Social Question

digitalimpression's avatar

Is masculinity so bad?

Asked by digitalimpression (9910points) December 2nd, 2012

Why is masculinity sometimes looked at in a negative light? Any thoughts?

The idea of football comes to mind almost immediately. I’ve heard so many people speaking negatively toward anyone who enjoys such a sport.

Couldn’t it be that it’s just their thing? Is it so bad to be into football? Is it any different than being into sewing or water polo or collecting soap?

In short: Why you (in general) gotta be hatin?

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53 Answers

fremen_warrior's avatar

For one thing I prefer to be active rather than watch people do it (whether on tv or at a stadium), so I can’t really understand the allure of either football or handegg, or any other “spectator sport” (an oxymoron in my book) for that matter.

I never let others know my opinion unless they ask for it, or the situation absolutely requires it, and I certainly never actively hate on people for having different hobbies and whatnot. What I’d like to know is who got you so distressed about this in the frst place.


dabbler's avatar

The only thing I have against U.S. football is that too many people get seriously injured playing it. Not just aches and pains, nobody but a baby-man would object to aches and pains, ... broken spines and brain trauma are way too common.

The more general question about masculinity being seen in a negative light is a fair one. Unfortunately the same natural energies that compel men to build a road or a reservoir for the town also underlie some stupid behaviors that are worthy of criticism.

But I’ll agree all day that there’s nothing wrong with a hobby that channels otherwise unexpressed energy into something relatively harmless.
I was going to say a hobby can keep ‘em off the streets, but some creative things have been done with vehicles.

thorninmud's avatar

We associate masculinity with aggression and physical force.

Our society has a more ambivalent view of this “Conan” archetype than it used to. There’s some ancient part of our brain that admires it still, but I think we’re also becoming more aware that aggression tends to make the world a shitty place, and that things go better when we cooperate and take care of each other. That’s generally considered to be a more “feminine” mode, rightly or wrongly.

digitalimpression's avatar

@fremen_warrior I appreciate your honesty. I just don’t understand it! =) I’m not distressed about it. Call me curious.

@dabbler Yes, the injuries can get excessive.. but they are getting quite well paid.. so it doesn’t bother me much.

@thorninmud Why is masculinity paired with aggression? That seems to be an unfair association to me. But that’s why I’m asking the question. There seems to be a stereotype about masculinity built off of some pretty skewed perceptions.

You don’t quite see the same thing happening in reverse. E.G. “My, but those group of women are too feminine!”

thorninmud's avatar

@digitalimpression “Why is masculinity paired with aggression?”

It’s a well-founded association. Testosterone, the hormone that confers most of the traits we associate with masculinity, also tends to promote aggression.

ucme's avatar

Sports haters frequently spew out the “macho culture” bullshit, ignore them, for they are deluded morons who know not of what they speak.

dabbler's avatar

It is ironic that those who attack “masculinity” are expressing a masculine trait in doing so.
That’s a clear miss of the fact that being aggressive, pushing for what you want or believe, in itself, is necessary and correct for plenty of circumstances.

Perhaps the vilifiers lack of better words to describe the bad application of masculinity that it gets its bad reputation by association.
I see bullying/cowardly, parasitic, thoughtless, careless, mean… where others might dump it all on ‘macho’ because a man was the perpetrator.
That just muddies the valid issue by causing an unnecessary detour into defending the upside of masculinity.
It’s easy to notice too that women can the same objectionable traits but they might do it a different way, and their context for doing so is often stereotypically different. We tend not to call that behavior ‘macho’, but if whatever we call the women’s behavior suggests a gender fault then that’s the same misdiagnosis of the pathology.

Aethelwine's avatar

@digitalimpression You don’t quite see the same thing happening in reverse. But we do see the same thing in reverse. It’s wrong to be a girly girl. Girls who like the color pink and don’t like to get dirty are looked down upon. I do get what you are saying and I happen to agree with you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a man who is masculine and a girl who is girly if that’s what they are into. But for some reason society likes to tell us that being either way is wrong. We must be in the middle with neutral colors. Pink and blue are no longer allowed.

digitalimpression's avatar

@thorninmud What is wrong with aggression? Aggressive people become CEO’s of fortune 500 companies.

@dabbler Very well thought out answer. Thanks! My underlying curiosity is how societies as a whole reproduce and perpetuate skewed opinions of things. I’m not innocent of it. We’re all part of it. But why?

