Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What are some of the ways masculinity is policed in your life?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38857 points ) April 28th, 2011

Check this out for an example. Additional question: must it always be about denigrating things associated with women or are there other types of policing masculinity?

Keep the discussion to policing of masculinity, not any other gender identity, just would like for the q to remain focused.

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60 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Policing of masculinity? Not totally sure what you mean. Just to be sure.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Did you check out my example?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Yes, I guess I’m not that insecure in my views that I took the ad seriously. That’s written for an adolescent. OK lightbulb goes on.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe The products are for adult men. Who can also play this game, in case you’re interested.

Cruiser's avatar

If guys feel the need to get a facial, a manicure and use “product”…so what? I am content with bathing with Fels Naptha soap and a grill brush.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Cruiser I agree. But do you ever feel like your masculinity is kept in line, in your life?

Cruiser's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Honestly, I have never felt I fit the Chuck Norris, Marlboro Man, mans man mold in the first place and never really tried to achieve that macho status…just never felt the need to. I guess I grew up at a time where the feminine side of a man was kept out of sight and the mind set of “real men don’t cry” was firmly entrenched. I think I was in my late teens and in college before I ever saw a guy primp and preen and then realized that perhaps you could shower with soft soap and pluck your eyebrows and still be a man?

jonsblond's avatar

I’m struggling to find an example where my husband and sons are policed this way and I just can’t find one. When my youngest son tried out for the coveted position of drums for band in sixth grade, he didn’t make the cut. Instead, he plays a mean jazz flute now and has the attention of all the girls. :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Cruiser There are, obviously, many kinds of masculinities. @jonsblond I’m glad to hear it. Perhaps this is because their gender identity expressions are in line with the expected norms.

Blackberry's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I can’t look at the website on my work computer. Are you asking if I feel masculinity controls the way I behave or act or something?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Blackberry No, I’m asking if you feel that your gender identity, as a man, is kept in line by anyone/anything and when did it happen?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m not sure this will come out right, but my filters on that type of marketing shut that line of thought out. I don’t think an ad campaign is going to “police my masculinity”. I like to believe I can think for myself.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe And I’m sure that’s true. But I find it interesting that this is a message believed to resonate with most men.

Seelix's avatar

Similar to the Brut ad in the article you linked, I can think of a couple of other ad campaigns based on reinforcement of masculinity.

A TV ad for an erectile dysfunction drug (Cialis maybe? I can’t remember which) showed an interview with a man who was complaining about he and his wife going antiquing all the time. Then he went to see his doctor and got the drug, and now they don’t go antiquing anymore. Come on, boys, fuck the nonsense outta your wife!

The Old Spice ads with the black man in – definitely play on women’s perceptions of masculinity.
Hello, ladies, look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using ladies scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me. [...] Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady.

Blackberry's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I believe so, but I can’t say when and by what exactly. Of course it has to have been a lot of external factors such as other men and women telling me how I should act and behave as a man. I realize there are things I probably shouldn’t do or should do simply because I identify as a straight male.

I don’t think it’s that important, but it is also strange that when I intentionally do something that isn’t regarded as masculine, I’m doing it to rebel, or get a rise out of people, or to just show people that I’m not going to adhere to all the rules of my gender identity. Hope that makes sense.

Mariah's avatar

Male friends I have who are interested in theater always get accused of being gay. :|

Cruiser's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That blog link and the Brut ad and it’s “slap the femiman” link is obviously geared to exploit that stereo type that simmers in the back of many men’s head. I mean look at the lineup of men they chose. It creates a peer pressure group think of “let’s slap the metro sexual” It’s OK to make fun of them and laugh about it. Deep down I think it’s stupid and offensive.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m still stewing on this. Is our society as a whole that crass and to be honest stupid, that this is the herd mentality? Would the ad campaigns be using this stuff if it wasn’t effective?

Facade's avatar

My SO likes to keep himself looking nice. He also works in construction. So when he goes to work clean, shirt and tie, groomed, etc., he gets made fun of because all the other men look and act like slobs. I’m sure if his peers found out that he also enjoys things like facials and hair products (that’s completely my fault lol) they’d be all over it.

Can this also be for women? I was often made fun of for being muscular, and I’m still uncomfortable with it so I don’t do any upper body work =/ I have to say, I wish I had a more feminine body type (which is weird to say considering my hip to waist ratio, but still).

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marinelife's avatar

In my life? There are no examples.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Facade Aren’t you policing your femininity?

