On googling the word “Masculinity” you’re provided with a definition stating, “qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men”. It enforces males to be “man” enough to be qualified as to being a perfect male figure.
“I’ve been pretending to be a man that I’m not my entire life. I’ve been pretending to be strong when I felt weak, confident when I felt insecure and tough when really I was hurting. I think for the most part I’ve just been kind of putting on a show, but I’m tired of performing. And I can tell you right now that it is exhausting trying to be man enough for everyone all the time.” said – Justin Baldoni at a TED talk.
Today, we’re going to question if Masculinity is a gender based characteristic.
As kids we all have been taught that masculinity is the opposite to femininity and therefore males are forced to reject any other embodying quality that of a supposed man. Girls are weak and boys are strong, girls wear pink and boys wear blue, girls play with dolls and boys play with superheroes, girls don’t shout and boys don’t cry; all of these are stereotypical characteristics that are created by our society and we as individuals grow up satisfying them to be “man” enough or “lady” like.
IMPACTS OF THIS MINDSET
– Psychological impact on men
According to Mental Health, six million men suffer from depression, and men seem to cope with depression differently than women. Due to society and “toxic masculinity”, i.e. Rejecting any other emotion other than anger or male dominant activities. Men have difficulties in expressing their emotions. Ever since childhood men are taught to dismiss their feelings, and man up to define their gender, which trains them to bottle up sadness, and over time it changes to depression.
– Affects equality of gender
This not only affects males but girls as well, women have been fighting for equality for over years now for various reasons like, job opportunities, education, social status, employment rates, ownership of properties and businesses.
Burderning males with putting masculinity standards causes a lot of distress. Surveys and researches show that young men are more likely to be diagnosed with disorders like autism and ADHD. Men are less likely to ask for help, 45% of men at the ages of 25-29 feel lonely and more likely to commit suicide than women. There are still so many countries which believe that it is the responsibility of the males in a family to run the house and do all the outdoor work. So many men across the world live with the burden of responsibilities on their shoulders even before they turn eighteen, which just adds on to the stress and anxiety to their minds since a young age.
I question you today, can we not remove the burden of responsibility of “masculinity” away from men, and let it be a word to describe power and femininity to describe care and affection, which can be in both boys and girls. Girls can also be recognised by masculinity. We’re living in a century where both genders stand shoulder to shoulder, if girls can cry, why can’t boys? There are millions and millions of people going into depression out of which the rate of depression in men has been increasing constantly, solely because they are expected to be strong. What kind of strength pushes one into depression? Why can’t soft boys be accepted as gracefully as we accept our superheroes who do the fighting? Let us actually reflect on this and treat each other equally. All of us can do everything we want, let’s stand for equality by all means and not define masculinity as a gender based characteristic.