The feeling that men should be violent, strong, protective, supportive, and so on is some of the traits that society brainwashes our men into embodying today. Men who are weak or do not make the income for the family, stay at home dads, are often ridiculed for not being “man enough”. This is what we call the masculinity crisis that is happening in todays world. There are numerous individuals that agree with the claim that Men should just “be men” and there is nothing they could do to change that. It is biological, some might say; but it is not biological. In fact, there is proof, not just for men, but for women that a social place in their social circles that can influence one’s behaviors. Even though there are countless institutions that could be brought up to help show how places in our society could be affecting young boys. There are three main social institutions (fraternities, parties, and the military) that will be discussed in this paper.
First there are Fraternities, an enormous part of some young college boys school life. There are fraternities almost in every college across the United States and they are easily one of the major social influences on some young adult boys’ lives. Boys in that group have a way to act and social standing within the fraternity. They are expected to go out, get drunk, and do the standard activities that fraternities have always done. In some instances, this is a good thing, like community service, but in some cases, it is more of the crazy fraternity parties. In Foste and Davis studies, a college boy named Trevor spoke about his experiences, “The way his friends persuaded him to party with them was to ask if he was a girl, as if real men drink and girls choose to do homework” . Therefore, boys who didn’t want to do the standard norm that the other boys in the fraternity would do would get ridiculed and called being a girl, or being a pussy (Foste and Davis, 8). This shows just how much a fraternity could be potentially brainwashing boys into being the stereotypical type of man that society sees today.
Parties, or even clubbing is the second social gathering where in most cases, most of its participants are highly intoxicated. Men are assumed to either be violent or having sexual relations while partying or clubbing. It could either be the alcohol influencing them or even just peer pressure that they must participate in violent or sexual activities. Of course, similar to the fraternities, men are expected to go out and not “be a wimp”. To drink either beer or hard liquor and if he tries to drink any other type of beverage he is called a girl for drinking a “girly drink”. In David Masciotra’s article, it states he “broke the law by nursing a miller light” . Meaning that at the party the men there had their own code and that they had to “man up” and drink an excessive amount of alcohol and not lightly sip on drinks. Then there are some instances where a woman is either being harassed by another man, or even has an attempt by someone to drug her drink: and if a man is not the perpetrator he needs to be the protector. Women at a party expect that; they want a masculine man to come and rescue them (Masciotra, 1-2). Men are also not supposed to be someone who watches a woman get harassed or drugged (Katz). Jackson Katz calls this in his Ted-Talk, Violence Against Women: It’s a Men’s Issue, the “bystander approach” and it is the idea that men need to step up and not remain quiet in the face of adversity. That the bystanders in all these acts are partly responsible as well as the people directly involved (Katz). To summarize, even women push for men to always either be violent and abusive or someone who is there to protect them from these other violent men.
The third social institution that makes men feel that they must be strong, and masculine is the military. This might seem like an obvious finding to most people since the military trains their people to be tough and ready for combat. Like stereotypical army movies, the life at a base is portrayed as rough. Most younger cadets are yelled at all day and put down mentally by their superiors. By doing that they make their soldiers more masculine and fit for the hardship of their duty. Every branch of the military holds each one of their people to a high standard and often ridicule servicemembers of lower ranks to make them tougher. “The Navy definition is like the big muscles, while being appropriate, but having like, maybe like a dirty mouth or stuff. You have to act like a man. And you have to prove it” (qtd. in Foste and Davis, 9). Men and women are not allowed to show any weakness and are supposed to be ferocious in combat. Especially the Marine Corps, the Marines are known to be tremendously aggressive and are considered to be the most bad of the bad. All Marines are extremely masculine and are required to be, if they are to thrive in their social circle.
In summation, there are many places in society that have been contributing to the masculinity crisis by telling men that they must act a certain way. Not just at home but in social life and work life as well. Like what Raisin said in his article, “Performing a man is not the same thing as being a man” (Raisin). Men should not have to act aggressive just because their social groups put peer pressure on them. Men should be able to express themselves just as much as women, but instead they are trapped in an unforgiving social climate. Because of this, men must find alternate means to release their emotions. Whether that be physical activities, reading, drawing, or even violent acts (Raisin). There are other cases where there are projects in society that are meant to help and be an influence to younger boys (St?pie?). One example of these programs where in St?pie?’s article. St?pie? talks about Man Up, a program that originated in Ireland, that is supposed to “promotes men’s strength as not being in muscles but in active participation of men in preventing domestic violence. This campaign also encourages men to speak up about their emotions because ‘silence can kill’” (St?pie?). This shows that if we could have more Positive Social institutions in the world to prove to men that they do not have to be overly violent or be overly sexual in any way to be a man. To help show that it is okay to be emotional and not have to resort to different, unfavorable acts to release that emotion. Maybe after reaching a point where it is tolerated for men to emotionally express themselves, society can come up with a solution to the masculinity crisis.
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