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



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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



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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



future.