Masculinity is defined as a set of attributes, behaviours, and roles associated with boys and men, WHO KNEW? Hegemonic masculinity...
Masculinity is defined as a set of attributes, behaviours, and roles associated with boys and men, WHO KNEW? Hegemonic masculinity is a kind of power system in our society that legitimizes the dominance of men and JUSTIFIES the subordination of women and other marginalized bodies. It is a concept that has been widely critiqued and analyzed but the purpose of its existence is to create a gender hierarchy in order to understand gender relations.
Recently, I have learned that these standards of manliness or masculinity vary across different cultures and historical periods. This is because not everything is influenced and then viewed in the same light. Traits traditionally viewed as masculine in western society include courage, independence, assertiveness, and violence. These characteristics are deemed powerful and dominant over the expected feminine submissive woman. More often then not, that violence is usually directed at women in various ways. For example, words that are used by men towards women can be violent resulting in the man exhibiting hegemonic masculinity.


When boys or men screw up, it is often tolerated with a ‘boys will be boys’ mantra that is nauseating at best and dangerous at worst. Men typically get a pass for bad behaviour because of this mantra. Sometimes a pass and a pat on the back. I, personally, find this societal norm extremely insulting as a human being. This saying gives boys the power of being able to get away with anything, whereas girls do not have this same pleasure. Men and women are equal, or should be in everyone’s eyes. Neither is better than the other.
Some obvious sayings that can be seen as violent towards women are any number of derogatory words such as 'bitch' or 'slut'. Men are conditioned from a young age to ‘act like a man’, ‘don’t cry, don’t play like a girl.' Even though these words are not directly related to women, they are about women and therefore can be considered violent to women's well-being as a whole. These sayings result in boys being taught that ‘playing/running/acting’ like a girl is an insult and therefore they need to be powerful and dominant. If men are conditioned to think this way from a young age, then this is an example of how derogatory words become 'acceptable' as masculine power over women when men get older.
Now the bigger question is then, if acting like a girl is an insult what do some men really think of girls and women? When terms and sayings like these are constantly used and accepted, there is clearly no sense of equality for women. Due to the subconscious nature behind certain words that expect women to be submissive and in turn imply how men are not supposed to be like women, directly supports that these types of sayings are a result of hegemonic masculinity.
So the next time you speak, are you really saying what you want to say, or are you saying what you are conditioned to say? Are your words violent? Are your words supporting the power system of hegemonic masculinity?
Marissa Matthewsis a loud and opinionated 23 year old who is not afraid to challenge societal norms. She is a creative artist who loves entertaining and making people laugh. She's dabbled in performances such as theater, spoken word, poetry and stand up comedy. After graduation she hopes to focus more on her writing, performing, secure a fulfilling career in Ottawa, and continue her activist work. When she's not promoting body positivity and self-love on the gram, she is probably binge watching her new favourite netflix show, enjoying nature, or trying out a new coffee shop.