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Femininity And Masculinity Essays

Feminine Masculinity Essay

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Feminine Masculinity
Given that the structure of gender qualities has been a large part of our views, in regards to a variety of issues, a number of people take exception to variances from within these rules. Keeping this in mind, we will discuss the reasons why many individuals are discouraged from crossing traditional gender traits, and closely examine parts of the article assigned for this paper.
In consideration of the editorial by Newsweek (2008), the author clearly uses the following lines to assert masculine characteristics, “I handle lithe, lovely women, engage in duels and delight in the experience of an exotic locale [, and] well, maybe we need to step outside” (as cited in Macionis, 2010, ¶ 2,6). This display, in my opinion,…show more content…

I consider this reaction to be a learned response, from years of exposure to what society considers to be the acceptable norm in these matters.
In striking resemblance to the aforementioned issues, women experience ridicule and other problems in the work place. As lending evidence, “According to the National Association of Women in Construction, less than 10 percent of women are in [the] industry” (Godwin, 2010, ¶ 9). Since I have worked in a few construction fields over my lifetime, I can personally attest to the mentality of numerous male workers in the business, regarding women infiltrating the ranks. Most often, men believe that women are inferior in the strength, endurance and mental abilities, which all are presumably necessary to be even moderately effective in the trade. Comparatively speaking, as much as nursing is customarily seen as a female position, due to its caring nature, construction is expected to be a man’s job, because of the assumed prerequisite of toughness.
In absolute terms, the author of the earlier examined piece, gives obvious illustrations of established and recognized male personalities, and applies them to his preferred vocation; however, I personally believe he has mixed feelings, in both his message and individual beliefs. While there is no doubt he enjoys his work, society has likely

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Masculinity and femininity: interpretation in terms of the gender theory


Doktor of sociolocal sciences, Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management

Masculinity and femininity: interpretation in terms of the gender theory


This paper deals with the concepts of masculinity and femininity in terms of the social construction of gender and the gender system. The author discusses the masculinity and femininity typology. Description and brief analysis of the hegemonic, accessory, natural, inversion, metrosexual and ubersexual types of masculinity are given in this paper. The paper also analyzes the normative, infantile, inversion, deformed and androgynous types of femininity. All the types are described in the author’s interpretation.

Key words: gender, gender system, masculinity, femininity

Masculinity and femininity in the broadest sense are a set of attitudes, roles, norms of behavior, hierarchy of values typical of the male and female sex in each specific society. A more detailed interpretation of masculinity and femininity can be given in terms of the gender theory. Here the possibility of the masculinity and femininity typologization opens, that arises due to gender as the basis of the study methodology.

The concepts of masculinity and femininity are multiple like other gender categories. For example, R.Connell, an Australian sociologist, one of researchers of masculinity, made a conclusion on the differentiation between various types of masculinity that occur in reality and on the identification of a hegemonic masculinity stereotype among them [5]. I.S. Kon considers hegemonic masculinity not a property of a certain male, but a specified sociocultural normative canon, to which men and boys are geared [3]. This normative structure gives the location on the top of the gender hierarchy to a boy or a man who supposedly possesses these properties and shares these values.

Along with the hegemonic masculinity, R.Connell [6, p. 79] and I.Kon [4] also distinguish such masculinity as «masculinity of accessories» or «accessory masculinity». «Accessory masculinity» is a behavior model of those men who take no efforts to occupy a hegemonic position because of a lack of strength or desire.

In addition to the above types of masculinity, the author of this paper distinguishes one more type of masculinity – «natural» masculinity. Natural masculinity is life in compliance with a male habitus, in which different restrictions imposed by hegemonic masculinity are lifted [1]. This implies recognition of a right to emotionality, a right of a male to be unconfident, worried about the future, and an opportunity of a different attitude to family and children.

In addition to these two types, inversion masculinity (derived from the Latin «inversio» – overturning, rearrangement; the term is introduced by the author) can be also distinguished. Men possessing this type have numerous characteristics that coincide in content and behavior with female patterns of behavior. Inversion masculinity is life in compliance with a habitus of self doubt, low degree of personal autonomy, lack of independence in views and behavior, conformity.

Other types of masculinity can be also distinguished on the basis of such factor as consumption, not power. Let us note that male and female consumption is also one of gender aspects, but it is discussed not as frequent as power, roles, statuses, etc. Such models of masculinity as metrosexual and ubersexual can be distinguished in terms of consumption. Metrosexual masculinity is expressed in a life style of a man focused on constant care about himself. Such men have refined taste, are sophisticated in manners and clothes. A typical representative of metrosexual masculinity is a well-to-do young man living in a large city, where there are fashion designers’ shops, night clubs, fitness centers and beauty parlors. As M.Salzman, A.Matathia and A.O’Reilly note, spa and beauty parlors for men begin to appear in theUnited States [7]. They offer a wide range of technologies and services for relaxation and appearance care and promise to be rather profitable, since they gradually turn into places of communication for men.

