Hypermasculinity: The Search For A ‘Real Man’

Gay men, much like straight men, seem to have a laundry list of preferences. One of the most popular preferences that seem to be a common thread throughout most of the gay lifestyle is the one for a gay man to be masculine.

The desire to have a hairy leg brush up against yours in bed or facial stubble graze your face during a lip lock should come as no surprise to men of the gay community – after all, we are men who love other men and most of the qualities associated with “manhood.” However, those physical traits can easily be found in any man within arm’s reach. While physical attraction does play a major role in the compatibility of two men, for some, so does a man’s ability to be a guy’s guy.

“Are you masc?”

If you are a member of any gay social network, this is a question you are probably all too familiar with. It’s a question with any given number of motives behind it. In certain cases, for example, a masculine inquirer may be prodding to find out how compatible you both are based on your ability to move as a unit in public and remain unidentifiable, on the surface, as a man who partakes in homosexuality. In circumstances where the public’s perception is less of a concern, the motive may be that said inquirer, being masculine himself, fully understands that his attraction to men is founded completely in their virility. On the other end of the spectrum, you have those who may be masculine or feminine, yet only prefer a man with a softer touch and ask the question in order to sift through those too “mannish” for their tastes.

While these examples scratch the surface, by no means do they even begin to eclipse the variety of combinations that exist in this community when it comes to the preference of a masculine/feminine partner. Somewhere in the middle lies a group of men, ranging from masculine to feminine or an emulsion of the two, who take it up a notch by overlooking the basic masculine standard. For these men, hypermasculinity is not only a preference but a required trait for any man to even be considered eligible for the courting process, going as far as to seek one who demands to be “the man” in the relationship and will “put them in their place” if need be. But…what place is that? And if he is “the man” in the relationship, then who are you?

This preference for the hypermasculine partner surely has its own psychological roots, as most preferences do. The reason this one is so alarming, however, is because of how eager the men who share it are to effortlessly relinquish the very essence of themselves, especially when gay men already deal with enough issues of self-identity in society. It can be perceived that in order to fulfill their erotic and/or romantic fantasies of being with a “real man,” they are willing to put their own masculinity on the back burner to accommodate the overabundance of another’s.

The bottom line is that we are all indeed men. This is a concept that still needs to be digested by some. Many gay men overlook this fact when using terms of endearment, like “bitch” and “girl,” or when making heated statements to others like, “I may be gay, but I’ll kick your ass like a man.” While it may seem like fun and games in small circles, this is what is being projected into society’s understanding of gay men as a whole during a time where understanding is crucial. If a gay man is looking to be “handled” or “dealt with” by a “real man,” what are we saying? Should we assume that he does not consider himself to be a man at all? Should society? The implications made by the urge for authority are telling enough.

Do you feel we subscribe to a hypermasculine identity? Is masculinity a must have characteristic for you? Speak out!

JWilliams is an animated media personality wielding pop culture commentary with no filter and a dash of pettiness for that extra flavor. Every week, he takes to the "innanet" to lend his opinions to what's happening on the blogs and in the tabloids with your favorite celebrities. Oh! And he still uses a Blackberry. It's the Kardashian in him. Don't Judge.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shon-Bew/1219361104 Shon Bew

    Sexism/homophobia within our community is real. Patriarchy is a hell of a drug.

  • Rell

    If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that Prejudice is to often disguised as Preference. The latter is used as a crutch to support ones own twisted discrimination. I usually find those who are looking for this hyprer-masculine man are using them to fulfill their warped idea of what they think a gay man must be. This behavior stinks of internalized homophobia, sexism, and patriarchal poisoning. I make it my biz to steer clear of these types of men, in reality they are chasing a stereotype not a real man.

    • Mike

      It’s only prejudice when your the fem one, no one likes rejection but lets face facts, fem guys are very dramatic, draw unnecessary attention in public and act like women. I have plenty of women that are interested in me and that’s not I’m attracted too, I like masculine men, you don’t have to be a thug but please don’t do drag or ask me to fuck your pussy while we’re fucking. that’s a turn off. Also these fem guys are playing the role of the woman and they are seeking a masculine man to be the man in the relationship. I don’t see many fem guys chasing after fem guys, one of my friends who’s fem told me that, “What am I going to do with a fem guy.. bump pussy’s” We all have preferences and there’s plenty of men out there to choose from so why get upset when a guy decides he’s not your type? Just move on to the next one. There’s someone out there for everyone. Stop being a loser and worrying about the one that doesn’t want you.

      • Jack

        I think you’re missing Rell’s point or maybe even proving it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shon-Bew/1219361104 Shon Bew

        You’re making a LOT of prejudiced assumptions about feminine men. Who told you that ALL feminine men are very dramatic? Who told you that all feminine men draw unnecessary attention to themselves in public? Also, how do they draw this attention to themselves specifically, and who determines what amount of attention is necessary and unnecessary? Who told you that feminine men do not like or date other feminine men?

