Stop Telling People to "Be a Man"


 “Suck it up,” “be a man,” “stop being a pussy”: words all men are likely to encounter at some point in their lives. Though the advantages we, as women, have over men seem to be very few and far between, one of these more noticeable pros is never having to worry about being called a “pussy” for expressing our emotions or pursuing our individual interests. When we burst into tears after a long and stressful day, no one is there to tell us to “be a man.” When a girl passes up the opportunity to flirt or ask someone on a date, no one seems to chime in with the “stop being a pussy” comment. Instead, boys and girls alike are encouraged to police the masculinities of the men in our lives, as if it is our job to make sure “men will be men,” at all times, and all costs.

 But why are we so attached to the construct of masculinity? Has our obsession gotten so out of hand that we are willing to slander the people we love with words like “pussy” and “faggot,” simply because they aren’t abiding by our standards of what a man should look and act like? Isn’t it truly absurd, after all, that we expect every male in our lives to act and feel the same way? Men who step out of their masculine boxes shouldn’t shock us or cause us discomfort, but should be recognized as the unique and worthy individuals they are—not as “sissys.”

While “un-masculine” boys often take on a reputation of being unattractive to potential girlfriends, there is nothing more attractive, to me personally, than a man who does not let his gendered boundaries get in the way of who he is. In fact, I would much rather have a “feminine” man in my life, than a man who pretends to be the hypermasculine archetype society expects him to be. Quite honestly, when a guy flaunts around their masculinity with a rather obsessive knowledge of sports and pretends to be the hardcore, unemotional “bro’s bro,” I, personally, could not be less turned on. I, like many other women, have no intention of dating these stereotypically masculine guys, thus your argument, that “no one will date a guy who is feminine,” is actually invalid—and I’m the only example you need. I mean, who wouldn’t want a guy in their life who was willing to share their vulnerabilities and be emotionally open? Why would that ever be perceived as a bad thing?

More importantly than dating factors we must acknowledge the more severe negative consequences of holding men to this “man’s man” standard. When we tell men that they can’t be emotionally expressive, we are not only holding them to an unfair standard but putting them at risk for severe emotional trauma. If men are unable to share their feelings, might we, ourselves, be setting them up for the depression and anxiety they experience. Might this masculinity complex be the very reason men commit suicide at much greater rates than women? Not only is this suppression of a man’s emotional express extremely harmful, but the limitation of a man’s hobbies and interests in accordance with this masculine standard can have significant effects, as well. If we call a man a “faggot” because he has an interest in makeup, or throw the word “pussy” at a man who dances recreationally, we are being both cruel and insensitive, while simultaneously discouraging men from pursuing their passions.

With all this mind, all I can say is f**k your masculinity, f**k your “be a man” lectures, f**k society telling you that you can’t do this, and shouldn’t do that, simply because you identify as a man. No one can define your masculinity but you. And with that, just because your gender identity is male—does not automatically mean you must be masculine. Femininity is not actually exclusive to the womanhood, despite popular belief. A “feminine man” is not an oxymoron. We absolutely must work together to encourage men to explore the interests of their choosing, and be themselves—not just be masculine for the sake of pleasing the masculinity police that lingers at every corner with their verbal weaponry of “pussy” and “fag.” So men, go ahead, be feminine. It may just be the very reason someone falls in love with you.