Monday, October 30, 2006

Butch - a definition

According to the Mirriam-Webster’s dictionary, butch is defined as masculine or said of a lesbian. Well trust me, I have no desire to become a lesbian! So what defines masculinity? What does it truly mean to be masculine or butch? Again, referencing the trusty dictionary, masculine is defined as male; suitable to or characteristic of men, strong, vigorous, manly, etc.

So I guess unless you have enormous bulging biceps, pumped pectorals, killer calves and ferocious forearms, you’re not strong enough to be considered masculine! What if you’re strong willed, does that make you masculine?

When most people are asked what they think of when they hear the words masculine or butch, most respond with words like: manly, strong, tough, muscular, and/or buff. So is it safe to say that all those ubiquitous Abercrombie & Fitch advertisements we see with young, virile, muscular men define masculinity? If you ask me, they more closely resemble a gay man’s fantasy then the epitome of masculinity.

A cowboy would be considered butch. A firefighter would be considered manly. Let’s face it, both are usually strong and participate in what we as a society consider manly activities. A cowboy wrangles horses. A firefighter fights blazing fires. But a male dancer, with legs muscular enough to crush the head of say Hulk Hogan is considered anything but butch. Why is that? He’s clearly muscular and strong. Is it because he prances around all day long to classical music wearing incredibly tight pants? I guess that’s not really considered very masculine.

So maybe simply being muscular and strong has nothing at all to do with being masculine or butch. Maybe it’s about the physical activity you partake in, say like hunting or playing football or changing the oil in your car. Surely those activities are all considered butch and/or masculine.

As boys, we are taught to be tough, never let them see you sweat, and whatever you do, don’t dare think about crying. God forbid a man should cry! That’s not masculine. We men should be devoid of feelings and emotions and should never reveal a sensitive side. After all, it’s a sign of weakness and anyone with a weakness can’t be strong enough to be masculine right?

What if we lived in a world where masculinity simply meant not being afraid to speak your mind, stand up for what you believe in, be brave enough to show your emotions, and live your life truthfully and honestly without fear of what others might think? If you’re man enough to do all that, shouldn’t you be man enough?


Anonymous said...

If I understand correctly, you're asking if the definition of masculinity can be broadened to be more inclusive of people who are not considered stereotypically masculine. And you ask for "a world where you can speak your mind and not be afraid to be yourself." Maybe instead of seeking a new definition of masculinity to include more people, it would be more constructive to be yourself, unafraid, no matter how much or how little you fit the definition. Why is "masculine" such an important adjective?

Vincent James Arcuri said...

Thanks for your comments. I agree with your sentiments completely, but as you will learn through future postings, I grew up in New York City where boys were raised to be boys and unless you fit the mold of "masculinity" it was prety difficult to "fit in" or be accepted as a man.

Anonymous said...

I'm buying a house in Queens and plan on having kids...should I reconsider?

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