Masculinity Concept: Social Stereotypes and Male Self-Identification

Introduction

The gender biases and stereotypes cause numerous psychological problems and social offenses. Guys from sixteen to twenty-six feel particular pressure from the surroundings because they must meet the image of the fearless, rude, and self-confident person. Considering a competitive nature of the men, this approach often generates a surge of violence in a society.

Michael Kimmel and Jesse Fruhwirth devote their research to this topic, which is one of the most significant issues in the study of gender particular features. Kimmel works as the Professor of Sociology, Executive Director, and founder of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at the Stony Brook University in New York; he is the spokesperson of the National Organization for Men against Sexism as well. The scientist explores the concepts of masculinity, homophobia, and feminism. His article “Bros before Hos: The Guy Code” is one of the brightest examples of his attitude towards common approaches to interpreting manhood and social pressure on immature guy’s psyche. The mentioned themes are also in the spotlight of a social activist and a freelance journalist Fruhwirth. His work “Male Call: A Conversation about Masculinity and Violence with Byron Hurt and Jackson Katz” is based on the interview with Byron Hurt (a director of a Hip-Hop center) and Jackson Katz (a gender researcher), who express their thoughts towards the males’ image in a society. While the authors address a manhood phenomenon and widespread stereotypes of masculinity in a society, Kimmel approaches the issue of the general set of males’ qualities, while Fruhwirth emphasizes roughness and other extreme manifestations of masculinity that lead to an increase of violence in a society.

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Social Determination of Masculinity

The discussed articles are complementary researches because they focus on the common issue and study it from adjacent aspects. However, the Kimmel’s paper covers a wider range of issues and highlights the common approaches to the definition of manhood. The author notes that masculinity concept includes qualities that are reflected in the following claims: “Boys Don’t Cry”, “It’s Better to Be Mad than Sad”, “It’s All Good”, “Take It Like a Man”. Kimmel addresses the following core rules of masculinity summarized by the social psychologist Robert Brannon: “No Sissy Stuff” means to avoid supreme mother’s care for avoiding a reputation of the feminine; “Be a Big Wheel” protects an image of wealthy and powerful guy with special status among the peers; “Be a Sturdy Oak” motivates a male to be resistant to the difficulties of life; “Give ’em Hell” supports an aura of aggression and readiness to protect one’s position by the means of force. Actually, numerous guys get such kind of installations from the senior colleagues, mentors, or fathers. Thus, men distribute and maintain stereotypes themselves. De facto, to act like a man means to show more determination. It also considers belittling the role of women because treating them as secondary beings is one of the real man’s features as well. Kimmel raises the issue of cruelty and violence, but he does not develop it as Fruhwirth does in his interview.

The research of Fruhwirth logically complements the previous article, focusing on a competitive aspect of male’s nature and phenomena of naturally inherent man’s rudeness. The need to dominate in everything becomes the base characteristic of masculinity. Striving to be the best of the best, a suppression of the weaker personalities, which include women and the less successful men, becomes a natural desire of males. In contrast to Kimmel, Fruhwirth’s article does not highlight such manhood manifestations as reliability, tranquility, or courage. However, he focuses on the particular aspect of males’ aggression and the desire to express themselves in a society. In addition, he stresses the disdainful attitude towards women, which is one of the ways of self-affirmation.

Destructive Influence of Stereotypes

Masculinity as well as other concepts undergoes overgrowing of stereotypes that produce destructive impact on the psychological development of the boys and the life of the adult men. While Kimmel focuses on guys’ growing up and their fears of not corresponding to the standard norms, Fruhwirth provides an analysis of social, moral pressure, which provokes a growth of inner competitiveness that leads to unpleasant consequences.

Kimmel addresses as examples, stories of the guys who share common experiences regarding the discrepancy representations of a real male. A man among men is determined not only by the general set of rules, but by the hobbies, style of dress and demeanor as well. The fact that a role of public is played by the elder brothers, fathers, and friends, is the most unpleasant thing. Kimmel draws attention to the phenomenon of “gender police,” which includes the peers that can give “a ticket for crossing the well-drawn boundaries of manhood”. They do not allow relaxing and involuntarily tracking every step of each other. Every day guys are at risk to lose their friends and authority because of inappropriate behavior. It causes fear that destructs any personality, for example, homophobia or “the fear that people might misperceive you as gay – is the animating fear of American guy’s masculinity”. Thus, it is easy to become an outsider in the men’s society.

