Masculinity is defined as the set of qualities or attributes regarded as the characteristics of men. You can find several appropriate definitions on masculinity on online platforms and in books.
But, the best place where you can find the apt “misuse” of the word masculinity is in real-life scenarios. Look around you, households, educational institutes, peer groups, offices, every possible social media platform, you’ll find variety of notions attached with the word masculinity.
There is a complete set of instructions for them to follow. The very first thing is getting the best possible education, going to the best-known college, getting a high paying job and supporting the family. That is the baseline of all the rule books on men.
It goes one step further from here. After doing all this, get married, have children, build a house, get a car. And just in case, you managed to do all this with a small loan amount, buy something else too. And now you are at the mercy of your employer for the rest of your life!
Why do you think people all over the world are going into depression or committing suicides? Because failure is not something that suits the image of a men, does it? Do men have a backup when they fail in life chasing what they have been taught? No.
And if you are a little different, then you are regarded as a liability on the family.
While some parents even after not so humble financial conditions, support their kids’ dreams, a lot of them don’t. And I do not blame them. They have been raised with the same ideals and principles which is- “Life is hard. You would have to work your ass off if you want to go ahead in the race.”
CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS OF BEING A MAN
Every nation has its own set of cultural values. Take for instance in India, men are idealized and respected if they have more than six-digit income per month, and this is for middle-class people. For high-class people, it is just their two months’ rent.
For every country, culture, there are specified rules for men if they want to be considered actual men. Else they will hear comments like- you were supposed to earn good money for the family and see you are writing poems. Or you should have gotten a stable job by now, why are you clicking pictures of these vegetable vendors and beggars? Is this what you’ve been planning to do your entire life?
And the list goes on… And they find a job then it doesn’t pay well. They switch between the jobs to earn a good amount of money, and then start following the rule book. And before you know they start teaching their children the same thing!
THE NOT-SO MACHO COMMUNITY
There is a population which is considered toxic to the whole race of men by some people – they are either classical dancers, gay couples or anyone other than tough men. These people are labelled as “girls” by those who consider themselves tough, maybe because they have a reputation for being macho. And then some women make fun of those men who are not exactly like ‘how men should be’ norm. Whoever these people are, they are the ones promoting what we call toxic masculinity! How can something be the absolute truth if it doesn’t apply to the whole population of men alike? That means it is an assumption! The assumption as to how men should behave, what they should do, how they should talk, walk and present themselves. It is a belief system, and it doesn’t have to be the absolute truth for everyone. Stop the stigma!
Real men are those who embrace a little femininity in the fellow males and in themselves too. That is what makes them complete men, the kind of men who can understand, support, and even lead people empathetically!
2020 has tarnished a lot of beliefs about a lot of things lately, why not this too?
HISTORY TEACHES US SOMETHING
Let me give you an example of one of the most worshiped deities of India- Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is the ideal of almost all the “Hindu” people in India comprising both males and females devotees. People name their sons after him. Men have his tattoos inked and a lot more love in their hearts for Lord Shiva than you could probably imagine!
But, most of them don’t know that Shiva with his consort Parvati, is also known as “Ardhnarishvara”- Lord who is half woman. The symbolic intent of the figure that is worshiped in India is to signify that the male and female principles are inseparable.
Not only in India, the majority of the cultural and ancient history of the world has also been evidence of the claim that ideal masculinity norms include considerable amounts of feminine characteristics as well.
So, why is it not followed worldwide? Why are people harassing such people who are masculine enough to prove the theories based on events and facts?
The problem is not with the men it is with society! And truth to be told, you cannot change its perception of masculinity.
What you can change is your reaction to the things you hear about yourself.
You can also find men who love living a simple life like their own father or any role model they have. That is also perfectly fine. Success is anyone who is doing what they love doing. Success is that cab driver who loves driving, the chef at a local restaurant who loves cooking, that novelist who loves writing, a painter who loves painting, etc.
For once try thinking about a successful man this way, and you will start seeing a lot of them around you. The difference is they have stopped judging people and especially other men based on social norms.
All the things you’ve read up till now are more or less the reasons why men don’t seek help and don’t come out in the light when they face any mental health issues. Many of them don’t even know they have problems. Mental health awareness in men is the least in all parts of the world. But, they show symptoms which even when identified, cannot be conveyed to them by their loved ones as it makes them ‘less of a man’.
You can check out this article about your favorite male celebrities talking about their mental health issues and recovery.
Emotions have no gender, don’t lock yours in the dark!
If you belong to those men who believe in mental health awareness, then you one of those few gems, who have the power to change the false beliefs about masculinity and redefine them. If you are a woman and supporter of men’s mental health, then kudos because you are a broad-minded person and a good human-being!
You can check out our first post on Importance Of Mental Health In Men of the series.