Feminism | Posted by Alec A on 10/4/2010

Redefining Masculinity

Newsweek: Man Up

Newsweek: Man Up

With all of this talk of the new woman, it only makes sense that society would begin to contemplate the new man. Newsweek attempted to transform a worn down male identity into a modern lifestyle. Though this may have been the goal of “Man Up!”, I felt personally insulted by this story. The message it sent to me was much less appealing, and frankly, quite narrow-minded.

According to this article, masculinity can only be defined within the domain of an archetypal American household. The modern man defines himself, as always, by his home, his wife, and his 2.3 children All the article suggests that men do is start to look after the kids some more. I have more faith in men than that.

To be a modern man, apparently six-pack Joe (dare I even use this banal paradigm?) just has to put down his bottle of beer and make sure that little Suzie isn’t choking on whatever it is children asphyxiate on these days. What kind of model is this for the modern man? Is it really progressive to essentially tell men to be who they have always been? The opening line states “guys need to embrace girly jobs.” Progress cannot be achieved if masculinity is being defined by its correlation to female gender roles, and gender reform cannot take place when we still assume these traditional positions. A man’s evolution can only happen when he begins to cultivate a true sense of masculinity that is related to who he is as an individual. Reinventing the masculine identity is not making yourself more feminine; rather, it is striving to become you.  Viewing yourself in an inverse relationship with femininity will not change a thing.

Newsweek suggested that the homosexual, or otherwise non-hetero population did not fall under this new definition of masculinity. I think that it is truly heinous to even imply that a new definition of masculinity has arrived if the sole criterion has not changed. This article limits masculinity to the typical heterosexual male, and does not even begin to consider everyone else that is out there (just a blanket statement for every type of person who identifies with the male gender). Also, if one follows this logic, if heterosexual males are the only men entitled to masculinity, then the heterosexual household is the only correct model that exists within this narrow mindset, taking away the legitimacy of homosexual couples and their families. Instead of rallying for progress, this article insists that men preserve their conservative views on masculinity with renewed fervor.

This terrifies me to be completely honest. I don’t really want to live through the 4th Great Awakening. This article is an attempt at conserving antiquated values through sugarcoating them with taking on women’s responsibilities. One can even point to the author’s flippant use of the phrase ‘coming out,’ and declaring oneself to be a father that needs to participate in the running of the household. Though the idea is great, it diminishes the power of the coming out experience, something that hurts me on a personal level. These men don’t have to radically change the way society will view them, they simply have to pick up some of the slack at home. This masculine institution blatantly rejects the homosexual male, and everyone who identifies with this gender.

By the end of this essay of ideas, the authors end up advocating “decorative masculinity.” It is deemed a form of escapism, in which men can assume the role of hunter, or Tarzan, or other stereotypical macho roles. “When the actual substance of their lives felt tight,” men should escape into a dream world instead of attempting to effect actual change in their lives where they could live with a fulfilling masculinity, and not a forgery. If men need to hide behind old idols of masculinity in order to feel manly, then masculinity in its current form is inherently false. Newsweek tells me that masculinity is escape from, well, masculine responsibilities, which is an intrinsic contradiction.  Men should not uphold a code that does not satisfy them, and we should aim to live lives that we can bear while still maintaining an adapted masculine model.

Though I found a good bone to pick with this piece of writing, it was informative nonetheless. It had interesting information about the current job market and the male/female ratios and how women have successfully infiltrated that market over the past several decades. Corporations are also recognizing the new responsibilities that a father has in the home, and many are offering a paternity leave so that fathers can spend time with their newborns. I laud what has been done to make men and women’s lives more equitable. I just question the idea of masculine progress that is presented here.

For men to advance, it has to be a change within the male community, and it cannot be a reaction to the changing needs of women. Also, a new masculinity requires that the definition of this identity be expanded to include every type of man, and all households in America. Inter-gender relations are still improving, but men seriously need to reconsider their premises. The article states that the “New Macho” is a paradox. It is a paradox because men are expected to change socially without transforming emotionally. The desired effect cannot happen without the appropriate cause.

Alec also writes for his own blog: B.A.M. Be A Man

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  • Quinc @ at 7:44 pm, October 4th, 2010

    So basically it’s a call to reform masculinity but only slightly? I’m not surprised unfortunately.