Facade's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe It’s very possible. I don’t think I completely understand the concept @Simone_De_Beauvoir it talking about. Show off~

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Facade I’m still trying to figure it out. Glad I have company.

Facade's avatar

@Seelix C’mon. The Old Spice Guy is sexxxay

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Facade Yes, of course the same can be said for women and policing femininity. Just in this q, we’re sticking to men and masculinity.

Facade's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Sorry, I thought that was still policing masculinity.

thorninmud's avatar

In my urban midwestern community I honestly don’t feel any pressure to conform to a certain gender stereotype. I live in a very progressive town with a prestigious university and a correspondingly expansive culture. I don’t see any evidence that non-gender-conforming people are treated any differently here. When my kids were in high school, I asked them if they saw any abusive treatment or ostracism expressed toward queer people at the school, and they looked at me like I’d asked whether they served babies for lunch in the cafeteria.

I grew up in Texas, though. So-o-o-o different. Extremely macho redneck culture. I never caught any grief personally, but masculinity was sacrosanct and, yes, enforced.

Facade's avatar

I thought of something else: In “hip hop culture,” if a man doesn’t smack their bitch up when that ho gets out of line, they aren’t a man. If they don’t fuck as many girls as they can, they aren’t a man. If they take their girlfriend’s thoughts and feeling into consideration, then they’re pussy whipped. I could go on…

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Facade's avatar

@noelleptc Not gonna happen.

YoBob's avatar

Excuse me, but I find “the game” to be thoroughly insulting and quite inappropriate.

Consider the fervor that would ensue if an advertising campaign portrayed a “game” that involved a masculine hand slapping women who are depicted as doing things that are generally perceived as masculine.

I am not amused and will remember such ad campaigns in my buying decisions.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Facade It works in tandem. By making sure to police something masculine about you, it’s policing femininity.

Facade's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I see. Let me know if you ever need anything heavy moved around

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Facade Sure, but I’m pretty strong myself. :)

cazzie's avatar

This is weird, if you don’t mind me saying. I find the advert quite the opposite of policing masculinity. It seems to be using a backhanded approach to enforce masculine stereotypes.

Seelix's avatar

I thought the idea of “policing masculinity” meant enforcing it.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

All I can think of is the guys around here still wear pants as a mark of man-clothes instead of experimenting with skorts, skirts or whatever. My guy says he’s never felt any policing or enforcing of masculinity, not even when he was in the Navy.

wundayatta's avatar

My kids try to police my masculinity. I was looking for an umbrella, and I found one that I thought was a very masculine shade of blue. Printed over the blue was an image of man pick flamingos. I thought it was cool, and I wanted it.

Well my kids said it was a woman’s umbrella and please don’t get it. They would be embarrassed to be seen with me. My daughter said everyone would think I was gay.

I really liked that umbrella, but I also didn’t want to feel like people were staring at me and smirking. But then I remembered a conversation here about doing what you want and not letting yourself be influenced to not do something by social ideas.

I said what the hell, and I got it. I like the damn umbrella and makes me happy to have it in the rain especially when I see all these really boring black umbrellas everywhere.

I’ve only used it a couple of times—once at my children’s school, and I can’t say as anyone noticed. If they did, they didn’t say anything and I didn’t catch any looks aimed my way.

The time I used it at my son’s school, he didn’t even notice it until we were back in the parking lot. As I get older, I am letting them police my masculinity less and less. Plus, the people who police masculinity must either not like women, or they are idiots. The women who have loved me have often been strongly influenced by my lack of fear to break through those police lines. I find that I generally have no competition to speak of in this area. Suits me just fine.

cazzie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir well, then @Seelix is on to something, obviously… (smile)

YoBob's avatar

Real men don’t need to police their masculinity.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YoBob By implying you know what ‘real men’ are, you reinforce that such a thing exists when, really, it’s all individual men choosing for whatever reason to align themselves with masculinities they know best.

wilma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I took @YoBob ‘s “real men” to mean just what you said; “men choosing for whatever reason to align themselves with masculinities they know best”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wilma Well, yes but since every man is just doing what he sees around him, no one of them is more ‘real’ than the other. Not even ones that think themselves real.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Nice generalization/stereotype.

wundayatta's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir “no one of them is more ‘real’ than the other.” Boy, that sure sounds like content without meaning to me. How does more or less reality make any sense at all? It only makes sense if you agree that reality is made up and it is somewhat arbitrarily distributed.

Otherwise it’s a binary thing. Real or not. There could be no scale of reality as you seem to be proposing.

