Masculinity is more or less the gender role ascribed to males. It is basically what society expects of a man, and basis upon which a patriarchy separates men from women.

This gender role includes attributes, which are not limited to courage, independence, and assertiveness. “What our culture means by “a man”, however, is a construct. It is something that does not occur in nature. It is a supernatural creature of extraordinary emotional, physical and mental resilience.”

Exactly this: we as men are expected to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the pack; though our actions, and even through our attributes alone, which ridiculous because all human beings have a more or less an equal range of strengths and weaknesses.

However what is this cult of masculinity? “No one ever says “You need to grow up and be a woman.” Or “Time to separate the women from the girls.” Or “Are you a woman or a mouse?” That’s because a woman is not a construct in the patriarchy’s eyes; it is viewed as simply the inevitable outcome of a human being born female, as opposed to something to strive for.”

These kinds of expectations bring with themselves immense pressures which often add up to an unbearable burden. A patriarchal society always deems men mentally and physically superior gender, and it’s ironic when it’s the men who also suffer as a consequence.

This stereotype has often made man’s life a living hell. History provides us with numerous examples to prove the aforesaid claim. Before the industrial revolution took place in Britain, men had achieved their normative masculinity through craft and trade. However after the revolution, that was no longer the case as the skills required were more mechanical in nature. Therefore to deal with the expectation, men had to seek new avenues to prove their so called ‘manliness’.

As Clark analyses:” 19th century radicals and 20th century historians and sociologists alike believed that industrialisation had destroyed a golden age of family harmony. Before industrialisation, they claimed, fathers had longingly supervised the works of wives and children. Now men were emasculated.” And why would they not be? They became powerless and had limited control over women. Therefore, this meant that men had to compete with women for work, and even equal pay. The loss of that hegemony brought about a great deal of anxiety, leading to a crisis of masculinity.

Similarly, in America, in the past few centuries, men have been ascribed two main responsibilities. The first being the role of the ‘economic man’: man was not only the bred-winner for the family, but also the one who momentously took charge of the business of the country. However this burden has often been left unmet as it is clearly not an easy job. Not to forget, with the rise of capitalism the troubles for men have risen to new levels. Secondly man has always been and still is the main participant in times of war. The situation already brings with it tremendous pressures, added to that the fact that it is the man’s responsibility alone to protect the civilians within the country and show their manhood through their valour and bravery. It is widely reported that such expectations often caused clinical depression and at times even convinced many that suicide was the only solution. This over the years has also contributed to a crisis of masculinity. This begs the question: what is this crisis of masculinity? Australian archeologist Peter McAllister said, "I have a strong feeling that masculinity is in crisis. Men are really searching for a role in modern society; the things we used to do aren't in much demand anymore".

As stated before, change in the demand for skills has a huge role in this crisis. Another aspect of the crisis is the changing labour market as a source of stress. Deindustrialization and the replacement of smokestack industries by technology have allowed more women to enter the labour force, reducing its emphasis on physical strength. Therefore, it has always been a challenge for man to maintain their monopoly and fulfill expectations.

In recent times, the challenge to patriarchy in the form of feminism has added to the crisis. British sociologist John Maclness wrote that:"fundamental incompatibility between the core principle of modernity that all human beings are essentially equal (regardless of their sex) and the core tenet of patriarchy that men are naturally superior to women and thus destined to rule over them." Therefore meeting these expectations was never really possible especially with the progression of society. Simply because when women were starting to get similar opportunities it became more of a struggle to prove their superiority to a gender which is born equal.

The true extent of how this culture hampers lives of men is exemplified during a period of crisis. This is because man is not expected to show himself in weakness. An excellent example is the great depression in America during the 1930’s where businesses fell apart and even top notch businessmen were reduced to penniless beggars. For a man, who expected to be this supernatural being, a person who would always stay at the top of the ladder, showing himself as weak was never an option.

Sadly man had nowhere to hide because one quality attached to the stereotype is that of mental strength and not being affected by emotions. This brings about immense trauma which an average human cannot simply bear.

As a stereotype goes, masculinity does not value vulnerability; nor does it value emotionality, except, perhaps anger. Men can be angry and that’s okay, but men can’t be really anything else. Therefore when a crisis arises, the dilemma is that masculinity does not value things like self-disclosure, revealing one’s self to other people, telling about one’s self to others, different constrictions of intimacy, men are supposed to be independent.

Therefore, a man cannot resort to seeking help from others as it is seen as a sign of surrender. As a man you simply need to be tough and self-reliant.

In pragmatic ways, masculinity even dictates activities a man engages in; making some acceptable and others not acceptable. As an extension of that masculinity affects career paths. It makes certain career paths for men acceptable and other career options not necessarily acceptable.

For instance you will not see many first grade male teachers as it is considered a relatively easier job not worth a man’s time and skill. Masculinity also impacts men and boys in terms of how we deal with our relationships; whether they are our friends, or even our romantic relationships. Clearly there are certain expectations for men and boys grounded in masculine expectations that dictate how we are supposed to act. For instance it is considered a man’s responsibility to ask a woman out and be the forerunner when it comes to being romantic. In such a scenario, it is the man who has to deal with rejection and embarrassment. But of course that is just a part of being this gentleman society expects you to be. However we do feel the same emotions as women and this expectation just heaps on the pressure. Another aspect of being a gentleman is being kind, well-mannered and chivalrous to say the least. This ideal, which is expected by society, makes the burden unbearable.

Evolutionary psychology argues that men are supposed to be the providers and the protectors. So to the extent that we are accustomed to being hard-wired as men, then masculinity influences how we do that. How we protect, how we provide, which again goes back to the notion of what actions we are supposed to take.

To conclude, it is simply unjustified to expect man to elevate himself above the rest because men and women are equal. However when a society does endeavour to associate with this stereotype, not only the women but men also suffer. Always remember: “Boys don’t cry!