The other day at school, makeup and gender came into a conversation at the same time. I was sitting at a desk in a classroom, reading a book, half listening to the conversations in the room while the teacher was out. A girl said, simply, "Why do some men get botox?" For starters, it bothered me that this was even a question. Both men and women, and all in-between, can get cosmetic surgery; whether it be after an accident, or just to further indulge their happiness and self-confidence. The reply to this, said by another girl, was "Because they can't wear makeup." This irritated me further; of course people of the male gender are allowed to wear makeup, makeup is not gender exclusive. Just because, at the moment, the social norm may be that makeup is a feminine attribute, does not mean that we cannot destroy these norms and create new ones. I recently saw a post via Tumblr that read, "Normalize boys wearing makeup, normalize breaking down gross masculine expectations,"
(http://heyitspj.tumblr.com/post/107946158175/normalize-boys-wearing-dresses-normalize-boys). It is important we realize the correlation between boys wearing makeup and masculine expectations. Makeup is considered, by the majority of society, something feminine; something only girls can wear. This femininity is associated with weakness.
"At least according to this thesaurus, masculinity is powerful, capable, competent; femininity is weak and incompetent.," (http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/07/16/power-masculine-weakness-feminine/). Of course, those of us with a pulse and half a brain know that it is quite wrong to use 'femininity' and 'weakness' in the same sentence, but alas, here we have sexism rearing it's ugly head once again. Men are expected by society to be strong, emotionless, and powerful. This breeds many, many wrong ideas and actions; and one of those is that when men wear makeup, their masculinity, and 'machoness' is somehow decreased.
This gendered expectation of boys is not only present when it comes to cosmetics. In my grade, there are a few males who cry, it is normal. Though I notice that whenever a girl in my grade cries, everyone rushes to comfort her, and the incident is not made a big deal and is forgotten by the next class. However, on the few occasions which one of the boys have cried, no one does anything but stay four feet away from them and stare. Then, their crying is the gossip on everyone's lips for the next two days. The boys are called "cry baby", and are told to "man up".
Showing emotion is also, somehow, considered a feminine trait, and is therefore considered weak. Emma Watson gave a speech at the UN late last year, "I started questioning gender-based assumptions a long time ago...When at 18, my male friends were unable to express their feelings... I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success...We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are," ( http://sociology.about.com/od/Current-Events-in-Sociological-Context/fl/Full-Transcript-of-Emma-Watsons-Speech-on-Gender-Equality-at-the-UN.htm
).Though it may start small, in a classroom, with categorizing cosmetics based on gender, it branches out. These integrated beliefs lead on to deeming makeup, emotion; anything which can be associated with femininity 'weak', and the opposite of those 'gross masculine expectations' we spoke about earlier. When boys express emotion, they are ridiculed, taught that it is wrong; just as the boys in my grade sometimes are. Emma Watson continues in her UN address, "I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man," ( http://sociology.about.com/od/Current-Events-in-Sociological-Context/fl/Full-Transcript-of-Emma-Watsons-Speech-on-Gender-Equality-at-the-UN.htm
). If the boys in my grade are taught now, at fourteen, that the expression of emotion is wrong, what happens when they're twenty and suffering from depression, but are afraid to seek help? We need to speak out against these words, said casually, in the safety of a classroom. We need to break down masculine expectations and standards, starting with the makeup issue. The societal expectations for girls and boys should be the same, and should not be harmful.