49 votes

What's hard about being a man?

I started reading Liz Plank's For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity, and it opens with the author's experiences asking men this question (emphasis mine):

The more I read about men’s relationship to directions and maps, the more it explained the absence of a substantive and open conversation about masculinity. While women are encouraged to ask questions, men are expected to pretend like they know everything even when they don’t, even when it comes to large and existential questions about their gender and their lives. As I traveled across the world, from Iceland to Zambia, I asked men the same question over and over again: What’s hard about being a man? Every single time I asked that question it was like I had just asked them if unicorns can swim.

It was met with a pause, a smile, and then followed by another long pause followed by the words: “I’ve never actually thought of that.” When I asked women that same question about their gender—in other words, when I asked women what was hard about being a woman—it was like I had asked them to name every single thing they loved about puppies. I got nearly the same response from every woman I spoke to: “How much time do you have?” Judging from the conversations I would strike up with (half-)willing strangers, women had spent a lot of time thinking about how their gender impacts their lives, but men visibly hadn’t. While that conversation had been blossoming with women for decades, for men, accepting directions was proof that the system was broken, which goes against the natural impulses of what being a man means: not to admit confusion or ask questions.

I thought it was a worthwhile question to consider, and I'm interested to hear how people here on Tildes would answer it.

Also, while I'm confident in our community's ability to apply the principle of charity, I do know that discussions about gender online can often become contentious. I would very much like this to be a place for people to be able to share open and honest truths about themselves, even if those are difficult or revealing. If you are replying to someone, especially someone who has just opened up about their own personal experiences or beliefs, please make sure you are being thoughtful and considerate when doing so.

Finally, while the question is specifically about men, I don't want to limit responses to men only. I think women and non-binary people definitely have valuable insights into masculinity as well and I welcome your voices should you choose to answer.

59 comments

  1. Greg
    Link
    It's a quote from a comment I saw on reddit, probably years ago now, buried in some side thread of a discussion. It's stuck with me ever since. We aren't allowed to break. We can try a task and...
    • Exemplary

    People would rather see me die on my white horse than watch me fall off it.

    It's a quote from a comment I saw on reddit, probably years ago now, buried in some side thread of a discussion. It's stuck with me ever since.

    We aren't allowed to break. We can try a task and fail, within certain limits. We can cry, at appropriate moments, and ask for help - a huge improvement on what our fathers and grandfathers were allowed to do. But even the most positive, non-toxic, emotionally healthy model of masculinity is to be the rock that provides stability and security for others.

    A man who fights his demons to the end, holds fast until he can hold no more, and eventually takes his own life is a tragic hero. A blubbering mess of a man who can no longer be depended on is a pitiful figure to society. The visceral reaction to a man who truly fails to cope is almost one of disgust.

    These aren't generally attitudes at the surface, thankfully. A lot of good, kind hearted people will recoil at what I said, because this is often buried deep, right at the core of how we see people. Nothing can possibly be true of every single person, and I do hold some genuine hope that generational change is softening the limits of what most people will accept of us.

    For now though, from what I have experienced, men have to be a rock, and if someone sees that slip even for a moment it is almost impossible to rebuild.

    53 votes
  2. [16]
    PapaNachos
    (edited )
    Link
    Speaking as a white man living in the USA. Also as some whose dad basically abandoned my family. I feel like it gives me a relatively insightful perspective on topics like this. And as a...
    • Exemplary

    Speaking as a white man living in the USA. Also as some whose dad basically abandoned my family. I feel like it gives me a relatively insightful perspective on topics like this. And as a disclaimer, this is all just my opinions and observations.

    And these issues are very complicated and I'm definitely painting with broad strokes. Some of the language I'm using is based around my interpretation of the archetypical ideas of "men" and "women" as they exist in American society.

    Further this is IMO a mixture of centuries of sexism, racism, capitalism, violence, nationalism, and all sorts of other fucked up shit. It may appear I'm straying off topic, but in my mind all this shit is connected.

    And finally like many of you, I've basically been stuck in my house for 10 months now, so some I may not be fully up to speed on everything

    So here goes:

    This is a difficult topic because it starts to cross over into territory of what MRA's claim to believe and talk about. But in my experience almost all of those communities devolve into hating women, using the language of equality as a cover for hatred. Sort of like how TERFs work.

    And while most feminists do want equality between genders, in my experience many don't consider the issues men face to be serious. Of those that do, even then it's typically not a priority. Which is understandable to be fair, but also sucks. I still consider myself a feminist.

    Basically there hasn't been a gender revolution for men in the way that women have had one. And one is desperately needed. The discussion around 'toxic masculinity' touches on some of these topics, but I don't think it's made much inroads among the people who most perpetuate it.

    Men are constantly bombarded with images of hyper masculinity. You're told you need to be big and strong. Have good hair. You need to be tough. Be the breadwinner. Don't show emotions. Don't cry. Never ask for help. Sacrifice yourself. Be straight. Solve problems through violence.

    Summed up the message we're bombarded with is loudly "Real men never show weakness. You're a real man, right?" and more subtly "Not like all those women (or gay folks)"

    And while women and LGBT+ folks have seen their opportunities open up in what lifestyles and careers are socially acceptable, the same hasn't happened for men. And though (straight, white, cisgendered) men have never faced the same sort of legal obstacles that other groups have faced. We still face pushback in terms of what is societally acceptable. So a woman moving into a traditionally male space is correctly seen as progress. A (straight, white, cis) man moving into a traditionally female space is seen as a failing of some kind. For example, imagine a straight dude who just happened to love weddings and especially wedding dresses. Do you think that if he got a job helping people pick the perfect wedding dress, he would be taken seriously?

    So women have more freedom to take on traditionally male roles. But men don't have the same freedom. Though the barriers are typically social and psychological rather than legal. The consequence of this is that many men see themselves as being pushed out of their traditional space and completely miss all the new opportunities opening up. Adding in the fact that technology is pushing us further away from manual labor. And that late stage capitalism is syphoning wages away from workers and toward business owners, especially billionaires and you have a particularly toxic mixture that's set to explode. Many men feel as if their way of life is being pulled out from under them.

    Even talking about these issues is often seen as a punchline. Because men do still have many advantages in society. But we haven't really wrestled with all the fucked up baggage we have to deal with.

    So, with all that context, here is my attempt at a more summarized list:

    • Men are told not to show "weakness". This includes asking for help. So for example, men tend not to go to doctors.
    • We're told we can't open up about our emotions and most of us are never taught and mechanisms for working them out. We're just supposed to repress them. This leads to so much bitterness and anger. And no way to deal with them
    • We're supposed to be tall, physically fit, etc... Men also face body image issues, though admittedly not as much as women.
    • Our lives are seen as less valuable. Society accepts that men's role is to die. And this rarely gets addressed. "Women and children first" is code for "Men are lowest priority". By a huge margin all the most dangerous jobs are done by men. Workplace deaths are way, way higher for men. (I'm not saying more women should die for 'equality', I'm saying we should be less willing to throw away men's lives). Or if a gunman kills 2 men and a woman, I would be willing to bet the woman getting killed tugs on more people's heart strings.
    • Men are taught through media and from culture as a whole that violence is a great way to solve problems. And so many men internalize that and become dangerous to people around them
    • Suicide rates (successes, not attempts) are sky high for men. No idea how the ongoing pandemic has affected this, but I'm betting it's not good
    • We're constantly fed hero narratives and don't learn to deal with failure

    So basically as a man American culture is constantly bombarding me with extremely problematic messages that I'm very thankful friends and family have helped me learn to deal with. Many men don't have support network I've been lucky to have and don't realize they need to actually work on their mental health.

    Put simply: A whole lot of men need a whole lot of therapy. But most of those same men thing that they don't need it. And for those that do realize they need help, it's prohibitively expensive thanks to the nightmare that is the American health care system.

    It's a god-damn mess and I don't know how to fix it. And there are very real life or death consequences for not dealing with it.

    Edit:
    And I don't want this to be taken as saying men have more problems than women. Just that toxic masculinity hurts everyone.

    41 votes
    1. [6]
      vord
      Link Parent
      This works in reverse too. My wife deciding to stay-at-home is seen by many as backpedaling on progress. As if the only acceptable social contract is now for everyone to work and leave kids to be...

      . So a woman moving into a traditionally male space is correctly seen as progress. A (straight, white, cis) man moving into a traditionally female space is seen as a failing of some kind.

