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Popular culture and the non-liberation of men

It’s hard not to be influenced by hyper-masculinity, if you’re constantly surrounded by it. Growing up we learn that there are some toys meant for boys and other toys are meant for girls. Boys’ toys usually have the tendency to reflect a sense of strongness. Most of the objects they get handed either have a relationship with violence or involve a monstrous character that is cold an distant. Girls toys on the other hand reflect everything that is considered ultra-feminine.
Popular culture and the non-liberation of men

It’s hard not to be influenced by hyper-masculinity, if you’re constantly surrounded by it.

Growing up we learn that there are some toys meant for boys and other toys are meant for girls. Boys’ toys usually have the tendency to reflect a sense of strongness. Most of the objects they get handed either have a relationship with violence or involve a monstrous character that is cold an distant. Girls toys on the other hand reflect everything that is considered ultra-feminine. Their toys are cuddly and fluffy. Sometimes they are even in need of some kind of attention or emotion. A good example are the dolls that are able to pee and need care taking. In this way young girls are encouraged to explore and more importantly express their emotions.

To get an understanding of why we might hold onto it, the term hegemonic masculinity comes into play. The term is part of sociologist R.W. Connell’s gender order theory and can be explained as the following: “Hegemonic masculinity is defined as a practice that legitimizes men's dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of women, and other marginalized ways of being a man” 11. In her theory Connell describes how she thinks it’s not the most common form of masculinity that contributes to the oppression of women and non-conforming men but the most socially accepted one.12 In her book she elaborates that the concept of hegemonic masculinity does not describe real men but refers to a social ideal to keep men in dominant power roles.13 Try to think about it like this: popular culture is creating an environment where it’s constantly serving boys and men a form of masculinity that they will never really embody (Superman, Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wallstreet, SuitSupply advertisements), but will support their position of power. It’s almost like promising a drug addict that he will get his kick, after fulfilling a certain task but you already know that you will never give it to him. This is where it can become dangerous and the topic of mental health comes into play.