A thread to discuss masculinity

My current work environment is generally pretty good at good at this from what I’ve seen as in the code of conduct clearly spells out how seriously the company takes sexual harassment.

Other places I’ve worked in weren’t so great. Still remember someone wearing an I (recycle symbol) girls t-shirt to work :expressionless:

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Hi :slight_smile:

I think I agree with your point about ambiguity with regards to masculinity, although I started the discussion upthread about “positive masculinity”, I actually don’t think it’s a good thing to put too much energy into defining it. It’s perhaps more important to encourage men to build an identity that doesn’t rely on gender (I’m basically rehashing an earlier point by, here).

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I was speaking to my partner last night about her experiences when “going out” during evenings/night time. I realised I was totally naive to think she had a general dislike of nightlife and naturally preferred to stay in…because she was clear that the whole idea of dancing/generally having fun was very appealing…if she wasn’t constantly exposed to sexualised behaviour when out. It was pretty sad, in all honesty.


Not sure what masculinity means, tbh. Such fluid, meaningless term that means a million different things to million different people. What does femininity mean? Don’t feel ashamed just for being a ‘man’ or ‘masculine’ either, which seems to be the direction of the thread tbh.

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Possibly, but I suspect that attitude would get stamped on pretty quickly these days

Like Sheeldz, the concept of masculinity made me feel like shit growing up. I’ve never felt ‘manly’ in any sense, and that was quite confusing when I was younger. Generally I’m much more ‘feminine’, if we’re going to label things traditionally. Useless at DIY, rubbish at sports, no deep voice. Still, at least I’ve never felt the need to use my advantages in size and strength to intimidate anyone, or worse.

These days I’m much more comfortable with it. It seems quite clear that we’re heading towards a big change in the way gender and gender roles are percieved, and that can only be a good thing in my eyes. The less kids feel pressure to be/act/look a certain way, the better. Bring it on.

A big part of why I’ve never felt masculine is that I have gynecomastia. I’m a big chap anyway, but even when I’ve got slim(ish) my moobs have jutted out way further than my belly, and it’s something that has always hugely affected my confidence and self-esteem. Having something so visibly ‘female’ on my body has at times felt incredibly humiliating, emasculating and shameful. I’ve never thought these things because it’s a feminine quality, but more because of how society (bloody society, grr) treats men with this condition (and indeed all physical imperfections). I’m hoping that as time goes by and things change, I’ll start to have more of a ‘who gives a fuck’ attitude towards it, but I’m not there yet.

Societal pressures, the media, school bullying, etc etc has massively shaped my personality, my mental health, my sexuality. In general, I think I’m a pretty open-minded, liberal and logical chap, and I know that stuff like this doesn’t really matter- at least not to people worth giving a damn about. So why does it rule huge sections of my life? Why does it make me depressed, why do I spend hours fretting about it, and why does it stop me being social? Here’s hoping at some point I can fully make that connection and feel comfortable ‘doing me’.

Edit: not all of that is relevant to this discussion, but I think I needed it.


This phase I think is key to a lot of what people have said above. Just because something is masculine, doesn’t make it inherently good or bad, and the same goes for feminine things. The issue comes when society takes those categories and ascribes them to be desirable and things for men/women to aspire to. And that goes for both genetic characteristics (deep voice springs to mind) which we can do sod all about anyway and gendered roles, be it that the masculine role is the “provider” down to the frankly silly idea that @wonton alluded to above that the idea of becoming a male nurse is a bit weird.

Of course, society is getting better at some of this and it’s better in the West than much of the East, but there’s a lot of ingrained stuff around this for society to deal with still.

Then I’m glad you felt you could get it all out here :slight_smile:


As a side note, I’m also quite glad that the DiSism MTFU seems to have died a death. There’s nothing wrong with being unsure/nervous about things, and as far as I can tell there’s nothing masculine as far as I can tell about just getting it done regardless.


god did we really use to say stuff like MTFU?! I bet we did :frowning:

Yeah also struggled w this, used to cry all the time in school :frowning: which obviously didn’t go down well, stuff like that
Still have difficulty feeling comfortable around most other men, makes me sad that me and my dad have so much in common but there’s still a layer of awkwardness between us.