      This works in reverse too. My wife deciding to stay-at-home is seen by many as backpedaling on progress. As if the only acceptable social contract is now for everyone to work and leave kids to be raised by strangers.

      24 votes
      1. [5]
        PapaNachos
        Link Parent
        Oh yeah, definitely. Like I mentioned, some people use the language of progress and equality as a cover for their own desire to harass people. The whole point of movements like feminism is that it...

        Oh yeah, definitely. Like I mentioned, some people use the language of progress and equality as a cover for their own desire to harass people.

        The whole point of movements like feminism is that it allows people to choose their own way to live. Swapping one set of APPROVED LIFESTYLES for another isn't actually progress.

        Fortunately, at least in my experience, people with those sort of views are relatively rare and have a tendency to tell on themselves.

        15 votes
        1. [4]
          TeMPOraL
          Link Parent
          Doesn't even take someone harassing others. At this point, there's a distributed, cultural pressure for women to work. My wife is struggling with deciding whether to return to the workforce...

          Like I mentioned, some people use the language of progress and equality as a cover for their own desire to harass people.

          Doesn't even take someone harassing others. At this point, there's a distributed, cultural pressure for women to work. My wife is struggling with deciding whether to return to the workforce quickly, or spend more time caring for our kid. And number one thought she keeps coming back to is that, if she picks stay-at-home parenting, unspecified "other people" will think she's a pathological case, sitting on her ass exploiting social benefits. She can't trace where that thought is coming from. I suspect it comes from social media.

          The whole point of movements like feminism is that it allows people to choose their own way to live.

          Related, it turns out there's an unforeseen extra pressure that takes away the choice: the market. The market was very quick to notice that, as so many women were joining the work force, average household income started rising. And it very quickly compensated for that, so these days, for many couples dual-income is a baseline necessity. The choice to have one of the parents focus on raising children is no longer available in many places, particularly those of economic opportunity.

          11 votes
          1. [3]
            vord
            Link Parent
            Don't wanna get into it majorly, but I've noticed "the market" is usually a euphemism for "companies and government weakening worker's rights and suppressing minimum wage increases."

            The market was very quick to notice that, as so many women were joining the work force, average household income started rising

            Don't wanna get into it majorly, but I've noticed "the market" is usually a euphemism for "companies and government weakening worker's rights and suppressing minimum wage increases."

            7 votes
            1. bkimmel
              Link Parent
              I would generally agree. Although I think "the market" is the best system to answer "how much should this thing cost?" the answers it has for most other questions like "what conditions should...

              I would generally agree. Although I think "the market" is the best system to answer "how much should this thing cost?" the answers it has for most other questions like "what conditions should people work under?" or "what chemicals should we allow this factory to dump in a river?" are inexorably terrible.

              I think the problem of "forced double income" is a good example of the latter kind of question we should try to catch before it gets to the market layer.

              9 votes
            2. TeMPOraL
              Link Parent
              Sometimes it is, but I didn't use this word in that way here. What I meant is that the market in general, through countless little feedback loops in it, will correct for extra disposable income...

              Sometimes it is, but I didn't use this word in that way here. What I meant is that the market in general, through countless little feedback loops in it, will correct for extra disposable income available in a population.

              4 votes
    2. [3]
      knocklessmonster
      Link Parent
      I don't know about other resources for this, but /r/menslib is a subreddit dedicated to healthy discussion of men's issues. Apparently there are issues in the broader movement, so I don't know how...

      This is a difficult topic because it starts to cross over into territory of what MRA's claim to believe and talk about.

      I don't know about other resources for this, but /r/menslib is a subreddit dedicated to healthy discussion of men's issues. Apparently there are issues in the broader movement, so I don't know how big a group that subreddit represents, but if you're intrested in these topics, it's a pretty okay spot from what I've seen.

      14 votes
      1. [2]
        MimicSquid
        Link Parent
        Yes, but r/MensLib is very explicitly and aggressively not a Men's Rights space. It's wonderful, but it's not the problematic and toxic space that MRA's inhabit. It's that toxicity elsewhere that...

        Yes, but r/MensLib is very explicitly and aggressively not a Men's Rights space. It's wonderful, but it's not the problematic and toxic space that MRA's inhabit. It's that toxicity elsewhere that helps make it hard to talk about men's issues.

        11 votes
        1. knocklessmonster
          Link Parent
          Definitely. I meant to bring attention to it as an example of how these conversations can be had. I wasn't trying to downplay the MRA toxicity issue at all.

          Definitely. I meant to bring attention to it as an example of how these conversations can be had. I wasn't trying to downplay the MRA toxicity issue at all.

          10 votes
    3. [6]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I thought that was all bullshit too, that men were destined to die. Then I became a Dad, and realized that kernel of truth...I would die for my kid. I would die for their mother too, because while...

      Society accepts that men's role is to die. And this rarely gets addressed. "Women and children first" is code for "Men are lowest priority".

      I thought that was all bullshit too, that men were destined to die. Then I became a Dad, and realized that kernel of truth...I would die for my kid. I would die for their mother too, because while I feel a kid needs positive influence from both parents, if push came to shove losing a good mother is going to be harder on kiddo than losing an equivalent Dad. I see this most when it comes to comfort. My child is happy to cuddle and be comforted by me. But it is not the same as Mom cuddles. If there is a real bad problem, mom is the go-to. I am very much on the "nurture" side of "nature vs nurture," but there is something deep, deep in our primal nature of the mother/child bond.

      11 votes
      1. [4]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        Is this remark itself not an example of a male gender bias? Not only the expectation that given that awful choice that it would be better for mom to be there for the kid, but that you...

        if push came to shove losing a good mother is going to be harder on kiddo than losing an equivalent Dad

        Is this remark itself not an example of a male gender bias? Not only the expectation that given that awful choice that it would be better for mom to be there for the kid, but that you pre-emptively perceive her as being more caring/nurturing?

        Even if your perception is accurate, isn't it unfair to assume that you would be unable to grow and fulfill at least some of what your wife is providing?

        12 votes
        1. [2]
          bkimmel
          Link Parent
          I think the parent (no pun intended), acknowledged that it is , but it's kinda the kid's bias. I guess you could sit with a crying 2-year-old and try to explain how they're perpetuating gender...

          I think the parent (no pun intended), acknowledged that it is , but it's kinda the kid's bias. I guess you could sit with a crying 2-year-old and try to explain how they're perpetuating gender stereotypes by running to Mommy instead of Daddy, but that seems kind of cruel.

          The response is also an example of the bias this thread is trying to discuss. There can't be the tiniest space where a man can bring up their feelings and say "gee this is tough" without getting a finger in their face about some perceived shortcoming.

          19 votes
          1. Omnicrola
            Link Parent
            Oh wow you're right, I didn't even realize it when I was responding but I see it now. My apologies to @vord. I want to be clear in a way that my previous reply was not: I hope you see value in...

            The response is also an example of the bias this thread is trying to discuss.

            Oh wow you're right, I didn't even realize it when I was responding but I see it now.

            My apologies to @vord. I want to be clear in a way that my previous reply was not: I hope you see value in yourself and your individual masculinity.

            9 votes
        2. vord
          Link Parent
          You are generally correct. And in many ways (at least as I can see relative to my IRL dad peers) I'm definitely more caring and nurturing than average. I get frustrated when I see some basically...

          Not only the expectation that given that awful choice that it would be better for mom to be there for the kid, but that you pre-emptively perceive her as being more caring/nurturing?

          You are generally correct. And in many ways (at least as I can see relative to my IRL dad peers) I'm definitely more caring and nurturing than average. I get frustrated when I see some basically only doing like 30 min of interaction during the week and like 5 hours on weekends. And I get it, work burns you out. I'm seeing noticable improvement in the work-from-home dads though.

          Anyway, there are two main reasons I made that choice:

          • Because I work full-time, Mom is primary caregiver. It's purely a number-of-hours restriction at that point. Given a stay-at-home dad instead, position would likely be reversed.
          • Mother-child bond is a very real thing dads can't match. Specifically the "being grown inside Mom" and breastfeeding.

          I want to stress (as some may take offense to what I said, esp with that second one) that this not to say that non-cis/hetero couples can't raise children wonderfully. Humans are adaptable, and science has helped fill the voids when biology can't. But bio-mom has a 9-month head start for sounds and hormones, extended by breastfeeding time.

          7 votes
      2. TeMPOraL
        Link Parent
        Same here. I remember remarking to my wife some years ago that there's this unquestioned assumption in most societies that prioritizes lives of women and young, and that I was curious where it...

