Men Can Be Feminine Too
I recently read an article titled, “Why a Man’s Masculinity is Essential to a Woman,” and while I read it I was continuously shocked. It wasn’t written by a man, which is usually who writes these kinds of articles, it was written by a woman. The article, which is a ten-minute read, included lots of reasons why men being masculine is essential to women, many of these reasons being rooted in toxic masculinity, gender roles, and patriarchy. As a queer, pansexual woman, I love all genders, but one thing I don’t like about men is toxic masculinity, and that is what this article was deeply rooted in.
Take for example this sentiment, “He will always treat a woman like a lady. No matter what.” What does this even mean? I, for one, do not want to be treated like a lady, no matter what. I want to be treated like the dynamic human being that I am. The article continues, “He will protect his woman physically and emotionally; and is ready to throw a good punch if necessary, to defend her from physical aggressors.” This, right here, is a huge no-go for me. Sure, I would love my husband to protect me if need be, but I do not want a violent man. As a woman who was raised in an abusive household, this sentiment really freaked me out.
“Simple, and yet, there it is — a man’s masculinity is the one quality essential to us and I’ll tell you why — only a man can bring that pure, masculine dynamic into a situation and above all else, a woman like me is most attracted to man who makes her feel like a woman.”
I am married to a feminine man, he is in touch with his emotions, he’s not physically super strong. He’s tall and lanky, sweet, cute, and super weird. He’s fluid in his sexuality, and in general, he’s a lot less masculine than I am. I don’t believe that “only a man” can bring a “pure, masculine dynamic” into a relationship. Masculinity is not purely a male trait, many women can be masculine. In women, gender, and sexuality studies, we understand that female masculinity is a type of gender performance that challenges traditional masculine and male dominance. Indeed, men can be feminine and women can be masculine.
What turns me on about my husband is that I never feel threatened, he never yells, he is never angry, we don’t ever fight (a serious conversation, sure, but a fight, absolutely not), he’s is open with me, fluid with me, and engages with me in all ways, not simply in masculine ways. He is also just gorgeous, he has a beautiful face, amazing hair, and has soft, feminine features. Everything about him is fluid and not simply masculine or feminine. He is balanced and that is what I love about him.
In the article, the writer included this quote, which, in general, I found disgusting:
“When a man has these qualities, he has a natural self-assuredness that makes him stand out head and shoulders above other men, and women feel an instinctive sexual attraction towards him because he has what it takes to protect her and provide for her, allowing her to relax into being a woman in the relationship.”
I mean, honestly, can I not protect myself? Can I not provide for myself? What does it mean to “relax into being a woman in the relationship,” honestly, what in the world does that mean? In my relationship, we honor equality, I’ve been the breadwinner throughout the entire relationship, and that’s okay! I happened to get my shit together before my husband, that doesn’t make me love him any less. He cooks, cleans, and does laundry. We equally share the household tasks. Neither of us needs to provide or protect one another, we are individual human beings that have chosen to be together.
The article becomes offensive, she explains that because in zero-tolerance schools, because boys can no longer beat the shit out of each other, they lose touch with their masculinity. She explains that masculine men are rare nowadays, she honestly begins to sound like Candace Owens.
Can men not be masculine and feminine? Can they not be dynamic humans that cross the boundaries of traditional gender roles? These kinds of sentiments are the reason why members of the LGBTQIA+ community are continuously victims of hate crimes. Any man that deters from “traditional” masculinity is then seen as less than. Men do not need to be masculine to be worthy or to make women feel safe, more often than not, we want a man that balances between masculinity and femininity, we don’t want a Proud Boy (blarf).
Men can be both masculine and feminine, they can wear skirts or dresses because clothing has no gender, they can bake, cook, and clean, they can be stay-at-home dads. What makes a man respectable is being a kind and loving person, not being tough-as-nails, a fighter, a protector, or whatever else you attribute to being masculine. Gendering things like cooking, cleaning, childcare, weightlifting, sports, fashion, and everything else under the sun is the perfect example of patriarchy, and this is why men need feminism, to understand that they do not need to be confined to the “man box”.
Why we need to break out of toxic gender roles.
In an article I wrote a little over a year ago, I explain how patriarchy negatively impacts men, and how this starts from birth.
“Toxic masculinity begins when a child is born. The blue outfit and blue beanie atop their head says, “male”. As a male child grows they are often told that they cannot play with “female” toys, and that if they are hurt they must not cry or show emotion. The phrases, “man up” and “act like a man” are typical, toxically-masculine phrases that are consistently said to young boys. As a child gets older the toxicity grows, men that do not fit into patriarchal norms are called “faggot” and “pussy”. The socialization of young boys often perpetuates this violence and bullying by claiming that “boys will be boys”; alluding to men that it is okay to be violent and aggressive.”
Men are told to be men from birth, they are told to be masculine, they read articles like the one I have outlined above, and if they do not fit into that box they are considered flawed. Being a man is not a one six fits all box that we can simply shove men into, men are dynamic, they have many qualities, not simply traditionally male qualities. The more that we continue to tell men that they must be masculine the more that we reinforce outdated and antiquated gender roles.
These gender roles are literally deadly, which I explain in my previous piece about patriarchy, “A lot of this bullying and hindrance of male emotion is linked to male suicides amongst all age groups. In an article by The British Psychological Society it is explained that, “the construction of masculinities is believed to be one of the most important factors influencing the way in which suicide is discussed, contemplated and enacted by men.” Gender roles and patriarchy literally kill, and as long as we continue to push men down and hinder their ability to be emotional, feminine, dynamic humans, the more patriarchy will continue to damage men and young boys.
You can read the full article here:
How Patriarchy Negatively Impacts Men
Why it is important to recognize that a patriarchal society impacts everybody.
Why should this matter to you?
No matter your gender you should always be working to break down patriarchal society and traditional gender roles because not only do they not serve any purpose other than to shame people and hurt people if they do not fit into their assigned box, they also destroy the lives of many people. Gender roles are deadly, there is a reason why trans people are the number one demographic that are victims of rape, sexual assault, abuse, and murder. This year alone, the number of transgender people that have been murdered surpassed all of last year within seven months.
We cannot continue to push people into the gender they were assigned at birth, we cannot continue to tell men to be masculine and women to be feminine. We must work, every day, to stop these sexist and patriarchal ideals that truly harm and kill people. Whenever you are confronted with these outdated gender roles please do your best to combat them in any way possible. This includes but is not limited to subscribing all humans of the same gender to traditional, antiquated gender roles, and most importantly, speaking out against these ideas when you see them.
Together we can make a difference.