Discouraging femininity harms men



Ballerinas pose en pointe.

Isabella Hesse, Staff Writer

In our society, masculinity and femininity are often associated with gender, rather than as an expression of self. Masculinity is considered an expression of manhood, the state of being a “real man,” and femininity is an expression of womanhood, the state of being a “real woman.”

Gender stereotypes tell us who we should be and how we should act based on our assigned gender, and we must not deviate from these expectations. In recent years, however, it has become more acceptable for women to express masculinity, but not so much for men to express femininity.

By today’s standards, the comparison between women expressing their masculinity to men expressing their femininity is treated completely differently. A prime example of this is how if a man wears a dress, he could be seen as not a real man, or gay, but it’s socially acceptable for a woman to wear a suit, which is historically a masculine trait. 

The same standard is also prevalent in language.

For instance, in the Italian language, where the word ballerina comes from, a female ballet dancer is a ballerina, and a male ballet dancer is a ballerino. However, the use of this word in the English language is simply “ballerina”, and a male ballet dancer is a “male ballerina.” This portrays female ballet dancers as the norm and male ballet dancers as the exception. Ballet is an expression of emotion, which is generally associated with femininity. 

Using this type of language unconsciously perpetuates the unacceptability of men expressing emotions, and further emphasizes, again unconsciously, that men should not express their emotions in the same way that women are allowed to.

The interesting thing about these ideals is, some men themselves unknowingly partake in perpetuating them, and as a result, victimize themselves. “Alpha male” podcasts such as Tate Speech and The Alpha Male Coach discourage femininity, claiming that it makes a man weak and that he will attract more women if he rids himself of his feminine traits. Submissiveness, sensitivity, and emotionality would all traditionally fit into this category.

In these types of podcasts, men are told they need to be as masculine as possible in order to obtain success, and that femininity diminishes a man’s character. They are told femininity will hinder them from pursuing their goals. They might say that submissiveness is a feminine trait; women do not like men who do not go after what they want, and as a result of this, submissive men are “undateable.”

Hosts of these podcasts might say that women want a man to dominate them, to be assertive, and take the role of a leader, according to traditional values. This is a generalization that actively harms both men and women because it contributes to toxic masculinity, rape culture, and men not taking “no” for an answer. 

The worst part is, because of the nature of the internet, young boys can come across these podcasts and grow up learning that they must push down any expression of traditional femininity and that crossing boundaries will get them what they want. This type of thinking further deepens this toxic cycle. 

Regarding these instances of contradicting standards, it is clear that in today’s society, women have a wider acceptable range of self-expression. In contrast, men are limited to their masculinity due to society’s general view of femininity and men. Femininity is seen as inferior to masculinity, thereby limiting a man’s expression of himself and his personality, which is harmful to society as a whole.