The Modern Idea of Masculinity

I just went through an article in Mail Today (The Soft Side of a MAN…) discussing the idea of masculinity in our day and time. Well, when we talk of modern day man’s masculinity we are actually defining civilization in terms of primitive notions, which hits a discordant cord at time because the two ideas do not have a soothing common thread running across them. We are actually attempting to snip and chisel an idea that does not belong to our day to fit into our idea of how things are and should be. There are two words that define ‘masculinity’ in very certain terms – power and control. The means of power and control have changed today, so has our understanding of masculinity. But at the centre of masculinity the hint of brute force and coercion is always there. Without this underlying threat of brute force the idea of masculinity would ring hollow, whichever way you take it. Power is about dominating the will of others and control means being able to seize one’s own mind and reactions in times of extreme provocation. The reason for this confusion is that power today is not the same as it was in the Stone Age while our collective subconscious still harks back to the lost world. So, we think one way and feel the other way.

And yes, masculinity can only be defined contextually and only against the larger nurturing backdrop of the feminine. While it is true, that male perception is paramount when it comes to deciding whether or not a certain trait is masculine, it is equally true that the idea of what is masculine and what is not largely comes from the female perception of it. If a crying Shahrukh was not liked by his female fans, he would have fewer male fans.

Masculinity, as I indicated above, is a prehistoric idea buried deep in the subconscious. So, the man who sheds too many of tears is seen as someone who has somehow lost control over himself. It is logically correct that even males are human being and ‘should’ be allowed to be weaken and to breakdown once in a while, but this is not about the logical correctness of a situation, it is more about a subconscious reaction to an event. Being in control of one’s self and exercising control over other (power) is what a man is traditionally supposed to do, as he is the provider and the protector. The more powerful and the more in control he is, the better provider and protector the man is; and, therefore, more masculine.


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