John Darcey Darcey 1

Professor Garber

Hm 46

April 8th, 1999

Idea of Masculinity and Physical Condition

In today's society, there is a lot of pressure on young men to be

in the best physical condition possible. The idea of masculinity

seems to be related to the picture of a perfect man with bulging

muscles that excels in sports. A boy growing up who does not make

the football or baseball team is ridiculed and tormented by his

classmates and is labeled as a "nerd" or a "loser".

These images of the macho man are put in adolescent boys

heads mainly by the media. They see the Arnold Schwaztanagers

and other muscle men and grow up thinking that is what they have to

look like in order to get a good-looking girlfriend or to be popular.

Movies portray the big strong man as the one in charge, and the one

with all the ladies. Strength has become symbolic of not only

Masculinity, but of power and sexuality.

The main problem with this image is that not all children can

Darcey 2

live up to it. A boy with an illness such as asthma or diabetes may

look fine, but is not able to perform as well athletically than his

classmates. The boy will often end up hating himself and pushing

harder than he is physically able in order to perform as well as his

peers. This is not only dangerous to the physical well - being of the

child, but can also mentally harm him when he realizes he will never

be as quick or as strong as the rest of the boys. Along with peer

pressure comes pressure from the gym teachers or coaches. They

always want to push the extra step, but sometime that extra step is

unattainable. The only way that a child with a disability can cope with

this is to realize that just because he is not athletic does not make

him any less masculine.

Some boys that do not even take interest in sports pretend to,

just so they are not labeled as "weird" or "gay". They act like they

enjoy watching football games with dad or basketball games with his

friends, even though he would rather be reading or writing. Just

because a boy is not interested in sports does not make him a

homosexual, but that is the image some adolescents get. This is a

shame, because instead of focusing on their real talents, these boys

Darcey 3

are faking interest in something to protect their masculinity.

Being strong and physically fit can also become a dangerous

addition for men. Some will work out until they cause themselves

pain, and others will go as for as to inject steroids into their system to

get bigger. Many men that have worked very hard to get into the

Olympics or professional sports lose all they have worked for because

of the means they used to make it to the top.

In a society where the kid who is picked last in gym is chastised

and laughed at, we must remember in the future that the kid who

did not choose him will probably be calling him boss. Just because

someone is not as physically capable as another does not make

them any less masculine. Although it is not likely

that this stereotype will fade away anytime soon, it can be hoped that

other things will be looked at in accordance to masculinity in the