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My Masculinities Project Contribution

My Masculinities Project – Belinda

     As woman I have experienced masculinity in various ways. As a child I did many “jobs” my younger brother should have been doing, but being too young he was not allowed to. I shoveled rocks into the driveway with my father, took the garbage to the street and shoveled the snow in the winter. Since I had the ability to do those jobs, I thought I would be allowed to do anything I male could do. As I grew older I was told I was female and therefore I had to act accordingly. I was taught how to wash the dishes, sweep the floor, and do female jobs.

     As an adult I have been told there are the masculine things I cannot do, even though I have helped my husband rebuild two homes, taken the garbage out, and mowed the lawn. I was in the Air Force and have since then raised five children, four of whom were boys. I have also been passed on the highway by men in trucks, even though I was already going over the speed limit. I have had men decide they need to talk down to me when I take my car in for repairs, even though I clearly understood what they were saying. I have been told I can’t lift things because they were too heavy, even though it was fine for me to carry a child that weighed 30 pounds before – the weight of a body cast and I had to carry him everywhere.

     I must say that men have to live up to some strange ideas about what a masculine man is all about. In fact I am happy to be female and not have to live under the stringent rules men must abide by in order to be masculine. What I don’t understand is why such archaic ideas must still exist even though we live in the twenty-first century? Why do men have to constantly be macho rather just be themselves.

     We are all taught how to assimilate into our perspective roles for later in life. Boys are taught to play with trucks, do sports and be tough. You’re not masculine if you do not get into fights (boys will be boys), play army, do the sort of manly work like taking out the trash. You are also not masculine if you cry or show any emotion. At an early age boys are taught to suck it up when they get hurt. You will just have a bruise, you’ll get a lot of them before your time is up. Don’t wear yellow, or for heaven sakes not pink. Boys only wear shorts or pants with a shirt. A suit is required for some occasions, or at least a dress shirt and dress slacks. Do not play with dolls, kitchens sets, and good grief play with your GI Joe not the Barbie!

     When males become teenagers they are taught a whole new set of rules. Open the door for your date, always pay for the meal, and if a girl breaks-up with you take it like a man. Never hit a girl, but stand-up for yourself with brute force if needed. Play sports and only choose male instruments if you are in the school band, such as the drums, tuba, horn. Get A’s in science and math;  those are more important than art. Never kiss and tell, but be one of the guys, and don’t let anyone think you might be a homosexual. Learn how to dance and be the leader not just in dancing, but in sports, class, and anything else you do. Never be the follower, they are not as manly, and show everyone how smart and tough you are.

     Masculinity is a stringent lifestyle for men. It also spills over into the female world tightening our own lifestyle to fit with a male way of life. Women are not supposed to be masculine, if they are they are considered a dyke, a lesbian. There are many great female athletes who are not lesbians and in fact have raised families. Unfortunately, they are considered the exception and not the norm in society. Yet the male that proves he is better than anyone else in that sport or even an academic arena is considered masculine and the best.

     Even though women have been given their own social roles to follow, they are not driven the way their male counterparts are to always be the best in everything they do. Males in society have been ripped off as far as masculinity goes because it leaves no room for thinking outside the box.  It leaves no room for men to have the ability to feel their own emotions, to cry when they are hurt or sad. They become hardened by their masculine lifestyle to forget what is human. And that all emotions are not reserved for the females. That it is O.K. to cry or to show anything other than tough. They are either reserved or angry; laughter is not an emotion they have often. A sense of humor as a child makes them the class clown, or inattentive to their studies.

     There is no room in the masculine world for women and it is a difficult world for men. They must never cross the line or make a mistake. They must always be on top of their lives and what is going on. They must only do manly jobs, and continuously strive to not only do better, but to make more money. Be successful, even if it means to be a cutthroat at work. You don’t have to be honest if it gets you ahead of the game.

     Just never lose your edge and will never lose your masculinity. And those who age becomes fools and idiots, they can no longer withstand a fight. They can no longer be tough and masculine. The older male is now allowed to just be himself, no need to show his masculinity, because he is beyond his time.


About CSMMD Admin

The Center for the Studies of Masculinities and Men's Development at Western Illinois University. Research is clear that men are in crisis, particularly men from underrepresented populations. However, considerable disagreement exists about how to most effectively support men's engagement and development, while maintaining focus on social justice. The Center for the Study of Masculinities and Men’s Development aims to provide quality scholarship, advocacy, and programming that positively influences college men’s development in a manner congruent with gender equity and social justice.


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