Men and Masculinity






Men and Masculinity
Why are men so sensitive when it comes to their masculinity? This question came to me when I began reading the introduction of this section on sex. I believe that men are pushed into a social stereotype just like women are. They are told how to act, when to cry, and when to be tough from a very young age. These traits are not only bestowed upon them by their parents, but by movies, music and government of the past and present.
“For many straight men, homosexuality is a direct threat to their identities”(O’Neill 5). Since men claim they are so powerful and masculine, they shouldn’t have a problem with homosexuality. Men have this problem due to the social construction. According to many heterosexual males that I have talked to, they feel that if they hang out with a homosexual or become a homosexual themselves, they would be deceiving the morals and values bestowed upon them when they were young. The majority of parents in our society have brought heir children up believing that a relationship consists of a man and a woman, and that there is no deviation from this norm. Many homosexual males never even tell their parents that they are gay. Many of these men feel that their families would disown them if they found out. The odd thing is that many of these homosexual men feel more afraid to tell their fathers that they are gay. They feel like their father would be more ashamed of them. One homosexual told me that his father would feel like less of a man if he knew.
When I asked a number of heterosexual men, ranging form the ages of 18 to 30, why they feel homosexuality is wrong, they all came up with basically the same answer. In one way or another they all said, “That it is just wrong, and they take it in the rear!” Some of the men I asked even said they felt “homosexuality is like a disease that might rub off on you if you get to close”. My feeling is that if you are not gay then you have no reason to be afraid of someone who is. I feel that if you have no doubt in your sexuality then you wouldn’t feel threatened by someone who is. It says in the Introduction “Straight women, on the other hand, often don’t seem as threatened by lesbianism”. If according to the article “Designing Men: Reading the Male Body as Text”, Culbertson states that “ Woman rarely have power…”(Culbertson 3), then why does he also go on to later say that, “masculinity as a gender construction in virtually every society must be constantly defended”(Culbertson 4). If men are the more powerful people then why are they so easily threatened by something that rarely has any affect on women? Also if men are the more powerful then why does Culbertson also state that, “the homosocial system can be maintained only when men avert their gaze from each other; the gaze figuratively, must remain focused on a woman”(Culbertson 3). This is because they are not more powerful, they have just always been taught that they are the stronger gender. Why do men need women to feel confident in themselves, while women freely look at each other and themselves without a second thought? I think this is for reasons like the old saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman”. Men are brought up, just as women are, to believe that they are to find the perfect woman. They are brought up with a psychological need for a woman. Men need women to make them feel masculine. Some men feel that having a girlfriend or wife shields them from the gay community.
With masculinity in a male comes great vulnerability and complication. Men always rattle on about how had women are to read, but really they are just as hard to read if not more. The only reason the male body is a difficult text to read is because it is not exposed as much as the female body. I disagree with Ward when he states, “The male body has been a cinematic