        Same here. I remember remarking to my wife some years ago that there's this unquestioned assumption in most societies that prioritizes lives of women and young, and that I was curious where it came from. Then I became a father, and now I know. Sure, this may be confounded by me growing up in a culture that already has this assumption, but still - I value my life lower than that of my wife and my child, and would give it up in a heartbeat if it meant saving either of them.

        6 votes
  3. [6]
    joplin
    Link
    Oh boy, what a can of worms. The first thing I'd say being hard is finding a sensitive way to complain about what's hard about being a man. Culturally, we're told that because everything is geared...
    • Exemplary

    Oh boy, what a can of worms. The first thing I'd say being hard is finding a sensitive way to complain about what's hard about being a man. Culturally, we're told that because everything is geared towards us, nobody cares what we think or what we feel is hard. In fact, not only do they not care, they're sick of hearing about it. (And I don't blame them.) Those of us who care about not coming off as toxic spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to express ourselves that won't get our concerns immediately dismissed because of our privilege. As a normally abled cis-het white middle-aged moderately wealthy man, do I really have any "real" problems in my life? Well, yes, I do, but a lot of people see anyone with more than them as not having a right to complain about what they don't have.

    Some things that get irritating include, being told that I'm trying to help when I should just be listening, when I have no intention of helping and am just trying to understand what's being said. Being told to "suck it up", "man up", "nut up", "walk it off", etc. Being asked questions about how long my wife spent baking, knitting, whatever, something that I made. But those are just minor annoyances.

    Much more serious are things like being threatened with violence over minor misunderstandings or over nothing at all. Luckily this is reduced greatly as you age. I used to have hair down to the middle of my back and I lived in the US South for a few years during that time. It was a constant barrage of body checks disguised as tripping, whispers of "Faggot!" under people's breaths as they walked by, weird interactions with strangers for no apparent reason, etc. Although, I have to admit that I really liked watching parents squirm when their kids would ask questions like, "Why is that man a girl?" Their parents would cringe and start stammering and I'd just smile and wink at the kid.

    One thing that I didn't realize until I got older was how much hormones do affect male mood, and how completely unaware of it we are since we don't have the same obvious outward signs that women have as their hormones change. It wasn't until I was injecting testosterone that I was able to make connections like, "Oh that's why I'm getting a headache," or "Oh, that's why anything that doesn't work is incredibly frustrating," etc. We normally have no idea what are levels are or how and when they change. But when you start adding them on a schedule, it suddenly becomes really obvious.

    And like others have said, the complete and utter lack of socially acceptable ways to express any emotion other than humor or rage is really really debilitating. It doesn't even matter if I'm emotionally aware or not, as our society's strict rules about what men can and can't feel make it basically impossible to express those emotions without being ridiculed. It's toxic.

    28 votes
    1. [5]
      kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This is incredibly thoughtful and insightful. Thank you for this, joplin. Yeah, I see this sort of thing a lot, where the concept of privilege is treated as "the absence of problems" rather than...

      This is incredibly thoughtful and insightful. Thank you for this, joplin.

      Those of us who care about not coming off as toxic spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to express ourselves that won't get our concerns immediately dismissed because of our privilege. As a normally abled cis-het white middle-aged moderately wealthy man, do I really have any "real" problems in my life? Well, yes, I do, but a lot of people see anyone with more than them as not having a right to complain about what they don't have.

      Yeah, I see this sort of thing a lot, where the concept of privilege is treated as "the absence of problems" rather than "the absence of a societal/systemic force multiplier on problems". I don't know how much of it is a genuine distortion of the concept of privilege and how much of it is happening in bad faith, but I find it frustrating to see how willing people are to discard empathy under this lens.

      It dovetails with a larger issue of treating gender-centric problems as oppositional rather than concurrent. I see this constantly with discussion about men's and women's issues, where there is the widespread belief that progress for one comes only at expense to the other. It poisons discussions from the outset, as it automatically creates "sides" and furthers the belief that men and women have more different between them than they do in common, as well as contributing to the false perception that men and women are two solidly separate camps with no overlap in the first place.

      These together create the issue you identified where you aren't even allowed to identify or speak to the problems you experience without having to answer for the way that such a focus detracts from others. Men are already pressured to keep their feelings to themselves and handle things on their own, and when they finally do decide to break with those norms they often find not a newfound safety but a minefield they have to carefully traverse. I can see why many find it easier to not even bother.

      To be fair, I think a lot of this is self-inflicted. So much of gender-based discussion, especially online, has been eroded due to people like MRAs, as well as the seeming internet-wide inability to consider feminism without mischaracterizing it and using it solely as a sounding board for grievance. I find that many men online are trained to outright reject the very things that would help them be heard, and that leaves people like you rudderless when you try, because you'll either be heard in bad faith or you'll be assumed to be acting as such. I'm genuinely sorry that this is the landscape on which your self-disclosure sits.

      One thing that I didn't realize until I got older was how much hormones do affect male mood [...] We normally have no idea what are levels are or how and when they change. But when you start adding them on a schedule, it suddenly becomes really obvious.

      This is fascinating to me, and I would love to hear more about this if you're willing to share.

      19 votes
      1. [4]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I would also be very curious to learn more about what @joplin has experienced from injecting testosterone. I know that I have "moods", and I've been slowly learning to recognize when I'm feeling a...

        I would also be very curious to learn more about what @joplin has experienced from injecting testosterone. I know that I have "moods", and I've been slowly learning to recognize when I'm feeling a certain way that makes me more irritable or prone to depression-spirals. I hadn't even thought about how this might relate to changing hormone levels.

        11 votes
        1. [3]
          joplin
          Link Parent
          Sure. I've dealt with migraines my entire adulthood. They actually started around when puberty started, which should have been a clue, but... well... that's not how my parent's generation thought...

          Sure. I've dealt with migraines my entire adulthood. They actually started around when puberty started, which should have been a clue, but... well... that's not how my parent's generation thought about things, so that idea never occurred to them or my doctors who were their age.

          TL;DR over a number of decades I tried a number of medications which varied from making things worse to making things a little better.

          In my mid 40s I eventually tried beta blockers and my headaches almost completely went away. Unfortunately, so did my libido. After checking a few things, my doctor realized my testosterone was at the very bottom of the normal range. (Like literally the lowest value that's still considered normal.) So she suggested dropping the beta blockers and trying testosterone supplementation.

          It's been an almost entirely positive experience. I have way more energy, which is probably due to getting sounder sleep. (I think I mentioned in another thread that I also have more vivid dreams which is something that also started around puberty but went away in later adulthood.) My libido has returned to normal. This takes some experimentation to get right. We started slow and ramped up. A few weeks I could tell it was more than I was used to, which was fun, but probably not the best idea to keep up, so we lowered it a little after that.

          I worked with a neurologist on my headaches and found some new meds that work much better than the old ones.

          But the few downsides include needing to supplement my headache meds in the days after I take my testosterone. And as mentioned, I seem to get more easily frustrated in the few days after I take it as well. I just have less patience. I haven't experienced the rage that some people talk about getting when they use it. I don't know whether it's a nature or nurture sort of difference, but my amount of rage remains pretty constant throughout the month. I think I may also be a little more emotionally sensitive in the days after I take it, by which I mean that I feel like every little thing someone says or does is some sort of personal attack on me. Now that I'm aware of the correlation, I'm able to tell myself - "Hey, before you get mad about this, wait a day or two and think about it again. It might just be the testosterone talking."

          Basically, what happens is that the day after I take it, the level in my bloodstream is quite high, and it levels off over the next few days. I used to get monthly shots, but went to getting them at a half dose every 2 weeks instead because the effects would be really strong for the first week, and really weak the last week of the month. Taking half as much twice as often evens it out a lot more. It's a little strong shortly after I take it, but not too bad, then mostly normal for a week and a half, and then just a little weak at the end of the 2 week period.

          If you have any specific questions, let me know. I'd be happy to answer them.

          16 votes
          1. [2]
            Gaywallet
            Link Parent
            As someone who used to be on TRT, I can't stress enough how much better I felt moving to smaller doses more often. I even ended up switching to an extremely long acting ester (undecanoate rather...

            As someone who used to be on TRT, I can't stress enough how much better I felt moving to smaller doses more often. I even ended up switching to an extremely long acting ester (undecanoate rather than cypionate) and dosing weekly. I don't want to be prescriptive here if you feel okay with your current dose but you may want to consider halving that dose and going weekly instead of every 2 weeks.

