“Man up”. Words I’m never fond of hearing. What is it with this ‘tough guy’, ‘macho’, masculine culture? Because to be honest, it’s never been a worse time to ‘be a man’ right now.
Fear of emotions.
Lack of emotional literacy.
Feeling unable or unsafe to be vulnerable.
Hiding the real you.
Unable to apologise.
Disallowed to be wrong or make mistakes.
We’re directing so much tolerance and empathy towards minority or oppressed groups right now that we’re missing the impact it’s having on men.
Let’s not forget that men, just like women, blacks, gays, trans etc are also subject to a culture that’s evolved over many years. And whilst we’re doing all we can to shift that culture for the oppressed, we’re slowly invalidating, de-valuing and de-prioritising the culture that men are used to and have been brought up in - they have just as much of cultural transformational to embark upon as anyone else.
As a white man (gay, I’ll grant you, but still aware of the massive privilege my gender and race gives me), developing my levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence has been a critical factor in enabling me to build resilience and evolve with changing and unprecedented times, as well as develop a healthier relationship with myself and those around me.
Many men have never been given the space, safety or encouragement to go on this journey. ‘Macho culture’ creates the perception that building emotional intelligence is emasculating. And yet...
The male suicide rate is higher than ever.
Male world leaders avoid diplomacy and have their fingers on the nuclear button.
A pandemic has caused outbreaks of rioting and violence.
The US president can’t concede.
This is why we need to encourage more men to reach out, get help, develop their emotional intelligence and literacy and learn that there is nothing emasculating about being vulnerable.
The irony is - men are no less vulnerable than anyone else, but masculine culture denotes that they must hide or deny it.
Imagine that... feeling unsafe to be who you really are or feel how you really feel...