Challenging the Performance of Masculinity

“Women are dumb,” Bryan* said, “they already have a thousand things going on in their mind about you, so when you ask her out, set a specific date and time; don’t leave it open-ended.” I think I almost choked on my dinner as I heard him advise my friend, Dave.* I did not want to get into an argument since I had not seen Bryan since high school, but his sexist remarks needed to be challenged.

Bryan, who is engaged himself, did not participate in a dialogue with me. Instead, he resorted to personal attacks, profanity and high school “humor.” Every point I made about sexism, male privilege and socialization was twisted into mockery and dismissed as “bullshit.” Dave, on the other hand, was still stressing about how he was going to ask the waitress out. I said to Bryan, “You don’t think there are a thousand things going on in Dave’s mind right now?” Dave nodded and admitted that I was right. Bryan shook his head, “Stop being a pussy, Dave. Be a man, that’s what women want; women want a man, just go and ask her out.”

I always find it disturbing nowadays when I hear someone, female or male, say, “Be a man.” It is an expression that is not only commonly used in our language, but also rarely confronted. Before I delve deeper into social expectations of masculinity, I want to point out what is occurring in the situation I briefly described above.

I am convinced that gender is a performance – something that we do at specific times and in specific circumstances as opposed to something that we have. While our performances are acted upon individually, they are also collaborative, meaning that they are heavily influenced and stylized by the socially constructed norms we and others accept about gender. A lot of the messages we receive about masculinity and femininity, for instance, is shaped, established, and standardized mostly by mainstream media, namely television – our society’s most powerful storyteller, as George Gerbner and other cultivation theorists argue – and also by family, friends, schools, religious institutions, and so on.

When Bryan challenged my friend’s masculinity or “manhood,” the response was reactionary. However conflicted Dave was, whether about his confidence, the time and place of his possible date, or the general anxiety that comes along with expressing romantic interest in someone, it did not matter. His masculinity was being challenged and even jeopardized in front of his friends. In order to demonstrate and prove his “manliness,” he needed to perform it. Of course, this is not to conclude that this was the conscious reasoning in my friend’s mind. My argument is that many of our performances, especially in situations like Dave’s, result from processes of internalization.

For instance, where does this singular idea about what it means to be a “real man” come from? Who is telling us to “man up” and “be a man?” What happens to those of us who do not “man up?” What images and messages are young men receiving and/or internalizing about “masculinity?” How does it surface in their language, behavior, appearance, social interactions, and other aspects of cultural life? In what ways does the model for “masculinity” in White heteropatriarchy affect men of color? These are several questions I have been reflecting on for a while and I recognize that I may not address or answer all of them in this post alone. However, I do find importance in at least putting the questions forth.

If we look at the way boys are raised, we find an unwritten rule about masculinity that is immensely widespread in contemporary American society: Don’t be feminine. As Dr. Julia T. Wood writes:

Early in life, most boys learn they must not think, act, or feel like girls and women. Any male who shows sensitivity or vulnerability is likely to be called a sissy, a crybaby, a mama’s boy, or a wimp. Peer groups pressure males to be tough, aggressive, and not feminine.

It is easy to see the anti-female directive in the way Bryan told my friend to “stop being a pussy.” Whenever men want to degrade, insult, and/or challenge other men, attacks are often made on their masculinity. The insults may be very direct with words like “girlie” or indirect with words like “sissy.” The model of masculinity does not actually teach us what it means to “be a man,” but rather says, “To be a man means to not be female.” Men must do the opposite of what women are stereotypically thought to do: men should suppress their emotions; they must be muscular, strong – physically and emotionally – and confident at all times; and they must not deviate from what society deems as “masculine. It would be irresponsible to ignore the homophobia that strongly accompanies this model as well. That is, one is not only “sissy” and “girlie,” but also “gay,” “homo,” or a “fag.” I remember from my own experience in high school, a lot of young heterosexual men, including myself, were afraid of receiving homosexual labels from our peers because we knew how damaging it was. I even had a friend who was always called “faggot” and eventually got beaten up in the locker room. I was spared because I was good at floor hockey and the only one who scored a goal against our gym teacher. I did not stand up for my friend because I didn’t want to be “faggot,” too.

