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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What Are the Consequences of the Conflicts In Masculinity?

Men adorning themselves with gold and jewels is not a new phenomenon. Since time immemorial warriors have worn necklaces, earrings, wrist bands, bejewelled head bands – any number of decorative pieces that demonstrate their standing in society and among the rest of their community.

It is not just a demonstration of wealth, but also of power and strength, setting them apart as a warrior, a champion, a protector of people.

An outward demonstration of masculinity

Today, men have the choice of adorning themselves with vast amounts of gold bling, or using a much more discrete approach wearing designer bracelets that are subtly tucked away under shirt cuffs for a more muted, subtle demonstration of wealth and status.

Both approaches though are redolent to the approaches each male believes demonstrates his own idea of masculinity. Neither is right or wrong, but both have their own strong sense of identity and alpha male like characteristics that will only serve to attract like-minded mates.

Is there such a thing as a masculine stereotype?

Identifying with masculine stereotypes can lead to complex reactions for men in the modern world who are trying to find their role in an ever changing environment.

The writer and political activist Gloria Steinem said of men: “When I’m talking to groups that are all men we talk about how the masculine role limits them. They often want to talk about how they missed having real fathers, real, loving present fathers, because of the way that they tried to fit the picture of masculinity.”

What is the definition of masculinity?

The definition of masculinity – also referred to as manhood, or manliness – refers to the qualities, characteristics and behaviour associated with being a man. How much the definition is a social construct, or an accurate definition of male attributes is a point for discussion. Descriptions will have changed over time, and distance, with different views being proffered depending on current trends, cultures, and historical contexts.

Many believe that the pressure on men to conform to certain ideals about masculinity are acutely damaging to the emotional wellbeing of men. Author of How Not to be a Boy, Robert Webb, wrote:

“Men in trouble are often in trouble precisely because they are trying to get a grip and act like a man. We are at risk of suicide because the alternative is to ask for help, something we have been repeatedly told is unmanly. We are in prison because the traditional breadwinning expectation of manhood can’t be met, or the pressure to conform is too great, or the option of violence has been frowned upon but implicitly sanctioned since we were children.”

Increasing risk of suicide

Indeed, when you consider the suicide statistic In men in the UK, you begin to see a frightening picture. In 2021 there were 5000 suicides registered in England, three quarters of which are men. In fact, it is a well quoted statistic these days that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50, and the principal reason for this seems to be because men are not encouraged to reach out emotionally and talk about their feelings.

For many men, feelings of depression and emotional distress are considered signs of weakness, and are therefore bottled up and left to fester and get worse. Women tend to be more open and talk about their feelings more, giving them a natural outlet for pain and frustration.

If you are struggling, or if you know someone who is struggling, make sure you reach out, and encourage them to do the same. That step is often the most difficult, but once you’ve taken the first step, the next one follows a little easier.

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