Using the point of view of M.Salzman, A.Matathia and A.O’Reilly who distinguish «one more type of man», we can discuss ubersexual masculinity whose content is close to that of metrosexual masculinity. The differences between representatives of ubersexual masculinity and metrosexual masculinity can be barely perceived: the former is more interested in relations than in himself. He is more sensual. He clothes for himself, not for the others, choosing a certain personal style, not a fashion. Like the latter, the former enjoys shopping, but his approach is more focused: he buys specific things that match the things he already has, but he does not turn shopping into pleasure. His best friends are men. He does not consider women to be «nice guys» in his life.

Modern trends are such that researchers have not studied the multiple meanings of femininity as thoroughly as masculinity within the scope of sociology so far. In this relation we can suggest some author’s variants of femininity, not claiming to be exhaustive. In our opinion, normative femininity corresponding to the female habitus with orientation to female values that are deemed traditional in the public conscience can be distinguished. Family and maternity belong to these in the first place. All models of female behavior are built in accordance with these values. The orientation to family and maternity in one way or another impacts on the traits of character: conformity, empathy, kindness, simplicity, carefulness.

Infantile femininity can be called another type [2]. Females of this type take the initiative in their hands, try to occupy an active leader position and be self-sufficient. Absence of conformity, desire to control other people, lack of empathy, elements of intolerance can be observed in the traits of character. But the main feature of infantile femininity is that family and maternity values are not at all dominating.

Inversion femininity can be considered one more type. Females with this type of femininity possess excessive masculinization. In this case it is more appropriate to use the term «inversion» but not «masculine» femininity in order to focus attention on the drastic changes of normative femininity. Thus, inversion femininity is life in compliance with a habitus of independence, sense of purpose, non-conformity, self-confidence, businesslike approach, work addiction, professionalism, pride, ambitiousness, aggressiveness, competitiveness (including that with men).

Deformed femininity is another type in our opinion. Females with this type have behavior models that are accompanied by alcohol addiction, drug addiction, child abandonment and other destructive patterns. These females can even have traits of character that apparently correspond to normative femininity but are opposite to them in their content.

And, finally, such type as androgynous femininity can also be distinguished. The behavior models in this type of femininity are characterized by a rather high level of combination of both «female» and «male». Women with androgynous femininity prefer such qualities as even temper and common sense.

Let us summarize what has been discussed above. We have pointed out that multiple masculinity and multiple femininity can be discussed in terms of the gender approach. And here it is important to understand  that both males and females don’t stop to be representatives of their sexes. It is their behavior models differing from traditional ideas about males and females, «masculine» and «feminine», to a greater or lesser extent, that change. These transformations are related to the transformations of the gender system.

Transformations of the gender system resulted in different types of masculinity and femininity. We distinguished the hegemonic, accessory, natural, inversion types of masculinity in terms of presence (absence) of power and the metrosexual and ubersexual types of masculinity in terms of consumption.

As for femininity, the author distinguishes such types as normative, infantile, inversion, deformed and androgynous. Females of different types of femininity are characterized by specific systems of values, in which either family, home, children, or career, freedom, creative work, or their combination, or irresponsibility for one’s life and the life of other people, or infantility occupy the top position depending on the leading values.

The represented types of masculinity and femininity are related to the changes at the macrolevel, changes in the gender system, as well as the transformation, kind of «breakdown» of interaction samples prescribed for a man or a woman at the microlevel. The represented typology in no way claims to be exhaustive, but at the same time reflects the slow but inevitable change in the gender order at the level of actions and at the level of the structure. Being subject to general natural laws of changes, the change of the gender order includes both positive and negative aspects. It should be suggested that with time it can result in harmonious interaction of men and women and formation of the most harmonious type of masculinity and femininity.


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2. Il’inykh S.A. Kontsepty maskulinnosti i femininnosti v rusle gendernogo podkhoda//Idei i idealy. – 2011. – № 4 (10). – Vol. 1. – P. 131-145

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6. Connell R.W.Masculinities. Cambridge-Oxford, 1995.

7. Salzman M., Matathia A., Reilly O’A. A new man: marketing through the eyes of women. Publishers: Piter, Kommersant, 2008.