one-dimensional.

  3. I take issue with the statement “Smiler says, “One of patriarchy’s strategies—and there are many—is to use stereotypes to limit our conceptions of what gender means, as well as our conception of what members of each gender are capable of doing.” It is not the patriarchy, it is the humanity. Women stereotype as much as men and just as callously.

    • Honestly I think calling it patriarchy is a way of somewhat holding women responsible for taking part in maintaining those stereotypes while at the same time still labeling the issue (or pointing blame at) as something male centric.

    • I have to agree Mike – the way it was spoken about, well – I was looking to the horizon for some great monstrous figure to come striding across the land with weird and wonderful super powers and weapons to enforce the power of Patriarch.

      As I was watching all I saw was a pensioner walking their dog. Cute and sweet in a geriatric sort of way.

  4. wellokaythen says:

    If gender stereotypes are anything like racial stereotypes, then we’ll need to smash ALL the stereotypes, not just the obviously negative ones. If there are positive stereotypes about masculinity out there, they may just be negative stereotypes in disguise. It won’t work to destroy negative myths and simply replace them with apparently positive ones.

    Meanwhile, smashing negative stereotypes about men would probably require the destruction of positive mythologies about women. Many of these stereotypes praising women are just the flipside of what are really negative stereotypes about men. (True for all sides — positive stereotypes about men may be largely based on negative stereotypes about women.)

    I prefer to replace myth with truth, not with counter-myth.

    • Agreed.

      For every “He’s good with cars because he’s a guy” that gets challenged (and mind you it is most often challenged not because it’s putting a burden on him and putting his manhood into question, no “positive” myths about men are usually only challenged when they they carry an implied negative about women) there’s a “He’s a guy no one will try to attack him like they would a woman.” that goes unchallenged (and sometimes actively defended and frequently quoted, despite all the evidence that shows otherwise).

      All the myths must be dealt with, not just the ones that certain people want to deal with.

      • Agreed. Whatever the boundaries, even if it seems like a positive stereotype, it’s a trap. What’s wrong with being strong, for instance, or good at spatial skills? Nothing, until you’re not good at the thing you’re supposed to be good at, and then your value is questioned. We say things like, “What kind of man are you, anyway, you don’t ____ ?”

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