The War On Masculinity And Femininity Essay

, Research Paper

Growing up we were always told we could be and do anything we wanted to. Wewere taught that we could do anything the opposite sex could do and more. We didn?tfeel limited to our gender, but we were taught that there are differences between boys andgirls that we cannot control. We cannot deny that our genders separate us from oneanother. Since Adam and Eve, males and females have been different, not onlyphysically but psychologically and socially. The differences between males and femalesare differences that will always exists, no matter what the current trend may be or what isor isn?t politically correct. There are traditional roles of males and females that wecannot escape, just as men will never be able to bear children, women will never be ableto use the bathroom standing up. In the essay, ?The Male Myth?, Paul Theroux states, ?I have always dislikedbeing a man. The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, a little like having towear an ill-fitting coat for one?s entire life? (700). Theroux rejects his own manhoodbecause of the restrains he believes that society has placed on him. He believes thatmasculinity and femininity are ?a hideous and crippling lie… very destructive…emotionally damaging and socially harmful? (700). He seems to think that being a manentails one to ?be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and [to] stop thinking?(700). To him all females are ?sexually indispensable, socially decorative and alwaysalert to a man?s 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 fittheir stereotypes. He generalizes anything with masculinity or femininity as bad andevil, believing that traditional roles in society should be rejected. What Theroux does notrealize is that gender is something that can not be avoided or hidden. In most cases mendo not act like a stereotypical macho, abusive, and power hungry male, and not everyfemale acts as the subservient, self conscious woman. Today in our society many malesand 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 largerpercentage of the household income. Many men are also choosing to stay home with thechildren, becoming what many call a house husband. Theroux continues to argue that such institutions as high school athletics havecreated the concept of manliness and the degeneration of the gender. According toTheroux, 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 stereotypesabout athletes as a whole. He goes beyond the stereotype and turns everything to do withmaleness and sports into something evil. He resents and disdains sports stating, ?I regardhigh school sports as a drug far worse than marijuana? (701). High school athletics have been a great outlet and haven for many, includingmales and females. As a high school athlete, one learns the concept of team work, howto win and loss with grace and composure, and helps them obtain increased selfconfidence. Theroux?s statement applies to very few males? experience with athletics.Theroux doesn?t recognize the positives of sports and doesn?t seem to speak from muchpersonal 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 ofmanliness as a bore? (701). Although he is a man, he continues to rejects everything thathas to do with maleness. Another argument Theroux has on masculinity is that men in the creative artshave 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 solitarypeople? (701). He continues by stating, ?For many years I found it impossible to admit tomyself that I wanted to be a writer. It was my guilty secret, because being a writer wasincompatible with being a man? (701). He believes that those men and women that doenter the creative arts are always trying to prove their gender to society, ?Just as the malewriter must prove he has achieved a sort of muscular manhood, the woman writer…mustprove 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 weredominated by men. For centuries women had no voice in the arts and often had theirworks published under pseudonyms. If not anything, the creative arts have treated malesvery well. Although he is a writer, Theroux bashes other males in the creative arts. Hediscredits other authors who have portrayed their gender through their works. He againgeneralizes others masculinity as something evil and sinister. Our gender cannot be denied. Our gender is what makes the human species differfrom one another. Without the different sexes and their traditional roles, the worldwould not be like it is today. Like Paul Theroux?s general assumptions of the differentsexes, it is unfair to assume anything to do with masculinity or femininity is bad. It isalso unfair to assume that gender stereotypes apply to everyone. Despite gender, one canstill be unique. Our society cannot be unsexed or without gender.

Works CitedTheroux, Paul. ?The Male Myth.? The Little Brown Reader. Eds. Sylvan Barnet, and Marcia Stubbs. New York: Harper, 1996. 700-702.


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