Being brown, South Asian, and Muslim in a predominately White Judeo-Christian suburban town wasn’t easy for me despite earning some respect based on the talents I displayed in gym, art, and filmmaking classes. During high school and at an age where I was not thinking so deeply or consciously about masculinity, I felt the pressures of doing things that broke from the values I was taught at home. I understand that the South Asian and Muslim communities are not monolithic, therefore anything I say about my experiences and personal decisions should not be interpreted as generalizations about all South Asians and/or Muslims, but my refusal to date and go to the prom was grounded in my personal cultural and religious beliefs. In retrospect, I can interpret how my resistance to dating and school dances were treated as “unmanly” – since having a girlfriend showed other young men that you were, first and foremost, heterosexual and worthy of respect and admiration – and “non-Western.” The attitude I got from many peers was, “He’s not one of us anyway.” Plus, he’s a “faggot.” I remember being laughed at a lot of times when I wore my shalwar kameez to school during “cultural appreciation” days. Young men would ask, “Why are you wearing a dress?” Because White men don’t wear dresses, but apparently South Asian men do.

Within the Muslim community – and I speak from my experiences in my college years since I did not have enough exposure to other Muslims in my childhood – I take note on how financial success is stressed upon for men. The goal is to emulate the example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, but I find it interesting how some Muslim men (but not all) I have encountered discourage what would be classified as “feminine” traits such as showing compassion or writing romantic poetry. Loving, compassionate, and merciful – these were the characteristics of the Prophet, but when we challenge the strict gender segregation practices in Mosques, we hear harsh condemnations from scholars and others who dismiss it as un-Islamic. Men are traditionally taught to control their sexual desires, while women are taught that they are the cause of male sexual desires, hence justifying gender segregation. Men are taught that they represent the community; they are at the forefront; and they play an active role in marriages, while women are passive and pushed to the background. This is not only an example of our male unearned privilege, where we are oblivious to the advantages we have over women, but also an example of stereotypical roles we are expected to fulfill as men. In other words, if a man is not assertive in his community or not the dominant partner in a heterosexual relationship, he will be criticized and stigmatized for it.

The mainstream Muslim community also places pressure on men to focus mostly on establishing a career and being financially independent. Success, on these terms, means men are qualified to get married and support a family. The mufti at my local Mosque once taught young men that their goal should be about pursuing careers in fields that would earn them money and respect. The arts were completely discouraged because, according to him, “no one will marry you.” I wonder how this affects other Muslim men who are artists at heart, but are pressured to study in fields they have no passion for. As a result of these pressures, I believe a lot of Muslim men project an image of content, displaying to others that they are secure and comfortable with their circumstances, no matter how dissatisfied they really are.

I do not deny or exclude the Muslim men who are passionate about their career or ambitions in non-artistic fields, but I still think it is significant to examine how societal and community pressures on men relates to the idealized “strong man” or “tough guy” image, which, in many cases, must be projected to prove one’s “manhood,” not just to other men, but to women as well. It behaves as a shield to hide “cracks in the armor,” so to speak. If a heterosexual man believes his sensitive and/or emotional side will stigmatize him among other men, and subsequently be seen as a “turn off” to women, his defense mechanism is to suppress those traits and replace it with the guise of “toughness” (which I will discuss further in the next paragraph). Especially in the Muslim community, if women are socialized to be caretakers and homemakers, therefore conditioned to seek men who are confident decision makers, career-oriented, and financially independent, why would they want to marry a man who shows his weaknesses and doubts? This leads me to the conclusion that all men, not just Muslim men, are taught to be machines, not human beings. The latter are three-dimensional, flawed, and complex, while the former are programmed to conform to socially constructed codes of one-dimensional and rigid prototypes of masculinity.

