Masculinity and the digital takeover



mas·​cu·​lin·​i·​ty ˌma-skyə-ˈli-nə-tē 

Synonyms of masculinitythe quality or nature of the male sex the quality, state, or degree of being masculine or manly




mas·​cu·​line ˈma-skyə-lən 

Often defined as aggressive, strong, and unfeeling or stoic. Being masculine means in modern times, at least, no shows of emotion, no flamboyance, no hugging or even looking at other men, must be interested in sports and physical/violent activity.

Urban Dictionary

One of these definitions is the literal meaning behind masculinity, the other, the culture that has grown in American society, defining what a man should be. In the 21st century, masculinity has evolved into a cultural mindset prescribed to American men influenced by social media and the internet with the idea that men must behave as complete opposites to women and femininity under the role of the patriarchy.

To speak of masculinity in modern standards, points to social norms under the patriarchy. The patriarchy is not men themselves, but a society that promotes and upholds male privilege by being male dominated, modified, and centered. This society defines men and women as opposites and creates the defining traits of masculinity and femininity. Under the patriarchy it is seemingly natural for men to be aggressive, competitive, and dominant, while women are caring, cooperative, and subordinate.  This furthers the notion that women are weak, and men are the dominant sex. The patriarchy has been in existence since the beginning of American history, but the digital age upholds it in a way that furthers this notion of “toxic masculinity” and creates a culture around it that is accepting.

The digital age has allowed for widespread information and communication to many people in a short amount of time. This can have many beneficial qualities such as the sharing of fun facts, graduation speeches, or even cute cat videos, but it has also given the ability for men to gather and push the notion of their dominance. On social media, masculinity has become the goal of achieving a “tough man” image that young men try to cultivate through their posts on various platforms. Fourteen-year-old boys will post about cars they cannot drive, or with guns they don’t have permits for, to prove they are masculine.

Social media creates a pressure for young boys to compete making sure their pseudo-masculine image is seen by their peers. This image of violent activity, as noted in the urban dictionary definition, brings status, but also extreme pressure to fit into the role the patriarchy has shaped. In schools, information is so easily passed from texts, to tweets, to Instagram posts, that many young men must take the image they have created on social media, and work to uphold it in real life for the fear of being outed as not masculine. This includes the lack of physical contact with their friends and the lack of genuine conversation which can cause the build up of deep emotions. To act “manly” or “macho” 24/7 to promote a social image of yourself is harmful. This forms a society centered around toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity


tox·​ic  mas·​cu·​lin·​i·​ty ˌˈtäk-sik ma-skyə-ˈli-nə-tē 

is what can come of teaching boys that they can’t express emotion openly; that they have to be “tough all the time”; that anything other than that makes them “feminine” or weak. 

The New York Times

Internet culture has allowed for the access of information promoting a masculine mindset to be taught to men from a young age. The digital age has allowed for the spreading of images of women as sexual property and their “usefulness” to men as a commodification. With easy access to pornography, the sexual dominance over women gets instilled in growing children’s minds. This sexual dominance then becomes a trait of masculinity combating “flamboyance” which is referenced in the definition by Urban Dictionary. According to unicef “when children view pornography that portrays abusive and misogynistic acts, they may come to view such behavior as normal and acceptable.” With violent portrays of women implanted in the minds of men, young men may start to view women as either sexual objects or desexualized objects, such as mothers and caregivers, furthering the patriarchal normal of subordinate women in comparison to men.

The digital age has pushed patriarchal norms to a new standard instilling toxic masculinity into young men through social media and internet culture. With the growing consciousness of masculinity, the new generation is pulling away from teaching their children the normal patriarchal standards of living, but the internet and social media gives access to these teachings whether they are taught in the home or not.

One thought on “Masculinity and the digital takeover

  1. Social media is toxic and this proves it further! People are following what they see, in this instance, young men posting images of things know can’t even obtain or really know about. It doesn’t make sense really. It is really unfortunate that men have to constantly uphold a masculine front.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s