Modern masculinity is a topic that is impacting our society and our world on a daily basis.
From the #MeToo movement, to the heart-breaking shootings that we experience every day in America, to the language that we are using to have conversations about masculinity—many are feeling that men are under attack and that masculinity needs to be redefined.
When the #MeToo movement happened, I wanted to hear from men about it. I wanted them to get curious, ask questions about what we’ve experienced as women, and then ask themselves what they could do better in their own life. And I expect nothing less from myself when it comes to the topic of modern masculinity.
I got curious about the experiences that men have growing up and how they are conditioned to be “this” and “not that” in order to be considered manly enough. I wanted to learn more about how we have gotten to where we are as a society, and how we can change things so that our boys are no longer in crisis and our men are no longer wondering if their masculinity is “toxic” or not.
And I want to know what I can do personally to help make change happen. Not only for my 10-year-old son, but for all men who are faced with the expectations of what it means to “be a man”. So I did what I always do when I want to educate myself about something that I know nothing about—I turn to books, articles, and videos I can find that will help me learn.
I am riveted by articles from Jed Diamond, who writes about his experiences growing up, and his feelings about how we can help men break out of the “Man Box”. And I feel educated by articles from Crystal Jackson, who asserts that we need to stop saying things like “man up”.
In fact, Crystal’s article reminded me of the only time I remember using that phrase, to tease a friend who longed for the days of husbands being in the waiting room while their wives gave birth. I have regretted it ever since. Even though I know I was joking, why shame a man for expressing his honest feelings about something so personal? Forget the fact that the man in question is a former Navy SEAL, for Pete’s sake. He was being vulnerable and open, and I absolutely hate the fact that I shamed him for it, just for a laugh.
In my search for educational information about modern masculinity, I also came across a few TED Talks about this topic, and found them so enlightening and impactful, I wanted to share them here.
This first one is by Rob Mitchell-James, who talks about the impact modern masculinity is having on men. It’s called, “#ManReBranded: Why modern masculinity is fundamentally flawed”.
This next video, by Ryan McKelley, discusses the importance of social connection for boys and men, and the impact that social isolation can have on their physical and emotional health. It’s called “Unmasking masculinity — helping boys become connected men”.
This last video is called “The Mask of Masculinity – the traditional role of men is evolving”, by Connor Beaton. He talks about the damaging effect of the “man mask” and shares stories from his own life to illustrate his point. Including a literal gut punch that I could almost feel myself.
These videos are just the beginning of my own education, and I hope to learn more about what I can do personally to support boys and men in taking off their own masks.
Because maybe if boys and men feel comfortable and safe enough to be vulnerable and take off those masks, they can start redefining masculinity to mean whatever they want it to mean for themselves.
Photo credit: YouTube