As per Wikipedia, Masculinity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with boys and men. Masculinity is socially constructed, but made up of both socially-defined and biologically-created factors. This makes it distinct from the definition of the biological male sex, as both men and women can exhibit masculine traits.

Traditional masculine norms, as described in Dr. Ronald F. Levant’s Masculinity Reconstructed are: “avoidance of femininity; restricted emotions; sex disconnected from intimacy; pursuit of achievement and status; self-reliance; strength; and aggression; and homophobia”.

Another interesting expectation, which for a man, is the requirement to suppress emotions. In their book Helping Boys Succeed in School, educators Terry Neu and Rich Weinfeld (2007) capture Pollack’s Boy Code in the form of a “dos and don’t s” poster.

  1. Do not cry (no sissy stuff).
  2. Do not cower, tremble, or shrink from danger.
  3. Do not ask for help when you are unsure of yourself (observe the code of silence).
  4. Do not reach for comfort or reassurance.
  5. Do not sing or cry for joy.
  6. Do not hug your dearest friends.
  7. Do not use words to show tenderness and love. (2007, p. 24)

It is devastating to see the expectations placed on a boy child to be successful in this world. The fear of failure is instilled way too early.

How far is the traditional image of masculinity still existing in a modern society where “Man” doesn’t remain the only bread winner and protector? Gender roles have been shifting and slowly the veils of constraints have been loosening up. Though we made progress in female liberation, the expectations from a man to be “man enough” hasn’t changed much. As per the landmark study, a collaboration between Lund University in Sweden and Stanford University this does reflect in the three times higher suicide rates among men compared to women in Canada (17.9 versus 5.3 per 100,000).

Are men forced to still aspire for a higher goal called “manliness” or are they in pursuit of being an alpha male, which doesn’t even exist…? Maybe. Would financial stability/being a provider make a man “man enough? Interestingly the expectation still exists not only that man must remain a provider, but the only or primary provider.

Has the concept of masculinity become so heavy that it is unbearable to men? Does one need to get into gender wars in order to claim masculinity? Is true strength quiet and assertive rather than rough and bossy?


  1. Masculinity
  2. Gender difference in suicide
  3. Suicide rates
  4. Suicide rates in Canada
  5. DECONSTRUCTING THE ESSENTIAL FATHER -Louise B. Silverstein, Ph.D.and Carl F. Auerbach, Ph.D.Yeshiva University from the AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST, Volume 54, Number 6