Social norms are a lot like religious beliefs, they are in fact beliefs and are often based on superstition, fear and misunderstanding. They should be challenged and pitted against objective reality.
Objective reality is the real world and how it actually exists without human participation. For example, the sun exists and it is what it is, a hot ball of burning hydrogen. Subjective reality is the world seen through the lens of a core set of human beliefs, either individually or as a society. For example, the sun is deity that is born every morning and dies every night, only to be reborn the next day having won the battle with darkness.
Often I make the argument that clothing should be genderless. The idea that there are certain types of clothing for men and certain types of clothing for women is completely subjective. It’s made up by our society and most societies around the world. The idea that we should separate the genders through the types of clothing they wear is unnessary and often does more harm than good. Afterall what real benefit exists to the different genders wearing different clothing? Now look at all the people who have been bullied or persecuted in some way over the years for falling outside the gender norms of clothing. Would it not be easier if everyone just had the choice to wear whatever they wanted without social backlash?
One can make the argument that men and women objectively have different body shapes/types, but so do individuals. All one has to do is ask a woman about demin jeans and you’ll often get some comments about sizes being wrong, cuts being wrong, one pair being more flattering than another pair, etc. Not all clothing is made the same and neither are all people. I could even go so far as to suggestion that some men could certainly benefit from wearing bras, something that most people would identify as purely objectively feminine. Yet there are some heavy men with bigger breasts than women. Same can be said of hip size, waist and so on. So objectively that’s not true. Bras could be beneficial for either gender. That said, there are some who will argue that neither gender should wear bras. There was even some research done that suggests bras don’t help at all in keeping a womans breasts from sagging over time. I’m not going to make a statement or stand either way on that topic. Just to say that most of our clothing is defined as one gender or another in a completely subjective way.
Of course the problem may not even lie in the gender lines themselves, but instead in the way we approach them. While it is completely subjective that we define certain articles of clothing as male or female, more importantly it’s what we do with them once we define that ultimately matters. One could make the argument that gender specific clothing would be no big deal, so long as one could cross the gender lines without backlash.
This is a good point. Because this is where the problem truly lies. It’s not that we define clothing as being one gender or another, it’s that we persecute people for crossing the line and wearing what is deemed clothing for the opposite gender. Logically it makes sense that we group certain body typs together. It’s not a foolproof system. As I stated above, when you deal with individuals, we come in all shapes and sizes no matter our gender. But we can make assumptions such as; “more women than men will have larger breats that can benefit from bras” or “women are 5’6″ than more men.” Those are objective observations. So when we have to go to market with a product we can use gender to some degree to determine sizes. It’s not that it will work for all people, it’s that it will work for most people most of the time. The problem is when you get a guy who is 5’6″ and he has an easier time finding womens jeans in his size than mens jeans. Flip that in reverse for a taller woman.
Our problem actually lies in accepting other people crossing those gender clothing lines than those lines existing. If it was no big deal for men or women to wear opposite gender clothing, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. We wouldn’t even care that clothing is separated by gender.
Of course the reality of our society and our current social norms is that women can cross that gender line with greater social acceptability than men can. A topic I’ve talked about a lot. So I’m going to change course a bit and move on to the title of this piece, hypermasculinity.
At first this may seems as if I’ve jammed two separate blog posts into one. Sort of. But it all fits togther, so bare with me.
Hypermasculinity is really all about the male to an extreme. Overly male behavior, dress, topics and so on. There is nothing wrong with malenss. However hypermasculinity is often a reaction to the feminine and an attempt to space itself as far away from the feminine as possible to the point that it becomes a characature of itself in the same fashion that thhe delicate princess becomes a characature of the extreme feminine. Most of us don’t actually fall on either extreme in reality. Yet when people do, there is often less backlash socially going to those extremes than there are people going toward the middle of the spectrum with equal parts masculine and feminine.
When it comes to hypermasculinity it’s all about pumping iron, driving muscle cars, doing dangerous stuff, getting into fist fights, making fun of people (especially girly/faggy guys), drinking heavily, swearing a lot and pretending to be dumber than you actually are.
People are allowed to be whoever they want to be. I’m not going to get up on some high horse and tell these guys to stop acting that way. That would not make any sense and I would be a hypocrite. So I expect there will always be guys like this and that’s cool. We need diversity. But I will make the argument that culturally their mentality (stereotypically) favors less freedom and more harm, which ultimately opposes a moral code of greater freedom and less harm. I think that as human beings we all can benefit from a moral code that favors greater freedom and less harm.
The difference between them and myself, is that my position of greater freedom and less harm means that I support their desire to be who they are, even as hypermasculine males who frown upon people like me. But if I let them have power, I doubt they would give me the same respect in return. That’s not completely fair of me to say because it really based on individuals. I’m damn sure there are plenty of hypermasculine males who are actually really cool people who could care less what I do or what others do. But looking at it as a trend in society in general, that mentality favors a certain discourse which tends to says that men should be men, meaning masculine if not hypermasculine. promoting a separation between the genders in more than just biology, but also culturally.
So looking at hypermasculinity from that perspective, let’s look at what it has done to our culture in just two short examples.
1. Where is used to be acceptable for men to wear short shorts, today it is not.
Today if a man wears short shorts he gets looked at strangely and/or labeled as gay. We’re only talking about a 30 year difference here. A completely subjective cultural shift that ultimately has taken a freedom away from men to wear shorter shorts in hot weather without being socially looked down upon for it.
2. Where it used to be acceptable for men to drive a VW Beattle, todays bug is labeled a feminine car.
That doesn’t stop a lot of men from driving them anyway. Good thing. But even so, to label something a feminine car and look strangely at men who drive them, is a product of your own doing. Just because you label something feminine, doesn’t make it so. Even if the whole cutlure labels it feminine, objectively there is still nothing about it that is feminine. It’s purely a cultural perspective based on some misguided something or another.
These are just two small examples of how hypermasculinity has had an affect on our culture in a negative way. Giving men less freedom of choice without cultural backlash. One would think that with hypermasculinity being so pro male, it would favor anything that would instead give men more freedom rather than less freedom.