What is masculinity to you and what is it's role in modern society?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Kestrel, Jan 9, 2016.

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  1. Inspired by this thread, I wanted to ask what Iwakuans think what it means to be a man? How do you define being a man, or being manly? What traits are typically masculine? What it the role of 'manliness' and masculinity in modern society? Does masculinity even exist or is it even relevant? How do you personally feel about any of this?

    Now, I know this can be a sensitive and political topic and I have labelled this as discussion. That means you may discuss the topic, but please don't be cunts. Don't attack people. Don't ask loaded or suggestive questions. If a post makes you angry; calm down before responding. Failing that; do not respond at all. I have no personal agenda past learning by posting this, I ask of all of you to be respectful of each other's right to hold your opinions, even if you dislike the contents of these opinions.

    #1 Kestrel, Jan 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  2. I don't really put more stock in masculinity than striving to be self sufficient and able to look after yourself and loved ones. It's not about what you own or your hobbies or anything like that, it's about finding inner strength and being able to do things on your own, even if there's no shame in asking for help. It's being comfortable and confident with who you are, regardless of the particulars.

    I guess a part of it is you need to be prepared to be a provider and a protector to some degree, but honestly I am totally cool with women doing typically masculine pursuits like family roles, jobs, hobbies, etc. Overall, how you carry yourself and treat others matters most.
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  3. I've always took it to mean something along the lines of, falling in line with the expected behavior of an average successful man, or exemplifying expected behavior that the average man should have.

    It seems pretty flexible and nuanced. Though typically things like reliability, stoicism, and athletic prowess seem masculine. Also, if most women find it attractive, it is probably manly.
    To give men a guideline for how to be successful in life.
    I don't think it is a concept that is ever going to go away, but I think deviating from it has become more acceptable than it was in the past.
    Personally, I think the concept of masculinity is an overall positive force so long as we remember that it is just a guide. People really shouldn't beat themselves up over not being manly enough if that isn't really what they want for themselves. There are plenty of ways to live a fulfilled life. I think that people are able to find their own way just as validly as they can try to become more manly. What is really important is to think critically, set goals, and achieve those goals.
  4. The best guide to being a man

