Masculinity Means Nothing

All in all, a lot of the problems in today’s society revolve around men and their masculinity. But because men feel so easily threatened when a woman tries to stand up for their own rights, their masculinity turns into hyper masculinity. Something that is so fragile to a man even though they are the icon for being tough. There is an article for the LA Times written by Dexter Thomas about a hashtag on twitter called #masculinitysofragile that points out men’s hyper masculinity and pokes fun at them for being so feminine about a manly subject, which sounds like a big contradiction. But when you really think about masculinity, what is it really? It’s just society’s construction to differentiate male and female, where males must be tough and masculine while females are feminine enforced with cultural activities; such as males like blue while females like pink.

Masculinity and femininity are just labels put onto those to fit into society, but in today’s age, what is considered not normal is becoming the norm. Everything about the deeper thought of gender had been hidden for so long due to negative lashing for others, but now it’s having its spotlight. The dominant norms and values of society are known as hegemony. However when you apply hegemony to today, it strays from the original meaning as it is no longer a common sense and people are fighting for their rights. But when you put hegemony and masculinity together, it’s become hegemonic masculinity where it promotes the dominant social position of men and the subordinate social position of women as described by RW Connell. Hegemony is just a theory that became naturalized and became “common sense.” However, common sense to one person is not common sense to another, therefore the way that people think of masculinity and femininity may be completely different compared to how you and I may think and how it affects us personally.

The diversity of people’s minds is so wide that it may seem that it is impossible for there to be just one hegemon, but all of these different thoughts lead back to one main concept. But who is enforcing this hegemon? The government? Our parents? Our teachers? In the theory of hegemony, the hegemon does not physically exist. It is a manifestation of our beliefs over time where we feed it and give it power by believing in it or practicing it. Even though this oh-so powerful hegemon is the original process that leads to all the diversity that is expressed today, it does not mean that it is the most powerful. Just like kings, even the most powerful has a weakness. All types of hegemonies have some sort of fragile state due to fear of the norm not being the norm. The hegemon fears that it will be surpassed and others will rise above them. Since the hegemon of masculinity is so fragile, it takes to physical violence to enforce its beliefs. According to Kimberle Crenshaw, the violence that is being used to enforce its beliefs has been shaping women and people of color today through oppression and that “physical assault is merely the most immediate manifestation of the subordination they experience.”

In the end, masculinity is in theory: nothing. It is only what it is today because we feed it. Something throughout history decided that there should be something in contrast to femininity and that masculinity was the answer because it was violent and ruthless and that men should embody this. This concept of masculinity not only affects women, but it also affects people of color because they are not considered the norm either. People are living in fear of a concept that does not exist physically but in the mind of the weak, fragile hegemon that created it in the first place.