Stereotypes regarding gender particular qualities become a stumbling block to the creation of a healthy society. Men suffer from them no less than women. Unlike females, they are psychologically more vulnerable. Thus, males often unable to cope with an internal disharmony and are forced to wear the masks to hide their fear. The stereotype of a real man pushes boys on excessive and imprudent risk, and men – on cruelty. Moreover, the social opinion distorts the masculine nature, presenting it more aggressive than it is in reality. For these reasons the gender characteristics become a key to many problems in human relations.

Guy Code and Measures of Males’ Self-Affirmation

People play different social roles. Thus, the backstage rules define the scopes of conduct. Kimmel describes the Guy Code as an unwritten set of rules that is determined and should be followed by males from sixteen to twenty-six. It presupposes the development of the men’s qualities that must help to avoid a process of emasculation and turn the guys into Mamma’s Boys. The author pays attention to the process of growing up boys and notes that following the Code begins with self-awareness and a separation from a mother. It occurs during adolescence, becoming a part of self-affirmation in a society. Fruhwirth moves further and examines the research phenomenon violence in a society through the prism of common stereotypes and male’s propensity to self-affirmation. The most significant examples could be possession of weapons, which can be used under any pretext; mass violence against women, which is perceived as a game and an attempt to cause friends’ envy; use of force in the army as proof of superiority; drug possession as something forbidden; different political games and tough foreign policy that is a manifestation of men’s affirmation at the highest levels in the state hierarchy. In this case, the social stereotypes influence men’s striving for superiority and popularity that causes numerous problems and predictable splashes of violence.

Considering Kimmel’s research, it becomes noticeable that parents’ behavior and their attitude to their sons and the social frameworks could influence their further development into men. Insecurity is the reason that guys grow excessively violent or too weak. Fruhwirth outlines the perspectives of adolescents deprived of parental psychological support. Rudeness, which develops into a latent hostility among men, is reflected not only at the household level. Most owners of the largest corporations as well as the most successful politicians are males. They are the core players in the areas where competition is inevitable.

Conclusion

Both articles are considering the concept of masculinity and its impact on the lives and statuses of men in society. It can be noted a general tendency to condemn social stereotypes that determine the painful behavior frameworks and provoke males’ excessive roughness and violence, which is not a compulsory part of the masculinity concept. However, in Fruhwirth’s interview it is stressed that violence and masculinity are interrelated and cannot be considered separately. It is obvious that the reason for such kind of approach is the public view, which exacerbates the stale side of manhood and encourages males to more aggressive behavior in the way of self-development.

Kimmel and Fruhwirth similarly research the core characteristics of a real male and they both emphasize the difficulties of correspondence to the common frameworks. The difference of their articles includes approaches of male’s behavior description. While Kimmel works with guys, Fruhwirth explores the whole men’s audience. The first author approaches the issue of the general set of males’ qualities on the example of the Guy’s Code because the evolution of man’s word perception begins at sixteen. Fruhwirth emphasizes roughness and other extreme manifestations of masculinity that lead to an increase of violence in a society in the form of interview to address several positions. In fact, he examines the consequences of the Guy Code influence and study males’ behavior to prove that stereotypes could lead to unjustified consequences. If the organization of researches had been changed in the both articles, the core idea would be presented in a less attractive way. The authors address to the mix audience, because the discussed issues are significant for both males and females. The revisions in stereotypes begin with a renovating of the approaches to masculinity concept that begins with every new generation. Not sophisticated language gives an opportunity to accept the key ideas and support evidences.

Masculinity concept is based on social stereotypes and insuperable male’s desire of self-identification. It includes such features as courage, strength of character, calm, self-confidence, and a certain roughness. The last one possesses a particular importance considering the masculine nature. However, every male should determine the private frameworks and remain a personality.

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