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Erin Lomeli
Professor Ditch
English 113A
25 November 2015
Masculinity According to the Media
American society influences current fashion trends such as clothes, make-up, and body
types. The media shows the public how they should look in order to be attractive. In a 1992
advertisement Calvin Klein shows Mark Wahlberg as a buff white male figure wearing a baseball
cap backwards and is in just his boxer briefs underwear firmly grabbing his crotch. Through this
advertisement Calvin Klein is defining masculinity to be strong and independent and showing
the world that men are the leaders such as priests and presidents, which are leader roles women
cannot join. The sexual content is bold in this advertisement because most companies try and sell
their products with sex; sex is the thing that gets peoples attention. Hyper masculinity is an
overstatement of male gender roles, such as dominance, sexual behavior, and physical strength.
Advertisement such as Calvin Klein does not only show that men are supposed to look a certain
way to be attractive and dominant, but they encourage hyper masculinity at the same time
causing men to feel as though they need show the submissive that they are the strongest and the
leaders because of their male ego. The hyper masculinity and sexual content is seen in Calvin
Kleins advertisement can cause men to feel as though they need to show that they have strength
and can only be the leaders all around the world and women will always be the submissive ones,
but men should be proud of their body and not to feel like they have to stand up to any standards.
The media shows male dominance more and more throughout advertisement; this is
causing men to think that they are the most powerful and can be in control all the time when that

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is not the case. As Aaron Devor argues in his article Becoming Members of Society: The Social
Meanings of Gender, Persons who display success and high status in their social group, who
exhibit a manly air of toughness, confidence, and self-reliance and the aura of aggression,
violence, and daring, and who conscientiously avoid anything associated with femininity are
seen as exuding masculinity. (42) Devor is explaining that men are told to act tough and violent
because that is how they show others that they are the ones in control and if they fail to act this
way then they are not considered a man, but seen as a feminine image. Well boys grow up into
their adolescence years they start to understand more of the masculine stereotypes the media
creates. According to Megan Vokey in her article An Analysis of Hyper-Masculinity in Magazine
Advertisements she argues, It appears that many boys exposed to violent representations
develop beliefs that support violence as an acceptable way of obtaining what they want or need
(i.e., they learn that violence serves an instrumental function). The image the media makes for
males is causing them to be pressured into the violent and hyper masculine lifestyle. Calvin
Klein advertise that men are supposed to be buff and act like they can do anything and be the
only leaders in the world. People do not recognize the wrong message Calvin Klein is showing;
all people see is a strong and attractive man who is modeling Calvin Kleins product. Ruth
Hubbard explains in her article, Rethinking Womens Biology, The impression that women are
shorter than men is enhanced by our social convention that when women and men pair off, it is
considered preferable for the man to be taller than the woman. (47) Hubbards quote is
explaining that the media gives men the image of the body they need to have, but the truth is
that is not true because the media needs to except the fact that not everyone can look the same in
order to be attractive. Men can still be attractive in their own way, but the media tells them

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otherwise. The media needs to stop showing unrealistic images of men in advertisements and
start to show relatable body images. If Calvin Klein showed relatable body types then there
would be less crimes and abusive relationships because men will not have to stress about how
they need to be super muscular to be considered attractive.
Sex is the word that gets most peoples attention; many companies try to use sexual
content in their advertisements. According to Cheryl Alisha DSouza in her book, Effectiveness
of Sexual Content in Advertising she explains that, In the 1800s sexual content in advertising
was used mainly to be able to capture the male interest. This quote shows that using sex in
advertisement has been used for a while and to get a mans attention because back then men
were the only ones able to buy things while the women stayed home. Now that women have
more rights they are able to buy things and that is why in Calvin Kleins advertisement used a
male to get the womens attention, but also show men that in order to be attractive and feel
dominant they have to look like the man in the advertisement. Sex in Calvin Kleins
advertisement show males as unrealistic figures body type in their advertisements, such as buff
man who are sporty, shows them wear a baseball cap and holding his crotch because that is what
makes men dominant compared to women. DSouza also explains, In 1890, Duke & Son
emerged to become a leading cigarette brand when the company started including with each pack
the picture of semi nude woman. This type of advertisements makes men want to go out and
buy the product just for the picture and that is how advertisement today continues. The sexual
content in Calvin Kleins advertisements show men this is how they show their dominance and it
shows women this is how real men are suppose to look. The most noticeable sexual content in
the advertisement is Mark Wahlberg firmly holding his crotch because he is showing that he is

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confident with what he has as a man and wants to show off to the world. The body Mark
Wahlberg had is a dream body according to society because that is what is shown in most of
the media, which is causing women to think men are suppose to look this way and men are
feeling pressured to try to reach the standard. When men do meet the standards they think more
of themselves causing them to think they are the ones people look up too and want to be.
Most people do not know the difference between being masculine and being violently
dominant. Some confuse them both and say they are the exact same thing. When men are hyper
masculine thing begin to feel they need to be abusive in relationships or commit crimes in order
to show their dominance and strength so people can consider them men. Vokey explains,

Beyond developmental period, males with low socio-economic power (e.g. working class men)
are also at a greater risk of developing hegemonic masculinity than men with higher socioeconomic power. Vokey is stating that men who are in a lower class tend to be more violent
than others who are in a high class because they are less educated. The truth is that of course it is
a stereotype and low-class men and high-class men have the exact same chances of being
violent. Advertisements of Calvin Klein are trying to be viewed more by the younger generation
because at the adolescence age they are barley understanding the masculine stereotype so the
media wants to be the first to show them, because they want their image to get stuck in their head
and think that this is the way to look. In a way the media is hypnotizing boys at a younger age so
Calvin Klein is able to use the same concept they have been using in the previous years. Vokey
argues, Mass media plays a role in normalizing and validating hegemonic masculinity
behaviors and beliefs, particularly for young and lower class men, who are most at risk of taking
on hegemonic masculinity. This quote is arguing that the media, such as Calvin Klein uses a

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muscular man as their model, this tells young boys that in order to be considered a man they
have to look like this and be strong physically and emotionally because this is how they gain
power over others. Calvin Klein wants to show that hyper masculinity is okay because that is
what makes boys men and that is just life.
Although men do have the right to chose their body figure and gender, some men believe
that all men must be dominant and have strength in order to be a man. Men need to be tall and
muscular to be a man because they need to be stronger than the submissive (women). They also
need to take control of situations because they are the leaders of the world.
Men do not have to be dominant, but the media tells society they have to fit in a specific
body figure in order to be considered attractive. A way to fix the problem is by telling the media
to show other shaped and sized body images because everyone is different but attract in their our
way. The media should not just advertise products by muscular and semi-nude men, but should
show society there are other ways to be seen as attract and dominant.
Calvin Kleins image of men in their advertisements are very sexual, show dominance,
and show that strength is the key to becoming more of a dominant man because most men want
to be able to look like the model in the advertisement. They show young boys that it is okay to be
hyper masculine because that is what makes them powerful and dominant over women and girls.
Not only does Calvin Klein need to stop showing unrealistic images of men, but they need to
show society that having different body types can be considered strong and masculine as well.

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Work Cited
Devor, Aaron. Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender.
Composing Gender. Ed. Rachael Groner and John F. OHara. Boston: Bedford/ St.
Martins, 2014. 35-45. Print 03 Nov. 2015.