3 Lies Men Believe

In 2009 F-1 began as a handful of men meeting in the living room of a small apartment in Pasadena to discuss the ideas of masculinity, manhood, and what all of that really means.  To talk about things men are uncomfortable discussing.  We went on an adventure into the wilderness, exposing what we’d been taught growing up.  Little did we know that in 2010 we’d grow, and then in 2012 we’d expand to the Pasadena Library Auditorium.

That is where the F-1 journey began.  But that is not where my journey began.  F-1 isn’t where I decided to question manhood, masculinity, gender issues, the emasculation of ourselves, and the entitlement some men believe they have based on their gender alone.  And by question, I simply mean looking beyond the veil we’re led to believe is the truth.  Peeking behind the cardboard image we were brought up believing men should be.  Daring to defy the media adds that tell us what being a man truly is.  Or daring to look our fathers in the eye and challenging their knowledge.  Perhaps, they didn’t tell us everything.  Perhaps there is more than meets the eye.  Perhaps they did their best, as most of us have attempted, but perhaps….maybe….they might not have had the answers we needed as boys growing up.  Or maybe some did.

I imagine my generation wasn’t much different than most where we were handed our gender roles slathered in cardboard cutouts of super heroes and marketing bombs, peppered with the expectations of the previous generation.  For the underdeveloped, obese, or smaller younger boy, you were fit into the pecking order forcibly.  And unless you excelled extraordinarily physically at something, you were made example of.

Flash forward to post high-school and early college, my collection of experiences forced me to look beyond the veil.  To look at the fruit of the tree.  These “men” who taught others and myself through the hazing of boyhood, I began to examine.  The actions didn’t match the message and I saw this, and wondered why no one said a thing.  Or maybe it was just me, maybe I was the only one who thought, “There must be more.”

This journey would turn into over a decade of research and self-exploration with a few nervous breakdowns along the way.  From that the Man Myths would be born, which a program F-1 has successfully taught in seminars for over two years now. It has allowed men to peek behind the veil and if they’re honest with themselves, to see the areas we’ve been misinformed.  I began teaching this because I lived and bought the lies, desperately trying to survive the man path.  I would later find it is the path less traveled.

With that being said I want to introduce you to some typical lies men are led to believe.

Doing Masculine Things Makes You A Man:

men-fishing

Growing up if you were into physical sports, fished, hunted, hiked, and walked with a certain swagger you were on your way to being a man.  Hunting, fishing, and sports more appropriately so.  If you lifted weights and made fun of the weaker boys, you were well on your way to being a real man.  But what if you enjoyed the more effeminate traits like art and music and enjoyed the picturesque qualities of nature rather than ravaging an animal with a live round of ammunition?  Well, we simply didn’t talk about it.

So am I saying the, “doing man things” isn’t “manly?”  Not at all.  Am I saying it is wrong to enjoy those stereotypical “man” things like watching sports, doing sports, hunting, fishing, etc?  Am I saying you’re buying a lie?  Yes and no.

THE LIE: 

Here is where we are lied to; many of those things are masculine in their own way.  Some of which I feel in my own DNA.  I’ve loved boxing, wrestling, fishing, and camping since I can remember.  I love it to my core.  They bring a certain feeling of masculinity, and I believe provide an aspect of masculinity that I simply enjoy.  So the question is, doesn’t that make you in some ways a man?  Again the answer is yes and no.

Yes, because masculinity, within itself, in its many forms and traits, makes up our manhood as we mature into older, wiser, men.   And no because we often buy the belief that if something seems manly, then it makes us a man.  We confuse the feelings of “doing something manly” with true manhood.  It couldn’t be more backwards.

THE TRUTH:

The truth is doing things is simply just doing things.  It is the construction of an outward appearance.  We know that our eyes deceive us, and in knowing this, we also know the eyes of others deceive them too.  From early boyhood we begin our construction of what a man is, what our “man avatar” should look like.  And if it constructed well enough, everyone will believe it.  If doing those things made us “real men” then how come I see so many grown boys doing “manly things” under the guise that they are “real men?”