            5 votes
            1. joplin
              Link Parent
              Thanks! I'll discuss that with my doctor.

              Thanks! I'll discuss that with my doctor.

              3 votes
  4. [3]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    (I wish I could label a topic as Exemplary) Ctrl-F "dating" doesn't yet have any results in this thread, so I'm going to focus my answer there rather than rehash what some of the other excellent...
    • Exemplary

    (I wish I could label a topic as Exemplary)

    Ctrl-F "dating" doesn't yet have any results in this thread, so I'm going to focus my answer there rather than rehash what some of the other excellent comments have covered.

    I'm a cisgender, heterosexual man, and this is necessarily going to be biased towards my own experience of dating women. I'd be interested in hearing other people weigh in with non-cishet experiences.

    Dating suuuuuuuucks.

    There's an expectation that men take the vast majority of the initiative when dating. From sending the first messages on dating apps, to approaching / hitting on women in in-person situations, to suggesting where to go / what to do on dates.

    I'm a feminist, and believe strongly in gender equality. But somehow, that conversation never seems to extend to "women should do 50% of the asking-someone-out-for-a-date".

    Several years ago, this came up in conversation with my girlfriend at the time, and her response stuck with me. She said she'd never explicitly ask a man out, because of how embarrassed and terrible she'd feel if they turned her down.

    Which...yeah? Getting rejected sucks. But as a man, I'm expected to have thick enough skin that if I ask someone out and get turned down, that's just life.

    And then the flip side of being expected to take all the initiative - I also need to know when not to take initiative. A man who takes too much initiative in the dating world often ends up being "creepy". I think the vast majority of the "#NotAllMen" backlash was bullshit, but bullshit often has a small kernel of truth at the center.

    I think a lot of single men, myself included, are constantly walking a fine line of trying to take just enough initiative when dating. Not too much, not too little. If we take too little, the result is fairly invisible - sitting at home alone with regrets. When we take too much initiative, the result is much more noticeable - making the woman we're asking out feel uncomfortable (or worse, in danger). In the worst case, this results in viral articles about how you're terrible at picking up on signals and very selfish in bed.

    34 votes
    1. post_below
      Link Parent
      This is so true. We don't want men to be the aggressor anymore, except when we do. Social progress is always slow.

      This is so true. We don't want men to be the aggressor anymore, except when we do.

      Social progress is always slow.

      11 votes
    2. Kuromantis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      In case anyone else ended up actually reading the article and your takeaway wasn't "this is made up or exaggerated", you may like these 2 op-eds: The Aziz Ansari story is a mess, but so are the...
      2 votes
  5. Omnicrola
    Link
    What's hard? More than I used to think. Over the last several years I've been to therapy both with my wife and by myself, and it has forced me to confront a lot of things. I also have the fortune...

    What's hard? More than I used to think. Over the last several years I've been to therapy both with my wife and by myself, and it has forced me to confront a lot of things.

    I also have the fortune of having a group of friends that are pretty good about not promoting toxic masculine behaviours, and I feel like I can talk to them pretty openly.

    The hardest things for me are asking for help. Depending on what it is it can be very difficult. For something like moving a couch, obviously one person can't do that, do that's not a big deal. For something else such as climbing onto my roof to cut an exhaust hole for a bathroom fan, it's much harder. Even after the ladder slipped and I broke my ankle I still didn't want to call a handyman to do it, my wife had to talk me into it.

    Which is nothing compared to learning to ask for emotional help, which I'm still working on.

    23 votes
  6. tempestoftruth
    Link
    Some comments have touched on the subject of expectations and how men are "supposed" to act in certain situations, and I want to explore a particular dimension of expectations. Social expectations...
    • Exemplary

    Some comments have touched on the subject of expectations and how men are "supposed" to act in certain situations, and I want to explore a particular dimension of expectations. Social expectations can exist as unspoken cultural norms in the background that go unchallenged, but we can also experience them in specific moments, when other people (often men but can be women too) say things to us or act in particular ways towards us, that make us feel shame for not conforming to the masculine standard. For example, a guy I knew in high school came to class wearing a pink shirt, but that tension between his masculinity and his pink shirt only became manifest when people started commenting on it ("Haha, why are you wearing that shirt, dude?!") The fact that he wasn't white and had been singled out/bullied previously also made a difference, since I wore pink shirts to school and didn't get dinged for it like he did that day. So other people act as enforcers of the status quo when they do this, becoming physical manifestations of the cultural norms themselves by turning into "behavior police," one might say.

    In my experience, this dynamic where men police other men's behavior gets turned up to 11 in contexts where there is a potential for romance/sex. For example: I asked a girl to slow dance at one of my early high school dances. Afterwards, I excused myself and went to go check in with my friends, since I didn't feel the need to spend the whole dance talking to her. One of the men continually pestered me, asking what I was doing and why I wasn't taking advantage of the opportunity that had fallen into my lap by getting to slow dance with this girl. Some men might think he was just trying to "help," and I'm sure this is how he understood it at the time, but in reality he was trampling over my autonomy (telling me what I should be doing) and this temporal aspect of my sexuality (when I want to engage with someone in a romantic or sexual way, in what contexts, and at what speed). Given that men are stereotyped as hypersexual, I understand this as a moment in which (social definitions of) gender and sexuality were being imposed on me, to get me to perform and behave the way men are expected to do. He did not stop to think about whether or not I actually wanted to do what he was telling me (or whether the girl wanted that either), that was not a consideration at all. What is especially wild to me is that there were no material benefits for him to be doing this, he was policing my behavior because that's all he knew, and that's the case for a lot of men, simply not knowing any other way to be.

    I've had similar situations even into my adult life. I mention the high school one because it emphasizes just how early this pressure begins to manifest. I would posit that the insistence of other men telling men they need to do this, that, and the other with some woman is the root of a lot of sexual violence at parties and clubs and the like, as men try to perform masculinity more successfully than those around them by doing increasingly dangerous things. If you resist the constant pressure, then you are marked as being not masculine, and then subject to violent enforcement as @nerb describes. Later in high school I was sexually assaulted by multiple male students and I understand my prior attempts at resisting the imposition of toxic masculinity as making me a target. This is not to suggest that the people who assaulted me were thinking "yes, let's reproduce toxic masculinity and punish so-and-so for not performing it," all this stuff is subconscious at best in people who haven't taken the time to think about it. I'd hazard they don't even really know why they did it, other than "I thought it was funny" or other non-answers.

    So for me, that is what is hard about being a man. Being a man means other men (and occasionally women) will tell you how you are supposed to be and act, what you are supposed to do, and when you are supposed to do it. If you try to resist you experience social sanctions (up to and including assault for not conforming). Of course, my situation was rather specific and there were a lot of additional factors that contributed to my individual experience, e.g. race (so I'm not saying every man will be subject to physical violence for resisting prescriptive gender roles). I can ultimately only speak for myself.

    11 votes
  7. [4]
    Flashynuff
    (edited )
    Link
    Men are, by and large, not taught emotional intelligence/literacy. There is a widespread societal expectation that expressing emotions other than anger is unmanly, and that any thoughts that a man...

    Men are, by and large, not taught emotional intelligence/literacy. There is a widespread societal expectation that expressing emotions other than anger is unmanly, and that any thoughts that a man has should be the product of pure logic and reason.

    This is obviously untrue and deeply damaging. Men have all sorts of emotions all of the time, as well as thoughts and actions driven by those emotions. When people lack the tools necessary to handle their emotions they typically become entirely ruled by those emotions (while pretending that they are completely logical). And when someone is entirely ruled by their emotions, they tend to make decisions that hurt other people. I think this is a root cause of many aspects of what people call "toxic masculinity".

    It is very difficult to unlearn this way of thinking, especially if you do not have patient friends, mentors, or therapists who are willing to teach you. It's sort of like trying to teach yourself to read. Many men are unable to do so and end up hurting everyone around them for the rest of their lives.

    21 votes
    1. suspended
      Link Parent
      Luckily, for my brother and I, our mother always listened and encouraged us to talk about our feelings. I didn't realize the importance of this until I was 38 years old when my wife was pregnant...

      Luckily, for my brother and I, our mother always listened and encouraged us to talk about our feelings. I didn't realize the importance of this until I was 38 years old when my wife was pregnant with our first child. I remember back then that I was woefully ignorant of becoming a parent. So, I spent a lot of time in book stores reading everything I could get my hands on to prepare my self.

