Masculinity in different cultures - France, USA

Masculinity in Culture: How is a Man Perceived in The US, France and The Rest of The World

For endless generations, masculinity has been an ever-changing perception of what makes a man. I’m sure you would find that the definition of what a man should be has changed so rapidly to the point where it’s unrecognizable to its established parameters more than a couple decades ago, or even just a single decade.

When considering what aspects of masculinity you yourself find to be valid, I will always suggest that people consider the perspective of other cultures. This is so you can better broaden your own understanding of what masculinity is, and perhaps you can apply some of the things you’ve learned into your own life.

What is masculinity to you? I seriously want you to take a moment to consider the question I just posed. Think about how you were indirectly taught about masculinity through the actions of others and the media you consumed. Take into account if the ever-changing world has changed your perception of what a man “should” be. Have it on your head? Good. As you read through the article and get through learning about how different cultures see the subject of masculinity, think back on your answer and see if there are any changes you’d make. If you decide to make changes, you’ve broadened your understanding of what you can do to better yourself. If not, that’s fine; you’ve got a solid view of what you need to improve yourself, and that’s respectable.

Either way, here’s what you can learn about masculinity found in other cultures.


The Value of Masculinity in Culture

In many cultures, masculinity is defined by self improvement and tends to be a measure of worth of sorts. However, there is no fixed value. Every society, culture, and generation has their own views on what masculinity is, and you can bet it’s vastly different than what it was a hundred years ago. The point, however, is that no two cultures are the same when it comes to defining masculinity.

In some cultures, like Japan, masculinity is associated with success and power. Meanwhile, Scandinavian countries tend to associate masculinity with respect, empathy, and equality. Some are pretty straightforward, such as some Middle Eastern countries, where they tend to weave their definitions of masculinity around religious text. Others are fairly complex, such as with the United States, where the ideas of masculinity seem to be shifting wildly throughout the modern day.

Some cultures value competition and material success, while others pride traditionalism.

Because of this, the true definition of masculinity is almost impossible to ascertain, but we can work to understand others’ views of it and perhaps incorporate them into our own beliefs to better ourselves.


Examples of Masculine Culture

Masculine culture is, in essence, the traits we want to pass down to our young men of the next generation. We do this through everyday displays.

For South Koreans, it can be through serving their country in the military.

For US citizens, it’s often seen through strength and dominance.

For Iranians, many display it through leasing their families.

All in all, masculine culture is about showing that you are able and willing to pass on the values of your culture onto the next generation of young men. It’s about teaching them how to be the best man they can be so that they’re able to help lead their culture and maintain the best of its values. Whether some cultures have aspects that you don’t agree with when it comes to masculinity, the fact still stands: the men of today will define the men of tomorrow, and what they pass on, whether it be strength, respect, strictness, or patriotism, is what defines masculinity.


How Masculinity is Viewed in Different Cultures

So now that we’ve covered the broader aspects of what masculinity is, let’s look at some examples of masculinity in different cultures. You’re doing to find that there’s a huge difference in thought depending on which side of the globe you’re on, but through just a few examples in each, you’ll come to understand the basics of masculinity around the world.


Masculinity in Western Cultures

While this isn’t true for every western country (i.e, Scandinavia), most tend to have this drive for power and success. Men are the leaders and the most influential, and whether people know it or not, they tend to focus on a man who is successful and dominant. However, there have been shits in the tides as of late. Let’s look deeper into some western cultures.


United States

In the US, the masculine individual is usually seen as strong and powerful, both in physique and in character. They’re the leaders in both society and in the family, usually posing as the breadwinners. This is how it’s been for a while, anyhow, but as of late, there has been a drive to shift society’s view on what masculinity truly is. It’s become a polarizing subject between the traditionalists who believe strong masculinity is necessary for functioning American society and modernists who deem it no longer necessary.



German culture tends to lean towards the more traditionally masculine side of things. You’ll see that they value competition and success, something that starts all the way back from their schooling days. There’s also a noticeable divide where gender roles are more traditional than others.



France doesn’t strictly adhere to traditional gender roles or stereotypes when it comes to masculinity. Instead, their culture values caring for one another rather than competition, like most western countries are. Competition and success is still valued, but not as highly as you would see elsewhere.



Ask anyone to picture an Australian man and they’ll probably think of a rugged outdoorsman, which is surprisingly not far off from the norm. However, just like with the United States, there’s been a push to change the perception of masculinity and instead embrace non-traditional gender roles, such as the man of the house taking on more homely responsibilities.


Masculinity in Eastern Cultures

Over the years, the east has slowly started becoming more Westernized, and while some of those values still trickle in, the East still have their own ideas of what masculinity is. Let’s take a look at what else this entails.



Masculinity is a complex idea in China, and is based in both societal and historical norms. For Chinese men, strength, courage, stoicism, and family is what matters most. As Confucius says: the man is the head of the household. Like most cultures on this list, though, it’s being challenged by modern society.



In all honesty, Japan was almost put into the “western culture” section because of how westernized its culture had become, but in the end, it’s still an eastern nation. Anyhow, Japan’s form of masculinity is trained on success and work. Japan is famous for its workplace culture, and it’s here that a man thrives. He is expected to put his work (and more importantly, his company) above all else. As of late, though, the younger generations are starting to reject this idea of a demanding work culture.



Masculinity is rooted in both tradition and religion in India. Like China, the focus remains on strength, courage, and being able to provide for a family. These ideas are deeply intertwined with Hinduism, including the roles of the caste system and their gods. Like with Islam or Christianity, their views of masculinity come from their religion, but as of late, these views have been shifting due to more modernist values. While there is pushback from traditionalists, infighting is never good for a society in general.