Too afraid to be you?

Real men are emotionless. Real men are aggressive. Real men are strong. True? False. Yet this exact notion goes through the minds of hundreds of millions of men each day, more often than not – subconsciously.

Society has been created with the “stereotypical male” that each man is meant to live up to and look up to. The idea of emasculation ( a range of “feminine” interests or activities a Real Man would not do, that in turn disprove his masculinity regardless of his other actions) has created a society of men who are too afraid to be themselves. They feel pressured to be something they are not. They feel that they need to be aggressive in certain situations because that is what a “man” would do; or they feel obliged to pay for everything if they are in a relationship or on a date because that’s what “men” do.

We have genderised thoughts and feelings; toxic masculinity shows men that they are the thinkers, not the feelers and that women are the opposite; whereas the reality is we are both. Toxic masculinity defines the “norms” for men to act; even issues such as misogyny and homophobia stem from toxic masculinity as men are taught that you shouldn’t have any deep personal connections with a male, and that the “treat em mean, keep em keen” works when it comes to women.

The misogyny goes even deeper than this. All you need to do is turn on the TV and see the music industry. Time and time again women are sexually objectified by rappers, called “hoes” and “bitches” because this is what a “real man” does. In addition, the lyrics tend to speak about how much men love sex which is another by product of toxic masculinity. Many men feel pressured into wanting to show that they are eager to have sex or that they are always ready to have sex because this is the “norm”.

Truth be told, if the music industry was not misogynistic and stereotypical when it comes to males, we may have less pressure on young males to act and speak the way they do. Teenagers and young children need to be taught that it IS okay to cry; it IS okay to speak about your feelings; it IS okay to want to care for your skin and your hair; it IS okay to like romantic movies; it IS okay to not want to have sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend straight away; it IS okay to have deep personal relationships with your male friends or family members.

According to the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2017, in 2015 there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Male suicide rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the country, roughly three times higher in the UK. Men commit suicide because they do not speak about how they feel, many are scared of being ridiculed for showing their feelings. Many keep things bottled up as they would get told to “man up”. If this does not highlight the issue of toxic masculinity nothing will.

We need more men in high positions of popularity and influence to show men that it is okay to talk about feelings and that regardless of what others think, you should not let others define you as a man or not. Everyone has subjective views on what they may consider to be a “real man”; but their views should not define you, you define you.

““Femininity is depicted as weakness, the sapping of strength, yet masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it.”

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