Conforming to the “Tough Guise” model is not exclusive or unique to Muslim men at all. This is very prominent in Western society among men in general. Anti-sexist male activist, Jackson Katz, writes about masculinity being a “projection, a pose, a guise, an act, a mask that men often wear to shield our vulnerability and hide our humanity.” In his documentary, “Tough Guise,” he elaborates about the mask men wear:

This mask can take a lot of forms but one that’s really important for us to look at in our culture at the millennium is what I call the Tough Guise. The front that many men put up that’s based on an extreme notion of masculinity that emphasizes toughness and physical strength and gaining the respect and admiration of others through violence or the implicit threat of it.

Recently, I noticed the celebration of the “Tough Guise” in the Muslim community when Amir Khan, a British-Muslim boxer of Pakistani descent won the world boxing association light-welterweight title in New York. Interesting enough, Rima Fakih, a Lebanese Muslim-American from Michigan, won the Miss USA beauty pageant around the same time. While much has been said about Rima Fakih – some arguing that her victory was worthy of celebration, despite acknowledging the sexist history of beauty pageants, while others found it exploitative and objectifying altogether – I heard no criticism about Amir Khan and what his victory said about masculinity.

The silence comes as no surprise to me. In fact, whenever we discuss gender issues, most of us think exclusively about women instead of both women and men. The same applies when we discuss race; we think about people of color and leave White people unexamined. Men and what it means to be White, in respect to gender and race, are “invisible” and unchallenged by the mainstream. Elan magazine, an online publication on global Muslim youth, published an article, “Amir Khan Crosses the Pond and Dominates,” which wrote the following about Khan’s victory:

Good news, adolescent American Muslim boys – you have a new role model and he looks just like you except with a much better physique! Someone put his name on a kufi for kids to wear to the mosque or give him his own PS3 title, because I think he’s just about to be the next big thing in worldwide boxing. At least, I hope so.

Not only does the author glorify traits that are typically associated with what society and the dominant culture has defined as “manly,” but he also encourages young Muslims to see Amir Khan has a “role model.” Do we really want to teach boys (whether Muslim or non-Muslim) to look up to someone who is simply known for his physical strength and ability to knock someone out? Is that what constitutes a role model or a “real man?” Do we expect Muslim fathers to hold their palms open for their sons and tell them, “Hit my hand as hard as you can?” If Muslim boys experience Islamophobia and racism in high school, should they behave like Amir Khan, throw on the “Tough Guise,” and try to beat up bullies? Is this really “good news” for adolescent Muslim-Americans or is a perpetuation of everything that is wrong with the way boys and men are socialized? I strongly argue the latter.

I am not trying to make this a religious discussion, but there is a famous Hadith (saying of the Prophet) that says the strongest person is not the strongest wrestler, but rather the one who can control his/her anger. The Prophet condemned all forms of violence and only permitted self-defense (and even that had strict rules). I am not making this point to say boxing is “haram” or to “infidelize” anyone, but rather I’m encouraging us to question the stereotypical messages that boxing sends out about “masculinity” and what it means to be a “real man,” mostly because such messages are immensely popular and prevalent. Why do we praise a man for his toughness and physical strength over a man who is sensitive, tender, and compassionate?

Without doubt there is more to discuss about masculinity and I admit that I am exploring this topic myself. I know I cannot deny how boys and men have been insulted, ostracized, and abused for behaving in ways that exist outside of the tight, suffocating box we call “masculinity.” I know that when boys and men express their doubts, uncertainties, and needs for companionship, Love, affection, and even protection, they are discouraged, ridiculed and forced to suppress their emotions and conceal their humanity. This is a danger to men as much as it is to women because, as Jackson Katz argues in “Tough Guise,” much of the violence in the world, whether against other men or women, is committed by men. We just don’t pay enough attention to gender when we talk about violence. When men are taught to “man up” and get physical to solve conflicts instead of communicating, the correlation between masculinity and violence is unsurprising.

