Masculinity & Mental Health

Be a man!

Toughen up!

Suck it up, brush it off, move along!

That last one I mentioned in my recent blog That’s a Mighty Big Gun You got There!. It’s the kind of guy my brother was. He was a tough guy. A man’s man, masculine for sure. But what you don’t know is he has a soft side. He rarely showed it and it always surprised me. When I first saw it come out I knew something that I had always known but had never really heard in any way shape or form from him. He loved us, his family. He said something that, without saying those words, really told me how much.

But, I’m going to make him the exception, and that isn’t biased because he’s my brother it’s because aside from the state of his masculinity and how he grew to be like that, he really is well-rounded. You can read that blog to know more about him as this post isn’t really about him or his masculinity per se. But I mentioned him as a tool to compare by because that phrase “Suck it up, brush it off, move along” can really lend, along with the other two phrases, to this whole idea of toxic masculinity.

What is the problem with it?

You mean how many problems are there with that?

How much time ya’ got?

If I listed them all here my blog series would be over and I can’t stop now I’m just getting started!

So lets start with one of the possible ramifications of some of this toxicity.

Mental Health.

It may not have occurred to most people just how much the old idea of what men are supposed to be and how suppressing all our feelings can lead to harm.

Internal harm.

Emotional harm.

Spiritual harm.

Developmental harm.

Mental distress.

And how do these play out? In a variety of ways that we don’t even know about.

The problem is we force these ideals of age-old and never-really-appropriate definitions of what men are supposed to be on our boys and young men. How we relay, enforce and re-enforce adages like:

‘Real men don’t cry’

‘Men don’t show their feelings’

‘Only women are soft’

‘What are you a pussy? Toughen up!”

I told you in my first blog I cry.

And I eat quiche, which apparently men aren’t supposed to do either. I guess if we do anything other scramble our eggs then that somehow reflects on our manhood.

Read that again and think about it, how silly are we as a society that we make our masculinity dependent on how we like our eggs cooked. I’m simplifying here but then again I’m not.

Its all based on bullshit, and we pass this load of crap down to our younger generations. My millenial friends have overcome it but many have not and the harm that is mentioned above can have catastrophic outcomes.

Mental health among men and young men has taken an extreme upswing in the last decade and its causes such as depression, eating disorders and drug/alcohol abuse are only a few symptoms. They are huge problems but they are just that, symptoms of a bigger problem in our society.

The problem is we aren’t feeding our young men quiche we are feeding them lies.

All those adages about bottling their feelings, blocking out hurt and pain and brushing it off are leading our young men down the road of shame.

I have had the privilege of talking to a young man recently who is trying to combat this issue directly through social media and his Youtube channel.

In fact, I’m going to leave you here and direct you to his site where you can find his research on this topic and see for yourself just how prevalent mental health issues in young men have become due to the shame they feel NOT being able to live up to the ‘definitions of masculinity’ our society has taught them when they know inside that is not who they are.

Please, follow Masculinity Is A Prison @imprisonnomore and have a look at the brilliant and insightful work he has done by watching his video here:

We need to bring more awareness to the mental health issues caused by this toxic masculinity.

Prove people wrong and don’t let them define masculinity for you. And the next time you make eggs, make some quiche and if anyone questions your manhood, throw them some serious shade.

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