@jonsblond It’s wrong to be a girly girl? Since when? =) I sort of miss when women were girly girls. We’ve gone from an era where the celebration was about a woman of class to an appalling era where it’s about a woman of ass. (Except for those few knights in shining armor such as @blondsjohn of course!)

dabbler's avatar

“societies as a whole reproduce and perpetuate skewed opinions of things. ... why?”
Ideas are adopted because they seem like the best ones at the time.
The opinions don’t seem skewed at the time &/or to the people who are promoting them. Or the promoters are corrupt and promoting a skewed idea for an obscured purpose.
We find out later the policy is flawed, perhaps, and perhaps we change it.
And sometimes we find out there was a nefarious purpose behind a lie that drove policy, and perhaps we do something about that.

It’s hard for a whole society to learn the next new wisdom, especially at the same time. We’ll tend to stick with the mainstream opinion because our peers will support or at least excuse that.
There will be those who have some good insights earlier than other people.
The lesson for them has always been patience.

digitalimpression's avatar

@dabbler Once again, GA. I suppose if I (or anyone else) truly had a cure for this malarial animal we call society than we’d be a utopia. Now who would be foolish enough to believe that could ever happen? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

thorninmud's avatar

@digitalimpression There’s nothing inherently wrong with aggression, just as there’s nothing inherently wrong with a hammer. If, however, you reflexively reach for a hammer no matter the job, you’ve got a problem. There is a place for aggression, but it has the potential to do great damage and needs to be governed by higher-order mental faculties.

CEOs also have a much higher incidence of psychopathy than the general population, too.

bookish1's avatar

No. But the violent enforcement of the dominant (and, dare I say it, easiest) model of masculinity is bad.

digitalimpression's avatar

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being masculine. So why would we associate the legitimately negative aspects of aggression with masculinity?

I can see we’re not really going to make a lot of forward progress here and that there are some holding onto the idea that there is some sort of penalty that comes with being a masculine man. And I say “timeout” to that. Half the problem is in the perpetuation of this viewpoint. The other half we can probably just chalk up to icebergs within each person’s life. Football.

marinelife's avatar

It is not bad in and of itself. It is when it wanders toward misogyny or paternalism that is starts to smell.

digitalimpression's avatar

@marinelife Why, specifically, did you bring up misogyny? I fail to see how a defense of masculinity equates to the existence of misogyny. But then again, I’ve failed to see lots of things. Please explain.

marinelife's avatar

It can be an excess of masculinity that makes men think they are better than women,

Blackberry's avatar

Some guys don’t know when to turn it down or control it.

Coloma's avatar

Well try being a masculine
I am a hetero female but I have a very assertive personality,not aggressive,not harsh, but I have been told intimidating, mostly by men. haha
I look and walk like a woman and no nonsense talk like a man…..oooh my Lola…Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

digitalimpression's avatar

@marinelife But the subject isn’t about men thinking they are better than women. It’s masculinity. Are you suggesting that by virtue of being masculine men necessarily think they are better than women??

@Blackberry True. It’s a two way street that’s very dangerous to cross. =)

marinelife's avatar

@digitalimpression I am saying that masculinity can be harmful in excess.

dabbler's avatar

I think @marinelife is not saying Not that masculinity necessarily tends to go off the track. But that when masculinity gets off the track and leans toward either misogyny or paternalism then it’s a problem.

@Coloma from what I can tell under the hood you’re nothing like Lola! Except for the lol part.
Lots of mature adults appreciate another mature adult who exercises both masculine and feminine qualities in a balanced fashion.
I’m paraphrasing who-knows-what but: there’s nothing more powerful than a gentle man or a fierce woman. Everyone like images of warrior women, and of a muscle-man with a baby in his arms. Both show strong gender-identified traits but a clear compatibility with the ‘opposite’.

augustlan's avatar

Masculinity in and of itself isn’t bad. But saying things like if you cry in football you don’t need to be there is. It’s the limiting of what it means to be ‘masculine’ that is bad. As if all other definitions of masculinity are not valid. As if a man who cries is a lesser man. My husband is a very masculine man, a ‘man’s man’ kind of guy, and he cries. I absolutely dare you to tell him he’s not a ‘real man’. ~

Paradox25's avatar

It’s not that I view masculinity in a bad way within itself, but what I don’t appreciate is when someone tries to set down ‘rules’ for being masculine, and that one size fits all. In theory you can be masculine while being passive, and you can be feminine while being aggressive. It’s the baggage that many conservative masculists bring with being ‘masculine’ that gets under my skin. I don’t look at myself as a guy who happens to be an individual, but I look at myself as being an individual who happens to be a guy.

josie's avatar

It is the politics of your moment in history.