The phrases we use for each other are hurtful and even traumatizing for those of us who are very sensitive beneath the “Tough Guise.” Labels like “sissy,” “pussy,” and “faggot” easily train us to become homophobic and hostile towards anyone who doesn’t fit the “right” model of masculinity. I would also argue that phrases like “nice guys finish last” and “mama’s boy” are also hurtful because they can potentially generate insecurity. The sad part is that we don’t ask ourselves: what is wrong with being a “nice guy,” and opposed to what, a “mean” guy? What is wrong with someone having a positive and healthy relationship with his mother? Does that make him less “manly?”

This box is suffocating. I believe many men feel it too, but may not be able to express it. I also believe a lot of men are convinced that they have to be “tough” and that there is no way out of it; it’s simply how they should be. Maybe, as Robert Jensen writes, it’s best for us to throw this whole idea of what it means to be a “real man” out of our minds. We have to break out of this small box and search for something “deeper, richer, and more satisfying.” We certainly need the help of women, but more importantly, we need help from other men, too.

As I watched my male friend Dave hide how conflicted he was about asking someone on a date and then hearing the “stop being a pussy” remark, it made me think about how some deep part of us must be calling for a new model to embrace our humanity. At least, I know this is true for me. There is a longing to be free and not confined to rigid labels or limited by boundaries. To be whole human beings and not the one-dimensional, unemotional machines that society and culture demands of us to be.

* Names changed for confidentiality.

22 thoughts on “Challenging the Performance of Masculinity

  1. very well writen article.I always read your blog , but this is a first time that I am commenting .the issue that I want to say, may be not related but I like to share it with you. I am sure you know how Iranian women are displayed in western media,oppressed and always beaten by their husbands.but reality is middle class and uppermiddle class families real oppressd persons are men not women.women say which house be bought, women say how salary of husbands be cosumed,women say which school children should go, women say how house be decorated, women say where go vacation, women say with which family they should have relationship, women should give permission that their husbands go to work related travel(wife of my own cousin didnot let him go to canada for study).may you dont believe me but this is real.these men are not minority , they are majority.but why we see in the media that only women are oppressed? , why all people think only women can be oppressed? why these men are not in the media ?any one no matter of gender , race,her/his faith, nationality can be oppressed.
    sorry if I have geramer errors.thank you.

    1. Mariam,

      Thank you for your comment and I’m glad that you enjoy reading my blog! I think you offer an interesting perspective about gender roles in Iranian society. I just want to clarify that my post is not about male “victimhood” nor is it about reversing the tables and looking at how women supposedly mistreat men.

      I wrote this more so for other men to read. While I’m sure there are cases when women are abusive towards men in their personal lives, I think systematically, there are still such realities as male privilege, the commodification of hyper-masculinity, and injustices committed against women.

      I agree with you about the way western media often misrepresents Iranians, especially Iranian women. I am aware that there are a lot working women in Iran and that over 60% of university students are, in fact, women. I cannot comment on what it’s like to be a man in Iranian society because I have never traveled there or lived there.

      I know that in western society, we promote certain images of what it means to be a “real man,” and these images are so popular and unexamined that they become embedded in the mainstream — they are treated as normal. So, once we start deconstructing, I think it helps move us a positive and healthier direction — not just for women, but for men too. As far was Muslim men go, we need to unlearn the sexist interpretations we’ve been taught in our communities. Pushing women to the background in Mosques and isolating them from playing an active role in prayer spaces says a lot about who should be in control and who should dominate.

      I want fellow Muslim men to examine, challenge, and deconstruct what it means to be a “real man” and how it relates to our perceptions and attitudes about ourselves, as well as about others around us, including women. I am of the opinion that obsessing over manliness is very destructive and harmful, therefore I encourage us to strive towards getting rid of the idea of what it means to “be a man,” and find something that brings us home to our humanity — to be human beings, and to understand a lot of what we all experience is shared.

