Macho. Aggressive. Muscular. Those are the words that came into mind when you thought of manhood in the medieval times. The definition of masculinity back then was based off of a man’s ability to save his damsel in distress. Fast forward to the present and masculinity is no longer determined by a man’s ability to bring food to the table. The definition of masculinity has undergone extreme changes to the point where no set definition remains.
The concept of masculinity has existed since the beginning of time when cavemen were supposed to hunt for food for their cave-women. In fact, the term “caveman masculinity” now refers to the stage where young bachelors act rough and anti-gay, with no respect for women authority. These early norms developed into toxic stereotypes for men to follow, such as not expressing any emotion and being promiscuous.
Society’s “ideal” male began differing even more when culture, religion, and philosophy came into the picture. While some cultures believe that men should simply be good-looking and emotionally skilled, others are convinced that men should be in complete control of their household, or dare I say, be the man of the house. The influence of culture, environment, and religion impacts how a person perceives masculinity to this day.
In the 21st century, culture, specifically pop-culture, has become a major part of how people view manhood. Celebrities such as Harry Styles and Luka Sabbat have proudly represented gender-bending clothing. Platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram have promoted feminine trends such as e-boy fashion, where men wear jewelry, eyeliner, and nail polish and then create thirst traps to songs by female artists such as Doja Cat and SZA. By viewing these types of media, audiences, especially the younger generation, have become more open to the idea of men being feminine. Though it may not seem like much, these trends, celebrities, and tiktokers all build up and break down the wall of toxic masculinity.
Ancient definitions of masculinity are being scrapped. Toxic masculinity is gradually being crumbled. Though there will always be those who believe men should stick to being aggressive and macho, the younger generation is consuming media that has potential to make change. This potential can go a long way and eventually create a new script for masculinity. A script that includes showing emotion, being equal caregivers, supporting all individuals regardless of sex or identity, and not being afraid to display weakness. By allowing men to be comfortable in their own skin, barriers can be broken and the “macho manhood” script can be rewrote into something inclusive and powerful.