What’s Up With Men?

Last Saturday I attended “What’s up with men?” session at the Boston Book Festival. I was sitting next to the young man and asked him why he was in this session: “As a woman, I want to understand men, but as a man, don’t you understand yourself?” He said he came to understand other men.

“From metrosexuals and bromances to Strauss-Kahn and Schwarzenegger–the BBF asks, what’s going on with men these days? We’ve asked some representative men from the world of words to help us get a read on it. Andre Dubus III, whose memoir Townie reveals his struggles with the subject of what it means to be a man, Stephen McCauley, author of, most recently, Insignificant Others, Tom Matlack, founder of The Good Men Project, and Jabari Asim, cultural critic and author of the short story collection Taste of Honey, discuss masculinity with you, the audience. Moderated by Tom Ashbrook, host of WBUR’s On Point. Hosted by WBUR 90.9 FM” from BBF website.

As the discussion started, more questions came up. Men are told what they are not supposed to be, but no one knows what they are. With feminism taking over, more women become providers, what used to be the privilege of men… Women want to get out of the house; men want to get into the house. Women are replacing men as middle class workforce.

Men are the new women? Are they losing their masculinity? Are they becoming weak?

What are they? Defenders? Money making machines? Polygamous creatures? Doers? Perhaps, we, women, need to enlighten men, what a real man is to us… It is not about physical strength or material success.

A man is an honest human being who we can rely on. Someone who does what he says. We are not afraid of men telling us their troubles and limitations; we will love them even more. Sharing emotions creates a bond between a man and a woman.

The best question from the audience came actually from that same man sitting next to me, who asked: “What do we need to do to prove our manhood?”

If only answer to that question was imprinted on the foreheads of all men there would be no war or crime. I’m not saying women are innocent, but they are definitely used as a tool to prove man’s manhood. Men are trying to prove it to each other in the form of trophies, achievements and stories.

Deep inside they fear they are not good enough that is why they prove their manhood at the expense of their own peace of mind and their relationships with women.

Men are afraid of not being able to live up to other people’s expectations.

Men’s insecurity arises when there is a discrepancy between expectations of them and what they can deliver or want to be. Then they resist those expectations. They don’t want to fail.

If a man could live up to his own expectations, it would be a better world, because a great man is true to himself.

We have the stigma that violent aggressive boys are better than sissy, and boys are told not to be weak /vulnerable or show their emotions, because feelings=weakness=feminine.

Men are still in emotional Ice Age.

They don’t share emotions with each other. Men are afraid of being close to men; all their emotional needs are filled by 2 women in their life – their mother and wife. And when one of those women lets them down, men either fall apart or get revenge.

Men need to do something about it. The good men project is a great start and I support it wholeheartedly… Feelings are mentionable. I can see Men’s emotional revolution coming. Everything is changing… Where does that fear of not being a man comes from? Historically, being a man meant protecting the tribe and providing food to survive. Times changed. It is Ok to not be the provider, but nurturer. It is Ok to fail sometimes and be helpless and talk about it. There should be safe zone for clean fighting and conflict resolution.

Men need to learn how to love each other, otherwise they will not be able to love a woman. No matter what stories they tell, they all want to love, be loved and appreciated the way they are…

Please, also see Tom Matlack’s article, Book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. Related articles: WSJ, Ask Men and Wnd.

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