Plenty of times growing up, I’ve consistently heard some variation of “boys don’t cry”, “you need to just man up”, or “that’s not what you’re supposed to do”. Sadly, I’ve only recently realized how damaging this has actually been to my way of thinking.
What am I talking about? I’ll tell you…
It’s no secret that our society places different expectations on people based on their gender. People reinforce this idea through the things our friends say, things our families do, or even what we see in the media. Men constantly hear that their true “strength” is in their ability to remain indifferent to adversity and to handle problems with ease.
What typically happens is that we NEVER learn how to deal with hard situations when they arise. As a result, later in life, we have no idea how to react when we’re in relationships or fall on hard times.
Man up…Men don’t cry
The obvious starting point here is the old myth that says “real men don’t cry”. Or, we’re not supposed to at least. But what does that even mean exactly? It’s not like men are biologically immune to the crying response and have no need for it. Emotional and physical pain activates our tear ducts just like our womanly counterparts. But for whatever reason, society says men crying is a huge sign of weakness.
For one, crying has actual physical benefits due to the hormones your body releases when the waterworks start flowing. But, it also has another benefit: crying elicits an emotional response from the people around you. Meaning, crying in front of people helps you learn to seek and accept help from others. It also gives men a chance to develop their ability to verbalize what they are feeling in the moment instead of just hiding their emotions.
Vulnerability is soft
It took a long time for me to understand people who cry while watching movies or TV shows. That is, until after my mom passed and I started to really pay attention to my own emotions and how the things around me made me feel.
Admittedly, I have never been very comfortable expressing my emotions in front of people, let alone when I’m by myself. But, recently, I have been brought to full tears by fake stories on a TV…which, I’m okay with.
The culprits? Everything from watching the news about Kobe Bryant’s death, Tony Stark’s final moments in “Avengers Endgame” and pretty much every single episode of “This Is Us”…
And let me tell you, I am a card-carrying member of Introverts Annonymous, so you can trust and believe that there is NO secret empath hiding somewhere inside of me. I think, at a certain level, vulnerability is something that we all need to feel comfortable with.
I’ve discovered the power of just allowing myself to feel whenever the mood strikes. I feel like more men could benefit from doing the same thing because it is strenuous to constantly keep your emotions bottled up.
Stay at home dad ≠ Provider
I don’t have any personal experience in this area, per se, but I know that men have this expectation to provide for their families and are often seen as ‘less than’ if they don’t do it in the traditional way. When we think of the ways that men provide for their families, we typically think of money, shelter, protection, and being the head of the household.
But what happens when the dynamic is different? Let’s say that the other partner is the primary breadwinner. Why is it that stay-at-home dads don’t have the same level of confidence or support as stay-at-home moms?
Listen, if my partner brings in the big money and someone needs to stay at home, it’s going to be me! I’m sure it would be hard, but I would still feel like I’m providing just as much as if I was out in the workforce.
I have a big problem with gender norms and the roles that society says we should play in our relationships. At the end of the day, you should only do what works for your situation.
Men are ALWAYS in the mood
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy sex…
Don’t we all?
What I don’t particularly like is the idea that men are supposed to always be in the mood. It’s pretty much a running joke that women can say things like “I have a headache”, “my stomach hurts”, or “not tonight” and all is fine and well. In my opinion, these are all valid reasons for not wanting to participate in the horizontal tango. But in the past, when I haven’t been in the mood I’ve literally heard things like “you must be gay”, “does your dick not work?”, or “do you think I’m ugly or something?”.
I don’t know about you, but to me, this is and was incredibly damaging psychologically.
The notion that your manhood is up for question due to you not being in the mood is ridiculous. Especially when there are so many factors that can influence whether or not you’re ready for action. Like, imagine arguing all day long and then still being expected to be interested in getting busy. Or, being under an intense amount of stress at work or in your personal life to the point where your head is just literally not in the game.
All I’m saying is please give men a little more grace when it comes to sex…
Am I man-splaining?
I could be completely wrong in all of my takes here, but remember, this is just my opinion. I’m only one person, and many of you might disagree with everything I’ve said here.
There are so many different misconceptions about manhood and what it means to be ‘manly’. What I brought up in this post is literally just the tip of the iceberg.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments though!