On Masculinity – Men On Seeing Other Men’s Bodies
Men do not have bodies insofar as they would choose to just forget they have one. Refusing to visit the doctor can be easily chalked up to this tendency. To men, the examination of their bodies would, at worst, only remind them of their liability to flaws and injuries.
Nobody is more capable of corroborating this fact than women, who are always conscious of their bodies’ voluptuousness and fleshiness. With this awareness, women are wont to be the showier ones with their bodies. On the flipside, men just bend their bodies to their will, as if they are tools outside of them.
Masculinity has traditionally been viewed as an ego or abstract will distinct from the tangible, i.e. the body. But for just as long, people have viewed masculinity as the ostentatious display of the male form. Showing off the body is a very primal concept in masculinity. Nothing could be truer in fraternity hazing; body of Greek gods, ancient Rome’s gladiator fights; and, of course, prehistoric hunts.
Traditionalists would equate the overt exhibition of the body with femininity but it is also a very masculine thing to do. Just because a surfer is going out shirtless into sea does not mean he is leaning on his “feminine side.”
Sports incessantly encourage masculinity insofar as they make men’s bodies visible – more than ever now with 24/7 sports channels and the never-ending stream of videos and photos online. Social networks and portable electronic devices have only ramped up the situation further, by empowering sports fans to capture, chronicle and consume the male figure.
It may sound counterintuitive to manliness, but men do like looking at each other’s bodies. Because of sports, the typical man whiles away time watching, discussing, and thinking about another one’s physique.
Then again, as declared above, men tend to forget they have bodies. They intentionally forget the palpable exhibition of the male physique in sports by opting for more masculine language, which often includes technical jargons. For example, a man may use “glutes” instead of “ass” or talk about “looking jacked” rather than getting into detail. They are most probably afraid of being heard out of context.
In any case, men are able to flaunt their bodies, deliberately or not, in extreme ways through sports. Three characteristics of masculinity emerge as a result:
- First, men take pleasure in displaying their bodies. Sportsmen may not be conscious of it but they are proud of and enjoy showing off their bodies.
- Second, men take pleasure in being on display for other men. Men continue to dominate sports even as women level the playing field. Sports, then, are almost always about men deriving pleasure from seeing the male body. The feeling is mutual; at some point, a sportsman has to own up to the fact that his body is there to be beheld by other men.
- Third, men enjoy seeing other men on display. One only has to listen to how a man would extol his favorite sportsman. By citing his idol’s athletic stats and background, a man validly expresses his out-and-out adoration of the other one’s physicality and abilities. Men therefore see masculinity in their athletic idols’ bodies.
These three characteristics seemingly take away from conventional perspectives of masculinity. In reality, these characteristics have long been intrinsic to masculinity, whether or not one acknowledges this concept.
Ironic – an old concept like the spectacle of the male body should sound very new now. Masculinity has not been feminized by the trend towards making the male body more visible than ever. It has always been this way.