It’s our responsibility as we become adults to acknowledge this pain and gain compassion for ourselves and acceptance of others. But for men in particular, when the patriarchy says that it’s OK to grab a woman’s ass, or tell her what to do, or watch too much porn or deny her space – and you accept this as a way of treating another human being – you deny yourself the opportunity to understand why you desired that comfort of power in the first place. The ego wants dominance and control. And the male ego is currently everywhere.
As far as I can see, this toxic notion of masculinity is being championed by men who are so terrified of confronting any trauma experienced as children that they choose to project that torture on to the lives of others rather than themselves.
What’s even more upsetting is that often when men allow themselves to feel this pain, it’s so new to them that they kill themselves. We live in a society where men feel safer killing themselves than acknowledging pain. Accepting the patriarchy from a place of false benefit will prevent you from ever truly loving yourself or understanding others. It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to have loved your mum and dad growing up. It’s OK to have missed them or wanted more affection. It’s OK to take a moment when you’re reminded of these truths. When you allow your brain to access these emotions, it knows exactly what to do. So nurture yourself. Talk honestly to the people around you, and welcome the notion of understanding them more than you have ever done before.
I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men – that it’s OK to not be dominating – that it’s OK to have feelings and emotions – that it’s OK to promote equality – that it’s OK to have women who are just friends and that’s it – that my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.
So profound a point and ever so elegant and simple!
I don’t quite know when it happened to me, but at a early age I could see and smell the macho hierarchy bullshit. It generally drove me a little nuts. I mean how dare people tell me I can’t have female friends who are not simply potentials. This honestly was said to me multiple times over my life. Either they are potentials or they are not worth investing time in! Seriously! This warped view for what? The dream of being alpha king kong of the jungle?
1. noun [alpha male of the group or alpha male other guy]: a socially comfortable male who competes with a pickup artist for a woman or interferes with a pickup artist’s game.
2. verb: to remove a potential male competitor—through physical, verbal, or psychological tactics—from a group of women. Also: outalpha. Origin: Tyler Durden
Some key points of the macho bullshit…
Don’t cry or openly express emotions
Do not show weakness or fear
Demonstrate power control
Show aggression and dominance always (be the alpha)
Do not be “like a woman”
Do not be “like a gay man”
Make decisions, do not ask for help
Don’t ask questions?
View the oppose sex as property or objects
You can see this stuff play out in books like the game. Its something I have battled against many times, as I’ve seen too many good men around me hold themselves to similar rules, unknowingly buying into/clinging onto some type of old fashioned/myth of what makes a man?
I hate certain situations when I don’t have the energy to battle against this macho bullshit or manbox if you prefer? I feel like those Manchester couples at Salt and Paper in Eyespy, wanting to say something but not having the energy or enough fight in me to do so. I’ve taken a slightly more manipulative approach now, as that doesn’t put me directly into competition/conflict with their own view. It takes longer but I’ve seen glimmers of a break through.
Sex, in particular, is an important part of “being a man”. Sexual conquests (and believe me, that word is chosen deliberately) are part of how men establish and reaffirm their manhood. The need to “get” sex is all-encompassing because the more of it you have, the higher “status” you have as a man.
But on the idea of how to stem the toxic masculinity I found this interesting when considering what I said earlier.
With all this in mind, we’re forced to ask just how we can start fixing men and repairing the damage done by toxic masculine ideals. And the answer is to speak up. The answer is to push back. The answer is to take responsibility. The answer is education.
We need more men to step up and be counted. We need more men to call out others for their shitty behavior, to refuse to let sexual assault be “get some action”, to intervene when we see harassment or assaults going down regardless of the gender of the victim.