    To be fair, it is appropriate to admit that cleaning and childcare are “feminine” roles, since traditionally they are. Though as Newsweek fails to realize they don’t HAVE TO BE in the future.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t find the article online, but if the bit about “decorative masculinity” is true, it seems Newsweek is under the impression that a guy has to somehow compensate for anything feminine in his life…OR ELSE!

    Unfortunately lots of people seem to think that without masculine men and feminine women families and then society itself will fall apart. Newsweek seems to be trying to give suggestions on how to deal with shifting gender roles, while holding that idea in the back of their head.

  • Hope Springs Internal @ at 7:53 pm, October 4th, 2010

    I agree SO much with what you wrote in this article. It’s as if you took the thoughts from my head when I was reading Newsweek and posted them here. To be honest, I was shocked at how limiting the definition of masculinity was in this article. If I were a man, I would be seriously offended by the old-fashioned expectations of manliness that were presented in the pages of the magazine. If I had seen this article out of context, I would have believed it had been written in a completely different time period. I’m so glad you wrote about this here because I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only one who was shocked by Newsweek’s stereotypes!

  • Ryan @ at 12:48 am, October 5th, 2010

    The article is actually quite feminist in it’s perspective.

    It says “men are overrepresented in business and government” and should accept the death of male jobs brought about by globalization.

    It says men should spend more time at home and that businesses or government will pay us to do it. Women are our providers now.

    I think you are afraid of supporting men aren’t you? What’s the matter with men taking on traditional female work?

    Women acquire 60% of college degrees and young women professionals now make 8% more than men their age. The stimulus package was devoted to women as well. You have women first laws such as Affirmative Action.

    To be honest I think you intimidated by the idea of taking care of men while we stay home. You are scared of having to provide to us aren’t you??? You are afraid to financially support a man and his children after we leave you in divorce aren’t you?


  • Katherine C. @ at 11:51 am, October 5th, 2010

    I’m so tired of these misguided attempts to “redefine” “masculinity” or “femininity.” How about we all just finds what works for us and our families???? And if I were a guy reading this article in Newsweek I’d be like, “Oh, great, MORE constricting stereotypes for me to follw!”
    And @Ryan: um, the post was written by a GUY.

  • Ed Engle @ at 4:44 pm, October 5th, 2010

    Newsweek’s “Man Up” failed to mention several points; here are just a few:

    1. The economy is not changing; the economy is failing. Americans were sold snake oil that said you could send 67% of our manufacturing economy overseas while building the home economy mainly on services, retail, etc. As a result we have declining incomes, exploding public and private debt, and huge,chronic trade deficits. Welcome to the feminized economy.
    2.Affirmative action programs over 40 plus years have cost men millions of jobs.
    3.While its good for men to help change diapers and do other house chores, this won’t create a single job for men (or anyone else for that matter).
    4.Women get preferential treatment in a number of areas (ex: 7 federal agencies devoted solely to women’s health–zero for men)and that’s OK, but am getting tired of articles (and internet comments) that describe men as lazy. Most of us work our butts off to provide for others as well as ourselves.

    “Man Up” is just another self-indulgent exercise in political correctness.

  • Ryan @ at 7:29 pm, October 5th, 2010

    Man up! Is propaganda, it’s as simple as that. Monied interests benefit by feminism. Feminists have been advocating for this for decades.

    The article attempts to shame men if they do not accept a failed system and failed economy. Now that women have gotten what they ask for it is amusing to see them freak out about all this. I find thid F bomb article amusing!

    Personally, I hold women accountable for everything they have done. It seems they can’t handle leadership or dominance

    Now that women are the dominent sex, now that they passed Affirmative Action and other “women first” laws, now that they diverted the stimulus package to themselves though 80% of jobs lost have been to men, now that they make up the majority of college degrees, now that single childless women make more money per capita than their male peers (unless they have children and decide to make a man take care of them), now that they have all the rights over men’s bodies, the fruits of its labor and childten themselves, now that women have all of these things THEY ARE TRYING TO BACK OUT!

    No you will not get off that easy, you will be faced with the consequences of your own actions. This F Bomb article just goes to show you the irony. Women should now let men be the oppressed ones. It is men’s turn to stay home and be taken care of.

    You will be faced with the men that you created. You wanted to put yourselves first, YOU GOT IT AND NOW YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT CAN YOU!

    Utter silence on this article aye???





