As a man, have you ever felt you can do nothing right? That you need to apologize for something you didn’t do? Today we’ll explore how society shames men for being men.
I’m reminded we live in a shame based culture. It’s a practical tool we use to keep people in line with expectations.
Being a man today is tough. As we move away from the traditional archetype of manhood established since the Victorian era, many men are confronted with a new batch of mixed and high expectations. What happens when men fail at these often unrealistic and unspoken rules? They are usually shamed.
How Society Shames Men for Being Men
One of the leaders on our LA Men’s Group leadership team sent me a link to an article, The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido. The conclusion of this opinion piece? The nature of men, specifically the sexual nature of men, is behind societal problems. The Harvey Weinsteins and Bill Cosbys will never cease as long as men exist. “If you want to be a civilized man, you have to consider what you are”…a monster.
While we have examples of some bad apples in the bunch, most men are not monsters. In fact, most men have contributed to a healthy society. Sexual thoughts are normal and don’t make you a menace. Unless you’ve done something wrong, don’t apologize. It’s the action that counts. Thoughts can change.
I’ve been under some pretty heavy stress this past month. I found out the contract I’ve been working for ends Dec 29. As a new dad, I’ve worried about how I’ll provide for my family.
Throughout history, men have been the designated providers. This expectation is deeply embedded in the minds of men. But a shift is happening. While statistics don’t yet reflect it, women will begin to make higher incomes. Some expectations for sole male provision may have to change as well.
While many men have moved away from being completely emotionally detached, the question remains, “How much emotion is too much?” Throughout childhood, when a boy shows emotion, especially hurt, he is told to “be a man.” In effect, boys are conditioned to believe manliness is being emotionless.
Hiding emotions will make a relationship shallow. Hiding sabotages love and severs connection. Many women think men do not talk about how they’re feeling enough. Could this be a reason behind high divorce rates?
We have to do better. We can start by creating safe places for boys and men to be authentic. This has been a central aim of our LA Men’s Group. If we can replicate this model everywhere, I believe we could see more men unafraid to show their authentic selves and feelings. This could have numerous benefits. We could see a major drop in male suicide rates.
Statistics show “eight out of ten women believe that men ‘never stop being childish’ – with breaking wind, burping, eating fast food in the early hours and playing videogames their biggest bug-bears.”
Men have to act mature almost all of the time. Especially in light of today’s regulations, men clearly have to be careful when they joke at work.
The second biggest shame we put on men aside from “act like a man”?
Act your age.”
The same rules from elementary school permeate our work force: “sit still and be quiet.” We’ve forgotten how to play. With all of the expectations a man has to live up to, play and a bit of immaturity are ok. Once again, men need places where they can experience some freedom from they daily masks we wear.
As I sat down to write this, I quickly realized too much content existed to throw into one article. Society Dishonors Men further explores this topic. While everyone seems to have done a great job of identifying toxic masculinity, isn’t it time we identify and recognize how good men cultivate a healthy society?