A friend sent me the following definition of masculinity with the comment, “When I tried figuring out if I knew anybody who’d fit this definition, I kept thinking of you.”
- Physical–virile, athletic, strong, brave. Unconcerned about appearance and aging;
- Functional–breadwinner, provider;
- Sexual–sexually aggressive, experienced. Single status acceptable;
- Emotional–unemotional, stoic;
- Intellectual–logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical,
- Interpersonal–leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, individualistic (applies to western societies);
- Other Personal Characteristics–success-oriented, ambitious; proud, egotistical (applies to some societies); moral, trustworthy; decisive, competitive, uninhibited, adventurous. (Levine, 1998, p.13)
Aside from the “virile” and “athletic”, these are all my own, cherished attributes. Also, instead of “moral”, I’d use “moralizing” to describe myself.
Just goes to show you how valuable all of these pseudo-scientific definitions of gender are. If you think about it, you’d see that these are all very positive characteristics. Their opposites (weak, cowardly, dependent, inexperienced, illogical, unreasonable, non-objective, impractical, follower, unambitious, immoral, untrustworthy, indecisive, inhibited, etc.) are obviously very negative.
This tells us that whenever people talk about masculinity and femininity, they simply assign all good qualities to people with penises and all bad qualities to people with vaginas. The source I’m quoting suggests that genetics somehow makes people with penises ambitious and trustworthy and people with vaginas illogical and cowardly. There is evidently nothing even remotely logical and scientific in such artificial societal constructs. I guess, the article must have been written by a total girl.
The bad news is that North American pseudo-feminists have interiorized this faulty logic to such an extent that they keep teaching in class and writing in books and articles about how the female essence is, indeed, of the emotional, illogical, irrational, even “animalistic” kind.
10 thoughts on “Masculinity and Me”
Huh. Thats not what I would call positive masculinity actually.
I agree that these are very typical descriptors for what’s generally considered masculine. I’ll also agree that many of the exact opposites of these descriptors are negative. Consider, however, some of the typical descriptors for what’s generally considered feminine that haven’t been mentioned so far: loving, nurturing, kind, caring, empathetic, etc. Not all the attributes people mention when talking about femininity are negatives. Nor has it been my experience that all masculine attributes are considered positive (don’t pay attention, lacking warmth, unable to ask for help, emotionally disconnected, etc.) Sure, some of these attributes are overlapping and repetitive, but so are the ones mentioned above.
I do think there’s a certain logic to traditional gender identities – men as a group *tend* to be more ‘masculine’; women as a group *tend* to be more ‘feminine.’ And once upon a time, those tendencies ruled. Well into the 70s, men were expected to be “all man” and women expected to be “all woman.” Chemistry and socialization were in lock-step in re-enforcing a polar, either-or, set of behaviors. Gradually, however, the iron shackles have loosened and people have learned, I believe, that a balanced and well-formed personality contains aspects of both, in varying degrees depending on the individual. Neither men or women are actually weakened by accepting aspects of “the other side.” On the contrary, I think a combination of traditional masculine and feminine traits can strengthen individuals.
“Consider, however, some of the typical descriptors for what’s generally considered feminine that haven’t been mentioned so far: loving, nurturing, kind, caring, empathetic, etc.”
-Note that these characteristics are all about what one can do for others. In these sense, they are very negative because they describe somebody who is, by nature, geared towards serving others.
“Chemistry and socialization were in lock-step in re-enforcing a polar, either-or, set of behaviors.”
-As of now, nobody has been able to find any gender trait that is supported by human genetics or “chemistry.” What chemistry has to do with all this is a complete mystery.
” Nor has it been my experience that all masculine attributes are considered positive (don’t pay attention, lacking warmth, unable to ask for help, emotionally disconnected, etc.)”
-Absolutely true! This is why I keep saying that gender stereotypes hurt both men and women.
“On the contrary, I think a combination of traditional masculine and feminine traits can strengthen individuals.”
-The good news is that this is exactly how human beings always are. 🙂
But if you look the characteristics you mention in your main post are generally geared toward what said masculine man can do for others as well.
Physical and Functional usually speak toward the capacity to perform acts for other people.
Sexual is usually in regard to being sexually virile for the purpose of pleasing a woman (homophobia included on this one) in bed.
Emotional speaks towards holding one’s emotions in and setting them aside so they can perform acts for other people with out interruption from emotions.
Intellectual often speaks toward putting one’s smarts to use in the form of solving problems for others.
Interpersonal generally speaks towards organizing and directing other people.
Other Personal Characteristics (the ones listed there) are often in regards to qualities that other people seek in that men for the sake of gauging if a relationship with that man would be of benefit to them.
I have a hard time seeing several of these, like sexually aggressive, unemotional, stoic, dominating, disciplinarian, proud, egotistical, and competitive as altogether positive. I’ve heard all of those used in disparaging ways far more than complimentary ones.
Of course, this is a matter of subjective perception. I always thought these are great qualities. 🙂
But then it seems like you’re stating “The qualities ascribed to men, like being dominating and egotistical, are ones that are great for people to have, while the ones ascribed to women, like being kind and loving, are ones that are bad for people to have,” which is not something I think I can get behind.
“The bad news is that North American pseudo-feminists have interiorized this faulty logic to such an extent that they keep teaching in class and writing in books and articles about how the female essence is, indeed, of the emotional, illogical, irrational, even “animalistic” kind.”
Reminds me of this speech from Eve “Lesbian-Rape-Is-Good-Rape” Ensler:
If you can’t watch it all, just skip to 16:20 for her godawful poetry.
This is why I always say that no male chauvinist can insult me and degrade me as a woman as so many pseudo-feminists do on a regular basis. This video is essentialism at its worst. So annoying.
Just imagine how often an Asperger woman gets the message she is not really a woman because all this intuitive emotional teary-eyed ultra-sentimental response is alien to her.