  • Layla @ at 9:10 pm, October 5th, 2010


  • Ryan @ at 10:32 pm, October 5th, 2010

    I just find it a perfect situation Layla. Women have completely gotten everything they wanted and then some. A service sector economy with no male jobs and women won’t take our place will you.

    Women have been complaining that men won’t contribute enough at home for decades. What’s the matter you don’t like out earning men? What’s the matter no stay at home Dad in your future family? You don’t want to marry a lower earning man? It now makes sense for men to stay home.

    It now makes sense for men to have a Raw wage gap. Let’s see if your woman enough to let men take on your gender role as you have unfairly taken on ours. I hope women get everything they ask for and then some. I want you to have all the “male privilege”. As The Atlantic magazine front page said, it’s “The End Of Men”.

    As The Economist magazine said “We did it” women are now the majority of the workforce. The moment of truth is here ladies, let’s see if you will do for men what we have done for you. I want you to continue female dominated curriculum models in primary schools. I want you to continue “women first” Affirmative Action law in job hiring and college admissions.

    I’m glad women had the Stimulus Package devoted to them (see: No Country For Burly Men by Christina Hoff Sommers) I really am. I’m glad you men don’t have the right to play a meaningful role in our children’s lives.

    I’m glad all the unemployed men are getting their unemployment garnished or are thrown in prison for failing to support a woman who left them. I’m glad women have 7 Federal offices on their health while men have none though we die 7 years earlier and are commiting suicide in record numbers.

    I want women to completely dominate and decimate the nations men, boys and fathers. I love to look at our record 40% single woman birth rate. I love that for the first time in American history there are more single never married adults age 25-34 than ever married.

    I want feminism to achieve ALL of it’s goals. Enjoy your jobs and your 60+% of college degrees. Enjoy the fruits of male labor you entitled yourselves to and all of your choices.
    A day of reckoning will soon be upon us where women will realize just who it was that enabled all their choices. This day is already here. I want women to get everything they said they wanted. EVERYTHING!

  • Ryan @ at 10:45 pm, October 5th, 2010

    “How about we all just finds what works for us and our families????”

    Please do Katherine! I can’t wait to call women out on their lies. Go ahead let’s see if you can handle being more “successful” than your upcoming generation of men…

    I can’t wait. I want women to out do us and see if they will take on all the “male privilege”. I want women to dominate EVERYTHING. Go ahead Katherine, go find yourself a beautiful man and a stay at home Daddy. Let’s see if you will appreciate men who are less successful than you and better yet marry them and financially support him both in marriage and after divorce like you currently force men to do for you. We get to take your children to Katherine….equality is a bitch aye?

  • Anna @ at 11:26 pm, October 5th, 2010

    You must have had a pretty awful divorce to be this bitter Ryan.

  • Quinc @ at 2:14 am, October 6th, 2010

    @Ryan you are such an idiot. “Man Up” and the “End of Men” were NOT written by feminists. The OP HATES “Man Up” because it’s not enough, & it still clings to old gender stereotypes. i.e. the exact opposite
    On the “End of Men” article:
    Also some more on these sort of articles from feministing:

    There have been plenty of examples of individual families who reverse gender roles given to you in previous posts, and you blithely ignored them all. But there will only be individual families because guess what Ryan?


    I’m sorry you’ve never seen a self sufficient woman. Apparently your expierience consists of traditional parents and some number of girlfriends obsessed with marriage fantasies, divorcing you when you don’t live up to it. But yeah, those weren’t feminists, quite the opposite in fact.

    Your vision of women wanting to tkae over men’s roles and failing seems like such nonesense.

  • Ryan @ at 2:33 am, October 6th, 2010

    No Anna only a father who had to sneek up to see me and forced to support the woman who left him from an empty apartment.

    No Anna only a brother who had to spend His life savings of $120,000 for the God given right to be a father.

    No Anna only a brother I watch struggle to get by while his unemployment money is garnished to support a woman who left him as MOST all family abandonment is done by women.70% of all divorce in fact. Do I want to have a family, do I want to be a father. YES BUT I CAN NOT!

    Think I’m a little angry Anna, yes I’m angry but I do not hate women I just want to make things better again. WAKE UP ANNA, WOMEN ARE THE SINGLE LARGEST VOTING BLOCK. LOOK THE LAWS YOU HAVE TOLD GOVERNMENT TO ENACT.

