Let’s face it; we are living in a dominating culture where the lack of masculinity links directly to the shame. So from the early ages, parents invest their children to be more masculine, in case of boys to man them up, and in case of girls to be tooled for boys to feel their support. Children don’t need parents to say out loud, but eventually will learn at their social environment that boys are not allowed to cry. This is “a culture that perceives boys and men to be activity oriented, emotionally illiterate, and interested only in independence… Boys know by late adolescence that their close friendships, and even their emotional acuity, put them at risk of being labelled girly, immature, or gay. Thus, rather than focusing on who they are, they become obsessed with who they are not – they are not girls, little boys nor, in the case of heterosexual boys, are they gay. In response to a cultural context that links intimacy in male friendships with an age, a sex (female), and a sexuality (gay), these boys mature into men who are autonomous, emotionally stoic, and isolated.”
Shortly enough, we fall into loneliness, isolated from friendships that involve deep emotions; men are not supposed to feel love from their fellow friends, nor to have an emotion from the beginning as it is a shame and weakness for being masculine. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. Now we have enough evidence that loneliness is lethal, along with Alzheimer’s, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer. Loneliness now is considered as a modern epidemic easily observed in many urban areas, and such so it should be treated as a matter of public concern. Nowadays, loneliness is a public health crisis. The culture of masculinity disconnects us from our relationships, and here is where we observe the culture crashes with our own social nature.
The fountain of this mentioned lack of social connectivity not only comes from the social pressure of masculinity, but also from romanticism. Those two factors are actually deeply connected. We have an innate nature of love, compassion and empathy; a-seven-year-old boy can deeply feel love to his male company in the kindergarten, but social pressure labels such love, basically limiting the capacity of love. The same boy might feel empathy for a baby sparrow fallen from the tree and then be told not to cry. The social pressure of masculinity suppresses the capacity of love, and the romanticism shapes the form of how to express our love into a traditionally male-female monogamous relationship. There can be found many essays and opinions about whether monogamy is counterintuitive to human nature or not. Some scientific articles even claims “the ancestral condition for humans is probably polygyny.” Regardless of those opinions between monogamy and polygyny, it isn’t hard to witness the dominance of romanticism in our daily lives from the basic Hollywood plot to ‘One day I’ll meet the right person and maybe get marry with her/him’ conversations.
In this dominant culture of masculinity, eager for ‘sexual capital’, equivalent of going to the gym, can be easily witnessed. Basically the fitness industry is based on marketing to stimulate the lack of man’s masculinity and on forcing those who feel such lack to consume their products, ideology and time. The gained sexual capital should be validated by showing it off, and social medias – such as Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Tinder, Grindr or whatever kind – have been a great channel for this demonstration even to individual level, which hadn’t been accessible when the media – television and radio back then – only showed unilaterally the figure of some fitness elites. Now everyone can post their own sexual capital and with the validation from others their investment in sexual capital pays off. But this is the beginning of a vicious circle; investment in sexual capital pays off only with validation of others. In such sense, “masculinity is precarious. It has to be constantly enacted or defended or collected. We see this in studies: You can threaten masculinity among men and then look at the dumb things they do. They show more aggressive posturing, they start taking financial risks, they want to punch things.” (No wonder in some oriental cultures, being masculine sometimes is synonym for being stupid.)
This channel to guarantee the validation of one’s sexual capital makes one to feel more needy for others’ validation, which leads to the never-ending and unfulfilling circle until one accomplishes her/his self-sufficiency; which we name loneliness. What are the alternatives then? with crashing and confronting the traditional masculinity and romanticism would work? Isn’t is depressing to think that there’s no right person to marry with when this is only thing family asks every Christmas holidays? I want to believe that we all genuinely have the capacity to love which is not possessive but mutually mirroring to share and grow; it doesn’t have to be labelled monogamous or polygynous. It doesn’t have to be labelled heterosexual or homosexual. Can we just be honest and comfortable with how we feel with others and freely expressing it in any way possible?