Masculinity Wars – August 2, 2013

2012124517masculinityThis blog tends to focus on the experience of women since, being a woman, that is my frame of reference.  However, in the process of writing about modesty  I found my heart stirred towards the implied messages that men receive in that conversation.  After publishing the post, I had men contact me, expressing how left out they felt in the modesty conversation.

Earlier this week, a friend posted a video tied into a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary on toxic masculinity.  You can watch the video here (note: there is some strong language in the video, so beware if you are sensitive to that; however, I think it is used well and helps paint a picture of the messages men hear about masculinity).  I found this video sobering, yet powerful.  One of the more revealing statements in the film came from sociologist Michael Kimmel:

If I was to say what is the major emotion of American masculinity, it is anxiety.  Why?  Because you have to prove your masculinity all the time. 

I feel great sympathy when I read this quote.  I do not know what it is like to grow up as a man in America, but if that is what daily life looks like, then what an exhausting way to live.

This clip got me thinking of these toxic expectations we place on men.  I wonder, for the men out there, how much are you aware that these messages are present, and have you felt pressured to give in to them?  How have these messages shaped how you live your life?  To be perfectly honest, I have never even thought to ask these questions of the men in my life.  My purview so often narrows my focus to the experience of women in culture.  I begin to see how much both genders are sold lies.  Often differing lies, but lies none the less.   My hope is that as we continue to lean into these conversations, the lies might be exposed for what they are and we can begin to construct true concepts of our gender.  Not an easy task, but I truly believe, worth the work.

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