Sex & Society » Men; Humor » Myths: "The Nominalism of Masculinity, Machismo, and Manly-Manliness"

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The Nominalism of Masculinity, Machismo, and Manly-Manliness

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What is masculinity, anyway? Is it a single, inert thing – or is it open to anyone’s interpretation? Can you buy it, steal it, rub up against it, or administer it in pill form?

  Confidence Man

Is confidence the new masculinity? Consider the advice of ‘Mystery,’ the expert ladies’ man on The Pick Up Artist, who could be crowned queen of queens with his glam-rock-meets-Boy-George look. Mystery’s number one rule for his apprentices is to act cocky and uninterested around women. And guess what? Put the contestants in a challenge at a bar, and the geek who plays the ‘bad boy,’ going as far as offhandedly insulting his target, gets the girl! My partner and I were daily ear-witnesses to this phenomenon when we rented an apartment above a twenty-something serial monogamist. Each night’s drama began with her crying her eyes out while begging her boyfriend of the month not to dump her. His screamed response usually went something like “You’re nagging and clingy, and I don’t need this in my life!” Within the hour, she’d be howling in ecstasy as she totally gave it up for the stud. Naturally, we gay neighbors had to see for ourselves the mega hunk who could make a woman squeal like that, so we’d peek out our front blinds when the boyfriend of the month was leaving, only to discover he was nothing more than a cocky pipsqueak. Yet just that assured swagger made us both gasp, “What a man!”

Confidence is clearly a powerful aphrodisiac, so is it any surprise that many younger women find older men sexy? Sure, middle-aged men play the ‘my car is bigger than your car’ game, but generally, social pressures are not as rigid for these men, whose pride in their life’s successes is reflected in the way they carry themselves. They even exhibit old school physical machismo young men have yet to develop: broad shoulders, salt n’ pepper, fuzz above the collar, creases that distinguish hardened features. But with those qualities being shunned in the new millennium, it is the confidence that peaks the most interest, separating the boys from the men. This might explain why young men, unsure of their place in the hierarchy of masculinity, are now becoming willing participants in the cougar movement, drawn to experienced, aggressive and self-assured women twice their age. These generational relationships could also be a result of newly crowned ‘adults’ looking for nurturing replacements for their parents…but that’s a whole different article.

Perhaps our changing society has created this new masculinity—confidence wrapped in a pretty bow—out of necessity. Machismo of the mind has somewhat leveled the playing field for strong, confident women previously disadvantaged by their feminine physicality. It has also reassigned visual traits to all men that were once strictly used to single out gay men, who can now more easily homogenize. And just as society is ever changing, this current form of masculinity is only the next step in an ever evolving male identity.



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