on the problems of masculinity: vulnerability and intimacy are off limits to typically masculine men

this is a two-part post about some of the ways that problematic types of masculinity hurts men as well as any society they exist in.

the first point i want to discuss came from a junot díaz q&a session at the hall center. his basic point was this: one of the ways that masculinity gets defined incorrectly is that the less vulnerable you are, the more masculine you are. this is the dominant narrative in america about masculinity; be tough, don’t cry, ignore your feelings (especially ignore fear), etc.

this, however, creates somewhat of an existential crisis for men and all people who embody this problematic version of masculinity because all people actually crave intimacy. but the deep irony, then, is that this version of masculinity prevents men from experiencing the intimacy they want and need because there is no intimacy without vulnerability. if you are trained in ignoring your feelings, you are constantly wearing a mask. this mask prevents you from accessing what’s really happening inside of you. and if you are constantly wearing a mask, there is no way for you to be vulnerable and truly connect with another human. you’re selling an illusion all the time.

this backfires for typical as well as toxically straight men in their relationships constantly. their inability to let down their guard prevents them from connecting with women in their lives and it keeps out the women who want to be close to them. this lack of vulnerability also impacts gay men, but it shows up differently (see velvet rage). in any case, all of these men without access to their vulnerable sides hurt society (but, ironically and in a striking feat of externalization of an internal reality, women wear the makeup)…

the antidote, of course, is accepting vulnerability as necessary and human. this change, on a societal level, i think, will require a major culture shift, but i’m all for it…

part 2 coming up: on the connection between emotions and decision making and how patriarchal masculinity fucks all that up for american societies.

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