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Of ‘Masculinity’ And Real Manhood: Treading The Thin Ground And Knowing What Matters

We’re back to ‘real men’, aren’t we? Needless to say, societal standards of gender are immensely skewed. Things like the Bro-code, the jock-culture etc which are drilled into our heads since high school can potentially destroy our perception of gender for the rest of our lives.

man drinking water_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

As a kid, I was apparently always slightly more on the ‘feminine’ side. At that point I didn’t really understand what ‘feminine’ meant, but I saw the implications of it. I was left out from most events, except the ones like quizzes and spell-o-manias and debates. Sports day was almost always a holiday for me, especially because I couldn’t afford to stand in the sun with a bleeding nose for more than 15 minutes. I was perhaps, the weakest kid in school when it came to physical prowess. For some weird reason, I was categorized as feminine by my peers.

This didn’t sit well with me, so I went to give the girls’ school sports event a watch. I was only a clueless 9-year-old then, so I didn’t really understand the subtle underlying rules governing each event. But the so called girls ran for around 2 minutes straight, like their lives depended on it. I could almost see their calves tightening up, and how they hit their mid-foot instead of their heels every time on the ground to avoid excessive shock. I realized that it just wasn’t running like a madman, it was calculating and required a tremendous effort to get the details of it just right. Their constant evenly timed gasps for breath, and how they carefully chose not to swing their hips to avoid back pain and hitting the ‘wall’ early. It felt beautiful, despite the blistering heat. The positions didn’t even matter much, for I’d seen what true effort looked like.

man sleeping_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

It doesn’t take a man to be ‘manly’, as much as it doesn’t take a woman to be ‘feminine.’  The idea of masculinity and femininity is a relic of an ancient age. A person does not behave a certain way simply because of their natural genitals. Assigning gender roles on the basis of biological sex is like assigning work on the basis of race. If the latter is racist, then the former is surely sexist. No, there is no such thing as ‘real manhood’ except someone identifying as male. Masculinity involves ridiculous expectations like a well-toned body, athletic expertise, emotional insensitivity, and earning for the household. Sadly enough, high school jocks and college frat boys have become the name and face of ‘masculinity.’ In the midst of all this patriarchal sandstorm, even something as basic as cooking has become ‘feminine.’

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This will be harder to digest for someone who doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe in the idea of a spectrum when it comes to gender, but I’ll try. Masculinity doesn’t exist in reality. We’re different from animals because we can override our biological programming and be who we want to be. We’ve, in some ways, transcended the initial hurdle of a gender wall. A man can be lanky and unathletic like me and still identify as male, or as female, or as any point in the diverse spectrum of gender. I knew there was a reason why testosterone filled sayings like “Bros before ho*s” always put me off, it’s because it’s derived from the same set-in-stone ‘hurr durr’ mindset most people around me used to have.

man thinking_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

On a more personal note, isn’t the idea of being whoever you want to be without being dictated by conventions an immensely liberating feeling? Well, it is for me. In conclusion, ‘masculinity’ is an age old term which is rapidly losing relevance and all that ‘real manhood’ entails is identifying as male regardless of genitals.

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Article Name
Of 'Masculinity' And Real Manhood: Treading The Thin Ground And Knowing What Matters
Is masculinity inching towards ridiculously superficial expectations by eclipsing REAL men?
Siddhartha Bose

Siddhartha Bose

Contradictory solipsist who likes food and cuddles.