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The dictionary definition of emasculated is "(of a man) deprived of his male role or identity." or "made weaker or less effective"

So, I'm a guy, and I'm not entirely sure what it means to be deprived of a man's role or identity. Does it mean to not feel manly? Does this word have to do with gender norms? The reason I thought the word was sexist is because it says "man's role".

I found a sentence example saying, "He was worried his pink pants would emasculate him a bit, but he wore them anyway." See it seems like it's talking about gender roles.

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    What do the dictionaries tell you about the meanings of the word? Apr 30, 2021 at 16:55
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    If you have seen this word in context, what was the context? A good dictionary will also give example sentences. These can illustrate how the word is used in context. I'm not sure that a word can be sexist by itself. But it may be used in a sexist way.
    – James K
    Apr 30, 2021 at 17:43
  • I didn't realize that the definition of the meanings of words depended on one's sex.
    – Lambie
    Apr 30, 2021 at 18:01
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    If you are a man, saying that a woman is 'emasculating' you when she speaks up or demands equality is definitely sexist. Apr 30, 2021 at 19:02
  • @Lambie I don't see anyone suggesting that.
    – TypeIA
    Apr 30, 2021 at 19:26

2 Answers 2

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Sexist, no. Relating to gender norms, most definitely. That doesn't make the word inherently bad though. Rather than referring to odd example sentences, let's take a real-world use case. A few months back, the Welsh standup comic Rhod Gilbert spoke about how he felt emasculated by his infertility

It's easy to understand what he meant: his inability to be a (biological) father made him feel less of a man. There is no assertion, or implication, that in order to be a man, you have to be, or at least be capable of becoming, a biological father. Just that that's how the experience led him to feel about himself. The word "emasculated" is usefully describing his emotions there, but I don't think anyone could reasonably claim that he's using it in a way that is sexist, or that is taking any particular stance about gender roles, other than honestly reflecting his emotional responses that are shaped by them.

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  • Thanks for the response. You cleared up a lot of the confusion I had about the word.
    – Sponge bob
    May 2, 2021 at 19:29
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The literal meaning of “emasculated” is castrated, although that’s no longer a polite way to refer to someone. Figuratively, you’re right: it means that a man has lost his male role, or been disempowered.

What is or isn’t sexist in what context is a complicated question, but I’d avoid calling someone else “emasculated” or “emasculating.” It would be taken as an insult. The examples you give of polite usage are variations on, “He himself felt less masculine, but he shouldn’t have worried.”

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