In a stereotyped society, definitions of femininity and masculinity are typically stereotypical, where masculinity would mean not to show any type of emotions, to be bold, strong, dominant, and badass. While femininity means showing emotions and crying, doing “girly” things, and having girly interests. In this article, we will be talking about femininity and masculinity from the perspective of these societies. This means that we do not believe that showing emotions, wearing makeup, or anything else that’s considered to be “only for women.”
As a result of these wrong definitions, the idea of men showing emotions and having feminine traits is just not acceptable. Society often trashes it and deems those men as fragile and weak. On the other hand, women who show masculinity society accepts them more than feminine men. Most people in societies are okay with seeing tomboys, and females in masculine looks without facing backlash and death glares. They are even okay with seeing a woman cry, but when a man cries, it’s always “real men do not cry.” When, in fact, showing emotions should not be a woman’s trait. However, it is what stereotypes have led us to believe.
In the eyes of a superficial society, it is only okay for a man to be dominant and hard-skinned. There is absolutely no room for these men to show emotions or express any of them. However, masculine women do not face the same problems on the same level of complexity and hatred. Women who tend to enjoy manly things or act less feminine do not get the same treatment.
It is now obvious that societies appreciate masculinity over femininity—for instance, Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. Arya’s character was a badass and a fearless woman. Arya was one of the most liked characters on Game of Thrones. Also, Maeve from Sex Education was a pretty masculine character. She was never criticized for being masculine. On the contrary, almost every feminine character -especially if they’re gay- receives so much hate just for being feminine.
Is it healthier to show emotions rather than suppressing them?
The thing about men embracing both their feminine and masculine sides is that they often live healthier lives, other than those who suppress their emotions. Men who are in touch with their feminine side can communicate easily with their partners, their kids, and their friends. Showing emotions and putting energy to understand them is the first step in healthy communication.
This is why we see men with a lower level of understanding of their partner’s emotions. In addition to an inability to understand their partner’s reactions and why they happened. This happened as a result of a long life of emotions suppression and teaching little boys that crying is not acceptable, as it is a female trait they shall not have. Men often feel that these emotions are stopping them from fitting in with the boys. Hence, they hide these emotions to fit in.
No, it does not stop at showing emotions
When I had a boy haircut, no one looked down at me, knowing I look masculine. No one told me to “woman up” or disrespected me for looking masculine. I received standard opinions. As some told me I looked better in long hair and others told me it looked good on me. In contrast, every long-haired guy I know said to me that people never cut them slack. They bullied them, called them names and disrespected them just because they had a long hair cut. Some people even refused to befriend them because they believed that long-haired guys are not “real men.”
When I asked my male friends if they ever faced any bullying because of doing something, society considered it “girly,” they had horrific answers and situations. One friend told me that when he was growing his hair, his friends started telling him that he looked “gay.” His family relatives told him that he looked like a girl and needed a haircut to look “manly.”
Walking down the streets in some areas felt like hell to him. It was impossible to go for a simple walk without a random guy sticking his head out of a car window to call them a name or to tell them to cut their hair short and look like a man.
The problem did not stop at long hair problems, but there’s a whole list:
- Doing house work
- Having a skin care routine
- Removing body hair
- Wearing accessories
- Wearing a headband
Fear of femininity
Research published in 1981 by James M. O’Neil in The Journal of Counseling and Development discussed fear femininity. Some men go through it because of what they learned in their early childhood up to adolescence. These men are afraid to show vulnerability thinking that society will label them as weak, fragile, dependent, or submissive. Equally, some women fear doing the same.
In this research, James argues that avoiding being in touch with our feminine side has a pattern that individuals go through. This pattern includes restrictive emotionality. Restrictive emotionality happens when a person is not capable of understanding their own emotions. It can also be defined as denying others their rights to express their emotions.
Four erroneous assumptions connect the fear of femininity and restrictive emotionality:
- Emotions, feelings, and vulnerabilities are signs of femininity, and therefore they avoid them.
- Men seeking help through emotional expressiveness are immature, weak, dependent, and therefore feminine.
- Interpersonal communication emphasizing emotions, feelings, and intuitions are considered feminine, and they also avoid them.
- Emotional expression may expose inner fears and conflicts that could portray the man as unstable, immature, and unmanly.
Why do these stereotypes exist?
These fears exist now because society devalues women’s emotions and reactions. Even though women do not get the same criticism as men for being emotional, they receive disrespect to their reactions and their emotions because of showing vulnerability. This disrespect and devaluation were the cause of fear of femininity in all genders.
Men are afraid to be in touch with their feminine side. They are so afraid that if they do so, they will face the same treatment and disrespect women face. Some others are afraid because they disrespect and mock women’s vulnerability. Therefore, anything that could lead to showing emotions is unacceptable to them. They don’t want to be what they disrespect and mock.
In conclusion, men are victims of their own stereotypes, stereotypes, and roles they created. They created these stereotypes because of their disrespect and devaluation towards women, and then they suffer from it.
The only way to end this is to break the cycle; by talking about our emotions, appreciating both our feminine and masculine sides to be able to carry out healthy relationships. By telling boys that it is okay to cry, it is okay to express their emotions. The only way for men to have positive masculinity is by appreciating both their feminine and masculine sides and not letting one overshadows the other.