Two of our authors, Sam and Dean, recently discussed masculine stereotypes. Check out their conversation below!

Sam: Well hey there! So for those of you who don’t know, Dean recently moved a few hours away from me, and I’m LOVING IT! He’s in town tonight, and we’re currently chilling on my couch. We thought this would be a great time to start a conversation with one of our favorite subjects — masculine stereotypes and pop culture.

Dean: Thanks, Sam! Your place is totally fetch!

Sam: YAS!

Dean: All right then! So, Sam, let’s talk. How often do you share your love of pop culture with others?

Sam: Well, I don’t have very many male friends, but I am definitely not bashful about my love of Carly Rae Jepsen’s album, E•MO•TION, which is loved by virtually EVERY gay man.

Dean: So, what do other guys say about this passionate love for Carly and her emotions?

Sam: I don’t normally get much flack for it, but occasionally I get a laugh about it or something. I usually just shake it off. Most people honestly know I’m like a walking BuzzFeed article. But some people who don’t know me throw me some shade.

Dean: Such hip speak.

Sam: I know, I know (dusts off shades). But it’s funny — because everything which I used to throw shade at toward myself I now LOVE! I used to not care for pop culture in general, but now I unashamedly love it. What about you, Dean? I know you love some 1D. #ComeBackZayn

Dean: #ZayniacForLife. Yeah, I do love me some 1D. I’m a fan of boy bands in general: NSYNC, BSB, BTR, etc. I usually get a few rolled eyes and shakes of the head when I talk about this. I have a 1D bag, actually, that I used to carry music in, and it always draws some interesting attention and glances.

Sam: I need to borrow that immediately.

Dean: No. Not sorry. But anyway, I honestly used to be bothered by all of that — by the negative attention to things I liked.

Sam: You weren’t fitting a mold.

Dean: Yeah, I have always enjoyed fashion and the “not so masculine” things about life. I’ve been cooking since I was 8, and I have always enjoyed art, music, theatre, literature, and every other non-athletic thing pretty much. I was the skinny kid with a book and a good GPA. Not quite Mr. Manly Man.

Sam: I was the home-schooled turned private school turned holy crap I’m going to public school kid! I was quiet then but have started to turn around on that. Growing up, I wasn’t athletic. My dad made me work out, and I hated it. I didn’t do sports and didn’t have guy friends really. I was friends with mostly girls, and we talked about fashion shows and such. I had a lot of “girl conversations” simply because I was around them so much. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary not to like manly things. My friends and I had common interests.

Dean: I know how that goes. I was raised by my sisters, pretty much. I didn’t connect with my brothers obviously and didn’t have any guy friends until high school. So, how do you think this plays into the typical stereotypes given to gay guys and the homosexual community in general?

Sam: Well, I feel like people are always going to go where they feel most comfortable. For example, if you’re a Christian and you’ve only known the Church, chances are you’ll feel more comfortable going to the church picnic. Whereas someone who was not raised in church would NOT feel comfortable at the church picnic. I feel like it’s similar.

Dean: Yeah, for guys who felt like the only norm was the female world, they’ll always lean back toward that. It’s as if the stereotype was a way for people to —

Sam: Affirm themselves, maybe?

Dean: Yeah, that makes sense. Someone who grew up separated from the typically “manly” things who then finds himself separated even further by his attractions will cling to whatever is around him to define himself.

Sam: It’s not just gay guys, though. It’s ALL guys. Especially in the Church! I have a friend who is straight, getting married, and he LOVES Disney! One time, we had a chick-flick movie night! We got pizza and watched sappy movies together, and we actually got crap for that! Because we were two guys hanging out doing that. And I feel like that’s actually hurtful to guys everywhere. If it had been two girls doing that, no one would have said a thing. But instead, those around us had placed this expectation on us to act a certain way — simply because we’re guys.

Dean: I get that. I have known guys who have avoided things not “manly” enough from fear of what others will think. Like the color pink, for example — it’s amazing the number of guys who REFUSE to wear anything pink simply because they believe it’s a “girl color.”

Sam: (Jumps off couch, runs to closet, brings back pink shirt.) This shirt is the first pink thing I ever owned! Buying this shirt was super liberating! My mom used to scold me about this shirt growing up. She was afraid of my being perceived as something bad. Now, she is over that. But at the time, it was a major concern for her. When I bought this shirt, I was on a church trip and my best friend at the time just told me to get it and not care about what others think!

