This is not really a topic I had intended to talk about but I’ve been seeing a lot of things talking about feminism and toxic masculinity and even more unrelated just normal life instances that has been making this topic sit in the forefront of my mind recently. Particularly because Asian masculinity has been a hot topic and I’ve fallen down the BTS rabbit hole.
That term toxic masculinity being used everywhere and I don’t want this to be another discussion about whether it exists or what it is; instead I just want to discuss even the perception and definition of masculinity in society. Masculinity is supposed to be attributes, roles and behaviours associated with males. Opposite that is femininity for females. Now somewhere along the progression of society, we see a lessening pressure of femininity upon girls and women. Of course that varies by society and culture but let’s focus on the West, specifically the USA. The definition for what it means to be feminine has evolved. Of course there is still some standard for smelling pretty, manners etc. but I think that’s now more of a general thing with classy humans.
Now because historically women were treated as second class citizens and there had to be female empowerment movements that has to fight for equal rights and representation, today we have a far more fluid and lenient view of femininity. We see women of different sizes, proportions and style tastes all viewed as women. Of course there are still issues but I’m not going to get into it because that would be off topic and make this exponentially longer. Now the term masculine on the other had has seen some changes here and there but largely in the USA there is still this idea of a muscular body builder type as being the height of masculinity. With that is also the traditional ideas of how men should behave. Now I don’t want to get into the behavior aspect because I don’t want to discuss how behavior expectations then crosses over into toxic masculinity and what that does to the psyche of young males but briefly I just want to touch on this idea that cuteness is something exclusively feminine. I think objectively male or female we can all think baby animals are cute, but for some reason there is this line in the sand for the levels of cute appreciation that is allowed for males. You can think things are cute; girls, puppies, ducklings, small objects, an animated character, however indulging in these things, like having a plushie keychain, owning cute things, decorating with cute things, this crosses a boundary and now harms the perception of masculinity. It’s absurd to say the least.
Where I grew up, indulging in this sort of thing would make others think you’re gay and that would pose a threat to your health possibly. If you don’t see how insane and closedminded that is then this post is probably lost on you.
I think a big part of the problem is the traits associated with masculinity and femininity has not really changed drastically even when society has. Traits like strength, being muscular, aggressive or domineering personalities and not being emotional or rather not expressing your ‘weak’ emotions are hard and fast seen as masculine, but we now live in a world with female body builders, having a very forward or domineering personality is present across both sexes and is especially nurtured in certain career fields and emotional intelligence is valued because it makes for more well adjusted individuals. Jobs are no longer sex restricted and both male and females are making choices to work from home or be the homemaker. Perhaps the idea of calling a man a feminine male doesn’t sit well with me because its said with a negative connotation. Femininity in this instance is usually some kind of insult because it is opposing their masculinity.
Maybe since we’re moving further away from distinct gender roles, then perhaps we should start redefining masculinity.
I am not a man biologically. I do not identify as a male. I do not consider myself to be an authority on this topic. From my perspective I find myself more attracted to emotionally intelligent intellectual guys who are secure enough in their masculinity and sexuality that they aren’t afraid to be perceived as anything. Being confident in yourself is a very attractive trait and posturing hyper ‘masculinity’ to the point of bullying others is distasteful. I think many women nowadays feel similarly which is a sign of a shift already happening society. More conversation about this is just needed to combat the red pill thinking males haunting places like reddit.
I’ve largely covered perceived masculinity in the west. In the globalized world we live in today, we see people of many different ethnic backgrounds and I’m seeing a lot of hate talk toward Asian males. Asian males in entertainment and now with kpop becoming mainstream are judged on their appearance and if they do not fit the western standard they are viewed as less than. Males like Jet Lee and Jackie Chan made a name for themselves doing martial arts and stunts, they had the muscles etc but arguably were still not really perceived by many as a standard. Now with kpop and kdramas where there is a societal value placed of wholesome appearance and aegyo (simplified: cutesy behavior), we see a whole different range of men that are not valued in the west. When I say range, I do mean range. Kpop alone as a genre has different concepts for their group debuts, and within the groups they like to highlight various archetypes of each members character for fans. There is also something we talk about called duality, which recognizes members for being able to be soft and sweet and then downright sexy.
I don’t want to objectify these men, but let’s take a look:
Jay Park: American born. K-Pop Group: 2PM. Soloist currently. Founder of record label AOMG. Singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, dancer etc.
Taeyang: K-pop Group: BIG BANG. Vocalist.
Baekhyun: K-pop Group: EXO. Vocalist.
Lets look at some DUALITY!
BTS’ RM aka KIM NAMJOON.
I have to include Jungkook.
If only I could post gifs. Being cute or soft or sweet does not detract from manliness, it just makes him a person. Wearing makeup to look good because that’s your job does not detract from manliness either, it enhances the image of them as artists, performers, actors etc. the same as it does for women. Believe it or not, Western public figures also wear makeup to appear on camera.
I’ve seen a lot of ignorant comments that reflect this sentiment and it says a lot about the individuals and more about where society is currently at and that we need to improve. Asian masculinity is not somehow less than any other kind of masculinity and anyone who truly believes otherwise should be called out for it because as the world becomes more globalized we need to reform society and become more understanding and accepting of differences without expecting sameness or assimilation.