How to be a Man: Messages on Masculinity – Part 8

In this eighth and final part of our series on Messages on Masculinity, we will assess influences of masculinity in our society as presented in the documentary The Mask You Live In.

Expectations and messages surrounding ‘what is masculine?’ have a massive impact on men and boys from a very early age. These messages can be damaging and are socially regulated throughout our culture.

According to sociologist & educator Dr. Michael Kimmel, “We’ve constructed an idea of masculinity in the United States that doesn’t give young boys a way to feel secure in their masculinity, so we make them go prove it all the time.”

When we as a society take away those barriers for men and boys, we create a space to accept them and redefine masculinity.

We all have a role to play in creating a healthier culture. It is not an easy topic to discuss or explore, but one worth evaluating and challenging for future generations of men and boys.

If more men are willing to speak out, then it may help to create a shift in our society about what is considered masculine. Coach & former NFL Player Joe Ehrman said, “The father wound is probably one of the most serious issues in this country. Wounded boys become wounded men, apart from some kind of intervention.”

Having freedom outside rigid definitions of masculinity is not about turning boys into girls. It is about shaping a culture of empathy; giving boys permission to develop all emotions, deal with their own pain, encouraging good media messages, and encouraging boys and young men to redefine what is masculine.

Each of us can do our part in expanding what it means to be a man – for ourselves, and the boys in our lives.

Written By: Dustin Ellis