      The overwhelming advice from the experts was to practice emotional intelligence with children as they grow up. My wife and I do this with both of our boys and it appears to be paying off. Our boys understand that their emotions are important and they trust us when they want to talk about it.

      Emotional Intelligence: The Social Skills You Weren't Taught in School

      10 votes
    2. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      This so much. So much of my struggle and growth over the last decade has been what I now recognize as becoming emotionally literate. It's not that I can't understand emotions or empathize...

      not taught emotional intelligence/literacy

      This so much. So much of my struggle and growth over the last decade has been what I now recognize as becoming emotionally literate. It's not that I can't understand emotions or empathize (sometimes I'm too empathetic), it's that I had never had practice and guidance in understanding my own emotions.

      Most of my emotional awareness was superficial. It's not enough to be aware that I'm angry. Because emotions rarely occur only by themselves, and rarely for only one reason. Being able to understand those complexities has helped me in numerous ways. And that strong initial emotions (like anger, the primary "acceptable" male emotion) might be crowding out other secondary feelings.

      8 votes
    3. vord
      Link Parent
      Mens Rights spaces being so toxic is a symptom of this. They're coping with frustrating emotional issues, but have 0 idea how to handle them in a healthy manner. A blind-leading-the-blind scenario.

      When people lack the tools necessary to handle their emotions they typically become entirely ruled by those emotions (while pretending that they are completely logical). And when someone is entirely ruled by their emotions, they tend to make decisions that hurt other people. I think this is a root cause of many aspects of what people call "toxic masculinity".

      Mens Rights spaces being so toxic is a symptom of this. They're coping with frustrating emotional issues, but have 0 idea how to handle them in a healthy manner. A blind-leading-the-blind scenario.

      8 votes
  8. [2]
    Icarus
    Link
    That's a pretty tough question to answer. I have a significant other who suffers from PMDD so I often hear from her on how I am so lucky to have been born a man. I don't have a period nor hormonal...

    That's a pretty tough question to answer. I have a significant other who suffers from PMDD so I often hear from her on how I am so lucky to have been born a man. I don't have a period nor hormonal fluctuations that severely alter mood or how my body feels. Physically speaking, it is difficult to find anything inherently difficulty being a man besides being mindful of my testicles and avoiding testicular torsion when going through puberty.

    Now, regarding cultural expectations I can see some unique challenges that men face in western civilization.

    1. Sometimes there is a feeling that the burden of proof that I am not some deranged pervert or otherwise bad person is pretty high, in specific situations. Think being around kids, or applying to work in a traditional female role. Often, I have thought about participating in fostering kids at some point in the future. My SO and I have a very good life with a lot of comfort but no plans for long-term child rearing so I have thought that fostering may be a good avenue of us giving back to society and helping those who really need it. However, the thought of being falsely accused of anything improper scares the bejeezus out of me.

    2. Being a man can sometimes be lonely. Because there are things that we are "supposed to handle", its harder to reach out for help when its needed. However, I think this is a problem created by men and perpetuated by them, whether it is through interpersonal relationships or through the existing male-dominated power structures. For example, the modern day police department seems to built from the ground up on a strong male toxic masculinity culture. How is a man supposed to seek out help from this power structure, when acts like that are seen as emasculating within that power structure? I would be very curious to see what kind of culture would develop in an all-female police force built from the ground up.

    In summary, I don't think men got the short end of the stick physically speaking. The invisible forces of culture and society though? They press in different ways where going against the flow can be overwhelming. And like I mentioned in point 2, I think this something that is perpetuated by other men more than anything. However, I am glad to face the challenges in point 2 today, rather than 30, 50, 100, or 500 years ago. That culture isn't something that is going away overnight but the antidote to me seems to be putting more women in positions of power and breaking down the toxic elements of the existing male-dominated power structure.

    16 votes
    1. joplin
      Link Parent
      For those, like me, who didn't know what this was, it stands for Premenstrual Disphoric Disorder. Thank you for mentioning it! This may actually come in handy.

      PMDD

      For those, like me, who didn't know what this was, it stands for Premenstrual Disphoric Disorder. Thank you for mentioning it! This may actually come in handy.

      8 votes
  9. [2]
    stu2b50
    Link
    There was an interesting paper on the role of percentage share of household income and spousal satisfaction. The name was Spousal Relative Income and Male Psychological Distress, and while looking...

    There was an interesting paper on the role of percentage share of household income and spousal satisfaction. The name was Spousal Relative Income and Male Psychological Distress, and while looking it up again I was once again reminded of how shitty the world of paper publishing is beyond compsci, where everything is free on arxiv. So in lieu of a link here are some quotes, mostly from the abstract

    Controlling for total household income, predicted male psychological distress reaches a minimum
    at a point where wives make 40% of total household income and proceeds to increase, to reach highest level when men are entirely economically dependent on their wives

    Finally, patterns reported by wives are not as pronouncedly U-shaped as those reported by husbands.

    ...

    Interestingly, the relationship between wife’s relative income and husband’s psychological distress is not found among couples where wives outearned husbands at the beginning of their marriage pointing to importance of marital selection.

    I think it does say something that in the study, husbands would rather be in dire economic straights as the sole-breadwinner than be in a fair economic situation while being completely dependent on their wife's income.

    The optimal point for male satisfaction at 40% seems to be balance between the natural stress of having a sole-income family and the need for "breadwinning" as part of your identity and pride.

    So back to the topic at hand, it seems that internal and cultural pressure to stereotypically "provide for the family" seems to be over-represented in the male psyche and can cause outsized stress when that role is encroached upon, even when that "encroaching" would seem to be a pure net positive (i.e being more economically secure).

    The study points at marital selection as a reason why this pattern doesn't seem to apply to couples wherein both partners had similar incomes to begin with, but I wonder if class isn't a big part of it as well. A hypothetical couple where both parties are college educated and come from wealth may not have the same properties. For one, people with that kind of background likely do not have poverty as the boulder that chases them. There is even the stereotype of the noble starving artist. Secondly, additional wealth and education can perhaps lessen the impact of gender roles as part of your identity. That shows up in the study as couples where both parties earn similar incomes at the get go.

    I mention that because the study surprised me, since I haven't noticed the same pattern among people I know, and perhaps that just because I'm in a bubble.

    13 votes
    1. TeMPOraL
      Link Parent
      The DOI of the paper in question is 10.1177/0146167219883611, and I'm hoping I'm not breaking the etiquette of Tildes by mentioning in passing that there's this site called SciHub...

      and while looking it up again I was once again reminded of how shitty the world of paper publishing is beyond compsci, where everything is free on arxiv.

      The DOI of the paper in question is 10.1177/0146167219883611, and I'm hoping I'm not breaking the etiquette of Tildes by mentioning in passing that there's this site called SciHub...

      8 votes
  10. [5]
    JoylessAubergine
    Link
    Can i reply to this because it sort of answers the original question and others have posted examples to your question.. If you ask a question and every, single, time, regardless of location you...

    I asked men the same question over and over again: What’s hard about being a man? Every single time I asked that question it was like I had just asked them if unicorns can swim.

    Can i reply to this because it sort of answers the original question and others have posted examples to your question.. If you ask a question and every, single, time, regardless of location you are met with the same deer in the headlights look you are asking the question incorrectly to get the answers you need. You dont say "well i asked an other group and they understood it" or "we need to educate this group in the language of X so they can answer my question". You reword your question so your participants can understand it.

    This probably isnt a popular answer but i think what is hard about being a man in "the west" on a macro level is that men aren't defective women but are largely treated as such by the feminist dominated gender studies, hence men's problems don't get treated in a way beneficial to men but in a way that women may find appealing. No one serious about these things would say "how do we get women to grow a spine to...", yet how many problems in this thread for example are reliant on men changing in some way to be treated.

    Using the doctor example further up. The questions shouldn't be long the lines of "how do we make men okay with showing their weakness so they go to the doctors", the question should be "why are men less likely to seek treatment at the doctors and what can we change that would encourage them to go". That may mean changing the system booking so they don't have to show their weakness to the receptionists, that may be changing doctors opening times, hell it could mean changing the paint at the doctors office, it may mean changing the law on mandatory sick pay, it may mean educating bosses on worker illness or their partners on how best to be supportive, it could be having high profile celebrities visiting the doctors, it may mean a dozen things before you tell the ones who are hurt by the current system to change.

