Recently, I had to stop myself from sending a text message. It would have made my friends laugh but it wasn’t necessary. On September 24, 2017, my family and I appeared on a Home & Garden Television’s (HGTV) show called Mexico Life. My family’s episode of season four, Making Memories in Mazatlán, follows us as we explore neighborhoods in Mazatlán, Sinaloa to find “the perfect home.” When the show aired, I wanted to tell my friends by sending a text message that read, “Man, I’m on HGTV. Be sure to turn to your favorite channel along with your mothers and wives.” I decided not to send this message because I knew it was a backhand challenge to their masculinity.
Masculinity is the process where boys come to understand what it means to be a man. It is the behaviors, mannerisms, and ideas that we learn from a young age that boys and men should embody in their identities. Examples include climbing trees, playing sports, watching violent television, shaming our peers, and consistently attempting to display oppositional behaviors to girls and women. A significant portion of the HGTV programs involves interior design, home improvement projects, or as in my family’s case, house shopping. My wife, mother, and five sisters are fans of many of the television shows. According to the social norms of masculinity, HGTV is not for men, because the perception is that women more frequently enjoy the programs.
The television channel I watch does not make me a man.
It is ridiculous that as men, we can sometimes evaluate the manhood of others based on our preference in television. I believe that it is more likely common among men to agree that ESPN, a television network that specializes in sports programming, corresponds better with masculine constructs than HGTV. It is more likely in locker rooms to hear men discuss sports plays highlighted via ESPN rather than the curtains used to decorate a house on an HGTV program. When groups of men get together, sports inevitably are part of many of our conversations and to participate you need to either watch the games, read about them, or catch the highlights. A man can be the recipient of strange looks or intentional comments to question their manhood when he does not subscribe to the observation of sports’ games.
I enjoy playing sports, but catching the next game on television or the ESPN highlights is the least of my priorities. My father is the same way. Does that make us less manly? I don’t believe that’s the case. As men, we must work toward expanding the definitions of masculinity.
How should we define masculinity?
I am grateful for listening to my inner awareness that convinced me not to send the text message, I mentioned in the introduction. I did not send my friends the text, “Man, I’m on HGTV,” but instead I only told them to share the episode with their networks. Some of my friends may be avid fans of HGTV programming, and that’s perfectly fine. It is not my role as a friend to perpetuate misconstrued constructs of masculinity.
There are other ways, outside of television preferences that we should seek as options to validate ourselves as men. I understand a man as someone who takes care of their responsibilities. These responsibilities might include but are not limited to, working with a partner to provide for a household, making consistent time for exercise, reading books that can enhance skills and the knowledge of ourselves, and taking a stance against injustices. A man has little to do with the television networks he enjoys in his pastime.
Let’s work together to help boys and men adopt positive beliefs of masculinity and their potential to make valuable contributions to this world. Leave a comment and let’s connect.
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