What Men Dare Do! "O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"

9Jan/110

Not Conforming to Gender Stereotypes

Conforming to gender stereotypes is pretty silly.  What if a dude doesn't like football?  Or maybe he wants to knit?  Or maybe he likes going to his kids' plays more than their sports games?

Society impresses upon us that there are certain things "real men" must like and do and things we simply cannot do.  We cannot enjoy dancing.  We can't care about our appearance a lot.  We have to act certain ways, and there are things we can and cannot say.

Men aren't really allowed to talk about their feelings.  Men aren't really allowed to have feelings, beyond some certain base ones (e.g. horny, rage, anger), and certainly nothing nuanced.  We're allowed to have relationships with other men, but we can't really talk about emotions with them.  We're not really allowed to bring guy friends together with girl friends (other than to hook up).  A lot of men would say you can't even have "girl friends," since all women are romantic/sexual objects, ultimately.

Isn't that incredibly limiting?  Isn't it insulting and degrading?

I don't mean to get too preachy, and I don't want to push the rhetoric too far when I say that feminism can be liberating for men, but it's capacity as a tool for self-advancement is powerful.  When you can see how society has molded your own personality, your patterns of behavior and even your friends around expectations of gender conformity, it truly can be eye-opening to break free of that kind of gender conformity.

Now as I've written in the past, I think there's positive things that men are expected to conform to.  But be it in shredding the bad or embracing the good, I find that I live much more intelligently and with much more self-respect when I've made those choices, rather than being forced into them.

So if you need another reason to be a male feminist, here it is: buck society's gendered expectations of what it means to be a "man," and be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do, but do it because you want to do it.

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