    (For what its worth my Dad's GP changed its appointment procedure to an app, where you can book the time, give the details of your problem, how you would like to contacted etc. all through a messenger-like system and my Dad was more comfortable using it and so booked an appointment for the first time in years. Thankfully there was nothing serious)

    13 votes
    1. [3]
      eladnarra
      Link Parent
      Your example of allowing online appointments makes sense - I agree that we should make it easier for people to go to the doctor, rather than simply blaming them for not going. I do balk at the...

      Your example of allowing online appointments makes sense - I agree that we should make it easier for people to go to the doctor, rather than simply blaming them for not going. I do balk at the idea that men's partners should be the ones who learn to support them, though. It seems as if that removes the burden of change from men and just puts it on (mostly) women. Sure, caring for and supporting a partner is very good, but there's a long history of women shouldering a higher mental load when it comes to organizing day-to-day tasks.

      I can't speak for other folks, but it sounds like the changes that they suggest benefit men. For example, surely it feels bad to be so ashamed of weakness that you can't go to the doctor or talk about feelings with a therapist? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding your point... It just seems sad for men to keep feeling bad and bottled up instead of helping them find a better way.

      It's unfair that men have been brought up in a society that teaches them the wrong things. But we all have ways we need to change and unlearn stuff - for example, I had to unlearn ableism when I became disabled, because internalized ideas of productivity and worthiness harmed me. I had to learn how to properly communicate with my partner, because my parents and society at large don't generally model great communication. Etc.

      11 votes
      1. [2]
        JoylessAubergine
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I find your first paragraph a bit weird. Partners support each other. To imply that because women historically did more of the day to day organising of the house they now should be wary of...

        I find your first paragraph a bit weird. Partners support each other. To imply that because women historically did more of the day to day organising of the house they now should be wary of emotionally supporting their partner is, again weird. Would you say it "shifts the burden of support" to men to teach them that when women want to talk about their problems they are looking for an ear and not a solution? I think it just teaches men how to be better partners. Why shouldn't we teach women how to be emotionally supportive for a man, in a way that the man finds supportive. It would make for happier men, happier relationships and happier women, which is surely the end goal of all this.

        My issue is with the premise that men need to talk about their feelings and the reason they aren't is because they feel weak and ashamed. We need to stop assuming that what works for women is the "correct" way and will, or should, work for men if only men would change and accept the correct way. It's bizarre to me. We wouldnt use words like "fear" and "weakness" if women are reluctant to do something. We would try, where possible, to make women more comfortable without leading with the assumption women are the problem.

        If men need to talk about their feelings then we as a society need to research ways to make men more comfortable getting help. Buck up and dont be afraid to be weak is just another version of swallow your feelings and act how we want you to. I hate the word but it is the same toxic nonsense people claim to be fighting. There may be other forms of help that men would be more likely to seek if it was available but as far as i know there has not been any research in that direction.

        I agree that people need to learn better ways of doing things that are culturally engrained but that isn't simply be more like women like most advice and policy seems to be.

        9 votes
        1. eladnarra
          Link Parent
          Oh, emotionally support? I guess I don't understand what that looks like. You said "support" in your first post, so I imagined something like.... Doing the work of recognizing an appointment is...

          Oh, emotionally support? I guess I don't understand what that looks like. You said "support" in your first post, so I imagined something like.... Doing the work of recognizing an appointment is needed based on how he's acting, making it for him (or telling him to make one until he does), putting it on a calendar, reminding him the day of, etc. I would do a lot of that if my partner was having a hard time and asked, but if I was expected to do that in every relationship just because of the genders of people involved, that would be a shitty feeling.

          But it sounds like I imagined the wrong things. What did you mean?

          Otherwise I think I understand your point better. I don't really agree, but that's fine. I think the reason we're taking past one another is I don't think of "being able to talk about feelings" as an inherently female trait, just one that we encourage in girls and squash in boys when they're young. So as I was reading all the posts on this thread, I never thought the men in it were talking about acting more like women. They were just finding a way to be free from oppressive societal expectations, like women have (to some degree).

          7 votes
    2. culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      While I broadly agree with the rest of your post (and I'm positive the kind of assumptions you mention would be baked into the original author's perspective), I don't think this is very applicable...

      Can i reply to this because it sort of answers the original question and others have posted examples to your question.. If you ask a question and every, single, time, regardless of location you are met with the same deer in the headlights look you are asking the question incorrectly to get the answers you need. You dont say "well i asked an other group and they understood it" or "we need to educate this group in the language of X so they can answer my question". You reword your question so your participants can understand it.

      While I broadly agree with the rest of your post (and I'm positive the kind of assumptions you mention would be baked into the original author's perspective), I don't think this is very applicable here. The question isn't vague in any way, it's just broad... and I'd wager intentionally so, in order to not push her interviewees in a specific direction with their answers.

      5 votes
  11. [5]
    knocklessmonster
    Link
    All I've got are the top-level issues, but to be honest, that's only the stuff I've personally seen play out. I'll tell this story about my dad and come back to the question. My dad, when I grew...

    What's hard about being a man?

    All I've got are the top-level issues, but to be honest, that's only the stuff I've personally seen play out. I'll tell this story about my dad and come back to the question.

    My dad, when I grew up, was an odd mix of macho and sensitive for somebody with his background. He wanted me and my two brothers to be manly, tough, but decent. He pushed us into doing stuff that sucked at the time to my brothers and me to finish what we started, like a 3-mile uphill hike in the rain (with rain gear, he was misguided, not cruel). He regretted all of it later even if some of it (the hike) would be something we'd thought was overall good, looking back on it. FWIW, he never did anything to hurt us, or that was bad, he just had a tendency to push machismo on us because it was what he knew.

    Over the last fifteen years, he's taken a lot of time to think about himself, but he always tried to figure out how to be the best version of himself. He's put the pieces together for how he was when he was younger, how he was mid-life (like, through is 20s-30s), and now that he's pushing 60. He took inventory, and even talked to us about a lot of it, and how he understood what the phrase "toxic masculinity" meant because he grew up with it, and lived with it a fair amount.

    What was hard about being a man for my dad? Expectation. Men drank alcohol. Shot guns. Ate meat. Destroyed their bodies to make a living. He mostly quit drinking (occasional, rare binges), got rid of every weapon he had from the shotgun he bought in '92 to the collection of WWII knives his grandpa passed on to him (I have those under my bed now as historical relics). His other grandpa's pistol went to my brother (he was a union organizer in the 30s, so another cool piece of history). I think part of it was an overreaction to this violent realization, but he also needed to do what was best for him, and a large part of this was unburdening himself with the baggage his family and society thrust upon them.

    A lot of this is very top-level stuff, but it's the nature of the conflicts I've seen play out. I couldn't answer this question for myself. I don't know if it's that I'm not having a particularly hard time, not valuing myself in regards to my masculinity, or if I'm simply ignorant about any issues I may have. I don't think I've reached that level of self-actualization, so think it's the last point.

    If I were to try to answer the question, I think it's fair to think of it in relation to what makes it hard to be a woman. There is something of a binary to the expectations, and it all breaks down if one doesn't conform, which is arguably a major point of modern feminism. Some points:

    • Women are generally expected to be caring, loving, maternal, and emotional. Men have to stay reserved, provide for their family, and be physically strong.
    • What happens with a physically strong woman, or a father who can't provide for his family? Why do women have to be protected by men? Is a man less because a woman protected him?

    The only answer I've really got to the question is other questions. I'm sure something of a Socratic dialogue would ultimately reach some solid answers, and I think globally we're doing pretty good with it as a society, even if it occasionally leads to people throwing out their razors, or maybe precisely because it causes that reaction. I do think as things get better for women and non-binary folks of all types, it'll inherently improve for men. I also see the value in discussing these issues as men, with men, and even with other genders for outside perspective. The only way to fix it for men, or women, or non-binary folks, is to fix it for everybody more or less all at once, I think.

    12 votes
    1. [4]
      Grzmot
      Link Parent
      I think this is also a big reason why this breaking out of gender roles is different for men than it is for women. Women have fought (and continue to fight) for their rights globally, to be seen...

      What happens with a physically strong woman, or a father who can't provide for his family? Why do women have to be protected by men? Is a man less because a woman protected him?

      I think this is also a big reason why this breaking out of gender roles is different for men than it is for women. Women have fought (and continue to fight) for their rights globally, to be seen as people, as citizens, as employees and employers, to put it short, as equals. And naturally, a lot of this fight has been for more rights, for representation, for more power.

