How Exhausting It Must be for Men, to Always be “Man Enough”

Justin Baldoni Man Enough

In his Ted Talk address, actor Justin Baldoni pointed out that he is tired of always playing the role of being “man enough”. Men are so caught up living in the shell of the image created thousands of years ago, that they fail to see that keeping up with the masculine image is very exhausting. But if we take this in the cultural context of our society, why is it important for men to be a man enough?

The fear of social rejection

Baldoni in his TED talk “Why I’m done trying to be ‘man enough'” talks about how he had to make a choice between living up to the image of masculinity or expressing his vulnerabilities and get socially outcast. The idea of masculinity disseminates through cultures and generations across the world. Acceptance or display of vulnerability is considered a feminine trait.

The masculine image young boys are fed on not only tells them to be aggressive and stoic it forces a belief in them that everything feminine is deplorable.

Most men don’t shed the image, despite finding it difficult to keep up, simply out of fear of being socially outcast.  Men label those who are willingly exploring their emotional side as weak. This fear of social rejection pushes many men down the path of toxic masculinity. A poison that makes them detest anything that is feminine, be it a pink shirt or a public breakdown.

The failure to connect

The pressure of being a man does more than giving men a tendency to be aggressive. It makes them completely inaccessible both to expressing and accepting emotions. They are unable to express fear, pain, depression, sadness and even happiness, not just in front of women, but in front of other men as well. Men can talk about politics, sports, films, philosophy endlessly, but the minute someone wants to discuss emotions, they crawl back into their manly shells. Or maybe, it’s the shell that draws them back in.

This escapism partly roots from the fear of getting infected with sentiments themselves, and from not knowing how to react.

Men around us carry the burden of the image the society expects them to live up to. Refusing to accept that there is indeed a way out. They do not realise that by not helping each other, they are letting themselves down the path of cultural regression. If they continue on this path, then our boys will go back to being the cavemen that they were.

We do commend the men for standing up for women’s rights, and criticising violence and patriarchy. But unless they stop chiding each other and using the phrase ‘man enough’ as a dare, in every wrong context possible, we are far from ending gender stereotyping.

As Baldoni said in his TED Talk, ‘I am not saying that all that we have learned is toxic. But we need balance. And the only way things will change, is when we take a real honest look at the scripts that have been passed down to us from generation to generation’.

Also Read : Federer’s Tears on Court Dissolves the Constructs of Toxic Masculinity

Picture Credit: tiny.ted.com

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own