Man up! Man down. The effects of the hook-up culture and the male identity. 

I’ve been analysing and reading about the phenomenon of the hook-up culture and what it means to be a part of it, and it’s clear to see the gender differences and the impacts it has on all parties, whether recognised or not, and whether wanted or not. There’s lots of research about the effects on women and girls, and I’d tend to write about it as a woman myself, however, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about men and the effects it has, the pressure involved and the ideas behind their behaviour.

As a fighting feminist, I think it’s incredibly important and necessary to look also at men and their roles, their oppression and not to bring them down but to bring them to attention and to an understanding so that they too can explore option and live their lives without judgement on how they should perform their masculinity and to what extent. Feminism isn’t about excluding men or hating them, it’s about equality. So maybe if there was a focus on the role of men, the fight for equality for women would be helped too? Hmmm…

So guys…
Want to have a long and loving relationship? Cool. Want to have multiple hook-ups and no commitment? Cool. Want them relationships to be with the same sex? Cool. Want them relationships to be with all sexes? Cool. Want them relationships to be explored whilst your identity is not so socially defined and your gender role is neither ‘male’ or ‘female’? Cool. Want none of that or something else? That’s cool too.

As a sociologist, (and this is my little rant section) the more I’m forced to analyse and think about gender roles, social performances and constructs, the more I hate people and society. Lol and the more I realise we’re all doomed, but let’s keep the positivity as always guys! I’m more aware than ever before of why I behave the way I do, the reasons behind my actions and all the rest of it. And although this is both a blessing and a curse (because I over-analyse EVERYTHING), it makes me realise more how unintentionally, and unknowingly brainwashed so many people are. There’s no real blame here, but maybe we should all be questioning who we are and our place in society….

The hook-up culture holds huge responsibility in enforcing typical gender roles, especially on men. Currier, 2013, argues that there’s a “hyper-focus on heterosexuality and sexual activity, and the importance of bonding with or impressing men, is much more than bonding or impressing women”. In the article that I read, Currier, West and Zimmerman all argued how “men were doing masculinity on ways that made them more accountable to other men”, and that through the activities of hook-ups, they hoped to raise their status and make names for themselves, which is usually the opposite strategy for women who fear slut-shaming. This all shows the pressure and importance of performances, like having sex and having a lack of respect towards women and their bodies, in order to show off to ya mates and boost what it means to be heterosexual and male.

Connell argues that “heterosexual men are not excluded from the basic capacity to share experiences, feelings and hope. This ability is often blunted, but the capacity for caring and identification is not necessarily killed”. So many are often stuck between how they want to act and how they think they should act etc. Relating it to the hook-up culture is so relevant as it influences and holds its own expectations of ‘doing gender’ and ‘being a man’.

Anyway, going back to my point, it seems men don’t have it all figured out, and things can be pretty tough for them too. And as an example of some guys that I know, those that tend to strut around with egos as big as their need to conform, are actually some of the most damaged I know too. So what does this say? And I’m not saying men are to blame for this, or that it’s all men because it definitely is not, but as a society, do we need to look more at breaking these ideas of what it means to ‘be a man’?

“The number of heterosexual men working on these issues is still small. I don’t think there is anything in itself admirable about being a dissident. I look forward to the day when a majority of men, as well as a majority of women, accept the absolute equality of the sexes, accept sharing of childcare and all other forms of work, accept freedom of sexual behaviour, and accept multiplicity of gender forms, as being plain common sense and the ordinary basis of civilised life.” – Connell, 2014

This is only a little analysis that I did super quickly (because I’m supposed to be writing a dissertation!) but the thoughts came up while doing some research and I’d love to know what you all think? Do you think ‘maleness’ and the related expected behaviour is a real issue and needs to be recognised more? Should we be questioning our roles within the phenomenon of our hook-up culture? Is it time something changed with ‘maleness’ for the benefit of everyone? Could it ever change or is it changing already? Could change mean that men might feel lost in their identities or would they become empowered and free? All thoughts, just thoughts…. Feel free to share yours too!

Have a good day and thanks for reading!

V

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