    Listen the 2010 census data has come in Anna and we now have the lowest marriage rates in American history. In fact the demographic is for the most eligible 25-34 age group. There are now more single never married people in this demographic than married! If the moderator would allow me to post links and graphs I would….I’m very passionate about this and yes I love women…..fundamentally….

    The single woman birth rate is also at an all time high if 40% of all births. I want to have a family Anna, I want to marry, I want to be a father but look at what has happened.

    There is vested monied interest in destroying the sacred bond between men and women Anna. I can only hope that women can understand what has happened since the American Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s. Look at what is happening Anna. Women are the key to solving this, they always have been.

  • Katherine C. @ at 11:01 am, October 6th, 2010

    Wow… the assumptions are staggering. The asumption that I am straight, that I would want children, that I want what appears to be a rather narrow definition of “success.” That I would marry someone and expect them to take on a role that I haven’t seen be fufilling in anyone’s life (that I’ve known of). I’m sorry that you have had such terrible experiences with the women in your life; I’m sorry your divorce appears to have been so horrible. I deeply wish that you could find a more appropriate outlet for your anger than misogyny and ranting on an online forum for teenage girls (who almost certainly haven’t done any of the things you accuse “women” in general of doing the the poor general “men”).

  • Ryan @ at 3:44 pm, October 6th, 2010

    If you are lesbian Katherine, these issues don’t concern you. Sorry about the assumption approximately 95% of people are straight and wish to form family relationships accordingly.

    You would have a vested interest in creating the problems I speak of because as a lesbian they are beneficial to your socio-political class.

    I’m talking to women who wish to have children & value the role of a father in their child’s life. With all due respect these issues don’t apply to lesbians. Come back when you are bound by the legal contract of marriage and we will have something in common.

  • Ryan @ at 3:50 pm, October 6th, 2010

    I’ve never been married and do not have children.

    Marriage entails liabilities of man man toward a woman. Women have no liabilities in marriage only men do. Most men I know do not plan to marry. Marriage rates have been on a precipitous decline since second wave feminism began and women changed the laws.

  • Tessa @ at 5:41 pm, October 6th, 2010

    “If you are lesbian Katherine, these issues don’t concern you.”

    I’ve always wanted to kick Ryan off of fbomb because his comments are stereotypical and generalize a whole lot. However, now his comments are HOMOPHOBIC. Why isn’t he being moderated? It’s clearly homophobic to marginalize a whole community and say that certain issues don’t affect them because of their sexual orientation.

  • Ryan @ at 8:01 pm, October 6th, 2010

    Before you line me up against the wall to be shot and executed I would like to express my last words if I may Tessa

    Katherine has expressed that she may or others may be lesbian, as such in a very literal fashion lesbians do not engage in the relationships with men question nor do they have the same legal constraints and ramifications of marriage as a factor as well. They can speak about the closest thing a lesbian knows of in terms of a relationship i.e. a woman and a woman but she is not a participant in the social, political and economic relations of men and women, she is an outside observer.

    In a very litteral sence, a lesbian is not affected by such things and although they are welcome to express their viewpoint, a lesbian and I have very little in common with the relationship dynamics between men and women which are the topic of discussion.

  • Anna @ at 9:16 pm, October 6th, 2010

    Alright Ryan, according to you marriage is a tool used by women after “the cultural revolution” of the 19060’s” to control men, make them impregnate us, and then steal there babies and livelihoods away from them. Here are some statistics about how women are victims or this marriage/rape culture that we live in. Mass victims.
    These are all statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Justice Bureau. Keep in mind these are just the statistics from people who have reported there cases to the police. It is estimated that at the very most %40 of victims ever report there abuse.

    -Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.

    -It is estimated that 503,485 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year in the United States.

    -Each year, medical expenses from domestic violence total at least $3 to $5 billion (talk about taking money away from the victim)

    -From 1983 to 1991, the number of domestic violence reports received increased by almost 117%(maybe this is why marriage rates are going down huh Ryan?)

    -The majority of welfare recipients have experienced domestic abuse in their adult lives and a high percentage are currently abused.

    -Studies by the Surgeon General’s office reveal that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44, more common than automobile accidents, muggings, and cancer deaths combined

    -Women who leave their batterers are at 75% greater risk of severe injury or death than those who stay

    -In 92% of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women.

