New Masculinities: What They Are and Where We Are Heading

Changes that are arising in the construction of masculine identities, far from the macho archetype, are valued in work environments, as well as interpersonal relationships. Some education experiences in companies and sports.

In the Paleolithic, men were caregivers and, currently, Aka pygmy men are those who spend more time carrying their children in their arms. Akhenaten was an Egyptian pharaoh who made artists represent him together with his daughters, and Joseph of Nazareth took care of a family that was not his. These are some of the stories on the paternal role contained in Papá (Dad), a book by Ritxar Bacete González, an anthropologist and gender specialist that teaches courses for men in companies.

In the last few years, the feminist revolution has caused a rethinking of the gender roles and, thus, a new term has gathered strength: the new masculinities. “It is a concept that helps understand a positive change that is arising in the construction of masculine identities. In the context of communications and public policies, these are more democratic and empathic identities that question themselves, that are non-toxic and that recognize vulnerability,” states the author. 

The truly new phenomenon is the crisis of the masculinity concept. Bacete González further states: “We absorbed reference models which are currently useless. Women demand from us a change in how we are as fathers, as co-workers and in interpersonal relationships. It was a tsunami and we are trying to adapt to it.” 

In 2017 Homuork, a project to provide training in companies and which offers a module on “New masculinities,” was created in Spain. Among other things, it invites “to set aside that archetype that will make it very difficult for other ways of expressing all that that we feel to emerge.” 

Erick Pescador, a sexologist and sociologist conducting the course, analyses: “Instead of transferring the productive model to private spheres, it should be the other way around: the care environment, the empathetic view and all that which women have historically developed at home should be transferred to the sphere of work.”

Expressive skills, the capacity to resolve conflicts, empathy, the ability to acknowledge one’s own vulnerability and the ability to listen are features that did not correspond to the hegemonic man in the past. Those virtues are highly valued in companies today, according to a study carried out by the consulting firm Promundo. It is also affirmed that men with special leaves to reconcile their personal lives with work are more loyal to their jobs and that even the CVs of those who take care of their newly born child are valued.

Men who cry, suffer, go to therapy, have fears and are not omnipotent are more real persons who are less restrained by the traditional model. And this new identity is built not only in the sphere of work, but in all spheres of life. For instance, in sports. 

Vanesa Albani is an attorney specialized in gender policies and she educates in “Prejudices and Discriminatory Stereotypes” in the Rugby 2030 program of the Argentine Rugby Union (Unión Argentina de Rugby). “The new masculinity must be coupled with commitment in practice. In the past, sports were a means to exhibit the manhood mandate, and that was reflected in other aspects of life as well. In the courses many attendants are avid learners; a minority does not clearly understand this new concept as they are still immersed in that mandate. We do exercises, reflect and we like to provide reliable statistics; we work with everyday life. I met 10-year old children who were treated with prejudices and stigmatized as violent due to their large body type.”

Soccer is also undergoing times of changes in the education of juvenile players. Fernando Langenauer has a graduate degree in Education Sciences (Licenciado en Ciencias de la Educación) and he coordinated the boarding house the Club Atlético Independiente, where he conducted emotional intelligence exercises, courses on comprehensive sexual education and theater lessons. “We sought to transmit certain values, openness and a space where they could ask themselves how to handle their masculinity. I had to accompany boys through a process of reporting  sexual abuse and, that complex idea that ‘if I tell, I’m gay’ carries a lot of suffering. The most difficult thing is to take away from them that macho social burden that is imposed,” he states.

The fifth meaning stated by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) for the term “man” is “an individual with qualities considered manly by excellence, such as courage and strength”. The new masculinities are here to break down a historical paradigm and all the organizations that accomplish this new paradigm will be benefited in regards to attracting talent.

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