Think one thing us men can do better is be more persuasive in arguing for feminism as a solution for the stuff that men do struggle with, to counter all the MRA shite that’s everywhere


While #metoo was something people are doing, I don’t know how appropriate that would be, but I definitely agree with the sentiment of it. I definitely have at some point - I know for a fact that I had whole issues around being possessive about women, and that I felt like I was owed something when feeling something for them - that’s obviously wrong, and I spent a whole bunch of time working that shit out through counselling and a whole lot of introspection…

I like to think I’m a bit better with that now; I am at least more aware of my own feelings, and feel better-placed to deal with them, but yeah. The idea of #ihave is something that happens, or at the very least that #metoo does make men consider what we can do to improve ourselves.

Really don’t want this thread to become exclusive, like you’re implying here. I think discussions about masculinity, which you touch upon as well, should be how it should be more of a “broad church”, accepting of a wider range of people.

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This reminds me - was out running at one point about 8 or 9 years ago. Was wolf whistled at by one of a group of guys - I assume because of shoulder length hair, slim build and running tights. Got an apology about 5 seconds later “Sorry mate”, which can only be because I’m not a woman. Really should have stopped and told him he didn’t need to apologise because I was a guy, but just stop behaving like a sexist pig. Instead I ignored him and carried on, and shamefully I suspect I still would today :frowning:

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It is one of the things that really dismays me about the MRA; that some of these people have been led to believe that those ideologies are out to help the insecurities and sadness they may feel. There needs to be better education about feminism (and the fact that there are multiple kinds of feminism, etc.) to show just how much of it has everyone’s best interests at heart.


I found a lot of what you’ve written incredibly relevant, and I can empathise with a lot of those feelings, especially when it comes to growing up. I still have a lot of improving to do, and my attitudes still require challenging…but these days I’m thankful that I was quite feminine and almost asexual growing up…although at the time it made me feel seriously inadequate. I think I’ve got my parents to thank for this…including my dad who has been the antithesis of a “macho” man…and is someone I’ve become increasingly proud of as I’ve grown up. Really sorry to hear about all the phobic stuff you’ve endured over the years…it’s another thing we need to take responsibility for changing.

This is an interesting point when related to earlier discussion about what “masculinity” might be. Because it’s been ingrained for generations that certain characteristics are inherently positive…perhaps that makes it impossible to find positive male traits in the modern age, as they have always historically held an unfair advantage (not sure if I’ve explained myself very well there).

And wrt @shrewbie and @manches, I often find it incredibly frustrating when people try to link male suicide prevalence to “Men’s Rights”…as if all the other bullshit that they go on about isn’t the sort of stuff that directly contributes to that horrific statistic.


I have to admit that I hadn’t thought of this…

A quick Google search seems to point to Judith Halberstam being an important figure in this, so hopefully this extract is worth reading:


Quite like the idea that masculinity/femininity are purely expressions of sexuality/personality, i.e. a man or woman (or non-binary) can be as masculine or feminine as they like, across a whole spectrum of expression. I guess it’s kind of like the idea that our sex is inescapable, but how we express our gender should be entirely up to each individual.


Absolutely, you’re right to point out how fluid it should be too…there shouldn’t be any pressure for people to be “set” on their gender identity and feel compelled to stick to it.

Isn’t this a fairly well established idea? Welcome to post-Marxism xylo

I take her point (and it’s absolutely fair for her to want those things), but I’d also take issue with the way she puts it - it gives the impression that a proper man has to embody masculine traits and the rest of us - we’re not really men.

Obviously it’s not as bad as much of the sexism and the like that women have to face (y’know, woe is me, making this all about men etc.), so dealing with that in society is absolutely more important but it is something that sooner or later also needs addressing :slight_smile: