The dashing prince, the saviour, the provider, the protector, all archaic expressions of male privilege. While they may conjure some notion of honour and chivalry, in each case their need presumes upon the supposed incapability of the princess, the girl on the tracks, the housewife and the damsel in distress. That does not mean that those would-be 'honourable' traits are intrinsically bad; but the nuances behind a pattern of behaviour are capable of turning seemingly laudable, admirable behaviour into oppression under the guise of a meritorious and moral lifestyle.

So it's understandable perhaps that in a world where traditional assertions of masculinity can work in opposition to our progressive values that our gender identity is undergoing some process of revision. While I do not see the the progress of equality as a move towards androgyny it has been represented as just that in the media and even by some popular subcultures. As men we're more complicated than that, and that complexity is something that we haven't necessarily been given the cultural freedom to embrace. That restriction has largely been self inflicted.

An important aspect of the feminist movement, at least to my mind, is that the feminist ideal is one that directly benefits men. Obviously it concerns the rights and privileges afforded (or not, as is too often the problem) to women primarily — but men shoulder a lot of the responsibility and arguably the greatest need for change. If your ideal of manhood is the dashing prince defined by the princess' reliance on his superiority then your manhood is undermined by this realisation. If your ideal of manhood is based around personal expression, identity, respect and your contribution to the world then you stand on the precipice of a huge personal opportunity. You have more freedom now to define yourself than innumerable members of your paternal lineage.

This doesn't mean that being a man no longer means being strong; being seen as a man no longer requires adherence to that trope. You get to define the parameters by which you identify with your position in the spectrum, which properly considered is no spectrum at all but a volume of potential in which all the possibilities of individuality are suspended.

To me the definition of true masculinity - and femininity, too - is being able to lay in your own skin comfortably.
— Vincent d'Onofrio

The importance of identifying as masculine is also changing; if equality does not necessitate the gravitation towards androgyny it also cannot exclude it, society is slowly coming to terms with the notion that gender in the strictly medical sense and gender in the sense of a whole human experience simply are not as intrinsically connected as the simple mechanics of procreation would seem to suggest. We are greater, and far more complex, than the sum of our parts.

In a world where your masculinity is no longer dictated, you should be able to take more pride in embracing it, and through it define your place in a world that is much more colourful than the world of our fathers.

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