Thoughts on Masculinity

Published On:

If you’re a young man or male you have probably thought about the idea of masculinity and how “masculine” you are compared to other men or even how “masculine” you should be.

This is an issue that has been talked about since the beginning of time and comes out in male friendships and circles naturally. 

Our society has perpetuated a lot of beliefs that are based on the economic and social status system we live in that play a major role in how people view masculinity (both positive and negative).

You know:

  • How big is your junk
  • How strong are you
  • How many girls can you bang or how good are you at sex
  • How much money do you make
  • How much power do you hold over others
  • How tough you are or how much you can take before you tap out

While male traits of strength and a different body structure and organs compared to females are normal and healthy, the thing to consider is that from my point of view, the definition of masculinity has been pretty concrete and hasn’t adapted adequately for the evolution of the world in which we are moving through.

In the past when tribes had to constantly defend and protect themselves from others without technology males needed to develop traits of physical prowess, violent aggression, and other protective behaviors as they needed to protect females during childbearing.

I think these traits are still healthy and important, but the way in which males use them can change.

The world we live in now is not the same as it was then. 

Yes, there is still violence and war and the need for protection as well as the need to be successful in the competitive economic system we live in to provide for ourselves but as technology and the level of conscious awareness change over time, I think this will change.  

I want to share my thoughts on some of this as it’s a complex and fascinating topic but also one that is crucial to consider if we ever want to live in a world that has less suffering and more peace.

Defining Masculinity

First, let’s define masculinity.

One definition is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with boys and men.

Another is the social expectations of being a man.

Neither of these definitions gives you the actual behaviors and expectations that society recommends.

So basically, the definition of what it means to be a man has been conditioned by the society we live in and the cultural expectations that have been around us.

It is a made-up definition that has been crafted by the economic and social framework that society has created.

This means that if certain aspects of what society has been modeling are either not true, harmful, or in the process of changing, the definition of what it means to be a “man” should be modified.

One thing to ask is if the society we live in (and the previous cultures) is healthy, peaceful, and conducive to harmonious living among all sentient beings.

Another thing to consider is that the world is constantly changing and evolving and the economic and social status signals go through changes as well with the advancement of technology.

We will revisit this topic later.

Now let’s look at the difference between males and females from a pure biological context so we can understand the basic biological differences between the sexes and what is normal and healthy in males vs females.

Biological Difference Between Male & Female

There are a few key distinctions between the male and female physique which are designed to aid in reproduction, aid in attraction, and help us tell each other apart.

  • Breasts vs chests: females have breasts which signal the ability to feed offspring as well as fertility
  • Big vs Small Adam’s Apple: males have bigger Adam’s apples and females have smaller versions. This is because males have deeper voices and bigger voice boxes. The pitch of a male’s voice correlates with the amount of testosterone he has which indicates genetic quality and sexual fitness for reproduction.
  • Square vs Heart-Shaped Face: females have more rounded heart-shaped faces and fuller lips due to the difference in sex hormones while males have more chiseled jaw and cheekbones due to higher testosterone.
  • Hairy vs Not: females have less hair on their bodies and men have more hair on their bodies and faces because of sex hormones called androgens
  • Sexual Organs: besides breasts and chests females have a vagina and males have a penis and testicles for reproduction
  • Muscular vs Curvy: males on average are more muscular than females and females have more curves and width to their hips for childbearing. Both sexes were designed to produce offspring in a primitive society where women hold and birth children with their features and males were stronger and more equipped to find food and protect themselves from other competition.

Those are the main biological differences in males and females. 

One thing to think about is that while the sexual reproductive functions and competitive dynamics to succeed in society still hold present to this day it’s important to consider that as the world we live in changes, the evolutionary process may change specific traits of males and females based on a way in which is most adaptive to the current circumstances. 

Changeable vs Biologically Stable

I’m definitely not a scientist so I’ll probably change my view on this stuff but here is my way of breaking down the basics of biological traits which are more stable while determining what is more malleable to a change in the cultural view and actions of masculinity.

So we have the basic biology of males and females where males naturally have more muscle tone, deeper voices, different sex hormones, different genitals, and other features.

Then on the other hand we have aspects of masculinity (or variance in how these biological traits are expressed) that are much more highly shaped by the cultural view of what it means to be a man.

So I guess what I’m saying is that if you are born a male and have the basic biology of a male you will have stable differences in biology but the aspect that is changed through the cultural narrative of masculinity or the view you take on is how you train your brain and nervous system to express or not express your own emotions and physical actions in the world.

For example, someone can be born a biological male and be a genetically big strong person who is hyper competitive, gets into a lot of fights, with a view that a man needs to be able to kick ass and does so to succeed.

On the other hand that same person with a different more compassionate view (but who still has the same level of physical health) can have the same core genetics but decides that they think true strength as a male is being able to protect others from harm, have healthy cooperation to achieve goals, and is more non-violent and loving in their power as a person to succeed in life. 