        In your attempt to argue against the fact that this is prejudice, you yourself premised your argument on… prejudice.

      • Ms. Mooks!

        Effeminate man here! (meaning ME) I can be dramatic, like most people who have emotions (duh). I do act like a woman, I idolize them. I think they’re far more superior to men. I like masculine AND feminine men (yeah, I can be a lesbian sometimes) Misogyny has much to do with this discussion. Its deeply rooted throughout this post. Not necessarily a hatred of women but the notion that being effeminate is ALL KINDS of wrong. That being/imitating a woman is suggesting that your weak/soft/etc. Mike, honey, it seems you need to educate yourself on “Patriarchal poisoning” ’cause CLEARLY you can’t stand effeminate men. Your very insecure with your sexuality too…Clearly. You seem to be a out gay man but with exceptions. You don’t want to be clocked!! LOL…figures. This internalized homophobia amongst “The Fags” (Masculine or Feminine) is really irritating and disturbing.

    • Kerq

      Rell, I think you are my type of man – intelligent.

    • Ms. Mooks!

      Yassss! I love you for this. So true. “Patriarchal poisoning”…genius.

  • Kerq

    Interestingly enough, I have always been approached by very “straight acting and looking” men – which has usually turned out to be kind of a turn off for me. Only because, in my experiences, I have generally found the less straight “acting and looking” men more authentic and fun. And this is appealing and honest to me.

  • PHIL

    I didn’t realize it until I read this piece but my preference for men that are masculine is described perfectly above. The ability to move as a unit in a public place and remain unidentifiable.

    The preference = prejudice one is a good conversation.

  • Mark

    Articles like this are always a disappointment because of the gross generalizations and presumptions they pass off as factual. You write:

    “The reason this one is so alarming, however, is because of how eager the men who share it are to effortlessly relinquish the very essence of themselves.” And “in order to fulfill their erotic and/or romantic fantasies of being with a “real man,” they are willing to put their own masculinity on the back burner.”

    What?!? So, to be attracted only to very masculine is relinquishing one’s “very essence”? That is — pardon my “French” — complete bullshit.

    For the record, I believe there’s a place for everyone — masculine, effeminate, and in-between. But for you to suggest (actually *more* than just suggest) that for one to be attracted only to very masculine guys he must have “internalized homophobia” is pure nonsense.

    It’s funny: We (collectively) want people to understand and accept that sexual orientation is innate; that we don’t choose it. But then you want to compartmentalize that and suggest that we *choose* what attracts us. If you believe that, you are profoundly misinformed. Generally speaking, we don’t “decide” we’re attracted to tall guys, or short, or lean, or stocky, etc., etc.; we *OBSERVE* it. Some guys are attracted to masculine guys, and others are attracted to effeminate guys, or to something in-between. Others observe they’re attracted to various qualities.

    That said, I agree with commenter Mike: The only ones who seem to have a problem with this (or with the term “straight-acting”) is effeminate guys. But the thing is — as homosexuals, we’re attracted to other MEN. So, by default, that means we’re less likely to be attracted to effeminate qualities in men. There are exceptions, but many or most of us simply do not find those qualities attractive. To state a well-worn cliché: “If I wanted a woman, I’d be with one.”

    Instead of attempting to make yourselves feel better by pointing fingers at men who don’t find effeminate characteristics attractive, why not write an article encouraging effeminate men not to be effeminate? You do realize it’s primarily *learned* behavior, right? So, you want to “have your cake and eat it, too”: You want guys to be able to ignore all semblance of societal norms of masculinity (and I, too, believe they have that right to do so). But then you ALSO want the rest of us to go AGAINST our sexual instincts (to mate with men) and be willing to inclusively date ANY man — even one who doesn’t possess the CHARACTERISTICS of a man.

    Well, you can’t have it both ways.

    Sexual orientation is innate, and attraction itself is observed, not randomly chosen. We like what we like! While I do prefer only very masculine men, I also tend to be attracted to men that my friends don’t find attractive. But do I give a damn? Of course not! I don’t (and can’t!) change what I find attractive, just to suit the tastes of others! What they think is irrelevant. And if I were attracted to effeminate men, the same would apply! It’s true; far more guys prefer masculine traits to effeminate ones. But there ARE guys out there who prefer effeminate men. But don’t you dare insinuate that the rest of us — the ones with more “mainstream” taste — are somehow psychologically flawed. We are not. Same goes for guys who prefer obese men. They don’t wake up one day and say “I’m going to be attracted to heavy guys.” It just *happens*, and they *observe* it. They are in the minority, and men who prefer effeminate men are also in the minority. Do some REAL research on attraction, and you’ll realize how flawed this article is.