This is where the veil becomes uncomfortable and I get a lot of guys saying, “Well I’m a man and I love doing those things.”  Yes, I know.  I do too.  I know many MEN and many BOYS who love doing those things.  But they are just things.  And each has their own special part within each of us.

For me, it was camping with my grandfather and experiencing his unconditional acceptance. Then we’d watch nature simply live as we would spend hours in silence by a campfire enjoying each other’s presence.

Here is the other part of the truth; gender roles are being shattered as both the feminine and masculine definitions are being re-examined and explored in their entireties.  From the time I was a pre-teen until now, I have seen a multitude of women rising up in the sports arena, the hunting arena, the fishing arena, and pretty much all arena’s where men felt that is what made them men.  In a survey I did of over 80 women, when asked how they felt doing sports that are normally considered “man” sports I got words like, “Valiant.  Courageous.  Impactful.  Brave.  Alive.”

Having Masculine Things Makes You A Man:

monster truck

Growing up, boys had G.I. Joes, and girls had Barbies.  Boys had cars, and girls had stuffed animals.  Boys had action figures, girls had dolls.  Boys had footballs and baseball bats, and girls had…Barbies.  Boys had cars and girls had….again..Barbies, with an occasional easy bake oven which I secretly wanted because I LOVED cake.  And I still do.

Getting older, men have trucks and sports cars.  And girls, well no one really says anything about what they drive.  But men have to have masculine vehicles, clothes, status, and things.  Your appearance has to send instantaneous messages to the other males that you are definitely a man, lest you be outcast by the tribe.  Your purchasing power is dictated by the advertisements that simply state, “All men buy this.”  From cologne to beer and hair products it is shoved in our face.  And guess what, we eat it like it is the last meal on Earth.

THE LIE:

Let’s first ask the question; can objects have a masculine quality about them?  Sure, why not.  But another question can be asked; how much masculine quality are you putting into these objects.  After all, they are just objects.  A car is just a car.  A suit is a suit, and shampoo is shampoo.  But what happens is guys see these things as masculine, and in reference to the previous lie, are fooled into believing that Masculine Thing = Manhood.  It is an equation that haunts all of us.  We’ve been taught to believe it.

A while back I went to a party a friend hosted.  One of his other friends knew I taught on men’s development and masculinity and saw me pull up in my car.  Now, my car is nothing special.  I drive a little black 4-door that gets decent gas and is pretty low-maintenance.  He saw me pull up and in an attempt to make awkward conversation, and jab at the fact that someone who teaches on what real masculinity is, isn’t driving something more manly, said to me, “Your car is really manly.”

I looked over at him, and said, “Um, well I don’t know how “manly” it is, but it’s paid for, so…I’m not sure what you’re getting at.”  And again he said, “No, I’m just saying what a manly car you have.” To which I responded, “Well, I suppose it could if I put any amount of my personal masculinity into it, but I don’t, so it’s kinda pointless.”  He walked away after that.

THE TRUTH:

I have seen guys put steel balls on their trucks.  Some to be funny, others to show how “manly” their truck is.  The meatier their vehicle the better.  I’ve interviewed men who say, “I wouldn’t feel like a man without my truck.”  At this point the association of what we were taught and the feelings of being emasculated bubble up.  Take away the masculine object, and we’re exposed for who we are in our rawest form.  Naked, confused, and feeling betrayed.

Want to see a guy get aggressive? Then begin challenging his masculinity on a surface level.  Studies have shown the levels of aggression associated with the male’s perception of being emasculated on a surface level, when in actuality only an object or surface quality is being challenged.  But it’s the perception that makes all the difference.

In this TED Talks, Tony Porter talks about this.  He also talks about how as boys, to be emasculated in front of other boys is devastating.  Utterly devastating.  On another note he mentions how we’re taught that girls are weaker, and being compared to one is hurtful and emasculating.  This too needs to change.

