Men Are Still Human
I'm Magnus, and I'm here to tell you how men are taught to behave, how that's damaging, and what I believe will help.
Disclaimer: I’m an alter of someone with dissociative identity disorder, and my opinions may not reflect the system’s as a whole. I will bring up gender without calling myself trans, because how I actually am doesn’t reflect the physical body.
I’m Magnus. I’m a guy, and I’ve been told a lot of things. “Men shouldn’t be too expressive with their emotions,” or some people have gone as far as to say things like, “Men shouldn’t even feel that much.” It’s as though men are constantly supposed to have walls up and never say or show how they feel. It’s as though men shouldn’t be caring or emotional at all, like they’re made of stone and shouldn’t crumble. There is shame attached to men seeming “weak.”
I’ve always had bad connotations with it, internalized negativity. It’s okay for other men to cry, to break down, whatever they need to do. But when it comes to myself? There’s a lot of shame in things that are emotional. I feel very judged when I find myself afraid of things. I need to be absolutely sure of everything, or at least confident that it’ll all work out, or I feel extremely self-conscious and almost as though I’m less of a man because I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t have confidence in my abilities. I do my best not to cry, because it makes me feel weak. Society has ingrained so much into my head and into most other people’s as well.
I’m often asked if I’m a real man when I show a lot of emotion, whether it be from me breaking down or from me caring a lot about other people. When people see me in this female body genuinely caring or genuinely in need of support, they’re even less convinced than they normally would be about me being a man. I’m not trans, but even if I was, it wouldn’t take away from me being actually male. And honestly, who is anyone else to judge the masculinity of other people based on what levels of things they feel? It’s rarely decided that you’re less of a man for having uncontrollable anger, so why should you be less of one for having a lot of other emotions?
What do men need?
First and foremost, they need feminism. Hear me out here—isn’t feminism equality for all genders, and breaking down stigma around certain gendered connotations? Taking that into mind, the reason that showing too much care or being emotionally vulnerable is considered weak in men is because women are usually portrayed as overly emotional. Women are expected to be the more motherly ones with more of a tendency towards emotional “weakness.” Men aren’t supposed to, but when they show something associated with women, it gets them viewed as weak or lesser. Consider this: How are men seen when they do other more “feminine” things, like wearing makeup or dresses? Even if you insist heavily on enforcing the roles of the gender binary, equality still has to go both ways.
There should be male-oriented safe spaces. “All these millennials and their stupid safe spaces,” you might be thinking. But a space to be yourself, judgment-free and supported, is important. The ones that are often seen are for everyone, but I think everyone should get spaces that are safe for them and others of the same gender. While women and nonbinary folks should get their own specific spaces, men should as well. In the same regard that a man isn’t always going to understand the experiences of women, women aren’t going to be able to relate to having their gender invalidated because they are emotional or caring.
Men need to stop being told to “man up,” to “be a man,” to “stop being babies.” There’s nothing wrong with feeling. If it hurts, it hurts. If you care, you care. There isn’t anything wrong in caring or needing to be cared about, and it’s ridiculous that society sets up unrealistic expectations.
No one should be afraid to break down. No one should be afraid to care. There’s no shame in being human.
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