I can’t tell you how much I hate phrases like this...or maybe I can.
I hate them because they entrench the notion that to be a ‘real man’ you have to conform to a certain set of behaviours (and what the hell does ‘real man’ even mean ffs...?).
That you need to be a tough guy, emotionally retentive, ‘strong’. That to display feelings, emotions or affection (even to those closest to you) is a sign of weakness. That being a ‘real man’ is worth more than the alternatives.
Meaning that every challenge is met with anger and aggression...because that’s all we’ve got to work with.
There was a time when, driven by insecurity and low self esteem I tried to walk that walk...tried to fit in by presenting an image of myself that was something other than who I really am.
I knew that I didn’t measure up to the model of a ‘man’s man’ (another stupid phrase)...I was continually reminded of that fact by the culture around me and it made me feel like I was worth less as a result.
But playing at that role felt completely unnatural and to be frank, ridiculous. The cap didn’t fit and I was deeply unhappy until I began to feel more at ease with who I actually am.
Of course the flip side to this behaviour is equally sinister...misogyny, a need to assert dominance over others, violence.
It’s the reason that rape culture exists, why there’s a mental health epidemic amongst young men (and women) and partly why so many young men are losing their lives at a heartbreakingly early age (either to suicide or at the hands of other young men).
I have the privilege of being a dad to an amazing daughter. We’re bringing her up to be strong, independent and to know that she never has to feel less than anyone, ever.
If I ever have the equal privilege of being a dad to a son I hope I can raise him up to know that sensitivity and emotions are nothing to be ashamed of - to show him that it’s not necessary to take on all of that macho bullshit.
I just really hope that the next generation are less weighed down by all of this stuff and that they can live their lives with the freedom and comfort to move beyond this poisonous conditioning.
Ok I’m done...for now ✌️