      Men in turn have to fight for their right to break down, to be weak, to ask for help. In a way, this means that we are losing our (apparent) perfection, this ability to stay composed, without emotion, in public. We'll break out of our shell of perfection to become more human, but in this process we have a lot more complicated questions to ask than Shouldn't I also be able to vote? because it's more fundamental than that.

      Of course for women this conversation is also ongoing, but because society teaches them (or forces them) into this role of communicators, where it's normal to talk about it, it's maybe easier (I can't say, since I'm not a woman). On the other hand someone else mentioned in this thread that women who thrive in their traditional role now get demonized because the modern woman is supposed to be emancipated, independent, etc. so maybe it's less of a discussion of gender roles and more of a discussion of societies' expectations of the people living in it.

      10 votes
      1. [3]
        vord
        Link Parent
        This got me thinking a bit (and I know this is a major tangent). I'm pondering if some of the opposition to various women+minority empowerment struggles is due to this idea that power is a...

        Women have fought (and continue to fight) for their rights globally, to be seen as people, as citizens, as employees and employers, to put it short, as equals. And naturally, a lot of this fight has been for more rights, for representation, for more power.

        This got me thinking a bit (and I know this is a major tangent). I'm pondering if some of the opposition to various women+minority empowerment struggles is due to this idea that power is a zero-sum game. That empowering some requires dis-enfrancishing others.

        And in some respects that is certainly true. Groups so powerful that they can suppress empowerment need to be disenfrancised. But beyond that, there is no theoretical boundary to how much power is in the world.

        Methinks too much dialogue (at least the dialogue that propagates quickly on internet and TV) around empowerment hones in on gender and skin color, and not actual power and abuse thereof. And thus (because it's quicker) dialog paints allies (or at least, non-enemies) with the same brush as the oppressors.

        If a white man is struggling to live at around the poverty line, and hear all sorts of stuff about how women and minorities are suffering at the hand of the white man, and that the answer is to take their power....that impoverished white man is gonna vote against the people saying that because they already feel powerless. I call this hypothetical person Bubba.

        Bubba in rural Alabama isn't the oppressor, but he'll certainly listen to the oppressors if they're saying the right words when Bubba is concerned about his own dis-enfrancishment. That's why Bubba is scared of BLM.

        Bubba indirectly powers the oppressors. So if you want to disenfrancise the oppressors, you must speak to the Bubba's to explain how/why the oppressors (and the oppressors views) are the problem, and not Bubba.

        8 votes
        1. [3]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. [2]
            vord
            Link Parent
            (As one of those Marxist-ish people) I absolutely believe in class reductionism. Because solving the identity-related problems is a lot harder when the upper class fuels the fires of bigotry. Yes,...

            (As one of those Marxist-ish people)

            I absolutely believe in class reductionism. Because solving the identity-related problems is a lot harder when the upper class fuels the fires of bigotry.

            Yes, the poor black woman needs more assistance than Bubba, but Bubba also gets ignored in the dialogue about power because he's slightly-less-fucked. That makes him a sympathetic ear when the right blows their dogwhistles.

            7 votes
            1. [2]
              Comment deleted by author
              Link Parent
              1. vord
                Link Parent
                And that's what the reductionism is about. Identity politics are important. They are less important than class ones. Hard to put out fires when someone powerful keeps throwing gasoline on them....

                And that's what the reductionism is about.

                Identity politics are important. They are less important than class ones. Hard to put out fires when someone powerful keeps throwing gasoline on them.

                And I find we mostly agree on stuff...at least on the broad strokes. It's when we get nitty-gritty ideological where things get hairy. And that's good discussion to have.

                6 votes
  12. Good_Apollo
    Link
    I think the question is a bit silly. Like women, men are in a gender role. We seem to understand these roles pretty inherently as a society yet we like to pretend they don’t exist at the same...

    I think the question is a bit silly. Like women, men are in a gender role. We seem to understand these roles pretty inherently as a society yet we like to pretend they don’t exist at the same time. When women rebel against them nowadays they get to call themselves a feminist and part of a righteous cause fighting the system of patriarchal oppression.

    Unfortunately men, still being chained to their gender role, don’t see this benefit yet. You will get negatively labeled and despite many women claiming they desire men who work against their gender expectations, I have always found the opposite to be true. There are many expectations it seems we just cannot escape. You are expected to be a man about things. You’re expected to just deal with things. A woman can cry and demand compromise. A man doing that is considered weak and selfish. The expression is “happy wife happy life” with no mention of how the husband is.

    Oh and nobody take this the wrong way, I am a feminist. You see I have to say that so I don’t get labeled. ;]

    11 votes
  13. [2]
    MonkeyPants
    Link
    A lot of life's largest challenges are gender neutral, especially in this day and age e.g. the loss of a loved one, lack of financial security, a wayward child. I think being a man is in general...

    A lot of life's largest challenges are gender neutral, especially in this day and age e.g. the loss of a loved one, lack of financial security, a wayward child.

    I think being a man is in general easier in this day and age. Less objectification and less fear of safety. No periods or pregnancy.

    There are unique challenges to being a man, which are mostly covered in detail by others.

    Paying attention during the school years is hard. Not pulling stupid teenage shit is hard. Remaining calm can be very hard.

    Failure at manly pursuits is hard (work/ home/ sports/ sex), even the fear of failure is hard.

    Crossing gender boundaries is really hard, even something as simple as being a stay at home dad is hard.

    10 votes
    1. Staross
      Link Parent
      Yeah, personally I don't feel there's that much about being a man that a woman couldn't struggle with as well. Some problems might be a bit more prevalent/severe but unless they pertain to...

      Yeah, personally I don't feel there's that much about being a man that a woman couldn't struggle with as well. Some problems might be a bit more prevalent/severe but unless they pertain to genitals (scratchy balls?) they aren't that exclusive.

      3 votes
  14. soks_n_sandals
    Link
    Something hard in my experience has been having to recognize what is "toxic" masculinity, de-programming those parts of myself, and then re-programming with something constructive. Most men will...

    Something hard in my experience has been having to recognize what is "toxic" masculinity, de-programming those parts of myself, and then re-programming with something constructive. Most men will need help with this, and the very act of asking for help can be paralyzingly hard as a man.

    Joe Rogan is a figure who I think fails at the first part of this, the identification of toxicity. He oversimplifies the push against toxic masculinity and takes it personally, and suggests that society doesn't want men that look like him: big, burly, physically strong, aggressive, and outspoken. That's not really true.

    Society is pushing for men to quit acting like James Bond in the old movies. That's the second part of this. De-programming the bad. To not jeer and harass women on the street. To not objectify and sexualize women perpetually. To talk things out, instead of just shutting down or waiting until something small becomes a huge issue. To be more patient, more accepting, and more empathetic. There are a litany of other things that could go in this section.

    To do this, and enter the third phase of re-programming, one must determine what parts of one's upbringing to denounce, and then how to learn it again. Men really need to help each other in this way. The question is how, though, when many men can't do it for themselves? How are they to find other men that can help them?

    One major obstacle is that men want to avoid being a "burden," even when that means sacrificing one's own emotional well-being through loneliness, anxiety, or depression. I went through a serious period of anxiety attacks when I would try to talk to my partner about our relationship and some past failures of mine. I fought feelings of worthlessness during college, even though my grades were fine. I fought loneliness when my partner moved cross-country, and many of my friends moved away at the same time. I never really told her about these things until it basically came to a head, because I didn't know how to broach the topic that I needed help. In men I talk to, I find the same issues. Even if we want to ask for help, most of us are afraid to do so, lest we be a burden. I don't even want to burden a therapist (lol) and it's literally their job to talk through stuff like this.

    I'm extremely indebted to my partner for basically holding my hand through the process of growth over quite a few years. I think most young men (read: 20-30ish years old) in the US are awakening to realize they are ill-equipped to handle their emotions. The women in my life, and those of my friends' lives, have helped us to bridge the emotional gaps left by our fathers, who did so much better than their fathers. In turn, we try to provide a space for our male friends that don't have partners to help them learn to handle their emotions. But we aren't professionals, and it's hard to bring a friend further than you've gotten yourself.

    Because asking for help as a man is so hard, it's valuable when a man you trust will guide you without you asking for help. That, I think, is a good first step in the hard task of building a society of better men.

    For those seeking additional resources for the challenges young men face, see the film The Mask You Live In. I was able to get halfway through, but couldn't finish it, because the pain and frustration plaguing the young men in the documentary were just too personal for me.

