Now, this is a new concept for me and it was introduced to me from a friend of mine. She is a counselor who works with sex offenders. She was talking about how they use the information about The Man Box to help them. Now This episode is more than likely going to drift on the political a bit. This isn’t a political site. This website is men focused and meant to help men raise strong confident boys to they can be leaders in society. To do that we sadly have to get our political feet wet today. Again I apologize there are way too much politics and tribalism going on in the world today. When there is a line crossed I will take a stand. As a Man Should.
So I got to looking at what in the world the man box was. I came across the ted talk by Tony Porter which is the very first video that pops up on youtube. Now Tony started out as a child in the inner city. He talks about how growing up in New York he was taught that Men had to be tough, strong, courageous, dominating, no pain, emotionless except anger and no fear, men are in change which means women are not, That men lead and you just fall in line, Men are superior and women are inferior, Men strong women weak, that women are less valuable. They are the property of men.
Now he goes on and talks about his dad atone of his brother’s funeral, and how he held his tears in till the women left. He then progresses to a story about a girl name Shiela and his interactions with her. From here he digresses into the problem with the man box and the problem I have with the man box. Where he says that all men function in the deepest foundations or the man Box we inherently undervalue women which makes us see them as objects. This Man box is the topic of today’s discussion.
The biggest problem with all the studies I am about to talk about and it will be beaten in your head throughout this episode is that for people who hate stereotypes they love to stereotype when it fits their needs. Now again I do realize that that view is also a stereotype so this just proves my point even more.
What is the Man Box?
It is a perceived list of values all men are supposed to hold to. Now the “supposed to” is used on purpose because in this argument one side thinks that is how we act and the other side thinks how we don’t act. There are academic papers that are pushing this Man Box listed all over the place. There are studies about how The role of masculine norms and gender role conflict. There are studies about Toxic Masculinity The Man Box is also called Toxic Masculinity. This is where so many people get the idea of Masculinity as being bad, and we need to break the Gender norms and such instances as this. They are fundamentally wrong and we will get into these instances later.
Now according to Richmond College, The Man Box is described as,
A term that researchers use to describe the dominant form of masculinity in the United States at this time is known as Hegemonic Masculinity, which Mark Greene (2013) and others have described as the “Man Box.”
Now that Hegemonic Masculinity is a $10 word and I had a 50¢ vocabulary so I did look up and see what Hegemonic masculinity means and it is according to Wikipedia
Hegemonic masculinity is defined as a practice that legitimizes men’s dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of the common male population and women, and other marginalized ways of being a man
From what I see that is the common Alpha Male and Beta Male line of thinking. This is also an incorrect way to look at men.
Now the Term Man Box goes all the way back 40 years ago to an activist named Paul Kivel. His Wikipedia page isn’t very filled out so what is listed is.
Kivel co-founded the Oakland Men’s Project, a community education center focused on preventing male violence, and has been called “an innovative leader in violence prevention.
According to one study called, The Man Box: A Study on Being a Young Man in the US, UK, and Mexico
a rigid construct of cultural ideas about male identity. This includes being self-sufficient, acting tough, looking physically attractive, sticking to rigid gender roles, being heterosexual, having sexual prowess, and using aggression to resolve conflicts.
This is the primary study that I read through and this took a while because of the double standard and I could only handle it at short chunks because of the double standard.
The 7 Pillars of the Man Box
In the study the divided the man box up into 7 different categories and they are.
A man never talks about his feeling if he wants to get respect. Men should figure out their problems on their own.
If a man doesn’t fight back, he is weak. Men should act strong even if they are nervose or scared.
A man has to look good if he wants to be successful. Yet women don’t like men who fuss too much with their hair clothes and skin. And if men spend too much time on their looks they aren’t manly.
Rigid Gender Roles
Men should earn the money and women should stay home and take care of the kids. Boys should have to learn how to cook clean or take care of kids. Husbands don’t have to do chores
Gay men are not real men but it is OK to be friends with a gay man. (Yeah figure that one out)
Real Men should have as many sexual partners as they can and never say no to sex.
Aggression and Control
Real men use violence to get respect. A man should always have the final say in a family, and they should know where their girlfriend or woman is at all times.
Already you are seeing the flaws in the man box theory. First, they destroy their argument in the Homophobia category.
Yet let’s look at some other problems men are in other studies.
Boys are more likely to take risks and partake in risky behaviors.
Yes, boys take more risks and the competition of being the best is in all of us.
They are more fearless
Boys like to show off yet women too like to show off in their own natural way.
You have to be successful
We all want to be successful. Men are more likely to take the risks needed to have their own business.