    A'ight, no, seriously though, masculinity.
    • #1: Have a pulse, and a dick, and be comfortable with that dick, without shoving that dick in everyone's faces. There's a fine line difference between confidence, arrogance, and outright narcissism.
    • #2: Care about yourself. Nobody else can until you do.
    • #3: Never allow yourself to be broken. If you are, only you can fix yourself. There ain't no angels that save those who don't save themselves.
    • #4: Your body is just as important as your mind. You can only achieve what you're both mentally and physically prepared for. Body and mind together can accomplish objectives. An excess of one without the other is nothing more than wasted potential.
    • #5: Treat women with respect. They're your mothers, sisters, lovers, daughters, aunts, and half of the population. Don't "save" them, don't help them if they don't want it. Your job is no longer to be a knight on a white horse, it's to be a determinator, and good determinators don't make projects and expectations out of other people.
    • #6: Treat life in general with a measure of reverence. There are hundreds of different organisms that exist on a scale you can't even see which can end your life, and thousands more that die every second that maintain it. If organisms that diminutive can decide life and death for you in a thousand different ways, then imagine how important everything else is? Therefore: Hunt to feed yourself, not for the thrill. Treat your pets well, and they'll love you forever.
    • #7: You can't control life, and you exist for a brief millionth of a second of the universe's lifespan. Don't fret over what you cannot control: You can only control yourself. Don't bitch about the circumstances of life, get up and do something about them. No matter how hard it is, life isn't going to change just because your feelings are hurt.
    • #8: The greatest of men knew when to show mercy. They also knew when to show none. Walk the fine line between survival and compassion: It's hard, and you will fuck up sometimes.
    • #9: Don't focus on your mistakes. Don't compare yourself to other people. The only target you should compare yourself to, is the yourself you were a week ago. There will always be someone better than you at something, so simply focus on being the best you that you can be.
    • #10: There is no glory in war and bloodshed. There are no winners: Only survivors. The same applies to fights at every level. Avoid them where possible.
    • #11: If someone else starts a fight with you and refuses to see reason, don't half-step it. Finish it. When someone else is unwilling to negotiate, your only option is to be the one that survives.
    • #12: Seriously. Your feelings are fucking meaningless to everyone except those who hold you closest. Use them to motivate yourself or diagnose where problem states exist. Use them to give colour to life, not to control your life.
    • #13: Logos, humility, education, and discipline, refine pathos into culture and wisdom.
    • #14: You will always work for someone. Whether that's being the garbage collector who is beholden to the city, or the CEO of a multimillion dollar company who is beholden to shareholders, you always work for someone. Never think you're free of responsibility.
    • #15: You're only as free as you wish to be. The more freedom you attempt to take from society, the less society owes you in return. If you want total freedom, you'll have to give up all the comforts of home.
    • #16: Ignore the charlatans who promise to sell you something with no consequences. They're out to fool the child in you, rather than help the adult who exists now.
    • #17: Never lose the child in you. The dreamer, the joy-seeker, the one that enjoys life's simplest pleasures--never lose that. That's a piece of your soul.
    • #18: Don't throw away sentimental things, like stuffed toys. Keep them in a box. A lot of women actually dig a man who's got some serious feels going on, especially if they have them under control. There's nothing hotter than a man who controls a wildfire inside.
    • #19: Your significant other (be they male or female) does not "complete" you. They accompany you. They journey with you. If you ever find yourself unable to live without them, you are losing yourself. They owe you nothing, you owe them nothing. You two simply care about each other, and if you give anything of yourself, give it expecting nothing in return. Love is simply happiness shared. Relationships of all kinds are bridges held up by both people involved. If you fall down, the bridge falls too. If they fall down and demand you to save them, you can't: They can only save themselves, no matter how much that hurts.
    • #20: If you think masculinity has anything to do with giving up cute things and "the feels", you're being quite unreasonable with yourself. Masculinity is about discipline and control, not about absolution. Leave original sin to the charlatans in robes who speak of eternity: You should only seek to control your emotions, never to hate them, or destroy them.
    • #21: Negative and positive emotions both make you who you are. Sorrow and pain teach you what hurts you, what you have to either avoid or grow stronger to overcome. Anger teaches you what your limits of patience are. Use negative emotions to figure out where you are weakest, and mend them. If you spend your time hating negative emotions, you're only feeding the monstrous black wolf within your mind that seeks to devour you.
    That about covers it.
    Of course it exists. Who in their right mind would pretend that genders don't exist or whatever nonsense goes around on Tumblr these days? People exist, and have powerful feelings, and many responsibilities. Masculinity is core to helping many men figure out who they are inside, to controlling themselves. The issue is we've gone ahead and perverted it. We don't teach how to be men anymore. We really don't. It's "politically incorrect" among other nonsensical things.

    How you choose to live your own life is entirely your own decision. Take or ignore as many aspects of masculinity as you wish. If you want to be a feminine male? More power to you. Masculine female? More power to you. We don't have to remove masculinity and femininity and make everyone into grey blobs: We need to remove the stigmatization around people crossing over to the other side. Only insane lunatics are completely, 100% masculine or 100% feminine. There's natural crossover between the two, because a lot of aspects of both are simply "being human."

    Yet, so long as the "feels are reals" crowd remains so powerful on social media, we're going to keep seeing more demonization of these topics. Nobody's going to learn until it's too late.
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  5. TL;DR

    Don't worry about trying to be a man, or a woman, or a masculine female or a feminine man etc.
    Just be a human being, be true to yourself and the rest should follow.

    However extreme or how much of a blend that ends up being is fine. As long as that was your own destination, and not the destination others put you on.

    I'm going to tackle this in two different manners.

    Blue Text means my personal thoughts on how it should be and how I see it.
    Green Text means what I find current/modern society views it as, and as a result what they push onto people.
    Nothing, being a man or a woman doesn't matter. It's how you are as a human being that matters, your genitalia or gender identity is irrelevant.

    To be tough, independent, outgoing, confident/socially skilled, and the ability to handle any situation by simply biting the bullet(s) and doing whatever is asked to be done.
    In that I personally identify as male.