Dean: I remember protesting the senior shirts at my old school because they wanted to have pink shirts. I refused, not because I disliked the color, but because I was afraid of people thinking I was gay for wearing pink. And I was still way hidden in deep fear. Now, I have several pink things and proudly display them! Especially with having a daughter — pink is now a part of regular life.

Sam: I literally own a pair of pink boxers now.

Dean: Awesome. All right, time for closing comments. Go for it, Sam.

Sam: For the record, Dean and I both have pink phone cases. Life is so much easier when you stop caring about what people think. My life kind of blew up in 2014, and I got into counseling. My counselor is a wonderful, old, wise, Christian man, and whenever I expressed concern whether people might perceive me as gay or treat me differently because of it, he always responded with the same question: “Who cares?”
Now, that may sound harsh, but it was actually super helpful. He helped me understand that liking pink or Carly Rae Jepsen or anything else that doesn’t fit inside typically masculine stereotypes is OKAY.

I’m not trying to put on any masculine front; instead, I’m choosing to be masculine on my terms.

I wear shorter shorts that show off my legs and make me feel masculine. I make plans for my future real estate business, and that makes me feel masculine. I rock out to female-oriented music, and that makes me feel masculine. Basically, YOU define what makes you feel masculine in your own way. I feel more masculine saying “YAAAS” and “SLAAAAY” around a group of guys than I ever would talking about the local sports team with them.

Be yourself and love Jesus, and you’re good to go. Thoughts, Dean?

Dean: Like you said — be yourself and love Jesus. I’ve learned to accept that people will stereotype me based on my likes and dislikes. But that’s their choice. If they refuse to look past my love for a certain TV show or style of music to see who I really am, then I’m not the one with the issue. Maybe that’s harsh, but it’s true.

Love what you love and remember that, in the end, what matters is your walk with Christ. Now get in the car, loser, we’re going shopping.

Do you wrestle against any masculine stereotypes or “gay” stereotypes? How confident are you in your masculinity and your ability to buck the culture of masculine stereotypes?

* Photo courtesy drh, Creative Commons.

About the Author

  • We are all products of our upbringing and culture to some extent, and that includes the stereotypes and the conformity or sometimes resultant non-conformity. I have a pink shirt too – one of my favourites. Love purple better though! Lol! And I enjoyed crocheting at one stage of my life. Would like to learn to sew but find threading the needle almost impossible! Romance movies and stories, especially with drama, are great. I’m learning to be a bit more fashion conscious than I ever used to be, though I had a male friend in the 90s who was always intrigued that my outfits always were colour matched/co-ordinated even down to the socks – I still joke about the underwear matching too! Lol! So, yes, be yourself and love being so, even when it breaks all the stereotypes.

  • I have always struggled with thinking that other men “see” the “gay” part of me inside that I desperately don’t want them to see. Like, I keep giving myself away by how I talk, act, etc. So, at one point I started observing other men who I saw as masculine. Things like how they used their hands and how they sat (seems like straight men sit with their legs open usually). How they talked and walked. Wanting so bad to be looked at by other men as a “manly man”. When I was a teen I was terrified about becoming and adult man. Everything about it scared me. The deep voice, the hair all over, etc. Older men scared me too. I’m finally at a place where I really want to be masculine and now I wish I had all those qualities a lot more than I have! I used to pray to God to put more hair on my chest! I finally got some in my 40’s and 50’s!

  • Does God care what I wear? He did once!
    “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” (NIV, Deuteronomy 22:5)
    That word “detests” is a very strong word also used to describe how God felt about homosexuality in the O.T.!
    Now I get that things changed in the N.T. There is freedom (1 Corinth. 10:23), but with the caveat that not everything is edifying (to me or others or even God).
    What I hate today is what God hated back then: the blurring of the genders. Today, unisex clothes, changing definitions of marriage (who is the husband and who is the wife), hairstyles, mannerisms, etc, blur things such that when I walk down the street I sometimes don’t know if I’m seeing a man or a woman!
    I struggle with this because there seems to be an agenda (by the evil One) to do exactly that: distort God’s creation of gender and instead create a genderless society! I think God hates this.
    So, yeah do as Shakespeare said: “clothes maketh man” be true to yourself, but for me I’m masculine and want to wear masculine clothes like my macho male friends. I feel true to my gender when I do that and it makes me feel good as a man.
    It’s my own little opinion though :).