Engage in watching pornography more
Now, this is a problem. I agree. I am starting to look at what porn does to a man’s way of thinking. And I am starting to see what Pornography does to a man’s thought process. But it isn’t an objectification of women like many people want to think. Yet it does take away the connection to your wife if you are married. Yet I would say we need to look at why men turn to porn in the first place.
This is the natural inclination to stoicism men develop. This is a skill that men require not to turn their emotions off like a switch but to set their emotions off to the side until there is a proper time to process them.
There is a problem with both sexes in that they will run from uncomfortable emotions. They will bury then so that they don’t have to experience them. This does cause problems and this problem is again in both sexes. This is where much of the problem of overeating comes in to play, along with alcoholism and drug addiction.
Have higher mental health problems
This is going to have some finger-pointing. I believe this is from many of the outside influences on the boys as they are growing up. The schools treat boys as if they are broken girls. Boys are not allowed to be boys. There is a fundamental difference between the two sexes and all of the postmodern deconstructionism that is going on in colleges these days adds only more mental health problems and confusion. Attacks on masculinity as being bad adds even more fuel wind to the tempest. There are no healthy debates going on. There is way too much tribalism. All of this has stifled real men and boys from being able to have healthy talks.
Trying to fix something that isn’t broke only breaks more stuff.
More prone to bullying
This is an increase across both sexes. This has gone on for centuries. Is bullying a problem? It can be but if you can teach a boy to be stoic and let him understand that each man has the ability to disarm the bully by using confidence. Any time you stand out from the crowd people is going to try to pull you down. This is called The Tall poppy syndrome. I talked about this in episode 23.
I also see bullying as a normal rite of passage. It does strengthen you for life. You will face assholes all along your journey you have how do you deal with them? You have teachers who will not like you you will have upper-level managers who see you as a threat. You will have people who will delight in making your life hell. How do you deal with this normal everyday occurrence? You learn from them.
One of the best ways to teach confidence for kids in school is to help them learn that they have power. That can mean that they have to bloody a bully’s nose at some time. That is actually a good thing it teaches the bully that their actions are not accepted and that you never know who you‘re messing with. So get your kid into some type of martial arts. They learn to fight when it is needed.
Lack of friends to talk to
Look at young boys they make friends at the drop of a hat. This skill is lost as we get older. Look at 45-year-old men they may only have 1 or 2 close friends. This on their head it isn’t because men can’t have friends it is because we get caught up in the grind of life. Helping our families. This is a problem but it isn’t strictly associated with men I know many women who have only 1 or 2 close friends.
Will stand by and watch
This is a societal problem. Not only do men stand by and let injustice happen but I see just as many women standing to the side with their phone’s camera out and recording.
What are men in reality
Men actually do the following
We protect those close to us
We do stand up for those who are our family. If the need arises we will fight. We will resort to violent actions. We may not want to but we will. This is why men go to war. They believe in a cause and are willing to put their lives on the line.
This is where many of the Man Box categories are actually put to good use. War is risky so when being raised up this is why boys take more risk. We naturally train ourselves to do fearless activities. It shows us that 90% of the time we won’t actually die from being uncomfortable.
We have the needed aggression to do the hard work. That aggression is also used so that we go after what we want. We don’t give up just because something is in our way.
The lack of emotions that these studies find also helps in protecting our families. WE do have to act in moments of fear and high stress. When loud explosions are going on around us we have to know there is a time and a place for everything and paying attention to the amygdala on a battlefield will often get you shot. This is called Stoicism and it is a good thing for men to have. So we aren’t just standing in the middle of a crowd boohooing.
Men serve their community
WE have friends and working or running a business is serving the community. We have to take risks to run a business. We can’t succumb to fear when making a business decision because it will most likely be the wrong choice.
Men provide for their family
This is us reaping the rewards of serving the community. Life is a set of transactions and that sounds cold to many who think capitalism is wrong but it is a fact. You cant receive unless you give. This goes with respect, Having a wife, having friends, and having a business.
Without many aspects of the Man Box, you cant have a stable society. These social constructs have been with us for many millennia. They serve us well and they are there for a damn good reason.
Now I will say i agree with Tony at the end of his talk. Because in all reality I am doing a lot on this site to do what he thinks needs to be done to fix the Man Box. He stats that is it ok to not be dominating. It is OK to have feelings and emotions. It is OK to promote equality, it is OK to have women who are just friends, That it is ok to be whole.
That is what I do on this site and this podcast. If you go through and look we talk a hell of a lot about emotions and what they are and why they are good to have. Equality is always something we all strive for real equality not to sacrifice one persons rights gifts and give them to a different person who someone arbitrarily feels needs more rights and special help. We all have the ability to be successful. And there would be more success with less victim mindset. When we have the stoicism and integrity in your life you can have women as friends.
Other Relaxed Male posts about Toxic Masculinity