Focus On Becoming Better Human Beings

The topic on masculinity has always been a huge topic of discussion as many young men struggle to define ‘manhood’ and the image which they want to portray of oneself. Children at a very young age associate James Bond’s movies, such as making out in the back of cars as an illustration of what defines heterosexual masculinity. (Cameron & Kulick, 2010). The language we speak, the actions we do and decisions we make are often guided by the stereotypical way of us conceptualizing how a man should behave. More often than not, in order to fit into the social norm of what constitutes a true man, it would equate to an absence of feminine attributes.

In Shane Horsburgh’s speech about redefining masculinity, he shared about his personal experiences on how he lived previously under a false identity of what society wants a man to be and how he has changed over the years.  The traditional view of masculinity believes that men should be providers, protectors and procreators with guiding behaviours such as aggression, competitiveness and toughness. With a fixated template of masculinity by the older generation, the ideology which they have created, unknowingly bred a social impact on our younger generation. Thereby, ‘manhood’ would likely come into question when a man deviates from the fundamental set of guiding principles.

From a tough policeman to an actor, Shane hopes to encourage men to shift from the traditional masculine mind-set to a position where we can recognise what we need and move forward with a different view of manhood where we can be strong and sensitive at the same time. This would bring about benefits such as gender equality and a decrease in domestic violence. In addition, the release of pressure from traditional masculinity concept would provide a platform for young men to redefine their own identity.

In modern society today, it is crucial that we do not conform to social norms which may lead to potentially harmful effects. An example of toxic masculinity could be seen from a recent study conducted by Scientific American which concluded that men unwelcome eco-friendly behaviour as it may undermine their masculinity. Further researches have shown that men tend to shun away from green behaviours such as recycling or saving energy as they are acts of feminism. (Brough et. al, 2016)

Toxic masculinity could also be seen from the in-class discussion of “How Pledging A Fraternity Made Me Less Of A Pussy” where the author believes that only through gaining masculinity, would it allow him to learn valuable lessons such as accountability and revitalization of strength. Similarities between pledging a fraternity and serving National Service in Singapore could be drawn where boys are now recognised as a “grown man” upon its completion. Very often, pre-conceived notions regarding less masculine men are caused by the perception of others on oneself. In fact, the discovery of one’s strengths and weaknesses are part and parcel of human life, which is an ongoing process even without going through masculinity developments.

Through my own experience, growing up with only my mother alongside, I picked up many attributes from her which would sometimes portray me to be less manly than the norm. After listening to Shane’s speech as well as reading the articles, it provides me affirmation to continue to be who I am and to embrace the feminine traits innate in me. As much as it is important for men to exhibit traits of its gender, it is vital to strike a balance between social norm and one’s personal identity. It is time to take a step back and reconsider the social expectations that have been cast upon on men. Let us forget about being brave boys or pretty girls and just focus on becoming better human beings.


  1. Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2010). Language and sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Aaron R. Brough, James E. B. Wilkie, Jingjing Ma, Mathew S. Isaac, David Gal. (2016) Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 43, Issue 4, Pages 567–582,

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