  • One of my favorite posts we’ve yet had on YOB! The camaraderie and openness and wisdom and humor are just all so great.
    Growing up, I was always so paranoid about appearing “gay,” I worked on my voice and mannerisms to make sure I wasn’t showcasing anything that might give away what was buried so deep and couldn’t begin to even face myself. Nowadays, I’m finding my own share of things that help me feel “masculine.” I’ve never owned anything pink, but I gotta say I’m loving my new purple t-shirt. Perhaps pink is the next step? I love how you put it, Sam, talking about shorts and future plans and music and how you find masculinity in all of those things, regardless the culture around you, Christian or otherwise. That’s growth.
    I miss you guys so much. Let’s all hang soon.

  • I believe that a large part of the reason that there are so many gay men in American today is because of unrealistic cultural expectations of what it means to be a “real man”. If a man isn’t good at sports or doesn’t like sports, if he isn’t tough and macho, then he isn’t a real man. These guys who don’t fit in with society’s definition of manhood go seeking a place to fit in, and they find the gay community. I believe in times past there was more room in society for men who weren’t macho to still be considered real men who fit into the heterosexual world. As feminism chipped away all of the traditional masculine roles, all that was left for men to differentiate themselves from women was to become hyper-macho and focus on sports, drinking, picking up women, etc.

    • That’s definitely very true. Well there’s that and also how intimacy and affection in male friendships that has also caused a lot more widespread SSA amongst men.

  • Very interesting and insightful post y’all. As a “not-yet-20-something” I still have a long way to go as far as figuring some of this out. I mean, I know you all don’t have EVERYTHING figured out but you know what I mean. I found it really intriguing that you found your masculinity in doing everyday things regardless of whether they were traditionally masculine or not. For me, I’m still not sure yet. I’m still wrestling inner conflict of figuring out what I enjoy and what I’m doing just to put on a front. Growing up I had a little bit of really stereotypical masculine things and things that weren’t so much. It’s so confusing.
    As a kid, I was practically forced to play T-ball, baseball, and attend cub/boy scouts. Most of the time I hated those things, but out of them I found my love for the outdoors and hiking as well as being together as a team. I also ended up playing with lots of girls growing up and doing the things they enjoyed like art, cooking, pretend play and the like. However, I also enjoyed playing soccer for several years as a kid and then stopped because I felt the referees were unfair (and the coaching was embarrassingly awful). Ironically I ended up coaching and refereeing little league soccer for 3 years and wasn’t the greatest at it.
    Now I feel as though I’m at a strange crossroad of life knowing what my masculine identity looks like. Not what it is, but what it looks like.

  • You guys pretty much described my first experience of buying a pink shirt. I was about twenty or twenty-one years old. It was a short-sleeved polo shirt, on sale for $8, I think. Pastel pink. My mother always hated pink of any sort, so we never had anything pink in our house. But I liked the color and the shirt, and nobody was with me at the time, so I went ahead and bought it. Oh man, I heard it from both my mom and my brother the first time I walked out of my room wearing that shirt! Haha! I even popped the collar up like guys used to do back then. That really got my brother mad! Eventually, though, my mom did admit that I looked good in pink and it was okay for me to wear any color I liked. My brother, on the other hand, still railed me whenever I wore it or popped any collar on any shirt. So I bought another pink shirt — hot pink — just to show him that this wasn’t a trend that would soon disappear, so he’d better get used to it. It worked. 🙂

  • This post really spoke to me. Since I grew up in a house without my dad present, I was surrounded by sisters and my mom. So I was never into anything athletic, sports, paintballing, and other things guys “should” care about. So I wasn’t your average “guy”. Throughout Jr. High and High School, I was bullied daily and excluded from the guys. Since I was in a private school of around 100 students (K-12), there was no avoiding the bullying. Being called gay and fag multiple times throughout the day took a toll on me. I felt uncomfortable around guys because of that fear of rejection and humiliation. Even to this day, I still have trouble connecting with guys because that past.
    Eventually graduating and going to college had liberated me so much. I didn’t have to try my best to be “more of a guy”. I was able to be myself without worrying about bullying. Sometimes it just shows that some guys are more afraid of being considered “gay” than being themselves and trying to conform to what the media and culture says a “guy” should be.

