Myths about men run rampant in Western society.
“Men are liars.”
“Men are stupid.”
“Men only want one thing.”
The only way for true gender equality to surface is to come to a mutual awareness of each other’s struggles and then do our best to shield ourselves from the cultural conditioning and ease each other’s pain.
So today, I’m going to shed some light on the male side of the coin.
The Three Biggest Myths About Men
1. Men Have Limited Capacity For Emotion
“There is a time in a boy’s life when the sweetness is pounded out of him; and tenderness, and the ability to show what he feels, is gone.” – Norah Vincent
Men feel. A lot.
In fact, science has proven that males are more emotional as infants than females and (less surprisingly,) more prone to fits of rage in early adolescence.
Men are not unemotional… we are just conditioned to suppress our emotions from an early age. We are taught that boys don’t cry; we are told that a real man is stoic and strong at all times.
Men’s cultural conditioning away from emotionality is just as prevalent and strong as women’s cultural conditioning away from being perceived as too sexually available (or “easy”).
Men are taught that to even show that things affect us is a sign of weakness.
On the darker side of masculinity, men are internally suppressing emotions that spring forth from the wolf that lives within them. Testosterone (the sex and aggression hormone that is present in both men and women, but is produced in much higher quantities in males) makes men have thoughts that are very counterproductive to living in a civilized society (often around – you guessed it – sex and aggression).
In reality, men become expertly adept at minimizing how much they externally react to their environments… but the emotions are still there, being held tightly within.
2. Men Have It Easy
A female friend of mine was recently envious of the fact that I rarely spent more than ten minutes getting ready in the morning. She went on to tell me that I had it so easy as a guy and that she would never be able to get away with spending such little time on her appearance.
I agreed with her assessment that I had it easy in terms of societal expectations of grooming (which are truly non-existent when compared to women). But it’s not that I had it easy, I just had it different.
I pointed out to her that at this stage of her life she had no definite plans of taking up a stable career path. She agreed with this assessment.
I then reminded her that if she had been a male that had not seriously started considering what her career path had been by her age, she would receive flack about it every day from friends and family.
Just as many women want to get to a size zero, many men want to get to six-figure salaries. Women are often judged by their appearance and men, by their external level of success. Women are sex symbols; men are success symbols.
Currently in Western society, men of a certain age are three to five times more likely to commit suicide than a female of the same age. This speaks to the suppression of emotionality, but also the struggles that men face from their unique kind of social conditioning.
Even in mentioning to one of my (very open minded, and intelligent) female friends that I wanted to write this article, her first response was “Why? Who cares about men’s problems when our culture is clearly more sexist towards women?”
I don’t doubt that it would be absolutely soul-crushing to have millions of ads tell me that I wasn’t the right body type and that no one would love me if I didn’t have white teeth and an unfathomably slim waistline… but I’m also aware that I am told everyday by friends, family, and society to fit into my respective gender norms (feel less, achieve more, don’t complain).
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… it’s not a competition. It’s about compassion and awareness.
3. Men Are Only After One Thing
And it’s such a common myth that I don’t even need to say what it is.
Any person over the age of eight has been taught that men are not to be trusted because they only want one thing.
Over the past five years and working with over 1,000 clients in the relationship field, I can say without a doubt that the majority of my male clients‘ sexual anxiety stems from this one myth.
They fear that, because they want to take it slowly in the beginning of the relationship and build an emotional connection first, the girl will lose interest and leave. They fear that if they don’t have an insanely high sex drive (wanting sex multiple times a day), then women will think that they must be less than a man. They fear that if they show their nurturing side to women, they will be repelled.
Men want love, connection, and emotional intimacy just as much as women do. It might not occupy our minds as often as our desire to chase our career paths, but I would argue that working (to get money which leads to resources which leads to being a better provider) is still just the masculine way of showing our feminine partners that we love and care for them.
The sexual neuroses in my male clients are varied and pervasive… but they all lead back to the exact same core issues: Men fear being seen as vulnerable, and they want to be loved.
So if there’s one thing that men are after, it isn’t sex. It’s the same thing that people of all genders and orientations are after… loving and being loved in return.
Not A Race, But A Journey
I want to reiterate the point that this article is not about who has it worse. The path to gender equality is not about attacking the validity of each other’s societal challenges and expectations.
At what point do we allow ourselves the emotional maturity and empathy to realize that there are a lot of forces at play in trying to repress our natural ways of being into narrow definitions of what it means to be ‘male’ or ‘female’?
I hope to take a major dent out of both the slut-shaming movement for women, and the weakness-shaming for men. If you believe in either one of these issues and think that people could see each other with more love and compassion, feel free to share this article with your friends and family.
See something in this article that pissed you off? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments below.
Dedicated to your success and fulfillment,