Oh you didn’t think I was dead or something did you?
This is one of many parts in the ongoing series of working on being a man.
Okay if you’ve been reading my “Working on Being a Man” series you know I’ve been talking about the various items that need to be addressed in regards to being a man in this crazy world we have. If you haven’t then take a moment to at the link above to the previous entries. Today time I want to talk about pain.
As most people know we as men are expected to not show or acknowledge pain under any circumstances. To do so is to be considered a sign of weakness. Well the thing is when you really get down to it what we end up with are not men who do not feel pain or are somehow immune to it. We end up with men who simply suffer in silence. (And this is not just limited to the mind and soul. I’m talking about the body as well.)
When having it drilled into your head that you are weak if you show pain and that weakness is the antithesis of your very existence (because in some people’s eyes if you have a male body and aren’t a “real man” then you are nothing) you are very likely to conclude that in order to validate your manhood you have to put your pain aside. Not actually cope, examine it, or otherwise deal with it. Just put it to the side thinking that if you simply don’t talk about it or bring it up it will go away and vola, “I am man hear me roar!”. The obvious problem with this is that when subscribing to this script of manhood we never truly learn how to deal with our pain. And that can be very dangerous.
When it comes to men committing acts of violence (against themselves in terms of suicide/attempted suicide or against other in terms of assault/dv/rape/etc…) I wonder how many of them were overwhelmed by burdens that they were told they had to bear but for some reason or another could not. (And by all that is holy please don’t waste my time by trying to tell me I’m trying to justify their actions because I’m not.) I wonder how many of those men tried to live by the script and at some point realized they were not measuring up to what a “real man” is supposed to be and decided to lash out over their “failure”. I think working this out is an important step in trying to help men. To help realize that a man is not made or broken based on some set of rules put in place by the Kyriarchy and reinforced by society. We can’t be expected to free ourselves from the bonds of the male gender role while at the same time being told we just need to “get over” our pains.
What I think the hard part of this is going to be is how to get men to realize that we don’t have to suffer in silence and getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk. Now I know to some of you that last part may sound weird. It probably sounds weird because in your mind men don’t need help speaking up because of male privilege (and if you think male privilege mitigates away our harms and pain then to the devil with you). Well let me ask you something. If men are so privileged then why do people proceed to flip the fuck out when we say something that is real but not politically correct? If I talk about how attractive Julianna Margulies and Vivica Fox are and one bats an eye but if I start to go into how I was picked on by girls in school and people think something is wrong with me.
If men are going learn how to actually deal with pain in a healthy manner we have to assure ourselves its okay to acknowledge our pain. Acknowledging and dealing with that pain will make us all better men.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have a major decision to meditate over.