Stories of Men

In what ways is masculinity socially constructed?

In what ways is masculinity socially constructed?

is masculinity socially constructed?

In what ways is masculinity socially constructed?


What do we mean by referring to the social construction of masculinity? When we think of the term “male”, our first thoughts often go to biology. Men are born, not made, many would argue. 

And surely it is true that a man is essentially defined by his biological features. Well, yes, men are clearly born but masculinity itself is constructed in various ways. And each society plays a role in the social construction of masculinity.

Evolving societal constructs


We are constantly receiving messages, subtle or otherwise, telling us how a man should act. When we think of men’s clothing, it seems obvious to us that men should not wear skirts or dresses.

But where did this messaging come from? And why is it traditional for men to wear skirts or “kilts” in parts of Scotland? And why was it so common for men to wear dresses or “togas” back in Roman times?

It might seem equally obvious to us that only the most deviant of men wear make-up but why did no-one tell that to those of the male Aristocracy in the 18th century? Paintings of these men exist with their faces covered in rich foundation and the equivalent of blusher and lipstick to highlight their facial features. That was acceptably masculine back then.

Gender roles in the workplace


But perhaps the above examples seem superficial. Beyond the clothing and the make-up, society does not determine what it means to be a man, you might feel. However, social constructs of masculinity do not stop there. 

Gender constructs also exist in the workplace. Take the assumptions that exist regarding doctors and nurses, for example. Not so long ago, it used to be common to assume the former to be a male figure and the latter to be a female. 

This has begun to change more recently. And then there are the ways that even the names of professions once commonly reflected gender: fireman, policeman and salesman have only recently started to become firefighter, police officer and sales person.

Why is it that fighting fires, policing and making sales was once the preserve of maleness? What is it about being a biological male which makes only us capable of performing such tasks?

Signs of masculinity


The fact is that, from the clothing we should wear to the profession we should to choose, there are clearly societal constructs which can at times lie heavy on us all. But what about men’s more general behaviour? How should a man act? Is there a particular form in which a man ought to carry himself?

Many of us have heard the term “effeminate”, which is often used for a man who behaves contrary to expected gender norms. The idea is that the man is not fully a man in the way in which society would expect. 

This effeminacy can occur in the way one talks (a man’s voice shouldn’t be too high-pitched), the way one walks (a man should not be too flamboyant when he moves), the way one uses one’s body language (a man should not be too demonstrative), even in the way one greets another (a man should make sure that his handshake isn’t too loose or slippery). 

People assess and evaluate maleness all of the time and the attempt to observe the gender expectations of masculinity can become exhausting for many.

Masculinity crises


Take Tim, for instance, a man who now identifies as non-binary. He has spoken to this podcast about his uncontrolled anger. Tim, sometimes experienced it due to not allowing himself to be open to less traditional forms of masculine expression. He says that the lack of options men have when it comes to self-expression often force them to revert to anger as their only outlet.

It wasn’t until Bode’s dad finally openly showed him some kindness and concern that their relationship was able to develop new significance.

The future of masculinity


Yet it quite simply is not a masculine thing to do. It shows vulnerability, something that the social construction of masculinity tries to erase. But, as we have seen with elements of our appearance and the jobs we ought to perform. The socially constructed expectations of maleness are subject to change. And, if we see it as beneficial, it is within our gift to be part of that change going forward.

Such change, however, does not occur overnight. And one should expect there to be much resistance to it. Many of those of us who do find it easier to live up to masculine stereotypes will continue to be suspicious of those who do not.

But, as men, if we can take a step back and are honest with ourselves. Are there not ways in which each of us is disadvantaged by the straight-jacket that the social construction of masculinity places us within?

Embracing the evolution of masculine constructs


Going back to Bode, he talks about embracing his role as a stay-at-home father. This is something society is still, as a whole, ambivalent towards. But Bode talks about performing this role not out of weakness of “effeminacy” but out of love. 

He missed being around during the formative years of his eldest child. He now wants to ensure that he is present for his youngest children as they are growing up.

Is this not a positive and inspiring vision of masculinity? Is there not something to celebrate in a man loving his children and being as present as possible during their most formative years? If the answer is “yes” then let us all consider loosening that straight-jacket a little more. Lest other males who wish to be equally as caring feel that they cannot due to the arbitrary pressures of our socially constructed environment.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow us on social media

More articles

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new podcast episodes and blog articles.

           PROFESSIONAL
 

Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3

                 PERSONAL
 

Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights

           PROFESSIONAL
 

I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years

                 PERSONAL
 

Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.

           PROFESSIONAL
 

I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years

                 PERSONAL
 

Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

          PROFESSIONAL

 

Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 15 YEARS

                 PERSONAL

 

Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.

           PROFESSIONAL
 

I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 10 YEARS

                 PERSONAL
 

Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

           PROFESSIONAL
I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 
 
INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE: 11 YEARS
                 PERSONAL

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

           PROFESSIONAL
 
I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 
 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!

                 PERSONAL
 

Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.