You’ve almost certainly heard feminist rants about impossible cultural ideals of femininity: how standards of femininity are so narrow and rigid they’re literally unattainable; how, to avoid being seen as unfeminine, women are expected to navigate an increasingly narrow window between slut and prude, between capable and docile, between moral enforcer and empathetic helpmeet.
Here’s what you may not know: It works that way for men as well.
A recent article about male fitness models has made me vividly conscious of how the expectations of masculinity aren’t just rigid or narrow. They are impossible. They are, quite literally, unattainable.
And while this unattainability can tie men into knots, I think that — in a weird paradox — it can also offer a glimmer of hope.
Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, Wealthy, Handsome, Strong, and with Endless Hard-Ons: The Impossible Ideals Men Are Expected to Meet. To find out more about how male fitness models endure dangerous, illness-inducing routines to make their bodies look that way on camera; how the ideal of masculinity — not just the physical ideal, but the emotional and cultural and sexual ideal — has become not only narrow and rigid but literally unattainable; and how, paradoxically, the unattainability of this ideal can be actually liberating… read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!