  2. When I began my studies in University.., fellow Pakistanis used to ask that why I didn’t go for IT or Computer Science, or Commerce or Engineering. Those questions were very irritating for me. Even though I was studying Math & Stats..,subjects considered “masculine” enough…, I was confronted by the worries of my close relatives that my choice of studies will not bring enough money in my career which I need to support my family to be in future.
    It’s a tough world to get along….

    Anyway, yet another excellent article from you. Your blog gives me interesting points to think about…,which I will discuss on my own forum. Thanks again.

  3. Excellent post Jehanzeb! I hope men comment, but I think you have touched on a very difficult subject: the definition of masculinity, and questioning how one self-identifies and expresses one’s gender identity.

    I have addressed an analogous topic in a post, and especially in the comments I left there in response to another commentator’s remarks on the reaction of heterosexual men to the idea of homosexuality.

    The G-20 Meet the GLBTQ

    I have certainly spent a lot of time discussing masculinity in a number of ways with young men patients both Muslim and non, and with students and friends. The “faggot” accusation is ever present, and later in more subtle ways among supposed adults. This comes up especially in any situation of rivalry, and like the feminizing terms you describe is a common put down.

    I find most men feel actually locked into these social performances for fear of being publicly emasculated, when in fact very few men actually believe in the stereotypic notions of masculinity for themselves or others.

    Still most are uncomfortable addressing this, especially “man to man” or publicly.

    Great topic! I hope you will continue to post on it as you elaborate your thoughts further.

    My own post leads me to think I should do others on the topic, even though some are uncomfortable, they seem to be reading it! 🙂

  4. I have enjoyed all your previous posts that I have read, and this is no exceptions. You had some really good points about the emphasis on gender conformity in our societies. There are double-standards when it comes to different genders and they seem to be implemented from a young age. We train our boys to be aggressive, dominant and physically strong by giving them toy guns, buff action figures and play tool-kits. We train our girls to be caretakers, beauty-obsessed and fragile in character by giving them baby dolls, Bratz dolls and Disney movies where they see a strong prince coming to “save” the princess everytime. I completely agree with you that gender is a performance in that sense.

    I also really enjoyed the part about how masculinity is preached in Mosques. I see that as really problematic. It is enough to see it promoted in mainstream media but when authority figures reinforce the notions it makes it harder to escape! There is an urgent need for more open dialogue in Mosques not only between the different sexes but within them to break out of the stereotype of what is “masculine” and “feminine”.

  5. Thanks for such a thoughtful post Jehanzeb.

    It’s ironic that we often talk about “male privilege” without talking about the rigid internal policing that men endure from the group to maintain access to that privilege. You have described that dynamic beautifully.

    My two cents? I think one of the best things a man can do for himself as he grows up is to decide that his sense of himself as a man is not up for committee vote. In order to be “publicly emasculated” a man has to implicitly agree that 1) The conditions under which he is/becomes/performs “man” are up to other people to define and therefore might be taken away at any moment and 2) that women (and by extension in this sense, gay men) are inherently inferior to whatever the group decides counts as “masculine”. That would be problematic even if “masculine” were a stable category–but it isn’t.

    Definitions of “masculine” behavior vary and change–a lot– based on time, place, and context. For e.g. depending on where you’re from your dad would probably have been shocked to see one his peers with pierced ears– but now it is not uncommon to see very “hard” hip-hop guys sporting a pair of diamond studs that would not look out of place on your Aunt. “Masculine” looks and behavior are much more mobile than people pretend.

    It is no accident that male-dominated systems (the military, patriarchal religious and cultural traditions etc.) are slow to accept societal shifts re: sex and gender. They need to freeze sexual identity and behaviors into place in order to guarantee internal coherence. But that doesn’t make “masculine” a static category, no matter how much they insist on it. Realizing that you are free to define yourself as a man on your own terms (which might include the stuff you learned from your home cultures) is the real freedom of being a man.

