Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2218471-On-Masculinity
by Steven
Rated: E · Essay · Men's · #2218471
In which I attempt to grapple the subject of fragile masculinity and propose solutions.
Do you consider yourself a macho person? What would you say if I told you that machismo itself is a largely counterproductive concept? While strength and aggression have their uses, our current ideas about masculinity come with a lot of harmful baggage. As men, it really makes open communication about our feelings difficult, because there is a very deep-seated expectation for us to look and sound tough. Ironically, this "toughness" is actually our greatest weakness. Homophobia is closely related, especially when men talk to other men. Our masculinity is so fragile that things that would come naturally to women, such as complimenting each other's appearance or sharing fears and insecurities, are extremely difficult at times for us. What we really need is a new kind of masculinity, one that is more constructive, healthy, and resilient. Read on for a slightly more in-depth look at these subjects.

If you've ever been in a space with a lot of angry men in a place where they would all rather not be, like a menial job I worked at once, then you know what excessive machismo looks like. There is a lot of blustering and mock fights. I remember that even the simplest of tasks could turn into a shouting match at a moment's notice. The attitude was highly infectious. While all this was very amusing at times, usually being the only entertainment we had in that dung heap, it had detrimental effects on me. My family noticed that I became meaner and more argumentative even outside of the workplace. Before I was told about this change, I was not even aware of it! Machismo is usually not quite as pronounced as in that place, but it should give us an idea of what we're dealing with. It blocks peaceful communication and encourages uncompromising and aggressive attitudes.

Yet despite all the bravado, the macho mentality is terribly weak when you think about it, or perhaps it's more accurate to say that it creates weakness. Men and women are really not that terribly different, but society tends to pigeonhole us into silly stereotypes. There is strong pressure to look and act a certain way, to behave, as they call it, "like a man". This has had disastrous consequences for men's mental health. Suicide rates for men are higher across the board. Is it any wonder when men are expected to act like robots? The truth is that we, just like women, are emotional beings who need companionship and free expression. We need a shoulder to cry on, someone who will stick by us through both good times and bad, and we need most of all to feel loved. That is no easy task in a vast crowd of people rendered cold and distant by a society that hails greed and selfishness as virtues, empty platitudes replacing honest, open communication, and competition for the most basic of human needs in the inhuman meat grinder of capitalism.

To say the least, we have a long way to go. Women have their own problems too, but they are beyond the scope of this essay. I asked a few women about their ideas for open communication, and there was one that especially stood out to me. In order to open up emotionally, identify and validate a person's emotions. If you make the first step and be bold about it, you could break the macho barrier blocking communication. Start with a really personal compliment, such as recognizing his hard work, or simply notice when he's having problems and offer a listening ear. Whatever opens up a good quality heart-to-heart conversation is good. Of course, this is generally a good thing to do with anybody really. You can make many friends just by making them feel important and hearing them out. Don't be afraid to pour your heart out either. Anybody who judges you for being sincere and honest is simply not worth your time.

Lastly I present the subject of a new type of masculinity, one that is stronger, brighter, and more fulfilling than the old. At its core is a healthy balance between old and new, a rejection of harmful notions such as the subservience of women and children, but also the cultivation of positive qualities such as bravery, strength, and self sacrifice. Being open about one's emotions is a very important part of this, because although that may not be traditionally a "manly" thing to do, it is unhealthy to bottle up one's emotions. Therefore, emotional expression may be thought of like oil for the mighty machinery of masculinity. Fragile masculinity should be done away with, and when we start expressing ourselves with honesty and regularity, it will surely be a thing of the past. True strength, after all, does not fear being questioned, so we must overcome such silliness if we want to consider ourselves to be strong people. Strength, both of character and of body, should be cultivated and encouraged, because we need plenty of both in order to achieve a better society.
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