The social construction of femininity is discussed in many studies, but also men are subjected to the pressure of dominant models. Masculinity is clearly defined by media. A “real man” have to be strong, good at sports, brave and absolutely heterosexual. Meanwhile he shouldn't be sensitive and express his feelings. Further, he should distance himself from any behavior considered feminine.
Images of perfect male bodies
The media influence the definition of ourselves and what is ideal. The media, especially advertising, depict perfect male bodies: muscle, defined, perfect in proportions. Men in adverts seem as statues rather than persons. When I looked for an example, I wondered at the easiness to find it. My research lasted about 20 seconds: I thought to a brand of wear and I keyed in YouTube “Calvin Klein man advert” and that's done! A perfect example in my opinion:
These images produce a psychological pressure on men. One consequence is the increase in cases of anorexia nervosa in young men. NHS (National Health Service) in UK found a 66% growth of hospitalized men for eating disorders over the last ten years.
Men difficulty admit to be ill, because anorexia is considered a women's problem and it would be a sign of weakness.
Men are exposed to social models of masculinity from childhood. Society and parents often teach them to become “real men”. They are used to hide feelings and weaknesses, to not to cry, because they don't have to be as a “sissy”. The model is the superhero, also in toys and movies. For instance, Disney perpetuates stereotypes of what is masculinity e what is femininity in almost all the movies:
Masculinity, media and violence
A portrayal of men as dominant and powerful in advertising can provoke violent behaviors. There are adverts, such as the Dolce &Gabbana's one, that glamorize violence, group sex and male dominance.
Recently Jackson Katz realized an interesting documentary on the social construction of masculinity and violence. His aim is to enlight and provoke students to consider their own participation in the culture of contemporary masculinity.
Here the full version: