Be physically strong. Be emotionally passive. Be sexually accomplished. Be violent. Be callous. Be cocky. The world is yours, you are entitled to anything and everything that you want. You can be anything and everything that you want. Wait, no! That’s not what I meant! You can’t be emotional, you can’t be weak. You can’t be sex-repulsed, you’re a man! Why won’t you throw the first punch? Girls don’t think it’s cute when you’re insecure. You can’t wear a skirt, that’s so gay! You can be anything and everything you want as long as we say it’s okay. You can be anything and everything you want as long as you conform with what’s expected from you. You can be anything and everything you want as long as it isn’t feminine. You can be anything and everything you want as long as it’s masculine.
Better yet—hypermasculine. Hypermasculinity—as defined by Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, I know)—is a psychological term for the exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior, such as an emphasis on physical strength, aggression, and sexuality. This concept is extremely harmful—toxic, for lack of a better word.
Little boys grow up not allowed to play with dolls or to like the color pink. They’re taught from a young age that they are physically superior—for example, when the teacher needs help with moving a desk or something of the sort, they ask, “Can I get a few boys to help me with this?”—and should engage in and pursue ‘masculine’ activities and interests such as sports, cars and video games. While this concept is extremely harmful to young boys, raising them to believe that they are confined to masculine stereotypes and expected to fit into these gender roles, it’s also harmful to young girls.
Hypermasculinity is not only the encouragement of masculinity, but also the discouragement of femininity. It equates femininity with weakness, with softness, with submission. It makes it sound undesirable and inferior. It makes it seem shameful to be born with two X chromosomes. Yes, it is as dumb as it sounds. This concept is so heavily enforced in our society that sayings such as “Be a man,” and “Man up,” are motivational, whereas “You’re such a p*ssy,” and doing something “Like a girl,” is seen as offensive. A group of boys, girls, or both boys and girls can be called “guys” but only a group purely composed of girls can be called “girls”. The expression, “Grow a pair [of balls],” is commonly used, but I’ve never heard anyone say, “Grow a pair of ovaries.”
Hypermasculinity is deeply rooted within our culture—it’s been prevalent for centuries. The idea that women are caregivers and men are breadwinners, the fact that women have to be near naked to be considered sexy while a man can be sexy while being completely covered in a suit, the common belief that casual sex is what makes a man a man while it makes a woman a slut. Hypermasculinity is the world’s obsession with conforming to gender roles. It enforces stereotypes and prevents people being who they want to be. Hypermasculinity stands in the way of abolishing gender discrimination, of reaching gender equality. You can be physically strong, but you don’t have to be. It’s okay if you’re emotionally passive, but it’s also okay to embrace your emotions.
It’s cool if you’re sexually accomplished, but it shouldn’t be an expectation. You don’t have to be violent, you don’t have to be callous, you don’t have to be cocky, but there’s nothing wrong with you if you aren’t. You really can be anything and everything you want to be. You are allowed to emotional. There is nothing wrong with lacking muscle. Not everyone finds sex appealing, and that’s one hundred percent okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a man. You don’t have to hit anyone. It’s not unnatural for you to feel insecure. Skirts are cute no matter who’s wearing them, and there’s nothing wrong with being gay. You can be anything and everything you want, as long as you’re making yourself happy.