    • Bryan,
      I certainly can identify with your story. I too was bullied throughout grade school and high school along with the name-calling of vicious demeaning emasculating words. I still haven’t fully recovered from the emotional and psychological effects of those days. I also had an absent father who showed me nothing “male.” I was raised by my grandmother and two aunts, all of which were very string-willed. So being smothered by all things female, it was a fatal recipe for failure as a man. Wanting acceptance and approval so badly was my aim and I would (still) get it any way I could; even through same sex hookups. The need for male connection is critical for those of us who are same sex addicted. I know very often we look for it in wrong ways, but nonetheless, the deep need is always there for what we never received. Sorry to ramble, but your post resonated with me.
      Blessings to you.

  • I love Opera! God calls us to righteousness, not “manliness”. If we fall ever more in love with Jesus Christ, we’ll be the manliest men on earth. Our Lord and Saviour was super manly when He walked the earth, and yet His behaviour offended many. . . Hmmm. . . The Apostle Paul? Super man! Not exactly macho though. Etcetera.

    • Our society may not consider opera manly. However, I think that you will find that almost all operas were written by men. What would western civilization be like if it weren’t for men who would today be considered unmanly? It seems like most of the great art, architecture, and music was created in centuries past. I wonder how many modern Mozarts and Michelangelos the world is missing out on because Men feel like they must fit the masculine stereotype that modern society has created?

      • Amen! Our Creator made us in His Image. It stands to reason, then, that creativity is a godly attribute. Not a cause of shame. It’s time to shake this nonsense off into the fire like the viper that tried to attach itself to Paul’s hand. Amen.

  • Thanks for strengthening my vocabulary, gentlemen! I had to run to the urban dictionary to decipher throwing shade and fetch. And then I had to run to iTunes to help with Carly Rae. As to your questions, I am fairly confident now. I have two pair of rose MeUndies boxer briefs in my top drawer. Unfortunately my wife does not like them. I do like weight machines, long, grueling tennis matches, and Dodger baseball, but I also like show tunes. I’m not really fond of boy bands (unless you consider Thile’s Punch Brothers a boy band), but I do like shopping for clothes. I like writing poetry, especially nonsense sonnets, but I also like films about soldiers and their heroism. Making gourmet crepes is cool, but working on my car or discussing it bores me to tears. If I had lived by your dictum “Be yourself and love Jesus” thirty years ago, I would be a healthier man today.

  • Great post guys…..though I am not running out to get a pink phone case. I have stopped caring so much what people think of me for not being into sports, but instead loving shopping, reading, playing the piano…. none of that traditional “guy stuff”.

  • Loved this post, guys. When I was in high school, the trend started for men to start wearing pink shirts! Many of the popular male kids wore pink polos and dress shirts to school. I was ridiculously addicted to American Eagle and Ralph Lauren, and I wore a pink Polo Ralph Lauren polo with AE plaid shorts and Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes. I thought I was awesome. There were still people who thought it was a women’s-only color, of course, but they were typically older. My dad has a pink dress shirt that he wears to church! Today, I don’t think I own a single pink item of clothing. My style drastically changed since high school, though.
    “I’ve learned to accept that people will stereotype me based on my likes and dislikes. But that’s their choice. If they refuse to look past my love for a certain TV show or style of music to see who I really am, then I’m not the one with the issue.” Absolutely, yes. My therapist has said to me, “So what if people misunderstand you? So what if you don’t have the chance to explain who you are? So what if that person wouldn’t want to hang out with you anymore if they knew your ‘darkest secrets’? Noah, I think that says a whole lot more about them than it does you.”

  • Please tell me you wore pink when this post was uploaded! Haha! You guys, this post is fantastic! For myself, I’m secured in my Masculinity, and really don’t care what others think if I buy “something feminine.” But of course, high school, people thinking I might be gay, didn’t get anything pink or feminine. Typical stuff. But we need to do more of these types of blogs in the future!!!

