A New Construction of Masculinity
Boys and young men learn early on that being a real man means you have to put on this tough guy persona. This persona’s manifestation are hyper-masculinity or machismo, independence, isolation, territorialism, inability to show emotions, inability to initiate emotional ties with other men, inability to recognize their need for community and sharing (Heath, 2003). In contrast with the construct of masculinity in classical Greek literatures where male-male relationships are part of the norms, and oftentimes very complex, our definition of masculinity is quite bit on the conservative side. This paper will attempt seek an explanation for this gap in construction of masculinity through exploration of gender roles in these two time periods and going further to decode the mechanisms of romantic love.
The development of masculinity starts evolution and ends with social conditioning (Helen, Arthur, & Lucy, 2006). To contrast the characteristics of a modern masculine man, let’s take a look at Achilles from Homer’s Iliad. Achilles is the pinnacle of masculinity in classical Greek literatures. He’s strong, independent, and assertive (Hom. Il.). Achilles is not afraid to show his affection to another man (Hom. Il.). This is perhaps the single biggest difference in the construct of masculinity between the two time period. Ancient Greece men were more open about their emotions. There are evidences that support the theory that the development of gender characteristics and gender roles are tightly coupled with evolution (Helen, Arthur, & Lucy, 2006). Sexual selection favors strong, dominant males who are perceived to be high in fitness. These traits evolved purely through a process of trials and errors that took place across multiple generations (Helen, Arthur, & Lucy, 2006). Males who didn’t have the favored traits could not find a mate and perished, their inferior traits died with them (Helen, Arthur, & Lucy, 2006).
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