When I went through the public education system, it was clear that boys were, institutionally, regarded as defective females and disruptive to the process. It was only the boys who were medicated with Ritalin. Only boys were disciplined for fighting. Only boys were disciplined for using bad language. Only boys would get disciplined for wearing shirts with missing sleeves.

It wasn’t that way for my parents.

digitalimpression's avatar

@augustlan Saying “if you cry in football you don’t need to be there” is bad? IMHO that’s what’s wrong with the world today. Too many people are hyper-sensitive. We’ve got soft rubber chips for our kids to fall on in the playground and soft rubber words for adults to fall on.

And I find it kinda sad really that you would pretty much say “hey, my husband will beat you up”. What wormhole did I step through where we’re back in the 3rd grade?

You know, I have to ask questions here just once in a while to remind myself why I don’t ask questions. XD

augustlan's avatar

@digitalimpression Um, did you not see the ”~” at the end of my statement, indicating sarcasm? Of course my husband’s not going to beat you up, silly.

But, yes, saying a man isn’t “manly” enough to play some “manly” sport, just because he’s capable of showing emotion is bad. For the record, my husband played on his high school football team, too.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t care if you like football, I don’t even care if you like wrestling (gag), what I do care about is when men use their maleness or masculinity as an excuse for boorish behavior. They even make television shows about it, Men Behaving Badly, and others. I find it tiresome to hear the argument about biological imperative to spread ones’ seed as an excuse for promiscuity. I thought the brain was designed to override that??? The boys will be boys attitude regarding socially not acceptable behavior also grows old quickly.

digitalimpression's avatar


@rooeytoo Again, you’re associating nothing but negativity with masculinity. Of course some of those behaviors are not acceptable.

Is there no one else who can say something positive about masculinity?

rooeytoo's avatar

@digitalimpression – on the news this morning there was a report of 2 males who mugged an old man on his mobility scooter, took his money, chucked his groceries onto the street and tipped his scooter over on top of him, he is in the hospital now, but no worries, he will recover.

If I didn’t wake up to that sort of news every morning, perhaps it would be easier to find something positive to say.

I actually think the emphasis on masculinity and femininity and their negative or positive aspects, is divisive, I would rather suggest we all strive to be kind, honorable and strong human beings. But it seems as if men are the ones who want separate identities so along with the separate identity comes the evil that seems preponderant on the masculine identity.

THere is a movement on here where men are marching to show their distaste for violence against women. I find that to be ridiculous, when women no longer tolerate the violence it will stop, when women are empowered (and armed) it will stop. Getting some men to march down the street does nothing to stop the problem, but makes these guys feel good I guess.

digitalimpression's avatar

@rooeytoo I’m really, really not hoping for a gender war here. All I want to know is if anything can be said positively about masculinity. So far all I’ve gotten is what I like to call “Krusty the Clown evidence” ...

– Man did bad thing on tv
– Therefore masculinity is bad
It doesn’t make a lick of sense!!

I suppose I have my survey complete (at least for this community) though. Characteristics such as strength, confidence, and boldness are clearly unimportant when pitted against such formidable and undeniable truths such as: If a man defends a woman he’s “ridiculous”.

The subject matter is only “divisive” if we choose to let it be so.

rooeytoo's avatar

Krusty here saying the same thing again. I can’t think of anything positive to say, but of course the same is true if you asked me to say positive things about femininity. They are a set of rules imposed by the culture of the day upon the inhabitants. The fact that the culture is usually rules by males sets it up in an interesting slant however.

Sorry I didn’t give you the answer you wanted, I just gave you my opinion, which is what I thought we were here to do???

augustlan's avatar

Here’s the issue, @digitalimpression: There’s nothing wrong with strength, confidence, and boldness in a man or a woman. There’s also nothing wrong with compassion, sensitivity, and showing emotion in a woman or a man.

