Captain America not only navigates masculinity, but he completely subverts and ultimately rejects our contemporary conceptions of what it means to be a man, thereby creating a new kind of masculinity that demands self-inquiry, emotional empathy, and innate goodness. It’s not enough to just say Cap is an example of non-toxic masculinity, because what Cap does is redefine the binary of maleness. He’s not just an emblem for what not to be; he’s a roadmap of masculine possibility.
It’s a good essay and you should read it. But here’s my favorite part [My emphasis]:
Steve, The Art Student
Many of the male, human Avengers specialize in math and sciences: Tony Stark is a brilliant electric engineer, and Bruce Banner holds a doctorate in nuclear physics. But prior to getting transformed into Captain America, Steve Rogers was an art student who was really into comics and illustration and was planning on getting fine arts degree. This focus on the humanities correlates to Steve already subverting our expectations. We think of Captain America as this beefcake who represents the best of us. Perhaps the “best of us” doesn’t have to always focus on STEM (although the push for more women and girls to get involved and recognized for their work in math and science disciplines is welcome), but on the ways in which we can discuss, theorize, and imagine the world, as well, through arts education. This major literally illustrates Steve’s optimism and hope and points out a reason why Steve would volunteer for Operation Rebirth in the first place. He sees the world how it could be, which leads him to ultimately transform into Captain America.
That’s right. Steve Rogers, whose path to heroism came from being good, is a humanities major.
Also he’s my son’s favorite (Image Descriptions: Three pictures of my son in various poses, wearing a Captain America shirt and Captain America swimsuit).