This morning I came across a video talk of President Obama in Oakland with NBA player Steph Curry to mark the fifth anniversary of My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative started by the Obamas after the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. They both addressed a roomful of boys and during the Q&A session, when asked a question about what does it mean to be a man, Obama said being a man is about being a good person, someone who is responsible, reliable, hard-working and compassionate. Being a man, he said, is not about life as portrayed in some rap or hip-hop music. “If you are very confident about your sexuality, you don’t have to have eight women around you twerking,” This was inspiring and much needed for the young boys in that town hall and in today’s world.
Misconceptions about masculinity and what does it mean to ‘be a man’ in our society has become toxic. We often use phrases such as ‘man up’ and ‘boys will be boys’. Males from very young age constantly hear things like: boys never cry, being a male means loving & playing sports, a boy should take physical pain & hurt without complaining, real men don’t get scared, display of emotions is girly. Many a times boys are pushed into these stereotypes without being listened too. As a society we believe that it’s okay for boys to be loud, aggressive and violent. And, when they become young adults, we complain that they don’t talk, share, show affection, are not sensitive or romantic and are violent!
It’s about time we let boys feel and express. And I hope my son can love himself for who he is and not get caught up in someone else’s idea of who he should be!
Quotes & Excerpts
The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.
–Bell Hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love
The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power. He is out of touch with his emotions and his body. He is playing by the rules of the male game plan and with lemming-like purpose he is destroying himself—emotionally, psychologically and physically.
–Herb Goldberg, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege
Masculinity is not something given to you, something you’re born with, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.
A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
Being a man was not the opposite of being feminine or emotional. It was the opposite of being childish and immature. It meant having the courage to face your fears and responsibilities, but also not being afraid of your emotions or weaknesses.
— Matthew Ryder, Depression, violence, anxiety: the problem with the phrase ‘be a man’
We have this kind of male pride thing. We say, ‘I can look after myself. I don’t need to talk to anyone,’ and it’s a complete fallacy. Not communicating helps to kill us.
— Mike Jenn, Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness
The most dangerous phrase in the English language is ‘be a man’.
— Eva Wiseman, Depression, violence, anxiety: the problem with the phrase ‘be a man’
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
The first test of a truly great man is his humility. By humility I don’t mean doubt of his powers or hesitation in speaking his opinion, but merely an understanding of the relationship of what he can say and what he can do.
The stronger a man is, the more gentle he can afford to be.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
I want my sons to escape the pressure to be a particular kind of masculine that is so damaging to men and to the people around them.
Article links which talk about toxic masculinity