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More Than Porn: Shame and Masculinity in the 21st Century

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You may never hear it from their mouths, but men worldwide are experiencing a crisis of masculinity. Caught between tradition and progress, modern men find themselves lost in a sea of internal chaos, confusion and inferiority that would stymie both Hamlet and Tyler Durden. Without a proactive dialogue and the widespread redefinition of what it means to be a "real man," such feelings will continue to contribute to the extraordinary level of violence committed by men, especially in poor communities. Altering the paradigm of the masculine ideal is the only solution to enjoying true gains in gender equality.

What is sex?

Sexual practice is a dominant aspect of masculinity. Studies show that 54% of men think about sex once or multiple times per day, as opposed to only 19% of women. But no male who has ever stepped into a locker room can deny the vital role that heterosexuality plays in the masculine ideal of sexual behavior. This cultural confusion between sexual preference and sex identity is exemplified by nations such as Russia that glorify hyper-masculinity and inhibit homosexuals from considering themselves as "real men."

Being a man in Russia has never been easy. Much ink has been spilled in documenting the country's obsessive veneration of the military, physical toughness and alcohol consumption. Russian President Vladimir Putin has waged a propaganda campaign to single-handedly embody this masculine ideal by hugging polar bears, riding horses shirtless in Siberia, and shooting at as many WWF-protected mammals as he can find. The Russian obsession with macho behavior has defined the nation for centuries as a place where men who do not conform to such ideals are to be ridiculed as outcasts and unfit to call themselves Russian.

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