What defines healthy masculinity? This is a hot spot question lately and for good reason. The roles and ideals of what a “man” should be, is being challenged and for good reason. As feminist challenge the roles of “women” it is only fair and natural to do so with the other side of things. You cannot call yourself a feminist and not be for challenging masculinity as well. Before we define healthy masculinity, I want to first talk about where we learn ideas of toxic masculinity and how they are affecting our boys & men.
Starting when we are small children, boys specifically hear and learn over and over that it is unacceptable for boys to have “feminine” characteristics. They are berated by fathers, grandfathers, teachers, other boys and other men if they exhibit emotions like; sadness or compassion. Being called a baby, wuss, pussy, mama’s boy, a girl, or gay. These boys and men may even be physically beaten or assaulted leading to the vast majority of males following along with toxic masculinity in order to be safe or survive, even if they do not believe in it.
Research actually shows that most men believe that showing more “feminine” emotions should be more accepted but believe that most men don’t feel the same or as stated before worry for their safety or being bullied. We certainly aren’t helping to bring down statistics that show that males are more likely to commit suicide than females.
When we force others into following the ideals of “men don’t cry” we are teaching all humans that it’s not normal for boys and men to show emotion, to have feelings or to want different things than being the captain of the football team, the CEO of a company or the breadwinner in a family, we are stunting them emotionally. Instead of saying that men mature at a slower rate than women, we should allow all people to be individuals. Fostering all boys to take care of themselves emotionally will lead to more mature men and men who can feel safe to pursue the lives they dream of.
So how do we create a space for men to be themselves? We can encourage them to ask for help when they need it, to show emotions like sadness, fear, compassion, kindness and love rather than aggression, possessiveness, jealousy, anger, or being generally cold and unavailable. Doing so allows boys and men to develop healthy self confidence, communication skills and relationships. Not to mention feeling free and encouraged to take on different roles besides what we have been taught is acceptable for “men. We also will create confidence in others to come forward and call out others who encourage & engage in behaviors that are aggressive and disrespectful to others.
Let’s encourage boys and men to be their authentic selves by encouraging them to show compassion towards themselves and others, create a space for them to come forward when they are hurting or need help. If you see or sense this need in them, encourage and reassure them of the safe space you have created and watch as they begin to flourish. We all deserve to flourish, our men are no different.
Originally Posted: https://www.wildlovenation.com/blog/what-defines-healthy-masculinity