  6. Excellent post, Jehanzeb! In all the feminist reading I’ve been doing, the authors have stressed that patriarchy stifles and limits men as well as women. I hope we get to see the day, which will surely come eventually, when we all feel free to be simply human beings in relation with other human beings.

    Raising a son as well as a daughter, these issues are much in my mind. I may have my boy read this post when he gets home from school.

    Be well!

  7. What an incredible essay, Jehanzeb. I continue to be amazed by your intelligence and open-minded perspective on life.

    The issues you brought up and the points you made resonate deeply with me. I am one of three sisters, and my parents are highly-educated, intellectual, and of Western European descent. My father is a first-generation American, while my mother’s family on both sides has been here since, I believe, her great-grandparents’ time.

    My sisters and I had the great good fortune to be raised by two parents who were not slaves to their cultures, but who thought for themselves on all matters. Part of that upbringing included a complete absence of sexism or stereotyping based on gender (or anything else, for that matter). As a result, I have never once considered myself “less than” any man. If a man is threatened by this, that’s too bad. I never “dumb myself down” to gain a man’s approval.

    On the other hand, I am not a “male basher,” either. I feel that rigidly-enforced, even if at times only subconsciously, gender “rules” harm *everyone,* and that men have it as hard as women in their own ways.

    Your many examples to support your main theme are excellent, and remind me of situations in my own life, in particular with the two young sons my husband and I are raising.

    As you may recall, my husband is Iranian. He did not come to the U.S. until college. Most people would automatically jump to the conclusion that he is therefore also patriarchal and sexist. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Neither of us is typical of our respective culture, and we are far more like each other than the societies in which we grew up. He is actually more egalitarian than just about any American man, excepting my father, I’ve ever known.

    I have at times, though, noted that even he can fall into the gender-role trap, not with me, but with our children. I specifically recall him telling my older son from a very young age not to cry on a number of occasions. I remember defending (that’s how it felt) my child and giving my opinion that it was fine and, in fact, the appropriate response, for a small child, no matter which gender, to cry when upset. Why should it be any different for boys than girls?

    This son is now middle-school age, and has become increasingly “hyper-masculine.” I think most of his attitude, though, has been *heavily* influenced by his peers rather than us as parents. He swaggers, spits, and claims to love fighting! His “friends” are no longer the nice, intelligent, sensitive, kind boys from elementary school whom I always so appreciated. Apparently, the phrase his age group uses to express anything it doesn’t like is, “That’s so gay!”

    In short, he is exhibiting behavior entirely inconsistent with all the values my husband and I have always expressed and modeled for our children. We keep trying to fight “popular culture,” though, and the messages it sends our sons. I believe my older son will ultimately emerge on the other side of adolescence as a good man.

    You are one bright light of hope in respect to sexism and gender-defined roles in our society. I only wish more people could read your words. Thank you.

  8. Katya, that must be heartbreaking for you. I have a question, though…how much TV do you let him watch? I’ve found that it can be a really corrosive influence, and enough to over-ride the good parenting you’re doing. It also encourages the horrible American consumerism that’s ruining the planet. We unplugged the TV a few years ago, and my kids’ behavior and attitudes have improved immeasurably.

  9. Hi, I’m a long time lurker and first time poster. 🙂 (well I think I posted a comment once before, but under a different name :P).

    I like this post because you touched upon some very important issues. But you know what gets me? Is that it seems now people believe that men are actually becoming “feminized.” O_O There’s this concern that masculinity is actually dying. Also it seems the definition of “manly” is being overly aggressive, the only type of emotion that men are allowed to display is anger. Overall I agree with what you say here. 🙂

  10. Great post. It is good to have this discussion, and not let it be subverted by the usual tricks Jehanzeb described so well in his post. This is a pretty powerful deconstruction of masculinity.

