Emily Liner claims in her latest column (“Boys Don’t Always Have to be Boys,” THE HOYA, Nov. 9 2007, A3) that the entertainment industry perpetuates the belief that men should live by socially constructed ideas of masculinity. She also said that “one frustrating thing . is that there isn’t so much that women can do.”

I think that there is a great deal that girls can do, as (if we’re speaking in terms of heterosexuality), they can redefine what patterns of male behavior are or aren’t sexually appealing.

The truth is, the media simply reinforces notions that stem from our personal observations: anyone who has watched a fantasy movie simply knows it’s unrealistic because our everyday lives don’t substantiate what the movie depicts – anyone who’s watched The Lord of the Rings is not convinced that hobbits exist.

The mainstream male identity is indeed a social construct, and yes, the entertainment industry has some influence, but females also play a role in perpetuating aggressive behavior, whether they realize it or not.

Gender violence is not a natural construct, and “macho” men are not born, but created. Yes, hormones play a role in the level of one’s aggressive tendencies, but the mind is an entity strong enough to overcome biological predeterminations. When a person’s interactions with others reward or discourage certain patterns of behavior, it is human nature to train oneself to act in particular ways. Oftentimes women reinforce mainstream male stereotypes, as we admire alpha males, those leader-of-the-pack “big dogs” who are often the biggest proponents of chauvinism, leaving men who resist such pressures embittered and likely to resort to the methods of power assertion that proved successful for their counterparts.

The greatest influence in our lives is not the films or television shows we watch, but the real-life relationships we have with other people, particularly, those of the opposite sex. In fact, the media can be seen as a mirror into our own behavior and depicts the patterns of relationships we actually have.

One’s happiness is largely determined by the quality of these relationships. As a race that has created countless amusements for the promotion of human happiness, it is a wonder that we have not fully applied our innovative capacity to improve an area of our lives upon which so much of our happiness is based. Although every person is the outcome of a unique life story, our society clings obstinately to the belief that certain characteristics are attractive, and each sex should act in a particular way. It is time we reevaluate these preset notions and start being ourselves, for only by stripping ourselves of these restrictive social garbs can we begin to understand ourselves and foster healthy, non-violent relationships with one another.

Women, it is human nature to revolt against the status quo if you are discontent with it. However, if the revolution is unsuccessful and change does not occur, it makes sense to change your methods; that is, to adapt so that your revisited efforts can thrive despite the immutable climate. Instead of simply talking about negative male stereotypes, we should demonstrate that machismo is unappealing by refusing to respond positively to such behavior.

Boys will continue to be boys until girls reevaluate the kinds of boys they desire. We can ensure that the sex appeal of “macho” men is eventually perceived as being as unrealistic as hobbits or dragons, if we make it unrealistic. If women are to render aggressive tactics useless in real life, the stereotype will die out by itself.

We have the power to see to it that “nice guys don’t finish last” and we can voice this opinion not just in a facetious manner, but with a sense of sincerity matched by a revision of our dating habits. It is then, and only then, that men will recognize that their disingenuous shows of machismo are counterproductive, and therefore unnecessary.

Women can take the first steps toward changing the dynamics of dating and gender relations – for not only are we the referees of the game, but the coaches.

Jane Yu is a senior in the College.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.