The last time I brought up the need to redefine masculinity, I didn’t really get into specific details as to why we need to do this. It was mentioned that current views on masculinity have established some harmful ‘codes’ and ‘rules’ that encourage certain behaviors. But before attempting to redefine masculinity, we really have to understand what we are dealing with; some of the problems develop because most men don’t know what ‘masculinity’ actually means. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know what it means..
Dictionaries won’t be of any help; here’s what dictionary.com had to say:
Masculinity: “The quality or condition of being masculine.”
Thanks for that. So you know you’re a man when you act like a man. The very foundation of what it means to be a man is built on a completely useless and banal statement. Because of this vague definition, it’s not surprising that it can be, and has been, twisted into a misogynistic, hate mongering tool for certain individuals who hold sheltered and limited views. So where else can we look for our definition? Movies, media, historical figures? Any one of them might provide us with criteria; we could spend hours carefully crafting a list of “masculine” things that encompass what it means to “be a man.”
But guys, do we really want to define our masculinity by some manufactured standard? Do we really want to leave our integrity up to someone else? I, for one, do not look to other men to define my masculinity. A ‘man’ is what I am, not who I am. I am a person who believes in treating others equally, helping when I can, bettering myself through learning, and standing by my principles. I figure a definition of ‘masculinity’ that is far less vague is necessary, but before we do that, we should realize that we don’t need to follow a set of rules and criteria to be “men.” We already are men.
When considering your own perception of what it means to be a man, ask yourself a few things. Do I want to be defined as someone who treats others poorly? Do I want to be defined as someone who thinks of himself as a superior? Do I want to be defined as someone who acts like an idiot towards others? Do I want people to see me as sexist, racist, ableist, ageist, heterosexist, or all of the above? Keep these things in mind next time you’re out with your buddies and the conversations tilt a certain way.