    Similar as to above, basically being a man is what defines a man. How successful (career wise), and tough/independent you are is what determines how manly you are.
    Biologically speaking, the things I find to pop up more often (note I don't claim to be an expert on stuff like evolution. This just what I noticed from debates, documentaries, lectures etc. Feel free to correct me on any facts I get wrong here) on average is aggressiveness, bluntness, risk taking and according to one questionnaire from Warren Farrell on his clients, willingness to die for ex-partners.

    Confidence, Ambition, Discipline & Outgoing.
    Outdated practices from a time where humans evolved to have men be the protectors and hunters, so that women could be safe to get pregnant, give birth and raise children in a rather uncaring world known as the wild. And since evolution of anything isn't instant, this need still stuck around in Civilization till the point we weren't constantly warring with and slaughtering one another. But despite no longer needing such practices today, humans have been bred and raised to think this way for a long time, so it has proven to be a very hard mentality to shake.

    To teach men how to stick up themselves, be true to society, be a competent, respectable and successful human being and just not being a pussy.
    It exists only as far as Society keeps pushing it. Granted thanks to biology on average men will still show more Masculine traits than women regardless of society's influence.
    But the whole idea of trying to categorize and describe people under pre-determined sets or packages of behaviours/mentalities will only exist as long as people keep using and pushing them.
    Except for a strictly scientific sense, in which case "Masculine" just like other words like "Retarded" may likely still be useful terms to identify certain behaviours and traits, it will just be used in a very different manner than the way society has taken said terms, and adopted/altered them to mean different things.

    It's as relevant as is people caring about themselves. If they can't take charge and get a handle in life and what they're supposed to do what the hell are they doing?
    I'm trying not to sound like the "Everything's just a social construct!" crowd, but I honestly see zero point and reason as to why we still need to be calling or pushing for people to be more masculine or feminine.
    If they get there on their own then great, that's where they're comfortable. But I'm relieved to see that our parents generation seems to be the last one to hold "Men need to be manly and tough!" as the majority opinion.

    Like, obviously biology and our evolutionary past is a thing. We can expect men to carry more masculine traits on average for quite some time, but there's a difference between acknowledging an average exists, and trying to force/shoe horn everyone of a certain demographic into a certain set of behaviours because of it.
    #5 Gwazi Magnum, Jan 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  6. Masculinity is a tricky beast. It is heavily influenced by the culture you grow up in. Does it have a place? Absolutely. To say otherwise would be to tell a large portion of our own populace that they can go right off a cliff and die. There is Masculinity, who's interpretation and mileage may vary from person to person. And there there is Machismo and hyper masculinity, the latter which is toxic as fuck and breeds emotional dullards and abusive, cynical assholes.
  7. Having read the answers I think a further question might be needed.

    "When answering these Questions. Are you looking at the behaviours within/assigned to masculinity, or the general package/behaviour itself?"
    ^Someone else can probably word this better than I can.

    For me I'm looking at the general package, and how it seems to be forced on people as a whole, often due to genitalia.
    While the impression I get from others (keyword: impression. I could be wrong) is that they're looking more at the behaviours within Masculinity, like ambition, assertiveness etc.

    Which I wouldn't ever argue being important qualities to have for people.
  8. This below is my opinion, how I see things, what I believe in, my perspective, etc. So take everything with a grain of salt (duh).

    Being a man in speech can either mean two things: the burly, strong stereotype with genitalia, or just a person who identifies as male. That is to say, there's a thin line between "being a man" and "identifying as male", and the difference isn't sex or gender but usually social expectations and mannerisms (less of the latter).

    To be a man, you just have to identify as one. Being manly, however, is just a little box of rules in which society likes pushing people into... Too many at once.

    Masculine traits are usually "rough" or "sharp", like a square jaw, beards, abs, etc. Square everything. So men are squares and women are circles, generally. However I don't really think about what is masculine or feminine often (I just think about if it's pleasant or not pleasant to the eye) so I can't really answer this question... However being aggressive/assertive is usually considered masculine. So I guess I consider aggression/assertiveness as masculine?

    The role of manliness/masculinity? Usually it's to hurt other people. I don't think that manly = success.

    In the world, yes, but I personally don't care, so for me it doesn't really exist. Is it relevant? Depends where you look. The world becomes more accepting and diverse every day, even though not everywhere at the same time.

