How We’re Keeping Men From Being Men

Vanessa Torre

Maybe smashing the patriarchy means something else.

I have stood up for men a number of times in my writing which I am learning may not be a popular thing for a strong woman to do as those posts seem to fall completely flat.

Indeed, I am a male sympathizer.

It’s because, though the quantity may be lower than I’d like, I know a few truly great men. But they’re not amazing. Sorry guys. They’re not amazing because we don’t let them be.

There is a male posturing that is way too prevalent in our society. You see it everywhere. Watch TV for an hour and you're going to see it.

Men are just as flooded with images of male “perfection” as women are inundated with unrealistic images of female “perfection.”

Yet, our outcry regarding skinny models in lingerie is far louder. As a matter of fact, male outcry is dead silent. Why? Because being annoyed at images of masculine perfection is, in and of itself, “not manly!”

These images of strength and masculinity are thrown in their faces. A set of ideals they need to meet. A checklist of male traits and, if they fall short, are ridiculed for it.

Fix the car. Earn the money. Tend the yard. Drink the beer. Watch the game. Get rid of the dad bod. Buy the truck.

Proof of the setting of masculine ideals shows up in my dating app feed every day. It’s mind-blowing. It’s like a slide show of how men misunderstand what women are looking for based on what society has told them they are supposed to be and what we find attractive.

If you give me about twenty minutes, I can prove this theory but giving you a data analysis breakdown of the number of dating profiles I see in which there is a picture of a man randomly holding a fish.

What is the message of the fish? “I can provide for you! I’m a man! Look! I can catch food.” Yes, sir, you can. You can also go to the grocery store and buy a nice steak. You don’t need to kill the cow for me. Personally, I’d rather see the books on the guy’s nightstand than a dead fish.

We want men to be open, to talk to us, to show us their feelings. But, that is a big cage to ask them out of. Yet, we fault them for it. I would venture to say that if you asked a group of men how safe they feel being truly open with us as women, you would get a lot of men that feel too afraid to truly be open and vulnerable with us so they either don’t do it or they fake it.

I actually asked my male friends on social media if this rang true and it did. One friend said,

“There is a deep seeded feeling that too much emotion is weak and unattractive. And there is a difference between acting open and vulnerable, and BEING open and vulnerable. Letting down our internal safe guards is scary and painful.”

The sad truth is that we don’t really give men the opportunity to become emotionally actualized. Women have a chance to help in this but we need to reinforce that men are good enough. They are strong enough. And we need to demonstrate that we can actually handle them when they are vulnerable and open. Let’s let them grow up and into men. Let’s not stunt them into being boys.

Think about this, ladies: Look at how often we are judgmental of ourselves and others. We are critical, if even only of ourselves.

Why on Earth would a man feel safe showing weakness to us when we can even accept our own weakness?

We’re going to ask a man to show us vulnerability after we just got done spending 5 minutes in front of a mirror in an exercise of self-loathing over our belly fat?

Men, I’m sorry. We spend a lot of time smashing the patriarchy in the name of women. You need to smash your own patriarchy. We need to grab a hammer and get at it with you. It’s only fair.

If we, as women, are going to expect a safe space, we need to give the same to men. It’s only after growing that space for them that our space will grow.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ

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