Of course, some of us do thing reality is mutable. But saying one reality is more real than another still just doesn’t compute.

Facade's avatar

@wundayatta How about “there are no fake men, so you can’t say only real men do x”?

DominicX's avatar

Just the concept of “real men” is ridiculous in itself. I agree with @Facade on this one; there’s no such thing as a “fake man”. The idea that superficial characteristics define how “real” a man is is absurd, especially due to the fact that so many people have their own individual ideas of what it means and few can agree on the parameters of “real man“hood. I’ve come across people who’ve told me that I’m not a “real man” because I’m gay and having “male parts” alone won’t make me a man. Well, for me, the fact that I am biologically male and the fact that I identifiy as a man makes me as “real” as any other man, regardless of my orientation or how effeminate some of my interests may be.

Now, I’ll admit that I don’t across too much “policing” in my day to day life. I go to a liberal college and am surrounded by more liberal people who are okay with people who break stereotypes of what a typical “man” is and aren’t too bothered by it (even if I am also srurrounded by some people who do fit many stereotypes of men quite well). But I have been made to feel shame for some of my effeminate interests sometimes. I’ve even had the ridiculous suggestion that getting a sex change would be a better option for me (that seemed more to come from extreme ignorance than it did from any kind of malice or hatred).

But for the most part, as bad as it gets is just getting weird looks when people find out I like musicals and ballet or myself just feeling insecure or awkward around “manly” athletic “bro”-type guys…

cazzie's avatar

Oh… I think there is a such thing as a fake Person…. but I would hate to put a label on it to assume it has a particular gender. I think both can say there is a share of fake, but to say there are no ‘fake men’ is ridiculous. I’ve seen ‘gender grasping’ when men strike out to prove a point of their maleness and they shout out a certain jargon or exhibit a stupid masculine stereotype. Women do it too, but with much less vibrato and more visual impact. Sexual exhibition is everywhere. Most of it makes no sense to the rational mind.

YoBob's avatar

Well @DominicX, FWIW I am a heterosexual man without even so much as a passing interest in “exploration” and could not imagine identifying as anything other than a man. My interests include various items generally perceived as “manly” like camping, hunting, fishing, blacksmithing, leather working, etc…, and for the record I also happen to like musicals, the symphony, ballet, cooking, and am planning to take up sewing in the near future.

I totally agree with you that there is no such thing as a fake man. In fact, that’s kind of what I was trying to say with the phrase “real men don’t need to police their masculinity”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe It’s not a stereotype, lol. It’s a philosophical standpoint. We’re all real people, right? So how can there be real men or not real men? Just because some random men think they’re more manly than others doesn’t mean it’s true. So I believe you misunderstood my comment because everyone who identifies as a man is a real man (in a sense that I am willing to think of any gender identity as real, including my own) @cazzie – what you’re talking about is interesting, I think that phenomenon is proof that gender is performative.

josie's avatar

If it occurs, it is not so significant that I can’t ignore it or laugh it off.

downtide's avatar

My interests are mixed – on the masculine side I’m into real ale, motorbikes, football, aircraft and folk music (surprisingly a very male-dominated pastime in the UK). On the other hand I also like art and crafts, painting and other more feminine things. At no time have I felt that I was being “policed” in any way by my choices.

On the other hand that might be because no-one was ever able to tell by looking at me, if I was male or female.

Anecdote: I have a young male friend who likes knitting. One time he was sitting on the bus knitting and an elderly lady next to him was watching him with interest. After a few minutes she leaned over to him and said “If you can cook too, I have a granddaughter you can marry.”

I also know a woman whose living room is currently fully occupied by the pieces of a vintage motorcycle she is rebuilding.

mattbrowne's avatar

Sometimes I get carried away and include too many numbers during discussions, when words like small and large would be good enough.

Seelix's avatar

@downtideAfter a few minutes she leaned over to him and said “If you can cook too, I have a granddaughter you can marry.”

Aww, so cute :)

@mattbrowne – How do numbers have anything to do with masculinity?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Seelix – Infatuation with numbers. It seems like a masculine thing. Masculinity isn’t just about large biceps.

bkcunningham's avatar

Infatuation with numbers is deemed a masculine trait. I hadn’t heard that before. I suppose it is a good thing somebody forgot to tell the likes of Erna Hoover, Stephanie Kwolek or Barbara McClintock.

downtide's avatar

@bkcunningham see, no matter what you define as a masculine trait, there will always be women who have it and men who don’t. And likewise if you define a feminine trait there will always be men who have it and women who don’t. That’s why that original article is so stupid.

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