    As important as this discussion is, however, I feel that it is missing something when it is not taken in tandem with a discussion deconstructing femininity. Let’s be honest, many women are most attracted to hyper-masculine men. It’s a kind of self-perpetuating cycle. If becoming hyper-masculine did not somehow lead to men getting the women then it would not be practiced. Basically, I’m saying what many so-called “nice guys” have been trumpeting: girls date douchebags.

    That’s simplistic, I know, but it is based in some kind of truth. And because the “male” and “female” identities are so closely intertwined, I think that it is a salient topic for discussion.

    P.S. Jehanzeb, you said above that you were not speaking on the women’s experience and I appreciate that. I just think that the male and female discussions are so tightly linked that a discussion of one without at least a cursory discussion of the other is severely lacking.

  11. i appreciate your posts on gender within the context of your lived experiences as a pakistani muslim man. i think in general your framework is refreshingly smart and left, but most of your posts reinforce the gender binary. you make efforts to deconstruct this a bit, as you mention the constructs of these roles, but your paradigm often falls short of actually challenging the gender binary itself. but overall, i’m pleased to read a blog that mirrors my spiritual and political leanings so closely, complete with clever prose and well-written poetry.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sitara. Could you elaborate more on you feel I don’t challenge the gender binary? I personally don’t believe in “masculinity” and “femininity” as they are socially constructed terms. I will still use these terms for the sake of identifying what social norms deem “masculine” and “feminine,” but on a personal level, I believe in seeking for a transcendent model of humanity.

      I’m interested in hearing how you see the gender binary in my posts. Thanks!

      1. Sure, but right now I’m in the middle of moving, so I’ll post a full reply next week- thanks for being responsive 🙂

  12. Well, moving and Ramadan made that considerably longer than a week, though thanks for the good moving wishes– I needed them 🙂 and Ramadan mubarak, by the way.

    Hm, I think I will have to go over your posts again to be clear about what I mean. But my impressions of your posts as a whole is that while you have challenged compulsory heterosexuality and the constructions of femininity and masculinity, your posts still center cisgendered and heterosexual people. Or more accurately, fail to decenter cisgendered and heterosexual experiences. Which isn’t to say that I think you glorify privilege, not at all, just that sometimes I wish you would push just a *little* bit further in your analyses…

    not sure that makes sense. I’ll try to work it out a little bit more.

  13. Another brilliant post!

    Like you, I believe that we are socialized into strict gender roles. Although it may appear that certain societies have stricter roles than others I don’t really think this is the case. It’s actually quite striking how universal conceptions of masculinity and femininity are – maybe the one true thing that unites us, like female oppression 😉

    I also find it interesting that, like you said, gender issues basically means women’s issues. Even in academic, “gender studies” programs usually focus on women, rather then men. When I did my BA I did a class on Masculinities and it was just so enlightening! Gender means men and women, not just women.

  14. Salaam Mast Qalander,

    An interesting, thought-provoking post.
    I would say that most women will definately be attracted to “masculine” men, however this depends on how one actually defines masculinity. The media constantly bombards us with gender sterotyping (just look at the perfume ads!) and what it is to be a man/ manly. Personally I detest the “caveman”/ tough guy attitude that many guys have but I guess its an ideal that they have conformed to in order to fit in with their social group. This front/ tough guy exterior that many men have is off-putting and you only get to understand these men when they let their guard down.
    Personally I prefer guys who are sensitive & compassionate- this doesn’t make them any less “manly” because they show their emotions and are not afraid of “wearing their heart on their sleeve.” Why do men feel they need to conform to unrealistic ideals set by a bunch of m*****? Don’t put yourself in a box and limit what you can do.

  15. And men are strictly attracted to feminine women, meaning women who don’t ask them for anything, like dates or sex, don’t make enough money, are uneducated, etc.

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