Why hypermasculinity is ruining the boys and men of today
My little brother and I have always been close, even when we were little babies. I’ve watched him grow from a chubby, cuddly little toddler to a tanned, jaunty middle school boy.
As he matures in this world, I sometimes get the urge to protect him from the harsh aspects of reality. Realistically, this is impossible. No matter how much I want to consider him as my “little kitty”, I know that I can’t shelter him from all the horrible things in the world, like pain or injustice.
It bothers me to no end that he will, if he hasn’t already, be expected to “act like a man” or “man up” in social situations. He will be told to hide his emotions and to show no weakness, as these tacit shards of advice will keep him from becoming a true man. People around him will tell him that it is okay to call a girl a “slut” or a “b***h” if he is rejected by her, or if she is showing some skin. He may also learn to casually put in a sexist or a rape joke to make his “boys” laugh. He may try to hide pieces of his personality that seem too feminine, and may even think that homophobic names like “faggot” are funny to throw around at other guys who show some kind of effeminate tendencies.
It scares me to think about the harshness of our patriarchal society and its effect on men. The signs of gender inequality are obvious in women, but in men they are much more subtle, yet just as corrosive.
A patriarchal gender system puts the male ideal over the female. Thus, anything that relates to women – like housework, child-rearing, or even being clean – is trivialised and put down.
Men who do not fit into the traditional role of masculinity are ignored, and are seen to be as weak as the women who are being mocked. On top of that, men are constantly told to garner respect and be leaders. If a man loses his respect and is the ‘omega’ in anything, then he is just not manly enough. In this way, violence is thought of as a suitable mode to regain lost masculinity. This is why we constantly hear about more men being put behind bars for gang violence or abusing women to show their manliness.
The patriarchy’s effect on the men in our lives is way more subversive than we have known before. I don’t have to tell you this in order for you to visualise this issue – you have undoubtedly seen it before your eyes.
Don’t believe me? Check this out:
Mainstream, sane feminism has tried to destroy the existence of gender roles for the sexes. Back when civilisation was being built up by our ancestors, gender roles were necessary for sustaining the next generation of humans. Now, at the advent of new technology and a burgeoning population, we don’t need them.
A woman doesn’t have to stay at home to make babies when machines and plastic diapers can do it for her. And likewise, a man doesn’t have to be out hunting for his family’s sustenance when there are grocery stores and factory farms.
These notions of how, what and why an individual should act like based on his or her gender are just reiterations of our primordial past as hunters and gatherers. These ideas have infiltrated all parts of our society and have caused deep rifts in the way that people of all genders are perceived. Newer generations of humans have to simply realise that outdated ways of living won’t work on an industrialised planet.
Gender roles are just an old world notion that we have to shake off, regardless of whatever political or religious ideology one believes in.
Instead of being labelled breadwinners or homemakers, men, women and everyone in between the archaic gender binary is simply a human being who has the responsibility of not being an ‘jerk’ to other people. It’s as easy as that.
Our existence is no longer about fighting off sabre-tooth tigers and trying to build primitive huts. So let’s quit perpetuating the gender roles of our cavemen ancestors. It is for the new generation of thinkers, leaders and builders to take the reins of social change towards gender equality.
Hypermasculinity hurts all males, as it is a choking culture. I don’t want my little brother, and men everywhere, to have to deal with roles and responsibilities they didn’t sign up for.
Paying the bills does not make my brother a man, and hitting and subjugating other women will never show how well his leadership and control skills are. He, and every other man on this planet, should not feel that his existence and his right to be a man is invalidated because he dresses a certain way or chooses to cry over something that he is passionate about.
My brother shouldn’t have to worry about being friends with other women because he will be considered “whipped” or a “p***y”, for trying to exercise the natural friendship between men and women. More importantly, he should never think that it is okay to devalue another male, just because he wasn’t born a man.
My fellow millennials, I call on all of you to start changing the thought process of the boys and girls of the future.
We’re all sick of the patriarchal, sexist culture that our forefathers and foremothers have left behind. They ruined the economy and left us with crappy gender biases. It is time for us to reclaim our lives, and our gender identities.
From now on, think about the lasting effects of calling someone a “p***y” or a “b***h”, and keep negative homophobic and transphobic ideas out of your language. Just respect other people, and never be afraid to express your gender and sexual identity. Together, we can build a better world, but we have to start with baby steps.
This post was originally published on BrownGirlMagazine and republished with permission.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.