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5 Problems with Masculinity in Today's Society

Updated: Mar 6



A war man


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The problem with masculinity lies not within its entirety, but within its unhealthy components. Are virtues such as honor, strength, courage, confidence, and self-discipline a problem in today's society? No, or at least not as problematic as the following concepts that lie within the term "masculinity":



Have you ever heard the sayings "don't cry, you're a big boy," "stop being so sensitive," or "stop acting like a little baby"? While the intentions behind these sayings may be good, and not necessarily an insult, they are almost always counterproductive. These sayings only intensify one's problems, rather than weakening them.

Such sayings are unhelpful and can be harmful. Mental states require attention and care. Simply ignoring them, or attempting to do so through repression, only makes them stronger. Such an approach to one's mental well-being is not aligned with healthy masculinity.


Masculinity should not be about escaping challenges, but rather about facing them head-on, both external and internal. Saying things like "don't cry" or "stop being so sensitive" are unhelpful because they promote the idea that men should suppress their emotions. This type of repression is a form of escapism from our internal reality. Would you say that escapism is part of a well-defined masculinity, when escapism is cowardice?


Facing one's emotions, with minimal to no repression, requires strength and courage. This is a virtue that aligns with healthy masculinity and promotes emotional well-being.



One of the core values that define "toxic masculinity" is oppression. This behavior manifests in various forms, ranging from overt violence and aggression to bullying, intimidation, and other harmful forms of social interactions. True masculinity does not require acts of physical aggression, domination of others, or disregard for personal consequences (such disregard is, in fact, foolish). It should instead serve as a moral compass for maturity, strength, resilience, and self-reliance. You might often find that masculine people follow a code of conduct. Being a dependable man of your word is such an example.


Oppression stands in contrast to these values, rendering it incompatible with a possibly-healthy expression of masculinity. (It's important to acknowledge that femininity also faces challenges and complexities, and striving for a healthy society requires addressing all forms of harmful societal expectations. Whether or not we wish for such a thing is our own shared prerogative).


Consider the consequences of oppression, not just for the target but also for the one causing it. In a society built on democratic principles, the oppressor may face severe repercussions for their actions, from legal consequences and social isolation to lasting guilt and shame.


Furthermore, oppression proves illogical beyond its moral failings. While a fleeting sense of power or pleasure may be stem from inflicting harm on others, the long-term risk of retribution is undeniable. Even if the oppressor believes they are currently evading consequences, this illusion of safety offers no certainty for the future of their rule.


From schoolyard bullies and street harassers to cult leaders and abusers, no oppressor is truly immune to the consequences of their actions. Their downfall is often inevitable, making oppression a reckless gamble with potentially devastating outcomes.


3. Shame

Instead of focusing on shame, let's shift the conversation towards understanding and acceptance. While I may not personally identify with certain behaviors, I believe everyone is worthy of respect and freedom to express themselves authentically, regardless of whether it aligns with traditional expectations of masculinity. Whether or not they will get their worth, is another thing that depends on the moral compass of others. And why expect a highly-moral approach from the average human being, when ethics are to be taught?


Modernity, at its core, hails not only advancement in technology and science, but also inclusivity and diversity, though it has its own fair shares of hypocrisies. Labeling individuals who deviate from gender norms as inferior is rooted in outdated and harmful perspectives.

It's important to remember that criticism is a valuable tool for social progress, but it should never be used to undermine someone's worth or dignity... Not on purpose at least. Just as a masculine person doesn't hold inherent superiority over a feminine person, gender expression does not have determine an individual's value. When it does, its perception is sexist.


Instead of focusing on perceived differences, let's strive to create a world where everyone feels comfortable and empowered to be their true selves, regardless of how they choose to express their masculinity or femininity.


4. Superiority/Arrogance


It's inaccurate to claim superiority based solely on individual characteristics, as that lies on inductive reasoning and not on deductive reasoning. Connecting values like strength, courage and wisdom to superiority creates harmful stereotypes. Being physically stronger, braver, richer, or wiser doesn't automatically make someone superior. These stereotypes, like all others, hinder our perception of diverse individuals and experiences.


Being "better" than someone doesn't make you superior, even if the term is used synonymously. Even when I end my writings with "thanks to X for requesting my wisdom," it doesn't imply any sense of superiority. There's no comparison or implied hierarchy in that statement. Impression, stemmed from false subtext, isn't reality.


Traits like being gay, feminine, obese, or physically weak are simply expressions of individual diversity, not indicators of inferiority. Superiority, in a biological sense, is about survival and adaptability, over others, not masculinity or femininity. A mere expression of hierarchy, either recognized or pretended. Stereotypes are distinct from the complex factors influencing individual lives and experiences, which we assign them to. Not being able to distinguish between the assigned stereotype and what something really is, is a problem in comprehension.


Let's strive to move beyond limited definitions and embrace diverse perspectives, recognizing that individual worth is not based on stereotypical assumptions or arbitrary comparisons. If anything, the masculine person won't necessarily belittle others from being themselves, due to excuses such as an internal void, like boredom, like narcissism and so on.


Objectifying others, treating them as mere pawns in a game, like Heisenberg from "Breaking Bad", is a dangerous form of superiority that disregards individual worth, and nurtures ignorance. This narrow-mindedness restricts a person's perspective and hinders their understanding of the world and its diversity.


"True" or a more moral masculinity, a force of good and authenticity, is not about limiting one's horizons, but rather about letting people be themselves, without an immoral "need" to regard them as mere pawns. It is about developing one's skills and strengths to navigate the world and become a more capable and knowledgeable individual.


What masculinity is there in the acceptance of our universal ignorance, in neglecting curiosity and refusing to learn about ourselves, others, and the world around us? As long as we remain ignorant of others as more than relating to ourselves, we will remain tempted to use them as chess tools, and little else if at all.


Summary


While not all aspects of masculinity are inherently negative, as the idea for positive masculinity exists, it's crucial to critically examine its various manifestations. Traits like resilience, strength, and endurance are certainly valuable, but they are not exclusive to masculinity and can be cultivated by all individuals regardless of their gender expression.


Ultimately, a healthy and inclusive society requires moving beyond toxic/harmful expressions of whatever "masculinity" may universally mean, and embracing a wider spectrum of human experiences, emotions, behaviors and virtues. Judging individuals based on stereotypical assumptions or imuplsive comparisons only serves to create division and hinder progress to a more moral, tolerating society.


But whether we as societies are interested in such a progression, lies only within our resolve to actually promote such visions.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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