The core male characteristics are still the same but one has a higher expression of aggression, anger, and competitiveness to achieve things for pure pursuit of winning with less regard for the people around them, while the other still achieves the same level of goals but does so in a more cooperative, loving, and purposeful way. 

Both of these people have the same amount of drive, health, and ability to make things happen but they are using different sources of energy and going after different missions that impact the world in different ways.

They both still have sex and reproduce with their male parts but they approach sex and the expression of energy in their life in a different way.

So for me, the way I look at it is we are born with certain biological features but we can then decide how to express those features in the world and over time through the evolutionary process the features that are more beneficial based on the societal systems we have will grow and the ones that are less beneficial will decrease.   

Past, Current, and Future Economic and Societal Systems

The reality is that the current societal and economic system we live in shapes our cultural view of how masculinity expresses itself.

Let’s look at the past, current, and potential future climates and how it could possibly change.


Going back to more primitive times when it was more of a hunter gatherer world it was necessary for males to be on the alert for competing tribes, animals, and men who would try to kill them and snatch their wife and food. It was a very competitive dog eat dog world.

This meant that males needed to be strong, able to kill off invaders, and able to compete for scarce resources to survive.

This is partly why males developed stronger more fit physiques so they could protect their offspring, reproduce, and hunt/kill food that they needed to survive.

The economic system was based on the physical ability to gather your own food and protect your family and mate.

Core Traits for Males: 

  • Strength and physicality to hunt and protect
  • Strong tribes or communities with people who could lead the tribe to safety
  • Knowledge of plants, hunting, fire-making, building shelter, protection

Amount of Violence:

  • Large amounts of violence with a focus on survival


While the world we still live in is economically competitive there is less violence overall and we have to worry less about being physically harmed. We have state-of the-art buildings, efficient agriculture systems, security, and lots of other technology that has advanced the world in dramatic ways.

That being said, it’s still important to note that while the world circumstances and technology have changed dramatically our physical biology that comes from a more primitive lifestyle is still similar. The difference now is we have different societal systems and the freedom to decide how we want to use our body and express it in the world as we don’t have to be constantly on the lookout for physical harm.

Core Traits for Males:

  • Leadership and social abilities to lead businesses, communities, groups or tribes (wealth generation for food and security)
  • Intellectual knowledge and skills to use technology for productivity gains (wealth generation for food and security)
  • General health and physicality (for sexual mating, reproduction, work stamina)

The traits of leadership and social ability stayed consistent here while new traits of intellectual knowledge and tech skills came on board because of the advancement in technology and the evolution of the economic system. 

In the past males had to physically obtain food and protect their community for survival as there was much more violence. Now, we have more robust systems that allow for specialty in skills and more freedom for leisure time.

Amount of Violence:

  • Decreasing levels of violence (although we still have it with wars, crimes, etc)


Who knows what the future will hold but i’ll share my guess on what could happen.

I think technology will continue to improve and there will be less need for physicality in economic pursuits with increasing amounts of leisure time. Intellectual knowledge, creativity, and social skills will be the most important traits. The focus will shift to working on things to serve people and decrease suffering instead of pure profit pursuits.

Maybe there will be some level of shared income or basic income generation where people are given the freedom to work on what they are best capable of doing to improve the world in a positive way without having to worry as much about day to day finances.

The capitalist system will go through some changes I think with the rewards hopefully more calibrated to reward human flourishing and reduced suffering instead of purely economic profit efficiency.

I think there will be less war and violence than today and the world will continue to move in a more peaceful direction as the level of conscious awareness increases and suffering decreases over time.  

As our understanding of the human body and technology increases I think that people will be healthier and stronger with exercise that is more fun. Sex will become better and more pleasurable because health will be better. There will probably be less reproduction and smaller families but more sex as the world population reaches a limit and people become more friendly towards each other (more connection outside close knit circles).

Core Traits for Males:

  • Leadership and social abilities to lead businesses, communities, groups, or tribes (mainly for improving the world and decreasing suffering)
  • Creativity and intellectual ability in using technology and systems to create positive economic and social outcomes
  • General health and physicality (sex, work stamina, reproduction, fun physical fitness)

My guess is that creativity and social skills/leadership will be the most important traits in the future as technology will do more and more of the pure intellectual work. I think that general physical health will always be important for mating, sex, and stamina. I think these traits will be used in a way that is directed at more altruistic pursuits outside the pure profit motive.

Amount of Violence: 

  • Very low levels of violence (wars are no longer a thing)

I think the key thing to keep in mind in terms of masculinity looking at the way the world was and what it could be like in the future (with less violence) is the fact that there will be less need for destructive aggression in males for survival and competition to protect against other people trying to snatch your valuables.

There will probably be better health and strength in males in the future but the strength and power will be cultivated in a way that is used in more loving pursuits. 

Defining Courage & Strength

Whenever you talk about masculinity the topics of strength and courage always come up because masculine energy has a thicker more powerful strength to it than its counter feminine energy which is softer and more creative.

I think one of the issues is people have not clearly defined what courage and strength are and how they vary in each individual.