  • I admit, I’m not much of a pink person. I have a pink dress shirt, but rarely wear it (though I do look good in it).
    That’s not to say that I don’t have some characteristics that others would say are feminine. I absolutely love musicals (currently obsessing over Hamilton, much to my roommates’ chagrin). I used to own several *N Sync albums. And if you wanted someone to join you as you cry at a sappy movie (or TV show, or the Chopped Teens Tournament), I’m your guy.

  • I can’t say I do wrestle with masculine versus gay stereotypes as I like to think that I have matured into a rather masculine kind of guy. As a child and teenager I engaged in sports and the Boy Scouts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a good ball player or scout by any respect so I can sympathize with y’all who hated sports and BSA. However these activities did have some positive effects during my childhood. I took the avenue of playing junior high football with a suburban league instead of playing for my respective school (to avoid the bullying). It was this decision that I managed to forge a special camaraderie with my fellow teammates without the negative preconceptions my classmates harbored against me. Through the personal training of my BSA scoutmaster, Wayne, I managed to overcome my paralyzing fear of water and swimming. Was I attempting to forge myself into a “manly” man? One might see it that way. But I really was wrestling with my own fear, insecurity and social isolation and I overcame them to be a better version of simply me.
    As to gay stereotypes, let’s see. Well, I did drop the hint at work that I had an affinity for boy bands like N*SYNC and Backstreet Boys (still love Brian Littrell). My “masculine” co-worker/father grew disconcerted. What could I say!? I like their music, but had no inclination that I wanted to be with them and have them serenade me if I was my co-worker’s daughter. I would prefer to BE them. They were iconic, popular and adored by their many fans. Envy is still a sin, right? Number 10 on the list?
    In light of all this introspection, I am comfortable and confident in my masculinity. I do like watching sports particularly football, listening to Christian music (listening to Matthew West now) and hanging out with my guy friends. In short, I am a guy. More to the point, I’m ME. Take it or leave it. We are guys!
    Pink shirt? Hmm, carnation or cotton candy? ;D

  • Well today is a very thoughtful and melancholy day, and I’ve been reflecting on several things related to YOB topics. This one struck me too in how I have felt that I was judged for my preferences most of my life. I too stopped caring only because I found other guys who liked some of the same things I do. Most of my male friends for the last 20 years don’t like sports, and that seems to be more common amongst Christian men. I find it is about 50/50%. I have also found other sensitive men who have strong emotions, but are also working through feeling ashamed about it. I am able to help them feel more comfortable when I cry in front of them or others while they are around. I think the idea of a man crying is one of the cultural mores that is strongest with men. I have also been thinking about affection between men today, which is another cultural taboo. I am feeling sad that I haven’t found anyone that is affectionate in any way, except for a pastor who turned up to be grooming me for something more. (nothing happened but it would have if I didn’t figure out what he was intending). It really makes me sad that so many guys are somewhat homophobic when they really do want affection. It seems as though the expectation for men too is that they get married and stop having guy friends and spend all of their time with their wives and family. I have a friend now who I started getting to know and about 3 weeks later he got a girlfriend. I told him he wouldn’t have any time for me and he swore he would; he doesn’t. That has happened to me time and again. I talked to my accountability partner about it and he is married and about 66 years old. He said that is the way it should be; spend all of your time with your wife and work as much as you can. I think this is even more ingrained in the Christian psyche.
    Thanks for your article though Sam and for being transparent about your preferences. It is nice to know I have some things in common with other guys like myself. I’m very much into the arts, was a music major and I do interior decorating and I’m obsessed with Christmas decorating like Martha Stewart does. I love cooking and baking too. I don’t like boy bands or pink especially unless it’s a shirt though.

  • Haha I am cracking up, this post was so encouraging! I started taking dance classes when I was around 11 and had this hot pink shirt that said “real men lift women.” People definitely questioned that shirt. “Be Yourself and Love Jesus”, that is so important and something that I am still trying to do. There is so much pressure to be a certain (almost said a curtain… that would have been awkward…) haha anyways, yeah it is still hard for me to really be myself and I often find my self cowering in shame and afraid of what people are going to think of me. I really shouldn’t though because when I am myself people think Im a pretty funny guy and like to be around me but I cause myself to shrink back.

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