Friday, November 25, 2011

Overlapping Gender Roles in College Students

In an article misleadingly entitled "Girly men are the new alpha males," writes that young men are not so confined by the traditional stereotypes of masculinity as were previous generations.

Part of what makes this interesting to me is that it does not come from a newspaper at the University of Washington (Seattle), the University of Colorado (Boulder), Reed College (Portland), or some small liberal arts school in the Northeast - no, it comes from Arizona State University in Tempe (a suburb of Phoenix).

Of the three state schools in Arizona, ASU is the least liberal (NAU and U of A are both more liberal). It may seem a small thing, but it's good to see more progressive ideas on masculinity coming from a school I would generally associate with a frat boy mentality.

It's a little annoying that the author still refers to art, cooking, and dancing as effeminate activities (and also that he does not use the serial comma), but I'll take small steps in the right direction for now.

Here is the latter part of the article:
The line between genders has started to blur, thanks not only to the media, but increasing male tolerance for the social equality of women, alternative lifestyles and LGBTQA peoples.

For decades, women have filled the shoes of doctors, lawyers and CEOs, and men have had to come to terms with the fact that they’re not the only ones who can hold high-ranking positions in the workforce or community.

This might have been alarming to some men initially, scared for the sanctity of their manhood, but lately, the strides taken by women have opened up new territory for men to express themselves as they really are, unrestrained by strict gender roles.

In other words, when women shattered their social shackles, they began to erode the bonds arresting men as well.

Today’s culture encourages self-expression and individuality, and as women increasingly break down the doors marked, “Boys Only,” men have begun to feel a little more comfortable entering the ladies’ room, so to speak. The image of the man’s man has certainly changed.

Hyper-masculine figures in the media such as rugged actors John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone and director Clint Eastwood and have been replaced by svelte actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orlando Bloom and James Franco.

Television shows like “Glee” consistently challenge older norms of masculinity by featuring straight male characters who love to dance and sing their hearts out and show off their sensitive side.

Our culture has begun to tell men that it’s OK to express themselves, and frankly, to have emotions. This trend can easily be seen all over campus: Baggy T-shirts and basketball shorts have been exchanged for skinny jeans and form-fitting deep-V-necks.

Interests that have primarily been associated with masculinity, such as sports and cars, have made way for more effeminate activities, such as art, cooking and dancing.

As gender roles for men and women begin to overlap, the difference between the two sexes becomes indistinguishable.

Confidence is boosted and a weight is lifted when people are free to do as their heart guides them—regardless of sex and free of social norms.

We’re being pushed towards a more harmonized society. Harper Lee said it best in “To Kill a Mockingbird”: “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

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