Masculinity is defined as a set of attributes and behaviours that are generally associated with boys or men.
What a man should act like – and what he should do – is the result of social constructs based on expected norms.Traditionally, men are associated with being tough, expected to show strength and have certain physical attributes.
However, over the past few years with the rise of the Millennial, these perceptions of masculinity have been radically challenged.
Gone are the days where men were expected to be the sole breadwinners while women only belonged in the kitchen and raised the kids at home.
In the 21st century women are leaders, providers and assert their independence. They are clear about what they want – and they want a man who can stand beside them – not someone who overshadows them.
And as women have become more assertive, men have become more comfortable revealing their sensitive side. The modern man isn’t shy to talk about his emotions, pay attention to his appearance while remaining comfortable with who he is and what he stands for.
These seismic changes in modern masculinity were recently backed up by research conducted by Axe, South Africa’s number one fragrance brand, which found that younger people want to move away from rigid gender roles – and don’t feel the need to follow preconceived notions of what it means to be a man.
This shift towards a new sense of masculine individuality and sense of attraction has impacted not only on how men behave, but has trickled down into fashion, music and even grooming.
Fashion is one of the most expressive forms of art in our modern day world.Now more than ever, fashion speaks to a bigger audience because of the rise of the digital world and the advent of apps such as Twitter and Instagram.Influencers, such as Jaden Smith and Young Thug, have risen up the fashion ranks through their gender bending dress sense sparking conversation about masculine dressing.
Fashion is now being used as powerful tool to revamp the idea of masculinty. For instance, when I went to New York recently, I noticed a lot of my peers felt free to wear whatever they want – some even wearing dresses.
Music is such a powerful tool and a universal language.
A new crop of musicians have used music to question not only sex and gender, but masculinity as well.Frank Ocean, in particular, has demonstrated that men can also be fragile, and dig deep into their emotions.
As men put more thought into their appearance, the evolution of modern masculinity has palpably affected their approach to grooming. While before, men might raid their girlfriend’s bathroom cupboard for cream to dab on when they climb out of the shower, today’s man has moved on to developing his own skin care and grooming regime.
And with celebrities from Harry Styles to Internet star Luka Sabbat showing how comfortable they are with dabbing nail polish on their cuticles, there is little surprise that brands like Tom Ford have started offering cosmetics for men.
The new range of Axe fragrances which inspire individuality while still celebrating attraction is backed up by an unprecedented new campaign featuring a radical, progressive point of view on masculinity and attractiveness. Axe You, developed by iconic fragrance expert Ann Gottlieb in conjunction with renowned fragrance house Firmenich, inspires a progressive vision of masculine individuality.
Even traditional female hairstyles are no longer off limits, illustrating how men no longer feel the need to be boxed in to act a certain way as the idea of masculinity becomes more fluid.
This progressive vision of modern masculinity is allowing men to have the freedom and comfort to be themselves.
And they are using fashion, music and even grooming to break down those age old barriers.
What though, it most exciting about this shift towards a new sense of individuality is the awareness that, however you choose to express yourself, that doesn’t make you any less of a man.