There has been a lot of talk, debate and research about hyper-masculinity, the exaggeratedly masculine roles and expectations that society expects men to conform to. Hyper-masculinity emphasises a show of strength from men – things like aggressiveness and power, and totally dismisses the things that seem feminine such as tenderness and empathy. Long-used phrases such as ‘men don’t cry’ are glaring expressions of the hyper-masculine expectations society has. Sadly, this is the experience of many men, especially Black men. Researchers are even now looking at the implications of this and how hyper-masculinity has contributed to crime and the tragic mass shootings that the USA is known for.
Haitian-American photographer, Zarita Zevallos explores hyper-masculinity in her photo series titled Kòktèl. She interviews a diverse range of men on what masculinity means to them and what they think of society’s hyper-masculinity expectations. Her responses are interesting, and many are touching!
She accompanies these narratives with a series of portraits of a proudly black man, struggling against cords and threads that threaten to bind him into conformity. She says this about her portraits:
“Each picture expresses an emotion that I imagined men could go through during the search for their own personality. There is anger, confusion, childishness, sexiness, being trapped, introspective, in control and chaotic, and I wanted to express those emotions with colour and movement.” ~ via Design Indaba
See Zevallos’ images below.