Should Masculinity have more than one Definition?

Our generation has been challenging and grappling with an important question: what does it mean to be masculine? Does it mean to be “manly” — or does it simply mean being comfortable in your own skin?


Rodrigue Gomado

Although masculinity is stereotyped as “being a breadwinner” or doing ¨manly jobs,¨ masculinity has many different facets and nuances; there is no single definition or type of masculinity.

Rodrigue Gomado, Staff Writer

Should a male be deemed unmasculine because they don’t choose to do a manly job? The term masculinity refers to the roles, actions, and characteristics that are deemed appropriate for boys and men. Masculinity is socially, historically, and politically produced rather than biologically determined. 

A “real man” shouldn’t be a label for someone who stays away from “girly” colors or being gay; it should mean that you’re comfortable in your own body and skin. Freshman Aya Harrell thinks that a man should be someone who can be respectful to someone and that owns their personality and doesn’t change it because of the world standard. “A real man is someone who is respectful to women regardless of who’s around, someone one with their own personality,” Harrell said. 

Men should not tell other men what makes them manly; being gay, wearing pink, or having a lot of friends that are women should not mean you’re not manly. Harell said that being “a ‘real man’ shouldn’t be a label for someone who stays away from ‘girly’ colors or being gay.” Masculinity has nothing to do with you liking a color that society sees as “girly;” the issue is that small things that girls do all of a sudden becomes unmanly or  “only” for girls.

Freshman Wardah Islam said that our generation has created many different meanings for the word “masculinity,” such as not being gay, having a “manly” job, or being the bread winner in your family. “My definition of masculinity is being comfortable in your own skin, being able to own up to your own mistakes, and just being mature,” Islam said.  

Being comfortable in your own body should be something that everyone can feel, no matter male or female. But when a male with mental issues tries to seek help, he is told to suck it up or man up. In 2020, men died by suicide 3.88x more than women. “If a guy says, well my sense of being a man means that I can’t disclose any vulnerabilities, because that will make me look weak, if something [like depression] does come up, what do I do with that? I have to keep it to myself,” said John Oliffe, founder and lead investigator of the Men’s Health Research program at UBC. Some men believe that they need to be strong, or that “real men” don’t struggle with mental illness, mainly because of the way they were raised and society.

But all these labels completely miss the fundamental meaning of masculinity:  that you are comfortable with being yourself. In an article written by Jor-El Caraballo,“What is Healthy, Respectful Masculinity?” Caraballo states, “ healthy masculinity can be important on both individual and societal levels. Men, across backgrounds, die more prematurely than women. Men, more so than women, also tend to struggle with maintaining meaningful friendships throughout their lives.” Because of this masculinity standard society has built, men have struggled to feel comfortable with themselves.

This issue can be fixed if the world we live in would just let go of the ¨manly¨ standards we have. Being unable to be comfortable in our own skin should not be a cause of  early death, and I feel like if we let go of the standards that we make boys and men feel like they need to have, maybe this wouldn’t be an issue at all.

Listening is a big part of just being a good human being, and it’s something the world needs more of as more men cry out for help trying to be comfortable in their own skin. Sophomore Elijah Dangerfield believes it’s a big part of being a “real man.” “A ‘real man’ is someone who listens first before he speaks and tries to understand rather than just listen,” Dangerfield said. 

Being masculine should not be defined by only one definition, but should only be defined by what someone does that makes them feel masculine. You can wear any type of clothing, or be a male attracted to the same gender, and be masculine. Transgender men are as masculine as a biological male. 

Across our student body, masculinity is seen as being who you are and not being afraid as a man to be perceived as “unmanly” or “gay.” Being masculine can be whatever you want it to mean, not what society defines it as. RRHS and our student body does a good job on advocating for healthy masculinity, but we should always remember that letting people be comfortable with themselves is a good thing.