    10 votes
  15. [4]
    post_below
    Link
    So many replies, I think it's all been covered. I'll just add one thing I've noticed: If you're going to be a man, don't be short. In conversations about gender, especially about the unreasonable...

    So many replies, I think it's all been covered.

    I'll just add one thing I've noticed: If you're going to be a man, don't be short. In conversations about gender, especially about the unreasonable expectations society has for female beauty, I've often asked women how they feel about short guys. Well I don't always ask, sometimes they just volunteer the information. One had it on a t-shirt.

    The answer is, invariably, no thank you. They're okay with men being short as a concept of course, but they can't imagine being sexually attracted to a short guy. Yes, they get the irony, they don't want to be pre-judged for their bodies so why is it fair for them to do it to men, and still, no short guys.

    These are largely open minded, accepting women who hold as an ideal that attractiveness is much more than just physical. Sometimes they'll talk about dating overweight guys, or guys that aren't conventionally handsome, just not short ones. He has to be taller than they are, hopefully much taller.

    Of course there are exceptions, no doubt lots of them, it's just uncanny how many women feel this way.

    Throw in that most men don't learn to deal with their emotions and you get small man's syndrome. And it's not a small problem, Napolean was a thing.

    I love this thread, it's a good conversation to have, particularly the points a few posters have made about the expectation for men to be strong and stable (and the gut reaction of disgust that seems to follow when they aren't). And about the expectation that men should express less of certain emotions (and therefore never learn to deal with them in a healthy way). I don't think we can bring those things up enough at this stage.

    But without dismissing any of that, I also want to say: being a man isn't hard. Being human is hard sometimes, but if you're going to do it, being a man is easy mode. Unless, it turns out, you're short and attracted to women.

    Which I think is BS. If I was a woman I'd totally date short guys.

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      soks_n_sandals
      Link Parent
      Let me preface by saying this is from a US-centric point of view, but I'm not sure I agree with you that being a man is "easy mode." I'm not trying to be argumentative, but rather, add nuance to...

      Let me preface by saying this is from a US-centric point of view, but I'm not sure I agree with you that being a man is "easy mode." I'm not trying to be argumentative, but rather, add nuance to this. I don't disagree that there are myriad social consequences that make being a man easier. But there are other signals that when it's hard, it's really hard.

      Men commit suicide in the US at 3.5x the rate of women (2018 data). Of individuals, men make up 70% of the homeless population in the US (2018 data). They're a staggering 82% of the individual homeless population in Puerto Rico and Louisiana.

      I think these figures allude to the other comments in this thread that suggest society values men's lives less than women's. I'd say it's necessary (and fair) to address that being male affords societal privileges, but there a lot of issues that exist in many different contexts.

      11 votes
      1. post_below
        Link Parent
        Valid points, the suicide rate for men vs women (at least in the US) really is mind blowing. As you say, as a man when it's hard it seems that it's extra hard. Which we should recognize and talk...

        Valid points, the suicide rate for men vs women (at least in the US) really is mind blowing.

        As you say, as a man when it's hard it seems that it's extra hard. Which we should recognize and talk about. And I think most of the reasons why men fall through the cracks more than women are covered in this thread.

        The rest of the time it's still easy mode though. I don't mean that in an absolute way. Not crazy easier, just easier.

        5 votes
    2. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. post_below
        Link Parent
        Cheers to your queerest straight relationship!

        Cheers to your queerest straight relationship!

        4 votes
  16. entangledamplitude
    (edited )
    Link
    (anecdotal comments; can’t generalize across 4 billion people) I think it is hard to answer the question as posed because it feels very awkward/weird/wonky to even think that way. It is very...

    (anecdotal comments; can’t generalize across 4 billion people)

    I think it is hard to answer the question as posed because it feels very awkward/weird/wonky to even think that way. It is very difficult to articulate, but hopefully my comment can shed some light if you found the author’s perspective natural.

    (I dunno if this is actually any different for women, but at least as a man) One is expected to take responsibility and express agency (“What can I do about it?”) rather than putting on a passive/victim hat and complaining (“How am I being wronged?” or “Is too much being expected of me?”). No one cares, or rather, it doesn’t really matter, and that question is irrelevant... The idealized attitude is: “Suck it up & deal with it; do what needs to be done.” Never have I ever had a conversation with a bunch of guy friends about why/how being a man is hard. And doing so would feel immensely dispiriting. I can’t see wanting to do that. TBH, I also don’t perceive anything to complain about as “being hard”; it just is what it is.

    Taking a step back from the micro to the macro, I think that culturally, men are typically valued proportional to what they can produce/do (there’s of course a lot of nuance to what that means). There is very little “intrinsic/default value”. And I wonder whether this drive to produce (culturally engineered, if not innate) is probably the fuel powering a lot of civilizational “progress” over centuries/millennia — one is expected to accept being chewed up and spit out by the engine (and if one does well, one might get some corollary benefits too, such as wealth and status). The question of “what could be easier (gender-wise)” never comes up.

    9 votes
  17. [3]
    Tygrak
    (edited )
    Link
    First off thanks for this topic/question! I always love reading through discussions about topics like this. I think "men" as a single group is just far too big of a group to be able to answer a...

    First off thanks for this topic/question! I always love reading through discussions about topics like this.

    I think "men" as a single group is just far too big of a group to be able to answer a question like this nicely. There are some obvious things that can be hard for (cis-)men specifically, like specific cancers or other illnesses, even stuff like colorblindness that is far more common for men. But for other stuff, I think that trying to generalize "men" into a single entity just doesn't work. There are just too many different things a man can be like. We can say that a large portion of men struggle with something, but for each of those things there are many many men that don't struggle with that thing. If we get more specific those generalizations might be more useful - for example men in this age range, in this country. But still, that's useful only on a population level, not on an individual level.

    Everyone has their own problems. Everyone is a bit different. I don't think I am some perfectly unique snowflake, if you create a specific enough group, there are probably thousands of people that have very similar life experiences as I had/have and so might have some very similar problems. But still, I probably don't share most problems with most men. And most men don't share my problems.

    Oh but here's one thing I think is hard for men - being unable to be cute and unable to want to be cute. Again, I would guess most men don't really have any problems with this.

    8 votes
    1. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      You're welcome! Also, feel free to think of the question as having an implicit "in your experience" before it. I don't think any one man can speak for all men, but I do think communally evaluating...

      You're welcome! Also, feel free to think of the question as having an implicit "in your experience" before it. I don't think any one man can speak for all men, but I do think communally evaluating men's experiences through the lenses of individuals is very helpful, if that makes sense.

      7 votes
    2. Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      Okay I haven't been chiming in much but what??? Other men might not call you cute (well some of the gay ones might) but women absolutely can and will call you cute if you're being cute. You're...

      Oh but here's one thing I think is hard for men - being unable to be cute and unable to want to be cute. Again, I would guess most men don't really have any problems with this.

      Okay I haven't been chiming in much but what??? Other men might not call you cute (well some of the gay ones might) but women absolutely can and will call you cute if you're being cute.

      You're right that there's definitely pressures to discourage wanting to be cute, but I'd argue the recent femboy surge is doing good work to undo that nonsense.

      4 votes
  18. nerb
    (edited )
    Link
    The reason that men don't have an immediate answer to the question posed in the OP is because there's a hierarchy and power structures purposely make themselves invisible to those in the structure...

    The reason that men don't have an immediate answer to the question posed in the OP is because there's a hierarchy and power structures purposely make themselves invisible to those in the structure above. It's like a pyramid. The block at the top of the pyramid doesn't feel the weight. It's baked in. Gender is a construct that's used to exercise power, so it's more distinctly felt and internalized by those who are being governed using that idea.

    I would say that the "hard thing" in that respect then fall into two categories:

    1. Having your position threatened (any time someone criticizes a man for not acting manly, it's a threat that the tools used to oppress others could be turned against you too, but they haven't been yet.) Any man who wants to facilitate in changing the power structure will have this threatened against him - often by those who understand and see gender power structures most clearly (often women, surprisingly - but not always.)

    2. When those who live with gender constantly (non-male) won't move from a gendered perspective. It's "hard" to understand and live in the experiences of non-male individuals and it can be frustrating when things seem very simple from your perspective. IE: "why don't you just talk up more" might be advice you would want to give to someone who's complaining about being ignored at work. They say "no, that won't work." and you're frustrated because you're blind to what they face.

    5 votes