This comment was by Steve Winfield in reference to the post – “Withdrawing From the Cult of Masculinity“
Many excellent points here. In my mind, “masculinity” (as typically defined and performed by people in society) encompasses two distinct concepts. The first is a set of customs, expectations, and actions which I call “manhood” – generally I include here all of the personality traits one would admire in their father or any other man they admire. In a man, these are the things for which he can justifiably commend himself when he looks in a mirror, the things which contribute to his OWN assessment of himself as “a good man”. Examples could include “treating others with dignity and respect”, “honoring his promises”, and “accepting his responsibilities”. These behaviors are not exclusive to men at all – but when performed by men they define what kind of man he is. The second category encompassed within “masculinity” is what I call “manliness” – and to me that word is similar to Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” – it is all the macho BS stuff that insecure, juvenile men perform FOR EACH OTHER in an effort to earn the it peers’ confirmation of their masculinity. These behaviors include all the college fraternity excesses, the skirt-chasing and bedpost notching (“guys.. look how hot my girlfriend is.. yeah, I’m tapping that, I must be cool, right?”). “Manliness” is the chest pumping false bravado, the “mine’s bigger” (cars/trucks, houses, stereos, penises..). ALL of “manliness” is built around the false belief that a man’s value is defined by how OTHERS see him, instead of how his conscience judges himself. It is a “standard” developed by generations of essentially fatherless kids who (as you point out) have a mostly absent primary role model, and who (of necessity) are grasping blindly with their peers for some standard to compare themselves to.
The problem in society is not masculinity overall – there is definitely a place (and a desperate need) in society for a better understanding of and emphasis on legitimate manhood. The problem is the widespread cultural acceptance of false, destructive concepts of manliness.
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