What is hegemonic masculinity? What is the active construction of masculinities?

Whatis hegemonic masculinity? What is the active construction ofmasculinities?



Hegemonicmasculinity may be referred to as a form of masculinity that isdominant in a given societal setting. The term hegemonic indicatesthe ruling in a social setting. Therefore, other forms exist besidesthe dominant one. On the other hand, active construction ofmasculinities represents the cultural influence on masculinity(Messerschmidt, 2012). The thinking of dominance between men andwomen comes because of the ideas, practices, and behaviors that theyadopt from the cultural setting where they exist.

  1. Jackson Katz documentary

Thewestern culture is a representation of hegemonic masculinity wherethe superiority of men is manifested. To ascend to leadership orbecome influential, men participate in violent acts. Whilequestioning some young men on the definition of a male, Katz receivedsome surprising answers like independent, powerful, tough, andstrong, and a must be in control. These answers are some idealexamples of how men view themselves and pick their roles in society.If a male does not have these traits, they are known to be weak andface a lot of pressure to rise for such roles. Katz also associatesthe males’ engagement in violence with the trends of celebratingslasher films and pro sports.

Therepresentation of masculinity in a given cultural context indicatesthat society defines roles along feminism and masculinity. Thesociety, including the media portrays men’s involvement in violenceas a norm. Therefore, a man knows from the start the demands of thecultural environment and continues to concentrate on meeting thedemands for survival. Some of these are manifested in GI Joe andother images where men participate in activities of becoming morephysical and aggressive. They have to fight for a chance to be toughand they should control their environment to be branded as “realmen”. Katz indicates that women view men who do not get involved inviolent activities as rejects in society thereby, perpetrating theactive construction of masculinity theory.

  1. Michael Messner – Becoming 100 Percent Straight

Theissue of dominant masculinity is portrayed in the thoughts of MichaelMessner. Being straight in the society is associated with being a manin the cultural context. In addition, anybody who is not straightwould not enjoy the privileges and respect from the society. Messnerprovides a description of the use of sports for the creation andmaintenance of masculine identities and heterosexuality by men. Menwho are not straight are ridiculed and stigmatized. The homosexualsare disrespected and disregarded in society and they cannot evendeclare their sexuality in the public. From the story of Messner,revealing sexual identity may be difficult because it is a personalthing. Furthermore, he was afraid that his friends might object byclaiming that addressing such issues in public may be an avenue ofsociological insights.

Theconcept of active construction of masculinity is described by thehiding of one’s sexuality from the society. The use of sports tocover up the identity of being homosexual in a society is describedby Messner. Tom Waddell is said to be unwilling to disclose hissexuality, as it could undermine his career of participating inathletics. He says that people cannot accept him as a man if he isgay and if by any chance his sexual identity is revealed, the onlyactivity he can participate in is dancing. Messner then explains whythere are constructed identities among the homosexuals. The practiceof heterosexuality was to avoid stigmatization and embarrassment, andto have the privileges enjoyed by “real men.”


Messerschmidt,J. W. (2012). Engendering gendered knowledge: Assessing the academicappropriation of hegemonic masculinity. Menand Masculinities,1097184X11428384.