The most often reoccurring pitfall in defining masculinity and femininity is basing it, one way or another, on what men or women can do. It is true that there are some actions that only men can do, and other actions that only women can do, but being able to accomplish these actions does not magically make someone masculine or feminine. If it were, then you would have the potential for not being masculine or doing something that isn’t masculine or falling out of masculinity’s grace or becoming less masculine or possibly losing masculinity altogether (for a man). If I were to do something that wasn’t very masculine, would that make me less of a man? If so, what would I have to do to make that up? Would I have to complete three ultra-masculine actions to make that up? How about five? Maybe I need ten ultra-masculine activities to regain my status of being masculine? And how do I know if the ultra-masculine activity is really ultra-masculine? It might only be mostly masculine. How could I make sure an activity was ultra-masculine enough? Below are questions which are at the core of what men or women would ask themselves if masculinity and femininity were based upon actions:
“Am I doing enough to be masculine?” For a woman, “Am I doing enough to be feminine?”
For others the questions become a matter of pride and sound like, “What should I do to become more masculine?” or for a woman, “What should I do to become more feminine?”
Finally, if a woman wanted to try to become a man or a man try to become a woman (neither of which is possible), the question for her would be “What do I do to become masculine?” or for him “What do I do to become feminine?”
This erroneous thinking leads to questioning every action. Comparisons would be made against an impossible perfect masculinity or femininity and spawn everyday questions such as: “Well, that didn’t turn out so masculine (feminine), did it?” “A real man (woman) wouldn’t have done that, would he (she)?” “When he threw that football, he looked more masculine than I would, didn’t he?”
If masculinity and femininity were defined by actions, someone could always call into question how masculine or feminine a man or woman is which would lead to no amount of actions being enough to make a man confident of his masculinity or a woman confident in her femininity. Defining masculinity and femininity based on actions does not work. Masculinity and femininity are not defined by physical efforts or achievements.