The point is, all people may have any of these traits. These traits are not gender-specific, and having any of them does not make one more or less of a man or more or less of a woman. People are people.

digitalimpression's avatar

@augustlan I’m not attempting to exclude a gender from this discussion. There are masculine women too.

rooeytoo's avatar

So if a woman is strong, confident and bold, she is masculine??? Why would you consider them only masculine attributes?

augustlan's avatar

So when you said “if you cry in football you don’t need to be there”, you meant that it’s fine for a “masculine woman” to play football, just not a “girly man”, right? Do you honestly not see the problem here?

digitalimpression's avatar

@rooeytoo I don’t consider them only masculine attributes. Those were just example traits. I feel as if I’ve stirred up a hornets nest here. For that I apologize. I’m only trying to figure out the stigma behind masculinity. From what it sounds like, you absolutely hate men. Especially masculine ones.

@augustlan I was really hoping we didn’t have to play the semantics board game and move our pieces one space at a time. You find fault in my opinion. I find fault in yours. Can we not move on from there?

Can no one say a positive thing about masculinity? Or femininity for that matter? Are those things pure, raw evil?

Aethelwine's avatar

Can no one say a positive thing about masculinity? Or femininity for that matter?

I absolutely love how my 8 year old daughter insists on wearing pink athletic pants to her flag football game, then goes and plays one hell of a game, throwing and catching the ball better than many of the boys that are playing.

true story :)

rooeytoo's avatar

@digitalimpression – I don’t hate men, I dislike this idea of “masculinity” and how wonderful guys like you seem to think it is. And when I hear this “I like football and I’m a real man” baloney I find it annoying and insulting to real strong, kind, bold, confident human beings, to call these traits masculine.

To me masculinity as you describe it, does not represent kind, bold, etc. it represents the tough guys who torture animals, beat up old people, make parents feel it is not safe to send their young boys into mens room alone (so bring them into the ladies instead seemingly up to age 14), turn into the Hannibal Lectors and on and on.

I admire and respect good people regardless of their plumbing.

augustlan's avatar

This isn’t about semantics, it’s about how this line of thinking limits people, how it hurts people, in the real world. I don’t know how many times I can rephrase this, but let me try one more time:

There is nothing wrong with being ‘masculine’, if that is who a person naturally is. The problem lies in thinking or implying that men who are more ‘feminine’ are less than. Can you see how that is hurtful, both to men and women? Implying that traditionally feminine traits are bad, in any person, is bad for every person. This thread is an opportunity for personal growth, @digitalimpression, and I really wish you were open to seeing it that way.

digitalimpression's avatar

@jonsblond Would you say that she possesses both traits then? Or that it simply doesn’t matter, everyone’s different, and I should move on to another question?

@rooeytoo I understand where you’re coming from but… I’m looking at the word “masculinity” based on its raw definition. Why must the “tough guy” torture animals from your perspective? Can’t we just talk about the tough part? Is being tough bad?

@augustlan I love your brand of patronization and elitism. If I change my opinion to yours I’ve achieved personal growth. Sigh. I think you’re taking my quote out of context and way WAY WAY WAY too literally.

augustlan's avatar

@digitalimpression I’m hoping that you will see things from a different point of view…not because I think I’m better than you, but because I truly believe that your way of thinking is doing actual harm. If I am right about that (and of course I feel like I am, or I wouldn’t keep trying), then opening yourself to that possibility really is an opportunity for growth.

I’ve made several honest attempts to explain why I feel that certain viewpoints you hold (this particular one and others in the past) are damaging to real people in the world. Instead of thinking about whether or not that might be true, even a little bit…you get defensive and dig in your heels, and then I get frustrated. We start talking across each other, rather than with each other, and for that I am sorry.

digitalimpression's avatar

@augustlan Your condescension is insulting. The reason I dig my heels in is because they need to be dug in. That’s called standing up for what you believe in. You’re doing the same thing. As far as this question goes.. I don’t think I’ve dug anything.

You may, of course, see a bit of my frustration come out because of the fact that there are such cliques on this site. It beckons the image of 90210 with a shot of Days of our Lives and a sprinkling of Dawson’s Creek.

I’m forever hanging on by a thread because I can’t find another site that is as well designed as this one (with a more well-rounded userbase). I also imagine that this site would be awfully boring w/out people like me here. It would (and I’m certain I’ve said this before) be nothing but a bunch of people standing around patting each other on the back.

