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Andrew Hall

There was a MTV True Life episode where a male fitness model used steroids to bulk up before a shoot. I'd wager the practice isn't uncommon.

Chris Johnson

Wow. I honestly didn't know some of this, and I'm fighting by means of diet and exercise to approach more of these fake-ideals. I'm hitting a wall where eating only small amounts of healthy food and being kinda weak and fuzzy is STILL not taking me there. It didn't occur to me that the people I see are likewise weak, fuzzy, and incapable- including, incapable of doing the work I need to do to pay my mortgage.

Thank you.


I love you :)

Margo K.

Now that I have a notion what male models go through, the cover of that "Men's Health" magazine looks really ironic.


Thank you for writing this. It's really nice to know that there's someone else out there who sees that rigid and damaging gender roles aren't just a reality for women.


I loved this article when it came out on alternet, and I love it again now. Thank you.


You're pretty awesome...I should have told you that sooner...Thanks.


How come when I binge on alcohol and sugar my muscles don't pop?

Seriously though, this is another great essay, I'll be using this when I discuss body issues, preceded by a discussion of the Fitness Magazine covers.

Another excellent article.

I think this is just another example of the media getting really good at giving us what we instinctually want. We evolved to desire that which is "perfect", whether it's food or a mate, because those traits are beneficial for the continued survival of the species.

Unfortunately, we have arrived at a point where we can "create" perfect, whether it's through artificially adding ingredients to food that we crave (i.e. salt, sugar, etc), or creating images via models putting themselves through hell and Photoshop. I would claim that this is a symptom of a greater problem...overindulgence due to us not having had sufficient time to evolve to our current lifestyles.

Allen Dexter

Again, you've hit the nail squarely on the head. Very good and insightful.


Great article. I'm of the XY persuasion, and in a women's history class something finally clicked in my head- women aren't and never have been Barbie dolls. And, by extension, I am not and never have been a fucking Ken or GI Joe doll.


Thanks, great article.

I hadn't been thinking about it, and I wouldn't have known it, but I really needed to read this today.

Liz Farsaci

Great article, as always, GC! Although I usually think about gender expectations for women, I also recently wrote an article on definitions of masculinity and beliefs about male nudity:


I just wanted to say, for the record, that I do most of the cooking and my wife does most of the driving in our marriage, and we're both perfectly happy with that arrangement. :)

Chris P.

I like the article quite a lot! The one on Undateable (could you try to interview the authors of that book about it?) and Liz Farsaci's too.


Just to add another layer of significance for gender stereotypes... once you get beyond typical child rearing age and your body starts winding down (women and men) you are still 'expected' to display the attributes of sexuality. This can result in pathetic behaviours, trying to imitate the 'younger set'.

Which is why many older women and men just fade into the grey background...

Janine Ashbless

This is wonderful! Thank you!

Janice Brown

Awesome post! I realy hadn't thought about how miserable it must be for men at times too. Thanks for getting me to pause and reflect on it.



Just realized.

You should have extended the title:

"(and hardon-less ends)." >.> ^.^

James Croft

As a diamond-shitting unicorn, I found this article very offensive.

Another billiant post by a remarkable author.


My hairy husband never used to worry about his body hair until suddenly it was deemed ugly. Now he trims back and chest but I fell in love with a hairy man and I don't like helping him. At least he has resisted the waxing!
Thanks for further insight into media insanity.


Thank you, Greta! I'd never heard about what the "fitness models" put themselves through -- eye-opening stuff. I personally bailed on trying to meet the modern male ideal when body hair became passe. Your commenter Discovered Joys is on to something important -- through age into the mix and trying to meet the stereotypes gets that much worse


Thank you so much - great article!


Good article. Sadly it actually does not speak to my experience in particular except on a very coarse level and in a somewhat tangential way.

I never liked notions of masculinity or bought into the "real man" concept.

But by doing that the realization is that in fact a man who does not follow certain patterns or take up certain roles will run into a range of issues that I myself cannot actually solve. It's the externals, what other people, man and women do and think and expect, that is the issue.

What I miss in the article is female expectations. And some of it is quite trivial. In the US the man is still expected to approach, ask out, lead the date, progress things. The early dating patterns are highly sexist and worse, maintained that way mainly by women, i.e. to change them it would require women to do what men currently do.

So while it is wonderfully non-sexist and a rejection of masculinity to not hit on others according to gendered roles, the consequence of being consistent with this is isolating to those guys who I think actually do the right thing, and it will require a broader cultural change of both man and women to fix that.

the chaplain

As the mother of two grown sons, I was often aware of the unrealistic expectations you wrote about in this piece. I think they've grown into pretty well-adjusted men, but it sometimes saddened me when I couldn't shield them completely from stupid pressures to attain the unattainable. It's tough raising kids, both boys and girls, in a culture that heaps so many stupid ideals onto them. Thanks for articulating the "other" side of gender issues. Female issues are real and they're tough, but so are the issues men face.

Colin Armstrong

I suppose I'm fortunate that growing up I heard both women and men speaking out against the fictionalized ideal woman. Later in life it wasn't so difficult, usually, to extend that rejection to the standards of masculinity.
Thanks feminism.

Just a Guy

Thanks, Christina.

I think I will simply be a 50 year old, 30 years married, former badass special forces veteran who just openly and uncontrollably cried while reading this wonderful, humanizing, humane and humanistic post.


Great piece, though I second the comment made by Hitch.

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