Masculinity: Gender and Violence

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Being a male in today’s society is not about living and enjoyment, it has become more of a task. Social pressures and media have made it difficult for males to live a life in which they are not being pressured to act or perform a certain way. In order to reassure themselves of their masculinity, violence has become the main method in assuring themselves and those around them that they are powerful. Not only is this violence being perpetrated against others, but self-inflicted violence also exists. The violence being used is not only physical but it is emotional abuse as well. Masculinity has forced many males to perform in ways that are detrimental to their own health as well as their loved ones. Furthermore, it has also put males in the position to display hatred against those who do not measure up to a certain degree of maleness. This can eventually cause harm to those individuals portraying characteristics that are less masculine. The definition of masculinity must be explored and refined in order for this cycle of violence and hatred to culminate. Finally, this type of hyper masculinity and suppression of emotions is leading boys and men towards depression and more anger. Therefore, through the examination of violence against themselves and others, stifled emotions and societal influence, it is evident that masculinity is an ideological construct that must be redefined, as it is leading towards the destruction of men.

As society develops, so does society’s definition of their surroundings. Masculinity has been developed into an act which must be displayed by males in order to stay masculine. In most cases, if a man is seen showing female characteristics, he is ridiculed and discriminated against. As Kaufman notes that while many of the characteristics associated with masculinity are valuable human traits-strength, daring, courage, rationality, intellect, sexual desire-the distortion of these traits in the masculine norm and the exclusion of other traits (associated with femininity) are oppressive and destructive (3). Although these characteristics are valuable and treasurable, it is masculinity itself that distorts these characteristics by giving them new meanings and bringing about new expectations out of males. Furthermore, it is important to explore the roots of masculine violence. In order to redefine masculinity and to solve the issues that follow it, it is crucial to examine where these issues ascend from. As Kaufman suggests, much of the sociological analysis of violence in our societies implies simply that violence is learned by witnessing and experiencing social violence: man kicks boy, boy kicks dog (6). It can be concluded from this that violence is something that is learned. It is something that grows and cycles after it is witnessed. Consequently, Kaufman suggests that such experiences of transmitted violence are a reality, as the analysis of wife battering indicates, for many batterers were themselves abused as children (6). In some cases, many men are abused as children and see violence as a way to solve disputes within the household and as they grow older, they believe it is acceptable to use violence with their own children and spouse. It becomes a constant cycle of violence. Additionally, violence has long been institutionalized as an acceptable means of solving conflicts (Kaufman, 5). The acceptance of violence as a problem solver shows that violence is a method in which males can emphasize and preserve power. It would be seen as feminine to solve problems in a peaceful manner and to avoid violent confrontations. As a result of this, males would be ridiculed and teased for not solving their issues through violent measures. The message that masculinity conveys to young males is that being a man means being violent. Moreover, masculinity is a way of showing power and declaring that power over other individuals. This power is then used to exploit individuals who do not contest masculine power. As De...
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