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Opinion | A life in his shoes
Men can suffer through harmful stereotypes like women
Life is a hard thing for everybody. It can be even more difficult depending on what type of person you are, and I’m not talking about what we choose to be like how we behave or what type of food we like to eat. I’m talking about what we are given upon birth: a gender.
Accompanied with that assigned gender, we are then given stereotypes, and these stereotypes can really become a hindrance for us.
Women have suffered under the thumb of stereotyping for years, as they are often seen as the sensitive one, the one who needs to be protected because they are too weak to handle things themselves. This sort of thinking has manifested itself into our everyday lives.
Here’s an example: If a female were to be promiscuous with multiple men, then she would be looked down upon as being someone with no morals. This is a popular discrimination among society that stems from the myth that women must be innocent and pure before marriage, whereas a male can do the exact same thing but most likely receive no judgement for it.
Here’s a more personal example: Myself and a mix of male and female students lost a tug-of-war game against our opposing group and the mediator of the game told us that we played quote, “like a bunch of girls.”
This happened when I was in the fifth grade; I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time and while other kids may have brushed off that comment, the phrase stuck with me for years.
What does it mean to play “like a girl?” My team lost, so does that imply that girls are weak?
So from there on I asked myself, what does it mean to be a boy? My answer: Strong. Always strong.
I’ve kept that answer along with me, reminding myself that girls are seen as the weaker gender. However, these past few years have opened my eyes. Girls may be depicted as the weaker gender, but this results in having no leeway for boys to be weak themselves.
Think about it. Girls are usually seen as vulnerable, therefore they can afford to be that way when times are tough, and there is usually a lot of love and support in those trying times. Boys on the other hand are seen as strong, which means if they are ever weak then there are serious repercussions.
“Be a man” is a common phrase said during times where someone is afraid or hurt, which brings me to a slight repetition of my last question.
What does it mean to “be a man?”
From the way I look at it, it is the same answer. Strong. Always strong.
So strong that as children, these men are trained to refrain from emotion to not feel weak.
Former English football star Dean Windass talked about how this sort of training can result in the damage of male mental health, since he endured it himself.
Despite his seemingly perfect life, Windass said in a 2012 interview that he had attempted suicide twice because of the overwhelming pain in his heart caused by the pressures of “sucking things up” as a child so he could not be seen as a loser.
“I learned that tears and sobs were markers of failure. Whether facing up to playground beatings, bullies or teachers, the rules of the game were simple: if you cry, you lose,” according to a statement made by Windass on theguardian.com.
The myth that men must always put a serious face on in the face of danger has brought upon an unfortunate wave of suicides year after year, as suicide among males is four times higher than females and male deaths represent 79% of all suicides in the United States.
“Women who attempt suicide tend to use nonviolent means, such as overdosing. Men often use firearms or hanging, which are more likely to result in death,” according to the guardian.com.
In spite of the overwhelming number of suicides and mental health issues, the stereotype of men continues to persist through our society, specifically through entertainment.
Repressing one’s feelings even in the face of losing everything is the core within fictional character, Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades trilogy. I mention this character because the movie adapted versions of the romantic drama are the most profitable franchises in Universal Pictures’ history, taking in a combined $1.145 billion at the box office, according to hollywoodreporter.com.
Grey is one example of the male trope in media that acts tough, but deep down are brooding with emotional turmoil that is barely addressed to their loved ones. The fact that this type of character is common in media and people have enjoyed them reveals how it’s glorified to shut down mentally and not only get away with it, but be appreciated for it.
It may be a man’s world in some people’s eyes, but men are drowning in it. When a man is picked on for not sleeping with someone at a party, they drown. When a boy is told that he should’ve liked being taken advantage of by an attractive older woman, they drown.
There are negatives on both ends of the spectrum with being a male or a female, and the point of this piece is to bring up that fact. In some ways, men do have it easier and women suffer because of it but in other ways, the men suffer- and they tend to do it silently, because not everyone wants to hear about their weaknesses. They want to hear that they are strong.