Sex and gender are attributes to our identity. Sex describes the physical and biological factors we are born with, for example male or female genitalia, as quoted from blackadder “A boy without a winkle is a girl” (Elton and Curtis 1998). Whether we have oestrogen or testosterone hormones also tells us if we are man or woman. Gender however is in relation to stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, and expectations of what characteristics men or women should portray. Anyone given the opportunity to describe men, they would say words like dominant, non emotional, macho, aggressive, and to be the provider and protector of his family. This essay sets out to examine if masculinity is socially constructed and to do this the theories of
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A known anthropologist Margaret Mead (1935) carried out a field study in New Guinea in three different cultures, which were Arapesh, Mundugumor and Tchambuli to ascertain how masculinity and femininity were recognised across the different cultures. Arapesh’ society shows it is normal for both genders to strive to be passive and gentle, traits more commonly known for only women in western societies. The Mundugumor society contrasts this and both males and females are as assertive, independent and as hostile each other. In Tchambuli however, males were known to depict our perception of femininity, wearing ornaments and gossiping, where as females were assertive and practical (Bown, 2013:14). These case studies give a brief glimpse of how societies view masculinity and that it can change from one culture to the next.
Masculinity can be portrayed in many ways as suggested by Arthur Brittan (1989); he notes that it varies between social classes and cultural differences. This correlates to the work of anthropologist Margaret Mead mentioned above and it also ties in with Raewyn Connell’s gender hierarchy theory, of there being more than one type of masculinity. Connell’s hierarchy ranges from hegemonic masculinity onto complicit and subordinated masculinities and finally down to femininities (Bown, 2013:13). In 2011 masculinity and femininity was challenged by Becky Francis as not being as straight