    -Of women who reported being raped and/or physically assaulted since the age of 18, three quarters (76 percent) were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabitating partner, date or boyfriend.

    -In 2003, among all female murder victims in the U.S., 30% were slain by their husbands or boyfriends.

    *WOW Ryan, you are right, marriage sure seems to favor women. GOOD JOB little guy!*

  • Quinc @ at 9:28 pm, October 6th, 2010

    @Ryan, your comments imply a longing for the days of traditional marriages and gender roles. Back then being the “man of the house” meant being in charge and ruling over your wife and children. Obviously with great power (over your wife) comes great responsibility (to your wife). Apparently, even though feminists have taken away the power men had over their wives, you still feel that traditional responsibility.

    My guess: Your brother’s wife married him because he lived up to the ideals of that “traditional responsibility” but then divorced him when she realized that she doesn’t like being ruled over. If he treated her like she was incapable of independence (in accordance with what you’ve stated so many times) that is plenty of reason to divorce, maybe even take child custody.

    My worry is that you are blind to the power your brother probably exerted over his ex-wife. If you are convinced women absolutely require support, you probably see such power as completely natural, and as such are incapable of seeing the problems it poses for women.

    Modern women don’t want to be taken care of, but you’ll always try to do that unless you believe in a woman’s ability to be independent, which you don’t. This means that if you ever fall in love and get married, you’ll suffer the same fate as your brother.

  • Anna @ at 3:54 am, October 7th, 2010

    Initiate violence?

    “You make me do this to you” pops into mind. Blatant victim blaming

    I thought I might be able to get through to you, but you clearly need a lot more help than this blog for teenage feminists to support each other can give you. Try taking some anti-oppression workshops. Your local shelter might host some or know where you can go to find some.

  • Ryan @ at 4:15 pm, October 7th, 2010

    Female initiated means the woman is violent and does physical harm to a man first.

    The American Psychological Association informs that most violence is female initiated. I would like to challenge the moderator here at Fbomb to allow me to post sources.

    Men and women are now working together to dismantle the domestic violence industry. The truth is coming out! We have women like Erin Pizzey, Teri Stodderd, The Independent Women’s Forum and Ifeminists or “Individual Feminists”

    You will be exposed for what you have done. In the end it is the truth that will be victorious. The Men’s and Father’s Rights Movement is growing! If we can’t defeat you by direct action men will win by non participation in marriage and withdraw from women and the formation of family.

  • Ryan @ at 5:09 pm, October 7th, 2010

    Anna, I’m not sure you know what victim blaming is… I’ll say it again

    When surveyed, the majority of women say that it is ok to hit and abuse their male partner and that men deserve it when women commit violence and murder of men.

  • Sarah @ at 8:40 pm, October 10th, 2010

    Ryan, if you’re so concerned about women abusing men, then why don’t you go talk to women who abuse men? Since you most likely haven’t read any of the articles on this site, may I point out that in most cases violence is denounced? Go find these women who think men deserve to be hit and yell at them, your comments are redundant here.

  • Ryan @ at 10:02 pm, October 11th, 2010

    If you really believe in equal protection under law for men then I call on you to ammend VAWA Violence Against Women Act to cover male victims.

    What are feminists afraid of by not giving men the same protection under law??? Did you know that VAWA is used by women in cases of divorce to rob men of our children?

    This is why you do not want men to have equal rights.

  • Grey @ at 1:47 am, January 4th, 2011

    Why can’t articles just draw up the “ideal human being,” without any fucking stereotypes and just simple, positive adjectives like “compassionate, caring, ambitious” etc etc. Why do they have to divide them by the gender?

    And for the douchebag Ryan mentioned about the VAWA, unfortunately a lot of violence is directed specifically towards women, so they have to make a law to specifically address that. Ideally we wouldn’t need that but the world’s fucked up.

  • Matt SS @ at 2:24 am, June 16th, 2011

    since masculinity is defined as acting manly, or being manly, and being manly is correlated to a specific set of ideas and ideals and actions, why would you think changing the definition of the word radically would ever work? it would make more since to do away with the word entirely rather than change it. words embody concepts and a feminist or rather, humanist ethic, is not embodied by being masculine. if your goal is to unpack and then deconstruct gender roles, you need to disassociate having a penis from masculine behavior not try to redefine the word. thats just asking to fail.

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