Men Caging Ourselves In
Posted by BroadBlogs
By Lawrence Santiago
All my life I’ve seen guys put on a “tough guy” façade that we are encouraged, or pressured, to create.
When we are little boys we’re told “Don’t cry!”
In kindergarten we flex our muscles and pretend to be strong. We are teased by both men and other boys if we don’t act tough enough. After puberty we are pressured to do risky things that could kill us, just to prove our manhood.
“Be tough and rowdy!” Okay, I can do that. That was how my friends did it and I wanted to fit in and get attention, myself. So we always talked about working out and being rowdy when we hung out or met girls.
A guy’s double life
Sometimes guys are encouraged to be cruel. When I was little I learned that girls had cooties and boys shouldn’t play with them. I thought this was strange yet everyone seemed to think that way so I accepted it. But it wasn’t really me.
Fast-forward a few years: With hormones on the rise I started wondering why the tension between boys and girls lingered. School dances were the epitome of boys standing awkwardly on one side of the gymnasium and girls on the other. If we can barely talk to the other sex how can we understand them?
And as we grow older cootie cruelty takes on a new form: guys call girls bitches and have sex with them primarily to turn them into pawns in a game just to score points. I feel like I can’t call my friends out for it without getting harassed. I grew up with these guys and it sucks.
Once you do get to know girls you can feel like you are leading a double life. You’re supposed to look swole — muscular and buff, and act tough. I felt like I had to be a lumberjack. But girls want a sweet guy, as well. When I am alone with a girl I can feel more like myself. Girls sometimes comment on our double lives. We bend ourselves into knots because it relieves the stress that would come from not fitting in.
Courageous guys afraid to be ourselves
Being a guy can feel like having a second job, if I’m honest.
It all feels like being cooped up in a box. We cage ourselves in by holding in our insecurities and not acknowledging and expressing how we really feel. We pull the reigns in on our emotions. None of it is good for our mental or physical health, or our relationships.
Guys are supposed to be courageous and yet we are too afraid to be ourselves. Sometimes I feel like the most I can do is not participate in all this. But I’m hopeful that guys will become more open and honest about the masks we hide behind. I’m hopeful that we will have more conversations and share our stories and start to speak out.
I know that by speaking out on this I am going against the guy code. But it has to be said. It’s just too stressful putting on the tough guise day in and day out.