Do These Men Live In A Different Society Than I Do?

If you do a Google search on masculinity, you’ll find tons of sites.  There are a lot of discussions taking place right now on the subject, and that’s a good thing.  Unfortunately, I’m seeing a lot of discussions not being based on events remotely close to reality.

Photo from Flickr, by Brandon Baunach
Photo from Flickr, by Brandon Baunach

Take this post at The Good Men Project:

But nevertheless, I was thrust into society. I went to school, made friends, and picked up a whole new set of principles of manhood. I grew up playing partially violent, full contact sports like lacrosse and wrestling. I hung out with other kids who played sports.

What society told me about my niche of man was that I was to be tough and never express any emotions other than happy and angry. I wasn’t supposed to acknowledge any weaknesses I may have and I definitely wasn’t supposed to write songs or poetry. I also had to be a ladies man while still maintaining loyalty to my male friends at all times. It all seems a lot to ask a kid who is barely old enough to drive a car.

Now, I won’t say anything about this author’s friends, because I don’t know they, but if we both live in the same country with the same culture, then “society” seems awfully different where he is.

Since the 1980’s, I’ve watched as the media has constantly bombarded us with this idea that men should be anything but what the author here is describing.  Society is telling us that we should be emotional, and many guys have taken that crap too far and many women are getting sick as hell of it.

If his friends were the ones saying this, then perhaps he should figure out why.  After all, there are four reasons I can think of for a group of guys to say things that might dissuade their friend from doing something like writing poetry.  One is that he sucks at it.  Another is that he may or may not be good at it, but he keeps insisting they read/listen to it.  A third is that they’re just assholes.  Finally–and this one is the one I’ve seen happen more often than not–they were just giving him crap because guys do that with their friends.

Of course, this author clearly lives in a different world than me.  For example:

Modern society frowns upon self-critique and self-examination. We live in the social media age, where people only share his or her shining successes. It’s all a grand façade, as everyone faces obstacles all along the way. But still, failure is shunned and admitting mistakes is viewed as weakness.

Again, where the hell does this guy live?  I’m in the Deep South, a place that has held onto odd ideas like honor and tradition and manners more so than much of the country.  If any place was going to buck against such a thing, it would be here…nope.  Nowhere around here.

Of course, if he’s looking for it on social media, he’s bound to be disappointed.  Social media isn’t really all that social.  It’s about people putting forward the face they want the world to see.  I know people in deep depression that keep posting these uplifting status on Facebook–and these were women, not men who have been browbeaten by “society” to never show weakness.

People always tend to put on their best face to the public, and social media is definitely public regardless of what your privacy settings say.  Either people don’t want to be judged harshly or they don’t want pity, whatever their reasons, they don’t air their dirty laundry for the whole world to see. It doesn’t mean they don’t talk with people about whatever is going on, or that they’re really hiding pain from even themselves.  It means it’s no one else’s freaking business.

And honestly, let’s be honest about who all is talking seriously about not airing your emotions out for the whole world to see.  There’s me and a handful of other people, and even I say to show your emotions…with the people you trust.  It’s not even a dealbreaker for me.  Hell, I lost it rather publicly when my mother died.  So what?

There was no “society” telling me I shouldn’t, and even *I* am not telling people they shouldn’t lose it at a time like that.  Remarkably few are.

This version of “society” is a lot like the feminist boogeyman of “The Patriarchy” that keeps being thrown around, even in the comments section here.  The thing is, there’s no such thing, not as it has been presented lately.

Frankly, I’ll trust the last 30-35 years of my experience to someone who had some friends supposedly tell him to not do something…and listened.

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