Sociology Current

Masculinity

Masculinity

Published on:
04 Nov 2023

Written by:
Pranay Aggarwal

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The News:

  • Hollywood actor Will Smith punched stand-up comedian Chris Rock for making fun of his wife's appearance in a joke.

  • This has brought the issue of toxic masculinity prevalent in the society in limelight.

  • Sociological analysis:

  • "Masculinity" refers to the behaviors, social roles, and relations of men within a given society as well as the meanings attributed to them. The term masculinity stresses gender, unlike male, which stresses biological sex.

  • Michael Messner, in his book Politics of Masculinities: Men in Movements, refers to the "costs of masculinity." The status and privilege that come with masculinity also come with a price tag. Thus, men too pay with poor health, shorter lives, emotionally shallow relationships, and less time spent with loved ones.

  • Pierre Bourdieu writes of symbolic violence in his book Masculine Domination, describing a kind of invisible and pervasive form of power that is masked in the "everyday" things that we do. This pervasive power not only affects women, it also paints all men into a tight corner. Men are, for Bourdieu, "dominated by their own dominance".

  • The sexual objectification of women occurs as a matter of tradition for most men. Hinojosa describes this as “overt heterosexuality”. One of the clearest defining characteristics of the hegemonic masculinity is the trait of heterosexuality. This trait is required to achieve power in the patriarchal system and to be seen as “fully” masculine. Thus, not only men are considered to be 'protectors' of their woman's honor, but it also brings out homophobic tendencies in them. This affects the rights of the LGBQT community.

  • Thus, Hegemonic masculinity exists as a cultural guide for what would be a perfect masculinity, and men are gauged based on how well they approximate the hegemonic ideal.

  • The promotion of idealized masculine roles emphasizing toughness, dominance, self- reliance, and the restriction of emotion can begin as early as infancy. Such norms are transmitted by parents, other male relatives, and members of the community. Media representations of masculinity on websites such as YouTube often promote similar stereotypical gender roles.

  • According to Earp and Katz, the media have provided us with a steady stream of images which define violence as an ordinary or normal part of masculinity.

  • According to Ronald F. Levant and others, these traditionally prescribed masculine behaviors can produce harmful effects including violence (including sexual assault and domestic violence) and socially irresponsible behaviors including substance use disorders, and dysfunction in relationships.