The man box is the socially accepted mindset of what a man should be. The box includes many of the qualities that stereotypically describe men – strong, tough, unemotional, problem-solver etc. The man box actually does not describe the typical man but rather the “ideal man”. The box is the “perfect” encapsulation of what a man should always be. Dr. Chris Kilmartin talks about the man box as “cultural masculinity”. Kilmartin states that “cultural masculinity is a set of gender pressures placed on males”. Cultural masculinity socializes men into what is appropriate and inappropriate masculine behavior.
Interestingly cultural masculinity creates different rules of what it means to be a man. The different set of rules can depend upon a variety of factors e.g. country, historical period etc. So what it means to be an American Man is somewhat different than what it means to be a Brazilian or Cuban man. What it means to be a man in 2015 (Modern Family’s Phil Dunphy) is different than what it means to be a man in the 1950s (Mad Men’s Don Draper). Yet no matter the different factors the rules still exist.
1. What do you think it means to be a man in 2015? What is our contemporary version of the man box?