Stage 1 masculinity as an underlying cause of social problems was highlighted this month in an LA Times article, “One group is responsible for America’s culture of violence, and it isn’t cops, black Americans, Muslims or rednecks. It’s men” (a very similar article ran in the UK in The Independent). Such articles are important by showing how masculinity impacts society even if the word “masculinity” is not invoked. However, such articles, along with the ever-present mantra of “toxic masculinity” and “fragile masculinity,” must be complemented with a word of caution: it is hard to imagine how relentlessly negative framing of masculinity will manifest in positive change. This is the double-edged sword of Stage 3 masculinity: it is crucial in revealing what is wrong with masculinity, but not so useful in building an alternative.
This month also saw an interesting clutch of articles at Stage 3 and 4 about Asian masculinities, which is a nice extension to last month’s focus on black masculinities. Again, though, a word of caution. It is tempting to look, for example, at the article about G-Dragon in Vogue China and conclude that different forms of masculinity are being promoted, thus suggesting Stage 4. However, if that form of masculinity is viewed via an Asian lens as somehow “appropriate” for men, then we are more accurately seeing a Stage 2 dynamic, as some mild regulation is taking place. It’s never as simple as it appears!