Courage: the ability to act despite being scared or strength in the face of pain or grief

If you understand what courage actually is you understand that in order for someone to have courage they have to be scared or fearful of something and make the decision to act despite being afraid. 

Courage doesn’t mean someone’s ability to do something or someone’s natural level of strength.

To take that a step further each individual has different levels of strength and fear that they came into this world with based on their genetics and history so you can only measure someone’s courage by the actions they take based on their own level of baseline ability.

Strength: the capacity of an object or subject to withstand great force or pressure or the quality or state of being physically strong.

Strength on the other hand is more tied to natural genetics which someone was born with. 

In conclusion, someone’s level of strength is more tied to their natural genetics they were born with and courage is a measure of what someone does despite their natural genetics.

In relation to the masculinity concept your level of strength can only be improved so much based on your natural genetics so from my point of view it’s not really the best correlation to draw unless you just want to put down people who are born with less natural strength even though they are just as “masculine” as the naturally stronger person. 

The bottom line is human beings are wired differently and some people have more inherent body strength than others.

Personally, I don’t think this should determine if someone is considered masculine or not. If you think about what we previously discussed about masculinity being defined from the current societal view which can change you then realize that someone who has little strength but other awesome characteristics could be considered more masculine than some big dude in a society that rewards different things. 

The real question is, what is the most important quality that a man should cultivate in the world moving forward and what are the most important qualities in general?

Toxic Masculinity vs Healthy Masculinity

I think the major problem with masculinity debates is there are still a lot of guys who believe in masculine beliefs and traits that were necessary in the past but are not as necessary today or moving forward in the world.

I’m going to attempt to define what toxic masculinity is vs healthy masculinity in the world today and how this also applies to physical fitness and strength/courage.

Toxic Masculinity: masculine beliefs and actions such as aggression, strength, or mental power that are meant to harm others for the pursuit of gain or egotistical power.

Toxic masculinity is based on how the strength and power is used in society towards others. If aggression, mental power, and physical strength is used to harm, abuse, or cause suffering to others in society then it is considered toxic. 

Keep in mind that in our world we still live in a competitive economic system where there are winners and losers. There is nothing wrong with healthy competition from my perspective and it’s still necessary to win, but the aggression and power need to be used in a way that is not harming others in order to not become toxic.

In the past, it was often common that men would use their aggression and power to physically or mentally harm people because the world was more based on pure survival.

It was necessary in the past to be able to physically defeat someone.

As the world evolves, this will change hopefully.

Healthy Masculinity: healthy masculinity is the use of powerful male strength, mental power, and aggression to protect people from harm, provide for friends and family, create abundance for all people in the world, and work to decrease suffering and fight harmful forces in the world so we can live in peace and safety.

Notice that the same amount of aggression, power, and energy is mentioned in both definitions but one is used to harm and divide people and the other is used to create peace, decrease suffering, and increase abundance/harmony in the world. It’s not the cultivation of power and strength that’s the problem, it’s how it is used in the world.

Cultivating Healthy Masculine Power

Whenever someone talks about toxic masculinity and male aggression the people who are fixated on being as tough and strong as possible always get frustrated that there is even such a thing as toxic masculinity.

I think the main thing they need to understand is that masculine power, strength, aggression, and other attributes are vital. 

I personally think it’s important to develop as much resilience, grit, and power as you can because they help you do things in the world. We also need people who are naturally stronger and more gifted physically for certain things.

It’s the way these powers are used that determines whether they are toxic or healthy.

In my opinion, if you are the type of person who likes to workout, train, fight, are ambitious, or driven that’s awesome. I’m just saying use it for a good purpose not just to put down people and defeat others.

Not to mention it’s very important for health that all types of men and women stay active and work on improving their fitness.

Also, keep in mind that not everyone is wired the same. Some people are born with disabilities or with more sensitive temperaments. Each different temperament has unique talents and I believe it’s everyone’s job to cultivate their own natural abilities.

We should be fighting for peace, freedom, and love not to put people down, to be better than everyone else, or to destroy others for personal gain. We should be lifting other people up and helping them find their own power.

Let’s use the healthy powerful masculine energy for good.


There you have it. My take on the masculinity debate. I do think there is toxic masculinity which is not healthy and healthy masculinity. It just depends how you define these things. 

I think it’s important to cultivate your power, strength, courage, aggressive, and badass masculine qualities but even more important to direct them in the proper way.

I also think that as the world changes and the level of violence and consciousness changes the expression of energy will continue to change in a more harmonious direction. We aren’t there yet though.

Honestly, I think both extremes on the sides of this debate are wrong and they usually are because the truth usually doesn’t fit into a dualistic perspective. Both masculine and feminine energy is essential in every person.

Anyway, that’s my current thoughts on masculinity right now and I hope you enjoyed reading.

Photo of author


Josh is a writer and entrepreneur who runs a small digital content publishing business. His main interests are in topics related to developing personal and financial freedom. When not working he enjoys reading, yoga, surfing, being outdoors, meditating, exploring, and hanging with friends.