The Man Box: We’ve All Experienced It, But Are We Really Aware?

The man box is a set of standards that most men are told they have to follow in order to be a man.  Men are taught to be strong, emotionless (aside from anger), financially stable, sexually active, athletic, tough, respected, rugged and intimidating.  Men are taught that these qualities are the only way to be a man. 

While some of these qualities aren’t bad, like being financially stable, athletic, respected and strong, it is wrong to be taught that these attributes make you a man.  If these attributes, make you a man then they don’t make you a woman.  Can a woman not be strong, athletic, respected, financially stable, sexually active, rugged, etc.?

It’s hard to grow up with these ideas in your mind, that you won’t be a man if you aren’t all these things.  When little boys fall or get hurt, they are told “don’t act like a girl” and “stand up, you’re a man”.  This makes boys believe that they are better than girls.  When they show emotions such as sadness and hurt, they are told that they are acting like a girl.  These emotions aren’t bad.  Emotions are a part of you and it’s important to embrace them, man or woman. 

Men are taught to be more sexual than women.  When women are “too” sexual, they are called a “slut” or a “whore”.  Why can’t women be as sexual as men?

Of course, some of these qualities are good qualities, man or woman, but some just set men above women.  So, how does this affect men in adulthood and the women they are with? 

Men feel like they have to pay on a date because they are “financially stable”, they think sex is a given because they are supposed to be “sexual” and women are supposed to be the emotional ones in the relationship.  None of this is true because there is no set of rules.  If the woman pays for everything, wants sex and isn’t emotional does that make her any less of a woman or her partner any less of a man?

Two people are meant to be equal in a relationship, but the man box has taught men that they should be above the women they are with.

This set of guidelines is pretty general and varies across the world.  However, there are men who have broken the mold and moved beyond the “box” that society has made for them.  Harry Styles is a great example of a man who lives his life outside of the manbox.  He makes a living off of music, has shown emotion, publically, on several occasions, openly supports the LGBTQ+ community and wears clothes that aren’t always gender oriented.  Styles is completely unique and appears to live his life for himself rather than for others opinions.

The box is a general set of guidelines that most men feel the pressure from.  It’s okay to be  a little bit in the box as long as you are entirely yourself.  The “box” is only a “box” if you let it be.  Be accepting and open-minded and completely yourself and it won’t matter what category you fall into.