    I personally think that this is a very interesting question, but not one I care or think about often.
  9. Masculinity as it's generally defined in western society is something that makes me intensely uncomfortable. I'd venture to say it makes many other women uncomfortable as well, but I would never dare to speak for anyone else. I want to bring up toxic masculinity, but I also don't want this to devolve into a slap fight about feminism. I just think that the definition of masculinity as so many see it desperately needs to be changed. Like Hellis said, there is a difference between masculinity and machismo, but the two are so often conflated that I think many people see them as one and the same.

    I mean, if I never have to see, "I need to go punch a wall to regain my manliness" posted below a cute video of a kitten again, I'd only be too happy.
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  10. Thank you so much for pointing out toxic masculinity @Fauna There are too many men that don't understand it.

    Honestly, it seems to me that Gwazi has the best understanding here. After much contemplation, I'm not sure there is such a thing as masculine traits anymore. Self-sufficiency and being skilled on your own? All people should strive for those things. A lot of what everyone has listed so far, everyone should kind of want already. The only true modifier for being a male is having a dick. Even stereotypes like a square jaw, height, big shoulders and bushy beard are far from universal for males.

    Anyways, that's all I have to say about that.
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  11. As a man who isn't masculine in the slightest (and proud of it), I wholeheartedly approve of this post.
  12. Question time.

    @Dervish @Brovo
    A lot of those traits reflect things I feel we should expect of adults. Would you say (parts of) your definition of masculinity should also apply to women? Why and if so, to what degree?

    Where would you say is the line between masculinity and hyper masculinity? Generally, I mean. What line do you believe we cross where it becomes damaging to an individual or society?

    Can you give me your definition of assertive and why you associate this trait with masculinity?

    You described physical strength and symbols of physical strength as masculine. I don't think you mean to say physical strength itself has the purpose of hurting others, so could you clarify this for me?

    @Fauna @Seiji
    I understand this is a controversial topic and you are not obliged to answer (publicly) if you prefer not to, but how would you personally define the term 'toxic masculinity'?
  13. Well, I think it is just a given that there isn't going to be a lot of qualities that only men should strive for. I don't think that means that patterns of male behavior won't continue to surface, and so long as that is the case there is some relevance to the term. Certainly it isn't something someone should be penalized for not meeting, but ideas of masculinity and femininity came to be due to definite patterns which can help people predict what sorts of behavior someone might exhibit and to which sex they belong. Like any predictive model, it is intended to estimate. The spread of the data has certainly increased with modern times, but the underlying pattern is the same. There are still masculine traits, and they are still not an exclusive group. Many attributes of masculinity intersect with femininity. Furthermore, femininity and masculinity are not collectively exhaustive. There still exists other behavior groups.

    Basically what I'm trying to say is, it isn't that there isn't any masculine traits. There is just not many things which are exclusively masculine.
  14. @Kestrel
    In my opinion toxic masculinity is the expectation of certain behaviours that harm men and the male identity. For example: men are strong, and men can't cry. If you cry, you're not a real man. That's actively harming men and promoting the expectation that you cannot show any emotion or vulnerability, or you aren't a 'true man.' Another example: real men pursue women like a hunter pursues prey. Treat women like trophies to be won, not like a desirable person or partner. "Boys will be boys" is toxic masculinity. The expectation that you are to be violent or aggressive is toxic masculinity. The expectation that men only think about sex, and their their motives are only driven by sex, and that if you aren't a hypersexual person you are somehow broken is toxic masculinity.

    A super important example of how toxic masculinity harms men is in how society views and treats male rape victims. We scorn them, mock them, and treat them like lesser men if they were raped, and that's beyond fucked up. This also goes for male victims of domestic abuse.

    I hope that makes sense. I think a lot of people see the term 'toxic masculinity' and think that you're saying all masculinity is toxic, when that couldn't be further from the truth.
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  15. Assertive... I thought something about the lines of "pushing one's definition/interests". I'm not really sure about the latter.
    Hurting others as in emotionally and mentally... Given almost anyone/anything can do that, but as said above, toxic masculinity.

    IDK, I just stated my views on it.
  16. Loosely related, but I'm curious what you know. I've seen these ideas expressed, but I have no idea where they originate. Do you know anything about this?
  17. Oh boy. Do I have a exact answer? No sadly. I am way past the point where I am arrogant enough to assume some things are obvious. There is however, a few things that come to mind that I personally find incredibly problematic.