I’m appalled and disgusted that I can’t ask a simple question such as this without the lambasting I’ve become accustomed to getting here. I asked repeatedly if someone could say something positive about masculinity. No one could. I’m fine with that. If no one is capable of thinking of one point opposite their own viewpoint, so be it. But to hear the same thing over and over again (ad nauseam) simply isn’t necessary.

rooeytoo's avatar

Your question says “In short, why you gotta be hatin?” I answered that. It seems to me as if you are annoyed because your question did not receive the answers you desired.

So out of curiosity, and based on the manner in which you are now requesting your question to be answered, what is your definition of masculinity and what is positive about it?

augustlan's avatar

I’m sorry you feel insulted, it is not my intention. The condescension you feel is my frustration showing itself.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Okay, there are a lot of questions in your details. I’ll try to address the question posed – is masculinity so bad? First, in order for me to give a better focused answer, I’ll ask you to explain what masculinity is. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of masculinities that belong to people of all genders. While you’re doing that, it’d be good to see if it’s possible to define masculinity without using anything to do with women in the definition. Why would I want you to do that? Because, you’ll find it nearly impossible to do and therefore masculinity inevitably links up with femininity, in one way or another and that sort of thing ends up being problematic in many ways – whether people make it about complementarity or superiority/inferiority, etc.

Second, I’ll ask you what it means to you when people mark something good or bad. Should there be value labels on genders? What if there are? If someone says ‘masculinity is bad,’ does that sentence make sense and does it then do something? I think it can be both a careless remark and hurtful.

What’s bad, as some others have mentioned, is how masculinity gets tied to a body or a gender and then implied to be better than femininity. What’s bad is that there are dominant masculinities that so often end up policing other masculinities. What’s bad is that masculinity is often linked with heterosexuality and therefore if one wants to be masculine and gay, for example, they’re ‘less of a man.’

There are many other ways to go with this question because criticism of masculinity is often criticism of sexism and though the two are not to be conflated, many people do conflate the two both in their analysis and, sadly, in their practice of masculinity.

digitalimpression's avatar

@rooeytoo That last bit “why you gotta be hatin” was meant to lighten the mood and pose the question in a candid manner. I am annoyed. That much is true. I suppose I’m annoyed because I’m very rarely agreed with here. It’s tiresome. It worries me because I know I’m not wrong about everything. It sickens me because I know this will be my last post here. I simply can’t take this nonsense anymore. It isn’t productive. It isn’t educational. The juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

In whatever capacity I am able, though, I apologize and wish for you a happy go of things!

@augustlan Good luck in your future endeavors. No hard feelings kid. =)

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion. Good luck to you as well.

@youknowwhoyouare You’ve asked me multiple times to leave the site simply because we don’t agree on things. Well… I finally feel just alienated enough to do it. So in that regard, congratulations.

@youknowwhoyouare Some of you I’ll truly miss.. but being a jelly just doesn’t work for me anymore. I’ve got to move on to other things in life. This has become wholly unprofitable.

Aethelwine's avatar

and there goes another who doesn’t agree with the majority on this site. this place is going to get boring if we chase away those we disagree with. I like @digitalimpression (and captainharley and johnpennington and all the others who were in the minority and decided to leave. they helped make this place interesting.:/

rooeytoo's avatar

@digitalimpression – hell no body ever agrees with me. I wonder if it is because I was raised in a different time and in a different fashion and with a different outlook on life. But I figure I will stay here and give some knowitalls (not the one with that name, the ones who do!) a different perspective. If you only stick around those who agree with you, you never have the opportunity to grow. Remember the words of the one stanza in Colors of the Wind, read it and heed it matey!

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew

I just reread my own replies, I didn’t try to shove my opinions down your throat, but you asked a question and I answered it based on my experience.

augustlan's avatar

It makes me sad when people leave because they’re in the minority. @jonsblond Two of the three people you mentioned didn’t leave for that reason, though.

Aethelwine's avatar

@augustlan I had a feeling, but I’m sure some others have. I know I don’t know what goes on behind the scene.

dabbler's avatar

There are some folks I’ve disagreed with regularly, but we lock horns respectfully. And I miss folks who are like that but felt compelled to leave for whatever reason, Capt Harley comes to mind. The Capt. would state his position without personal attacks or getting all pissy when anyone disagreed with them. Put facts on the table and state opinions as opinions and I’ll read what you have to say all day.

There are other folks who get quite thoroughly pissy when anyone disagrees with them.
Instead of promoting discussion that gets personal fast. I don’t miss folks like that.

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