Masculinity In The Poem Men By Dorianne Laux

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As a child, it is parents who imprint their own expectations of what a model child should look like. Gender is often used as a stencil to guide the behavior of the child and introduce the distinctions between feminine and masculine roles. Females are typically given dresses and Barbie’s to embrace their femininity while males, are typically given Legos and athletic gear to display their masculinity. As the child grows, teachers and other authoritative figures guide the child by this same stencil of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. Males are expected to exude confidence, strength, and courage. Western society has taught males to maintain a constant image of hyper masculinity and to never succumb to weakness, defeat, or vulnerability. If a man was to fall short or go against their gendered expectations western society would classify them as weak or inferior. In the poem “Men” by Dorianne Laux, the author explores the constricting nature of gendered roles and addresses the toxicity found in masculinity and social expectations.
The poem begins with “It’s tough being a guy,” Laux immediately introduces her opinion on masculinity and reveals its disadvantages. Laux’s opinion may seem controversial to most because western
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Words such as “fag” or sissy would hinder his ability to live authentically and partake in activities that are outside the gender binary. Dorianne Laux includes male typical professions such as “chief, chef, serf, or sheriff” to establish empathy between the reader and the men that are being referenced. By including “son, brother, husband, and lover” the author normalizes these men and highlights that like any other gender, their emotions are valid. The overall theme of the poem is to highlight the notion that though men are thought to be stoic creatures they are emotional beings that should be allowed to express themselves

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