Note: This post was discussed and approved by the mods prior to being posted.
Hello again to all the kind folks of this wonderful sub! Today is International Men’s Day!
International Men’s Day was created to help create awareness about men’s physical and mental health and celebrate their contribution to families and communities. It’s undeniable that we live in patriarchal societies designed to (usually) keep a small number of wealthy men in power. When discussing the topic of the patriarchy, we often explore the abuse, exploitation, subjugation, and discrimination faced by women in these systems, but sometimes overlook the devastating impact that these systems have on men and boys throughout their life.
From infancy, boys quickly learn from their environment that there are steep expectations that need to be met if you’re ever going to be considered a “real man.” You must be constantly productive, wealthy, muscular, heterosexual, tall, smart, talented, and confident in everything you do. Attributes like artistic creativity, emotional intelligence, empathy, caretaking, open-mindedness, emotional vulnerability, or even a love for cooking or dance are actively smothered in young boys in favor of the previously mentioned masculine traits. To say nothing of men with mental or physical conditions that leave them severely-restricted or unable to contribute to society in traditionally masculine ways. Where does this leave us? With generation after generation of men and boys who never even learned that it’s OK to experience the wide spectrum of emotions, and that replacing vulnerable emotions with rage, ego, or stoicism is preferred to looking weak for even a moment. At the same time, many men are being conditioned to feel entitled to relationships and sex, two things that require emotional vulnerability, empathy, open-mindedness, and an ability to work collaboratively. When entitlement like this meets unpreparedness, confusion, anger, and heartbreak are often all that’s left in the end.
Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Men are good. Men have been responsible for some of the greatest inventions and advancements in the history of our species. Men are capable of phenomenal acts of kindness, empathy, and compassion. Patriarchal systems push a toxic version of masculinity because it is understood that emotionally intelligent men are FAR more dangerous to the status quo than those that have been told to “man up” and quietly suffer. What we do moving forward will determine the type of world future generations grow up in.
So I’ll put forward a few questions:
\- What are some non-traditional examples of healthy masculinity that you’ve seen or heard about?
\- How do you personally differentiate between masculinity and toxic masculinity.
\- Did you grow up seeing or experiencing any bizarre expectations for men in your area (growing up it was cool for guys to skateboard, but rollerblading was seen as “gay”)?
\- Who do you think is a well-known person who embraces healthy masculinity.