    Most men who are attracted to men want their men to look and act like men. That’s just the way it is. Get over it. 🙂

    • Jack

      Honestly, what qualifies you to speak on what most men are attracted to? Additionally, what qualifies you to make the distinction between what is innate and what is learned? So what we are attracted to is not a choice but our behavior isn’t? Neither one of those assumptions are completely true. Human nature is lot more complex than your post makes it out to be.

      Also, perhaps the reason you feel effeminate men are the ones who are upset by the status quo is because their the ones primarily subjugated by it. That’s like pointing out that minorities seem to be the ones most upset by discrimination. Were masculine men the subject of internalized homophobia, they would be the ones with the biggest problems with it.

      • Mark

        What qualifies me is my ability to read and comprehend the results of research, conducted by scientists, on the topic of attraction. If you’ll take a little time to do some academic reading, instead of having knee-jerk reactions, you’ll find that extensive research has been done on the subject. having reviewed that research, i’m simply referencing it.

        You wrote:

        “So what we are attracted to is not a choice but our behavior isn’t?”

        That is correct. But your reason for asking the question is unclear. Physical attraction is an *observation*, not a choice. Do the research, and you’ll find that to be true. And yes, of course we largely choose our behavior; but it’s unclear how one statement relates to the other.

    • http://imJWilliams.com J. Williams

      Let me apologize if you find the article “disappointing,” but you are entitled to your opinion. In addition, to clarify for you or anyone else who reads the article and shares your sentiments, I never said there was anything wrong with being attracted to a masculine man. In fact, I said “…after all, we are men who love other men and most of the qualities associated with “manhood,” which you reiterated in your comment. So let’s be clear…

      Who the article is speaking of are gay men “who take it up a notch by overlooking the basic masculine standard” and want a hypermasculine man that is willing to play into the structure of heterosexual relationships that they’ve been influenced by their whole lives. These men, as I have witnessed, often have stipulations on what their hypermasculine partner should or should not do, because he is “the man” (i.e.: “I can get a manicure and have my eyebrows done, but he can’t.”or “I cook. I don’t want him cooking.”)

      If I thought gay men shouldn’t like masculine men, I’d be a hypocrite…and sad.

      • Mark

        You write: “I never said there was anything wrong with being attracted to a masculine man.”

        That may not be what you intended to say. Yet, that’s what the entire article seems to be saying.

        You also write: “Who the article is speaking of are gay men “who take it up a notch by overlooking the basic masculine standard” and want a hypermasculine man that is willing to play into the structure of heterosexual relationships that they’ve been influenced by their whole lives…”

        Wow. I take it you meant:

        “The article is speaking of gay men who ‘take it up a notch’ by overlooking the basic, masculine standard…”

        The concepts you’re expressing, here in the comments, are much clearer (and more logical) than those expressed in the article, itself. The article presents a different “slant” than what you’re now describing. It’s unfortunate that the article wasn’t written in such a way that your position wasn’t more transparently discernible.

        The examples you’ve given, such as guys wanting their men not to cook, etc., provide critical clarification that the article did not. The omission of those nuances gives the impression that you were referring simply to *mannerisms*, not the role-specific behaviors you’ve mentioned in the comments. That information changes the meaning of the article *completely*; yet nowhere in the article did you include such examples. The reader can only go by what was written, and it’s now clear that very critical details were omitted.

    • Two Tone

      …this is bullshit.
      …and you know it.
      Where do you get your information from? The “fags” you hang with?
      …and I wish you guys come up with a far more intelligent answer to this topic than “If I wanted a woman, I’d be with one”. No one really knows what MAKES a man, everyone has his/her own opinion on this. A LONG list, I’m sure.

      Misogyny + Patriarchal views = a fuckin’ MESS!

  • cjayconrod

    In whatever decisions you make, check your motives. I had to admit that some choices that I thought were “just preference” had more to do with my own insecurities. Be real with yourself, wherever that takes you.

  • http://www.anorexicescapades.com/ BougieHippie

    The comments are better than the article.

  • AbovetheNormal

    I do not feel that how masculine someone is, is a requirement for me! I feel I am attracted by someone’s motives, aspirations, goals, and outlook on life. I have always felt that the masculinity issue has been over sensationalized and weighted to the extent of being an irrevocable. I feel that as gay men we have let the traditional roles expressed in heterosexual relationships shape our view of what a relationship should consist of as far as defining the role of partner hierarchy, However my objection to this is there is NOTHING “traditional” about a homosexual relationship so we should not hold ourselves to such conventional standards. In conclusion I feel that yes most of us do subscribe to the hyper-masculine propaganda.

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  • jimbob774

    Sexist ass.

  • juan

    I confess I melt for a muscular, assertive man. I can’t help it, I’ve been this way all my life. I don’t feel the need to change.

    • luchie

      I do not think that is necessarily the essence of the article, my perception of it is its encouraging balance and self identity rather than a change in attraction. If your attraction is a means of making up for your self perceived inadequacy, then there’s a problem.