Monday, May 16, 2005

Demasculinisation of men.

I was asked to post this topic by a female blogger who wishes to remain anonymous. Make sure you answer the poll on the bottom of this column and leave your comments as this is the reason I post these topics.

Demasculinisation is defined as the removing of masculine characters or qualities. Is this happening in our society and why would it be of concern? Over the past 25 to 30 years, there has been an open movement to push men to reduce or control certain characteristics that at one time were considered "just being a man". A whistle from some construction workers was once a normal and sometimes desirable effect to a girl walking by in a short skirt. Now that same whistle is considered sexual harassment and illegal in some areas. In determining what characteristics should be controlled, it is important to define characteristics that are bad or hurtful to society, not just annoying. A whistle at a beautiful girl can be annoying, but is it hurtful? Behavioral traits that are deemed appropriate characteristics of a man are defined differently in each country. Example: My wife is walking down a sidewalk and is bumped by a young man. My wife says "excuse me" and the youth tells her to "f*ck off". I step forward and slap the youth's impertinent face. In some parts of the United states, I am arrested for assault. In other parts, I am commended for putting "him" in his place. In some countries, the youth could be dragged off by the police and "taught" a lesson. The idea that some of the masculine traits are ideal for certain situations or purposes has caused an identity crisis for the male gender. I would like to note here that women are enduring their own identity crisis and this can be discussed in a future post.

What are some of the stereo-typical masculine traits? Sexual aggressiveness, physical aggression and competitive nature seem to be the major traits listed. Decades of research strongly suggest that masculine traits are hard-wired in that they are hormaonally determined.

Fat Bastard's View

When researching "The Demasculinisation of Men", I came across many complaints and reports of men becoming demasculinised, but no definite reasons as to why this was. Some claimed that the portrayal of men in the "sit-coms" and commercials of today is more feminine and shows the men to be weak or bumbling buffoons. This idea can be further complicated by religious beliefs where conservative views declare any movement of the woman toward the workplace or the men toward domesticity as an affront to "Manhood." Though, I doubt if men taking a more active role in raising children or doing "house duties" is making men less men-like.

Today, some believe that both genders have equal capacities for all masculine and feminine traits. This newer belief may be flawed and causes distress for many. The traits of ambition, competition and dominance, which are stereotypically masculine traits and passive, nurturing, and dependence, which are stereo typical feminine traits are present in all of us. They help define us and how we react to different situations. Some are learned through our environment, but as stated earlier, some characteristics are the direct effect of our hormones.
It is true that the same protective drive that causes an aggressive response is treated differently in different societies. I do find it interesting that the societies that try to stifle these aggresive characteristics, later call upon them for times of civil unrest and war. The same characteristics that are complained about are called upon in defense of ideals. We are teaching that fighting and aggression are bad, but by the way, can you go kill for our country and our beliefs. This can be so confusing.

I feel that we are too hard on young boys and men when it comes to controlling their aggressive tendencies. We have a generation of "ritalin boys" that are put on drugs to control natural aggressive tendencies. My fear is that the move to control male aggression to a point of repression may be causing most of the violent reactions in schools and public arenas. While some good may come of our suppression of aggression, the overall effect may be worse. A few fist fights over a girl or other competitive or dominant issues seems acceptable when compared to mass killings in school or the work place. Rather than curtailing these drives, education on how to express them in a positive ways, may be of greater benefit.

The celebrated feminist and poet Audre Lorde, in her drive to help women's movement for equality wrote "...Because, differences that are nurtured lead to diversity, and diversity that is celebrated is the "springboard for creative change within our lives." Now this same concept needs to be applied to the young male and their natural drives. Now, we cant have young males running around with out any discipline, but where should the line be drawn?

In closing as always, I pose a question to you. If the same aggressive nature that causes some of these negative aspects, is linked to the same nature that creates heroes, what is the outcome of repressing this aggression. Can we do without the fire fighters and forest rangers that risk their lives for society? The men that cross dangerous flood waters to save our children. The man that faces a charging bull in an arena because a child has fallen over a rail. It reminds me of a story I read a few year back, where a woman was attacked by a shark. Her husband, swimming with her attacked the shark to protect his wife. The shark turned on it's attacker and killed the man. The woman lived and could tell the story of a hero husband. There are numerous stories of bravery and sacrificing of lives, just look at Sept 11th. How many men gave their lives to help those in need on that day.
Society is growing and will continually challenge human nature with intellectualism. There will come a point in time where idealism will go too far in suppressing our basic or hormonal drives. I do understand this and know that it is inevitable. I just hope we recognize the time this happens and find a balance where our drives and ideals can co-exist.

I am an aggressive person by nature. I have learned to channel this aggression to help society. It makes me a chivalrous person and allows my friends and family to feel safe in an increasingly dangerous world. I get up and help women put their heavy luggage away. I open doors and give up my seat. I am the first to step forward to protect the unfortunate. The best complement my wife ever gave me was when she said to me..."when I'm with you, I feel safe." It remind me of something written by Dr. Robert Humphrey:

Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer because I am there.
Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend.
Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there.