American Obsession with Masculinity
Growing up as a gay man in American society a male child learns early on the obvious superior position the more masculine the male the higher social standing he will likely attain by it is sheer virtue. It is very clear that the masculine male athlete is considered of the highest social standing. How Americans worship their male athletes is the prime example of this hyper-masculine obsession within American culture.
Having traveled all over the world but most particularly I have noticed in most of the northern European countries there isn’t quite the masculine obsession. Being a gay man, all gay men know what “gay-dar” is. Some heterosexual people may even have heard this term but don’t understand quite what it means. It means having almost a sixth sense about who is gay. Gay men tend to have pretty good gaydar that is clearly a learned behavior that is generally quite accurate. This is solely, I believe due to the phenomenon of the American masculine obsession. This obsession actually causes men that are not masculine by nature to become masculine acting by practice. You see it in our own former president who is clearly acting out a hyper masculine image. Bush was clearly acting like an American cowboy hero, holding is arms further away from his body than need be to give the impression of his arms being to muscular and bulky to hold them closer to his body. This learned behavior stems from insecurity I believe. However, conversely one does not often see this behavior within most European cultures because they don’t seem to have the hyper-masculine worship that we Americans have.
Perhaps we have it because of the history of how our country was founded. The reason why I mentioned gaydar is because in Europe my gaydar does not work well because many of the European men by American standards act effeminate. It is not that they are effeminate, that is once again only relative to American cultural standards by how we were taught to measure masculinity. European men just walk, talk and act much more naturally and without giving thought to whether they are perceived as being masculine or feminine. This then translates into the fear of being considered gay. The issue of masculine/feminine ought to be considered a neutral issue within a healthy culture that is not fraught with fear about being considered gay or straight.
Gay men I have observed over my many years of being an out gay man have even bought into this American hyper-masculine worship. They will often try and act masculine, and will on chat lines make certain that the gay man they are talking to knows that they are the masculine type. Most of us, whether gay or straight are somewhere in the middle. However, many men will practice trying to be, on the masculine scale. This is truly an interesting phenomenon. This is likely partly the reason why athletes have trouble “coming-out” of the closet because they will lose much of their social standing and adoration. We as Americans need to be more concerned about our ethics, morals and social decay rather than being so concerned about the way we were born to behave and what actually comes naturally to us.
“After years of living the lie of fierce heterosexuality in order to maintain his macho boy band image, former ‘NSync ladies man Lance Bass dropped a bombshell on everything we know about masculinity by revealing to People Magazine that he is actually gay. While we admire his courage and hope he is now able to live a happier life, many of us are still feeling a combination of shock, confusion and disillusionment. I mean, who’s next – Clay Aiken?”
By Dennis Schleicher
Best-selling Author of;
Forbidden Love with a Married Man: E-mail Diaries