Back

Man up

Ever wanted to enjoy a good rom-com, but you’re worried your friends might question your manliness for it? There’s just that immensely heartwarming part that made you tear up a bit, but nobody can know because you can practically smell the Homophobic Seal meme comments coming from a mile away. If you’ve experienced anything like this, then you are without a doubt a victim of the douchebag disease, aka hypermasculinity.

 

Photo by Jose Mari Martinada

“What’s that? Some kind of heavy weightlifting exercise?”

Not quite, tough guy. The simplest way to put it would be that hypermasculinity is the belief that a real man is one that’s devoid of feminine traits, and being any less manly would be a huge blow to his ego, as said in The Huffington Post article entitled, Hypermasculinity Is A Plague On The Modern Man. (And yes, even though it isn’t literally a plague, you still can’t strong-arm your way out on this one.)

Some people seem to have the notion that the ideal man should be someone that can bench-press 500 pounds while beating the snot out of 20 Chuck Norris-level martial artists on the back of a moving pickup truck—blindfolded.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration—there’s nobody who can actually do that, and Chuck Norris is one of a kind—but the real standards aren’t any less absurd. Hypermasculinity imposes gender roles—in their most primitive sense, to say the least. Back in the day, we needed the whole “man-should-be-with-a-woman” thinking because people needed to reproduce to make their tribes bigger. Now that we can barely fit in an archipelago with a population denser than your crush, it’s safe to say there’s no need for that mentality anymore.

 

Photo by Jose Mari Martinada

Look what the hypermasculine cat dragged in

Naturally, if men hold themselves to unnatural expectations, there are bound to be serious repercussions. The social justice teen-based magazine Affinity points out several of them in their article 6 Illnesses/Injuries Hypermasculinity Can Cause, namely eating disorders, depression, consequences of misusing steroids, toe walking, over exhaustion, and consequences of using drugs for penis enlargement. Maintaining that tough guy front takes a lot of toll on your body, so it’s best to just drop the petty act and realize that femininity doesn’t equate to weakness.

Self-inflicted harm aside, a research on gender attitudes conducted in Mumbai, India states that the negative consequences of too much expression of masculinity include gender-based violence, sexual abuse of women, and homophobia. A society that oppresses everything non-male—it’s not a pretty sight.

So instead of an overly-badass “man among men” persona like some people think, what mostly results in being hypermasculine is just an unhealthy, grade-A dickhead in his all-encompassing ego. Don’t be that guy. And if you’re a girl, try not to end up with that guy. Bad boys might be your type, but you can do without a tinge of moron.

 

Photo by Jose Mari Martinada

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do

If we can come to realize that hypermasculinity is an ancient way of thinking that should have died with the dinosaurs, we can be one step closer to becoming a society more tolerant of people who sometimes express themselves as male, female, both or even neither—called gender fluidity. (Hooray for change!)

The next step would be for the authorities to make a move. An article called The Gender Spectrum greatly stresses this, encouraging elementary schools to support the children themselves, even if they don’t support gay rights or gender fluidity. Stephen Russell, a professor of family studies and human development at the University of Arizona, says that gender-diverse students have better chances of being successful “when there are available resources and support, whether it’s a clearly identified teacher with a ‘Safe Zone’ sticker on the door, an LGBT resource person on staff or a section of the library with resources for gender and sexual identity.” Start with the little things, and let it snowball from there.

A small part of the Philippine government (clearly the better part) has been pressing the issue further after being ignored for nearly two decades since the first bill had been filed in Congress. Senate Bill No. 1271 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros on December 7, 2016 aims to prohibit any unfair treatment to the LGBT community. Once passed, violators of the bill can be fined from P100,000 to P500,000 or imprisoned for 1 to 6 years, so if you still want to man up, get ready to pay up.

What’s the difference between hypermasculinity and Captain America? Both don’t belong in this century, but sadly, hypermasculinity isn’t fiction. It’s real, and it’s happening even in this University. You can pass a thousand bills, but ultimately, it’s up to us to bring about change. Open-mindedness isn’t a bad thing, much less being accepting of other ways of living—that’s called progress.

***

Being a man doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t have womanly qualities. Different people identify themselves differently, and that’s something we should all respect. There’s no longer a need to stick to watching action movies when you’d really like to see a good chick flick. Maybe you can grow out your hair and start wearing clothes that express yourself—your real self. Instead of striving to be the “better man,” it won’t hurt to be a better person.

 

Sources

1 – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/louis-michael/hyper-masculinity-man_b_13280034.html

2 – http://affinitymagazine.us/2016/06/02/6-illnessesinjuries-hypermasculinity-can-cause/

3 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101432

4 – http://www.tolerance.org/gender-spectrum

5 – https://www.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=17&q=SBN-1271