Oversimplified

“I knew I was different. I thought that I might be gay or something because I couldn’t identify with any of the guys at all. None of them liked art or music. They just wanted to fight and get laid. It was many years ago but it gave me this real hatred for the average American macho male.” Kurt Cobain

We call the oversimplified generalizations of gender attributes and differences gender stereotypes. These stereotypes can be positive or negative and sometimes fail to communicate accurate information. We might all be guilty at times for applying gender assumptions to others regardless of indications to the contrary.

For some, the stereotypical male role may conclude that all males are self-assured, independent, career‐focused, competitive, and keeps his emotions in check (to name just a few). Men are sometimes expected to eschew vulnerability, sensitivity, and nurturing behavior. These kinds of labels can be harmful and may hinder a young man’s growth, expression, and creativity.

As a Christian, I believe it is important for us to be careful as to not read the Scriptures with our pre-set American ideals or stereotypes of masculinity in mind. It’s important for us to examine what it means to be created in the image of God. God himself was a creative artist and so to make generalized statements such as an “artists identity has become an artistic creation of man’s choosing” might be dangerous. I don’t believe that “who you are” is always “based on personal wish and desire as opposed to being rooted in the image of God”. I am not trying to be controversial; however, when you generalize that: “in this soup of (artistic) creativity, manhood is relative” you might miss the beauty of God’s artistry in his creation of man and their individuality.[1]

I believe that almost all American boys and men have had to, at some point and time in their lives, deal with the insecurity that comes from failing to be a “real man.” Some of us might even choose the route of suppressing who we really are or created to be and strive to be “more manly” or what society defines as masculine. Some of us are quiet about the topic and afraid to broach the subject.

“Men are conflicted, ambivalent,” said James O’Neil, a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut who has written extensively on men’s struggles over gender roles. “On one hand they’ve been socialized to meet the old stereotypes.” he said. “On the other hand, particularly for men in their 30s and 40s, they begin to say, ‘That’s not working for me. It’s too stressful.’ They’re looking for alternative models of masculinity.”[2]

In 2011, the Independent Association of Prep Schools released new figures that showed that more than a third of boys’ prep schools experienced a rise in numbers. They stated that parents were worried about peer pressure in mixed schools, which could lead to boys being labeled as ‘gay’ if they show a flair in drama, art or music.[3]

Please continue to join me on my blog and book writing adventure as I examine the Scriptures, explore the stories of others, share articles and quote from books, and continue to ask the hard questions about masculinity.

COMMENTS?

[1] Mason, Eric (2013-11-26). Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole (p. 23). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[2] Crary, David. “Macho Stereotype on Shaky Ground.” Macho Stereotype on Shaky Ground. The Associated Press, 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 July 2014.

[3] Daily Mail Reporter. “Peer Pressure ‘to Conform to Macho Stereotypes’ Fuels Boom in All-boys Schools.” MailOnline. Associated Newspapers Ltd, 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 July 2014.

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2 thoughts on “Oversimplified

    • Thank you so much! Couldn’t ask for a better fan!!
      You gave me an example of a man who didn’t mind what others thought but gave himself away unselfishly.