Monday, September 29, 2014

we all deserve to be whole

"I've seen young men suffering from mental illness, unable to ask for help for fear it would make them less of a man. In fact, in the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49, eclipsing road accidents, cancer, and pulmonary heart disese. I've seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don't have the benefits of equality either.

"We don't often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are, and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don't have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won't be compelled to be submissive. If men don't control, women won't have to be controled. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we perceive gender on a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.

"...I want men to take up this mantle so that their daughters, sisters, and mothers can be free from prejudice. But also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too, reclaim those parts of themselves that they abandoned, and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves."

-Emma Watson, addressing the United Nations


  1. YES. It wasn't until I had sons that I really tuned into how rigid stereotyping is for males. I recently read Brene Brown's book "I Thought it Was Just Me (But It Wasn't)." In it she describes the post graduate research she's done on women and shame, which had some very good insights. But the most gripping chapter was the final one, in which she addressed men and shame. She said she has done very little academically pertaining to men and shame but the little she has done unearthed the consensus that the masculine social construct is less varied than the feminine one. The one thing that a man must always be is "not weak." She did a great job articulating how one dimensional this expectation is and how it restricts, and how it spills over across the sexes and over into the next generation. If all you can ever be is strong, how can you explore and experience all that the human experience has to offer? How can you discover who you truly are and make from that a life of authenticity? How can you truly love someone if you're not allowed to be weak, ever, in front of them? And all the associations that come along with the word "strong." Aggressive, violent, superhero, won't take no for an answer, doesn't lose, doesn't fail, is never wrong, never cries, never gives in, vanquishes, conquers, works hard... How do those contribute to the breakdown of identity when one is sick, sad, depressed, overjoyed at the birth of his child, confounded, unemployed, walked on, wrong, is vanquished, or is conquered?

    What a mess.

  2. It's amazing to me that you wrote here about Brene Brown because she's been much on my mind since I wrote this post. She said something once about vulnerability and men that just stopped me dead in my tracks. Absolutely dead in my tracks. I've never forgotten it. The thing is that while I could paraphrase it, I'd rather quote her directly, and in order to do that I'll have to remember where I heard what she said. I'm pretty sure it was in an interview. I'm going to try to find that here tonight and write about it. I think it's the first time I ever really, really realized--like, realized deep down in my soul--how much I myself was contributing to male stereotyping, and how absolutely rigid (on an *utterly* unconscious level) my view of a worthy, acceptable man was. I honestly couldn't believe it. I mean, this was only about two years ago that I heard this talk. I couldn't believe that someone who tries as hard as I do to be awake and good could hold on with such ferocity to a perspective on men that is so harmful.

    I'm so glad that you wrote what you did above. I might even post it as a post, together with the quote from Brene Brown. If that would be okay with you. Which I assume it would, since you posted it here publicly!

  3. Yes of course ! Super important topic I'd love to hear that Brenee Brown quote!!!