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The Mars symbol stands for masculinity

Masculinity describes the sum of the qualities that are considered characteristic of the man . In science, evolutionary psychology and gender studies are primarily concerned with masculinity. In gender studies, masculinity is defined as a construct that changes historically and varies culturally.

In a narrower sense, virility ( Latin virilis "masculine") means masculine strength, masculine- erotic charisma, often also the ability to reproduce ("virility"). Hence, manhood is an obsolete colloquial word for the sexual maturity of the young man, and manhood is used in high language for bravery . Certain characteristics of the male body are also often interpreted as symbols of masculinity. Physical size, well-developed muscles , a deep voice , broad shoulders , distinctive facial features (especially the chin ) and a lot of body hair (especially the chest ) are typical male characteristics.


Here, masculinity is opposed to the conceptual pole femininity and, like this, is a culturally and ideologically condensed understanding (as opposed to “being a man”, which represents the diversity actually lived). The characteristics attributed to men through masculinity are, among other things, subject to cultural and social change (cf. woman and woman ); they are considered to be linked to the biologically masculine characteristics (see males ). The extent to which these ascriptions are considered socialized or innate (or even “natural” or “divinely willed”) is also subject to social change. Different religions, world views and scientific positions offer various models as answers. In the scientific field, gender studies and evolutionary psychology are primarily concerned with these questions.

“Male” actions and behavior are dealt with in more detail - also in a cultural comparison - in sociological role theory .

Since the publications of the Australian sociologist Raewyn Connell, current gender research speaks of masculinity in the plural, i.e. H. of " masculinity ". In historical and cultural analyzes, Connell worked out that there is not just one but many manifestations of masculinity that could also exist in the same culture at the same time. Those who are accepted as predominant in a culture are called " hegemonic masculinity " by it .

Masculinity in the Western cultural area

The stereotypes that are unspoken or explicitly ascribed to the "masculine" in western culture are:

These ascriptions are often considered archetypal , while others devalue them as stereotypical role expectations . The attributions are more scientifically shaped and stand in contrast to many claims made in gender research . She also criticizes this with an ethical argument: By limiting them to prefabricated patterns, they violate the human dignity of both women and men.

Such problems are exacerbated in a society with a higher valuation of traits attributed to masculinity versus traits attributed to femininity. If this sexist evaluation problem leads to “masculinity” being raised to the standard and “femininity” being deviated from such norms, gender research speaks of androcentric gender relations.

Fashion , youth cultures , advertising , films and other media continually offer new images and ideals of masculinity and thus reinforce, vary or relativize these attributions. Examples: the films Easy Rider and Terminator , the Cowboy myth (western novels, film, fashion), the Marlboro Man in advertising - but also as a relativization of the hippie and the like. a. m.

Crisis of the traditional male role

In 1986 David Bertelson analyzed the influence of the changed mechanisms of individualization in US society on gender roles. He came across the phenomenon of “hypomasculinity”, that is, a weak male habitus associated with increased sensitivity that defies traditional role expectations. The downside of this crisis of the traditional role and identity model was the often brutal hyper masculinity of the American South, the military and the police. It is a form of expression of masculinity that attracts poor younger and uneducated men, but can also be found as an exaggerated form of gay culture.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: masculinity  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Mark Juergensmeyer : The world of the cowboy monks. Terror and masculinity. (PDF; 91 kB) In: Frankfurter Rundschau. April 20, 2004, accessed October 5, 2013 .
  • Theme edition: Men / Masculinity. In: Das Parlament, No. 46. German Bundestag, November 8, 2004, accessed on October 5, 2013 .
  • Brochure: Masculinity. In: Forum Sexual Education and Family Planning 2 / 3-1996. Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), October 1996, accessed on October 5, 2013 (on sex-educational work with boys; downloadable as PDF).
  • Blog: XY online. David Houlder, 2013, accessed October 5, 2013 (English, online magazine about masculinity, with extensive bibliography).

Individual evidence

  1. David Bert Elson: Snowflakes and snowdrifts: Individualism and sexuality in America. Lanham MD 1986.
  2. cf. [1] Entry on hyper masculinity in the film dictionary of the University of Kiel , accessed on May 24, 2019