Masculinity Culture Artist Statement
Upon embarking on this project the most common question i’ve been asked is “Why are you photographing guys?”. This question in my eyes answered itself every time it was asked. The reason I was so invested in capturing this project was the exact reason that people didn’t see the importance.
Girls go through heavy changes in their lives; they begin to realize what type of woman they are and how the patriarchy applies to them. This conversation has been the face of my newsfeed on social media for awhile- often accompanied by the blaming of the man for patriarchal injustices. However, feminism cannot be talked about without the discussion of masculinity culture.
This project is a lens on the development of ‘man’ and the changes that accompany it. Just like females, men embark on a very emotional and surreal transformation as they begin to explore what type of man they are and how the standards of masculinity culture apply to them. While taking the photos I asked the guys to say what part of the process of becoming older they felt the most restricted by.
Many of them felt they had to act like they didn’t care, have aloof emotions, never truly attach themselves to something for fear of being attacked for it if that ‘thing’ suddenly fell under some new adjective of unmanly. The varying of what was manly varied greatly depended on their race, socioeconomic background, neighborhood, state, etc. The boys each had very pivotal moments they could recall where one moment they were ‘safe’ to behave a certain way and the next moment they were being ridiculed.
There was a constant itinerary they had to be hip to and mold themselves to. These expectations create a fine line for them to balance on when trying to be a good guy while still trying to be one of the guys. However, some of the boys felt completely unaffected, and felt stronger connections of brotherhood and maturity, as they got older. They didn’t see as present of a need to fit into any standard and felt the whole process of growing up occurred fluidly.
There were very different ways this culture manifested amongst the boys I photographed, and it opened up the conversation on the patriarchy and how the standard male oppressor gets created in the first place. This project seeks to question what it means to be a ‘good guy’- a definition, which, is not in fact as black and white as people easily assume.