The truth here is material objects contain pretty much zero masculinity.  Disagree?  Then let me ask you this, if you put your masculinity in a truck, what happens when it is taken away?  What about other objects?  What then?  Do you have to then put it into something else to replace it?   What if you can’t?  Along the same paradigm, I believe if your manhood is put into an object as part of your identity, then it can be taken or destroyed the same as that object.

Real Men Are Not Emotional:

soldier-crying

This one is still a common believe with men.  I’ve seen guys treat their sons different than their daughters.  Not allowing them to express their emotions.  If you are born a male you are expected to be “strong” and to hold those emotions in.  Crying or showing any form of emotional distress is considered weak.

If other boys see you show this you are called a cry baby, a girl, and outcast from being considered one of the strong.  We are taught to build a wall of non-emotion under the guise that we are being strength for other people in times of duress.  But in truth we’ve bought the idea that men don’t cry and men are not emotional.

THE LIE:

The amount of dysfunction and poison that stems from bottling up your emotions is like a spider webbed windshield in your life.  It will tarnish everything.  It is a lie because of the simple fact that we are human.  And humans are emotional.  There is no way around it.  Don’t believe me?  Be in hard sales for more than a few years.  People buy emotionally.  Even if it is practical they still buy out of emotion.

For years I was in the insurance/investments industry and as an agent I had to do workshops, seminars, and presentations to farm clients or close a client to get them into a product.  Every presentation was peppered with emotional triggers.  If you weren’t aware of how it was done you would fall prey to it.  But that’s sales.  That is how products are bought and sold, on an emotional level.

Even marketing is centered around human behavior by triggering emotion or compulsion based on emotion.  It works for men just as much as it does for women.  To put it simply, it works on people.  We are emotional creatures. We are human.

THE TRUTH:

Google psychologist and doctor’s reports on the effects of bottling your emotion and see for yourself the results.  There are a slew of psychological and even physical health problems that can occur for bottling up how you feel.  But still most men will sacrifice their overall health to “be a man” in the eyes of those around them.  These issues include not being able to feel other emotions such as anger.  Stress related anxiety and problems properly communicating or expressing with other people.  Health issues such as ulcers, migraines, bone density depletion and the overproduction and release of cortisol in the body.  Look up the byproduct of too much cortisol in the human body and you get the idea.

Years ago I began the study of body language and obsessed a bit over it.  Took a number of classes and one of the beginner teachers said, “The body cannot lie.”  Meaning, you might be able to say something other than what you are thinking or feeling.  The same works for your emotions.  You might even be able to bottle up that emotion, but your body will put it somewhere.  It will find a way to display it.  If you cannot let it out in a healthy way, your body will find a way to let it out in an unhealthy manner.  That is just how we are built.

Bottling up emotion for the sake of manhood is a double edged sword.  On one end it teaches young boys that you cannot express how you feel emotionally in a healthy manner or you will be considered weak.  In turn teaching boys that anyone who expresses themselves is weaker….like girls.  And it perpetuates the misogynistic idea that women are the weaker species and will be treated that way.

We must be willing to abandon the idea that our strength as men is mostly physical and external.  If we do not, we then throw our young boys to the wolves as we have been doing for centuries now.  Women are just as strong as men.  Even if some strength looks different than ours at first glance, it is strength nonetheless.  But when you examine closer, and get down to the core, true strength has always came from within.  And it is the same.

As you look at the lies we men believe, be willing to look into your own life.  But know you can change and give other men something to think about.  And here is a bit of overall truth; “Manhood” is not a quick fix pill you can take.  Mature masculinity comes from years of discovery, exploration, defeat, failure, perceived weakness, and understanding.  It stems from the heart and moves throughout the rest of the man’s spirit.  And on a final note, a mentor once told me, “Real men have nothing to prove.  To anyone.”

Be well, and we hope to see you at the F-1 seminar on Nov 20th at the Pasadena Library Auditorium with special guest speaker, Kalani Vale

 

M. W. Larsen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *