So, it appears everywhere I turn lately, men are getting a hard time, or, more specifically, masculinity is getting a hard time.
Masculinity is a set of attributes, behaviours and roles, generally associated with boys and men. It is both socially defined and biologically created.
The attributes we generally associate with masculinity generally fall into 2 groups
- The stuff we wrongly think is exclusive to men
- The stuff that really is exclusive to men (but which doesn’t do us any good)
In this first category we put things like courage, stoicism and a competence in traditionally manly tasks. The only problem here is that, having seen my wife give birth, this category is nonsense. In the second we put what we can probably best refer to as ‘emotional reserve’ but is really ‘emotional incompetence.
I believe that, inherent in the way a great many of us have been raised, a key feature of masculinity is an inability to answer the simple question – “what’s the matter”
As a man it feels somehow less masculine to be able to say, “actually yeah there is something I need to talk about”
Masculinity has somehow been turned into a negative thing.
Who says that men can’t cry?
Who says men can’t open up and talk about their feelings?
Who says that doing either of these things make anyone less masculine?
Surely being able to openly discuss your feelings takes a great deal of courage!
I’m not suggesting that men should cry at the drop of a hat, that would annoy everyone, but being able to talk honestly about things that are affecting you is something that everyone should feel they can do.
Everyone has problems at some point in their life – its normal
Everyone goes through things that they find tough – its normal
In a world where the largest killer of men under 40 is suicide it is high time we reclaimed the word masculinity, embraced our differences, opened up about our problems and talk to each other.
I have been through some pretty dark times and, in my experience, your friends don’t judge you the way you fear they will. The hardest thing to do is take that 1st step and start the conversation but once you do you realise that you are not alone, that people do care.
There are people out there who care and can help, if you want someone to talk to check out CALM