The War on Masculinity and Femininity

Growing up we were always told we could be and do anything we wanted to. We
were taught that we could do anything the opposite sex could do and more. We didn’t
feel limited to our gender, but we were taught that there are differences between boys and
girls that we cannot control. We cannot deny that our genders separate us from one
another. Since Adam and Eve, males and females have been different, not only
physically but psychologically and socially. The differences between males and females
are differences that will always exists, no matter what the current trend may be or what is
or isn’t politically correct. There are traditional roles of males and females that we
cannot escape, just as men will never be able to bear children, women will never be able
to use the bathroom standing up.
In the essay, “The Male Myth”, Paul Theroux states, “I have always disliked
being a man. The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, a little like having to
wear an ill-fitting coat for one’s entire life” (700). Theroux rejects his own manhood
because of the restrains he believes that society has placed on him. He believes that
masculinity and femininity are “a hideous and crippling lie... very destructive...
emotionally damaging and socially harmful” (700). He seems to think that being a man
entails one to “be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient and soldierly, and [to] stop thinking”
(700). To him all females are “sexually indispensable, socially decorative and always
alert to a man’s sense of inadequacy” (700).
Theroux unjustly believes that society should be ungendered and unsexed.
Theroux makes many unfounded statements, generalizing all males and females to fit
their stereotypes. He generalizes anything with masculinity or femininity as bad and
evil, believing that traditional roles in society should be rejected. What Theroux does not
realize is that gender is something that can not be avoided or hidden. In most cases men
do not act like a stereotypical macho, abusive, and power hungry male, and not every
female acts as the subservient, self conscious woman. Today in our society many males
and females are switching roles, breaking away from their stereotypes. For example,
many women have entered the work force and some are even bringing in a larger
percentage of the household income. Many men are also choosing to stay home with the
children, becoming what many call a house husband.
Theroux continues to argue that such institutions as high school athletics have
created the concept of manliness and the degeneration of the gender. According to
Everyone is aware of how few in number are the athletes who behave
like gentlemen. Just as high school basketball teaches you how to be a
poor loser, the manly attitude toward sports seems to be little more than a
recipe for creating bad marriages, social misfits, moral degenerates,
sadists, latent rapists and just plain louts (701).
Theroux generalizes every male in his statement of athletics. He again uses stereotypes
about athletes as a whole. He goes beyond the stereotype and turns everything to do with
maleness and sports into something evil. He resents and disdains sports stating, “I regard
high school sports as a drug far worse than marijuana” (701).
High school athletics have been a great outlet and haven for many, including
males and females. As a high school athlete, one learns the concept of team work, how
to win and loss with grace and composure, and helps them obtain increased self
confidence. Theroux’s statement applies to very few males’ experience with athletics.
Theroux doesn’t recognize the positives of sports and doesn’t seem to speak from much
personal experience. In regards to his feelings of sports growing up Theroux states,
“Growing up, I had thought of sports as wasteful and humiliating, and the idea of
manliness as a bore” (701). Although he is a man, he continues to rejects everything that
has to do with maleness.
Another argument Theroux has on masculinity is that men in the creative arts
have been alienated. He states, “All the creative arts are obnoxious to the manly ideal,
because at their best the arts are pursued by uncompetitive and essentially solitary
people” (701). He continues by stating, “For many years I found it impossible to admit to
myself that I wanted to be a writer. It was my guilty secret, because being a writer was
incompatible with being a man” (701). He believes that those men and women that do