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What is a Man, Really?

Original Surveys

Joey Julius

     How do men perceive masculinity in today's society? To find out, I surveyed various male students at my high school. Although this sample is not at all representative of the population as a whole (as the sample was not collected with a randomizing method), the information that I gathered is worth noting.

     Two surveys were distributed; one was a general survey for any male student whereas the second one was addressed specifically to wrestlers. Wrestlers face a lot of pressures to look a certain way, or at least to weigh a certain amount, so it only seemed logical to survey them along with the general male population. 

     The first survey that I conducted had 27 respondents. When analyzing the results, a few recurring themes were evident. The first question asked how often males participated in certain behaviors. Behaviors like binging and purging (eating a lot and then throwing up), calorie counting, and eliminating certain food groups were not at all popular among the respondents. The behavior that the respondents admitted to doing most frequently was exercising with the intent of bulking up (14 "very often" and "somewhat often" responses). The fact that this was the behavior with the most "very often" or "somewhat often" responses is not surprising. This behavior, out of all of the others, is most likely to lead to an increase in muscle mass which is what men are "supposed" to look like according to the media. Exercising with the intent to lose weight was the second most common behavior that the respondents were said to have participated in. Ten of the males responded that they exercised with the intent of losing weight "very often" or "somewhat often". 

     

     The second question asked the respondents what physical feature the were most self conscious about. I created a pie graph that visually shows what the individuals were most concerned about. Arm strength or appearance seemed to be the most common, with five responses. Other areas of concern were muscularity, weight, fitness level/strength, and abs/stomach. When comparing the weight of each physical attribute, it is apparent that these males are most self conscious about their physical ability or muscle mass. 

     Joey Julius is a Penn State kicker. On October 3rd, he posted the following on Facebook. Under that is my message to him. 

     These findings make complete sense when looking at the overall trend of gender role progression within the last fifty years. When it became more acceptable for women to pursue their passions away from the house, men felt as if a part of their masculine identity had been taken away. With women gaining independence and having strong careers, the idea that work-life defined a man dissolved. Masculinity changed then and there; no longer was masculinity defined by a man's ability to earn money and have power at work but rather how strong (both physically and mentally) one could be. 

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