America’s Next Bill Clinton!

Of love and masculinity

For the last few weeks, I’ve become more interested in exploring the theories of masculinity in feminism. This came after charges were brought up that I was still hanging on to male privilege – and that my tendency to compete, be violent and even my ambition to grab power and go into politics are signs of male privilege. Because of that, I will be exploring male privilege and masculinity a lot in my notes.


One thing I’ve noticed a lot – sometimes in my own life, but in other men’s lives, is their reaction to a rejection of love – and how, no matter how genuine they were in wanting to get to know someone, a rejection drives them into showing their masculinity.

It is, as if, a rejection of love is a challenge to their “manhood” and masculinity – speaking volumes of their maleness when they are rejected. More over, it also says something – coming from a male perspective, that they’re not manly enough and that they don’t have what it takes.

The rejected man, his ego and self emasculated, takes it upon himself then, to re-energize his manhood. How does he do this? He does this by being a womanizer. This does not always have to be about sex – but sometimes does include it. He has to prove to himself (not to others because the rest of the world probably doesn’t know or doesn’t give a damn) that, much like Stacy’s Mom, he still has it going on.

He has to prove to his close circle of friends that he still has it. That he can still get women – even if it just means them falling for him, and him rejecting them. This reinforces his masculinity and ability to attract women. I am not a fan of evolutionary psychology, but I think that there’s some truths hidden in that idea when mixed with masculinity.

This brings up a paradox: if women are seen as less than men, and if what is “feminine” – or belonging to women – is considered negativity, then why does a man, in his manhood, need a woman to elevate his status and to make him feel good about himself?

The reason I bring this up is that I am beginning to realize that masculinity can hurt us all. It hurts us in that our relationships and interactions aren’t defined by who we truly love or care for, but rather, how does our interaction with that person make us feel? Further, it also opens doors to less-than-desirable relationships, in which the purpose isn’t to nurture and to share and to love, but to boost one’s ego.Also – in such cases, the victims are also the women who fall for men who feel like they need to be with these women to feel boost their masculinity. When come to find out that they’re not in it for the love, but rather, their status, women are hurt.

Moreover – it does make one wonder: did this man want to get into the relationship with the original and supposedly true object of his affection because he truly felt something for her, or was it just to boost his masculinity?

Love, after all, isn’t defined by how you react if your romantic advances are welcomed. It’s how you react if your romantic gestures have been turned down.


8 Comments so far
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Maybe I’ve been lucky. but my experience with men (and watching those of friends around me), I think you describe a minority of men in this showmanship aspect and especially this wanting to use women just to boost one’s ego. Furthermore, I don’t think those things are unique to men– there’s also a significant number of women who act in the same ways. We all, to some extent, suffer bruising to our egos when we’re rejected, and we all, in our own ways, search for ways to boost our egos back up. Women often have man-bashing sessions of girl time after a breakup, and girl’s nights at bars where you hit on every man in sight.

As for your last line… I don’t think love is defined my either of those things. Love is a feeling that would be there regardless of how your advances are reacted to.

Comment by Marcy

Marcy – understood and point taken. I suppose I make the connection because most of my break-ups have been friendly, and we’ve remained friends, as have been the case with unrequited love for me.

It seems, though, that when faced with these romantic situations, women are socialized to talk to their friends, whereas males, in need of showing off their masculinity, have to go out and prove something.

Hmmmm. I don’t know.

Comment by profeministmale

There is a new collection of essays coming out in a couple of weeks and I think the book would interest you. My professor edited it and it reminds me of a lot of the things you talk about on feministing.

Comment by Megan

Megan – thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out!

And I see that your IP address says you’re from CSULB! I am from Orange County and briefly considered CSULB!

We could have been classmates.

In any regard – GOOOOOOOO BEACH!

Comment by profeministmale

Wow, that’s high tech. Shit, I couldn’t even figure out how to turn that link into a word.

That’s pretty cool, I like CSULB pretty well. Our Women’s Studies department is great and we’ve had a fair few pro-feminist men come through as well. Keep on doing what you do, someone needs to. Feminist props.

Comment by Megan

Gender is a really important thing when it comes to the mating game (for lack of a better word for that whole love, sex and relationships type area). It’s the one trait that remains, for the majority of people, a consistant pattern among their partners.

When a person is flatly turned down, his/her (from here on out, I’m using “ria” as the gender neutral singular possessive) sense of riaself as a man or as a woman is being challenged directly. Subconciously, in ria mind, what’s going on is this: “I expected rin to say yes. But ri said no. Am I not the type of (wo)man ri desires? Am I not a (wo)man at all in ria mind? I’ll show rin! I am a (wo)man.” And then go on to gender stereotypical behavior, and some hitting on all living things with appropriate genitalia.

Comment by RJ

The reason I bring this up is that I am beginning to realize that masculinity can hurt us all

Well, it can, but masculinity is, after all, mostly a social construction. The shorter version is that a certain version of masculinity is harmful and destructive both to men and women, but masculinity (or manliness or whatever you want to call it) is not harmful by definition.

Comment by Mike

Yes dont be a man dont be masculin, it can hurt everyone,. Must be a woman. womens ways are the only way/ I think i am sick now reading all of this crap..

Comment by Troy

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