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The Man Box

It is important to realize that the concept of gender (masculinity/femininity) is a socially defined construct. In other words, your idea of what it means to be a man or a woman comes from your experiences and the messages you get from others. Gender is normalized through culture, context, structures, and interactions.

A term that researchers use to describe the dominant form of masculinity in the United States at this time is known as Hegemonic Masculinity, which Mark Greene (2013) and others have described as the “Man Box.”

The term implies a rigid set of expectations, perceptions, and behaviors of what is “manly” behavior.  Because it is a hierarchy, Hegemonic masculinity marginalizes men who do not perfectly fit the description of a “real man.” Because no man perfectly fits the description, all men are limited by hegemonic masculinity through policing of behaviors seen as “violations” (Edwards & Jones, 2009).


Edwards, K.E. & Jones, S.R. (2009). “Putting My Man Face On”: A Grounded Theory of College Men’s Gender Identity Development. Journal of College Student Development 50(2), pp. 210-228.

Edwards, K.E. (2012). Man in a Box: The traditional hegemonic definition of masculinity. Retrieved from

Greene, M. (2013). The Man Box: The link between emotional suppression and male violence. Retrieved from