    The way boys are tought to hold their feeling in, and not express them is one big and obvious one. When we tell a kid who is obviously hurting "to not be a pussy". I had this discussion many times. Many will claim that "The world is aharsh place. you gotta learn to deal with it." Absolutely, the world is a harsh place. That doesn't mean shit all when it comes down to how you are willing to berate a kid for doing something natural. Young guys in general grow up with this immense amount of peer pressure that they need to be a certain way. They have to be outspoken, they have to be forward, they are expected to do all the moves. Aggression is encouraged by their peers, dominance is seen as something they should always strive for. Be successful, get all the money, the chicks etc. This screws with peoples heads.

    The verbal and psychological emasculation of gay guys is another. Far to often, I hear stuff like "your not a man if you take it from behind". Even as a joke, that reveals a lot about the general concept people have of masculinity. This obviously go hand in hand with homophobia. But said homophobia is many times spawned from the concept that "taking it" is feminine, and femininity is something to shun in a man. This is a old, really really old way of looking at things. Viking old in fact.
  18. @Fauna Identified and explained it better than I could. To expound though, for male rape, we also tend to make it a farce. Women can and do rape men! But, as we've seen lampooned on South Park, we see people take it lightly (if at all!) and say things like, "Well, you liked it, right?"
  19. Yes. Ish. Considering I said this...

    Like mercy and compassion are typically more feminine traits, but a human being who doesn't possess those traits is kind of a merciless tyrannical monster. We portray men without remorse or pity in stories as terrifying, almost non-human creatures rather than people to be related to. It's why a healthy person doesn't obsess over whether or not they're "masculine enough." True masculinity means having self-confidence in whatever it is you do, and enjoy. If you love cute ferrets for instance, and someone calls you a faggot, if you're truly masculine, you... Ignore them. Their words mean nothing to you because you cannot control them, only yourself. If you succumb to their antagonizing, you've shown weakness. The weakness isn't in liking non-male things--it's in letting people get to you over it.

    There are plenty of elements of life that have nothing to do with your gender. Ergo why a lot of gendered advice tends to be universally useful, like "control your emotions", and "have self-discipline", and "don't compare yourself to others." Competition is healthy, basing your self-value off of everyone around you is not.

    It's why kids are told and taught to control their emotions. Not to burst out and scream and throw temper tantrums, but to remain in control. A man without control is little more than a beast with an unhinged mind. A man with control can express himself properly and civilly, without resorting to sudden, random outbursts.
  20. @Fauna
    If I understand correctly, you are saying it's an (unreasonable) expectation of men that drives them to be destructive to either their selves or their environment. Is that right? If so, where do you believe these expectations are rooted in?

    You also stated it hurts the male identity. Could you tell me how you perceive the male identity in general and what you believe should be considered a healthy male identity?

    The reason I'm asking is, because as I've come to understand it, aggressive and assertive are two different manners of action. Aggression is acting with hardly if any regard for others. Being passive is vice versa, acting in a way not to disappoint others, but often at the cost of personal ambition or sacrifice . Whereas assertive is commonly described as acting with your own interests in mind but also with regard for the feelings of others.

    Do you feel there's a difference between masculinity and toxic masculinity? Or do you feel masculine traits are toxic in general?

    @Hellis, thank you for restating your views regardless. I think we've had this discussion before, but one example I want to bring up is bullying. As I think I've told you before, I have been bullied in school. The first time, when dealing with ten and eleven-year olds, assertiveness did the trick. I got them alone and asked why they bullied me. This made a lot of boys who picked on me turn out quite friendly and respectful. Some others just blabbered something about not bullying me in the first place or being dumb, but they didn't bother me anymore either.

    When I got into high-school, on the other hand, this didn't quite work. It was two guys two grades above me and the hunchback that was my backpack. They would continue to bully me, eventually getting physical. I reciprocated the aggression. At the time I felt it was like the first time of speaking a language they understood, because as a direct consequence, those two have avoided me ever since.

    While of course it should never be the first response or a desirable outcome (especially now that we're adults rather than teenagers,) do you feel there are situations in which aggression does have a purpose?
    #20 Kestrel, Jan 9, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
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