The War on Masculinity and Femininity Growing up we were always told we could be and do anything we wanted to. We were taught that we could do anything the opposite sex could do and more. We didnt feel limited to our gender, but we were taught that there are differences between boys and girls that we cannot control. We cannot deny that our genders separate us from one another. Since Adam and Eve, males and females have been different, not only physically but psychologically and socially.The differences between males and females are differences that will always exists, no matter what the current trend may be or what is or isnt politically correct. There are traditional roles of males and females that we cannot escape, just as men will never be able to bear children, women will never be able to use the bathroom standing up.
In the essay, The Male Myth, Paul Theroux states, I have always disliked being a man. The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, a little like having to wear an ill-fitting coat for ones entire life (700). Theroux rejects his own manhood because of the restrains he believes that society has placed on him. He believes that masculinity and femininity are a hideous and crippling lie..very destructive..
emotionally damaging and socially harmful (700). He seems to think that being a man entails one to be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and [to] stop thinking (700). To him all females are sexually indispensable, socially decorative and always alert to a mans sense of inadequacy (700). Theroux unjustly believes that society should be ungendered and unsexed.Theroux makes many unfounded statements, generalizing all males and females to fit their stereotypes. He generalizes anything with masculinity or femininity as bad and evil, believing that traditional roles in society should be rejected. What Theroux does not realize is that gender is something that can not be avoided or hidden. In most cases men do not act like a stereotypical macho, abusive, and power hungry male, and not every female acts as the subservient, self conscious woman.
Today in our society many males and females are switching roles, breaking away from their stereotypes.For example, many women have entered the work force and some are even bringing in a larger percentage of the household income. Many men are also choosing to stay home with the children, becoming what many call a house husband. Theroux continues to argue that such institutions as high school athletics have created the concept of manliness and the degeneration of the gender. According to Theroux, Everyone is aware of how few in number are the athletes who behave like gentlemen. Just as high school basketball teaches you how to be a poor loser, the manly attitude toward sports seems to be little more than a recipe for creating bad marriages, social misfits, moral degenerates, sadists, latent rapists and just plain louts (701).Theroux generalizes every male in his statement of athletics. He again uses stereotypes about athletes as a whole.
He goes beyond the stereotype and turns everything to do with maleness and sports into something evil. He resents and disdains sports stating, I regard high school sports as a drug far worse than marijuana (701). High school athletics have been a great outlet and haven for many, including males and females.As a high school athlete, one learns the concept of team work, how to win and loss with grace and composure, and helps them obtain increased self confidence. Therouxs statement applies to very few males experience with athletics. Theroux doesnt recognize the positives of sports and doesnt seem to speak from much personal experience. In regards to his feelings of sports growing up Theroux states, Growing up, I had thought of sports as wasteful and humiliating, and the idea of manliness as a bore (701). Although he is a man, he continues to rejects everything that has to do with maleness.
Another argument Theroux has on masculinity is that men in the creative arts have been alienated.He states, All the creative arts are obnoxious to the manly ideal, because at their best the arts are pursued by uncompetitive and essentially solitary people (701). He continues by stating, For many years I found it impossible to admit to myself that I wanted to be a writer. It was my guilty secret, because being a writer was incompatible with being a man (701). He believes that those men and women that do enter the creative arts are always trying to prove their gender to society, Just as the male writer must prove he has achieved a sort of muscular manhood, the woman writer..must prove her motherhood (702).
Although Theroux points out such authors as Ernest Hemingway, James Jones, and John Irving, Theroux fails to mention that for centuries the creative arts were dominated by men. For centuries women had no voice in the arts and often had their works published under pseudonyms. If not anything, the creative arts have treated males very well.Although he is a writer, Theroux bashes other males in the creative arts. He discredits other authors who have portrayed their gender through their works. He again generalizes others masculinity as something evil and sinister. Our gender cannot be denied.
Our gender is what makes the human species differ from one another. Without the different sexes and their traditional roles, the world would not be like it is today. Like Paul Therouxs general assumptions of the different sexes, it is unfair to assume anything to do with masculinity or femininity is bad. It is also unfair to assume that gender stereotypes apply to everyone.Despite gender, one can still be unique. Our society cannot be unsexed or without gender. Works Cited Theroux, Paul. The Male Myth.
The Little Brown Reader.Eds. Sylvan Barnet, and Marcia Stubbs. New York: Harper, 1996. 700-702.