As socially constructed identities, boys and men learn “appropriate” gender roles in accordance with the masculine expectations of their given society. This means that from very early on boys get messages on what it means to be a boy.
Recently I developed a deeper passion for my husband’s work – if you don’t know already, he is into mentorship for young men. This passion has driven my curiosity in doing research and reading up any book, article I can find about masculinity, males, men, and boys.
In my search for knowledge, I have affirmed that a society to be masculine it has traits that are categorized as male, such as strength, dominance, assertiveness, and egotism which are way different from the Feminine, society which is traditionally thought of as having conventional traits, such as being supportive, caring, and relationship oriented.
And that all men are influenced by their upbringing, experience, and social environment which play a big role in determining one’s view of masculinity and manhood. This means that masculinity is going to be different for everyone, there is no one shoe fit all. You can’t have the same traits one who grew up with women to feature in one who grew up with men or one who balanced both genders.
Some particularly influential factors that I have found featuring in most of the readings made that shape one’s idea of manhood are race, class, ability, education, and gender. These factors are also mentioned to determine the power and privilege of this gender. Things like masculine privilege which is the idea that men are afforded unearned benefits, rights, and advantages in society. These privileges are often times invisible to men and can be difficult to notice because they are so normalized no matter how marginalized the privileges. For example, one of the privileges that men have is the ability to take up social space in a room. However, men of color (in a mostly white space), men with disabilities (in a mostly able-bodied space), working-class men (in an upper-middle-class space) may not necessarily be afforded this privilege (although it does occur at times).
But men with marginalized masculinities still have more privilege than their female counterparts.
Furthermore, I discovered that a discussion of power and social inequality is necessary to understand the broader context of men’s adoption of unhealthy behavior as well as to address the social structures that both foster unhealthy behavior among men and undermine men’s attempts to adopt healthier habits.
There is really a lot I have to unlearn and relearn while researching on this topic but importantly how I use this information while helping out my husband and the men in my life. There is a lot expected from men but less is done to understand their make up by society. No major campaigns or projects developed to guide men in understanding masculinity.