Saturday, May 28, 2016

7 Toxic Male Expectations and the Forgotten Ideals

Apparently cartoons and TV shows conveyed male expectations that influenced me as a kid.Groan. I tuned in daily to watch G.I. Joe in the 80’s. It raised me well. At the end of every episode one of the characters taught a “knowing is half the battle” lesson. Practical examples about escaping from a burning home or treating a dog bite were taught. But, I also learned about being a man in a good way. The various characters (yes, even Lady Jaye) taught about daring, teamwork, and even getting past stereotypes. These simple messages gave me something to reach for; ideals a real man (or a “real American hero”) could achieve.
When it comes to masculinity, it’s good to have role models and ideals to aim for. But, expectations are a different ball game. What’s the difference between male ideals and male expectations? One inspires men to become better men and the other causes men to feel less-than and ashamed when they don’t measure up.
Much like trying to dead lift a semi, living up to manhood expectations is straining. In fact, “the strain model postulates that cultural standards for masculinity exist, and that socialization encourages men to attempt to live up to them. This process can have three types of negative outcomes for individual males: (a) long-term failure to fulfill male role expectations…leading to low self-esteem…(b) successful fulfillment of male role expectations, but only through a traumatic socialization process with long-term negative side effects; and (c) successful fulfillment of male role expectations but with negative consequences because the prescribed characteristics (e.g., low family participation) have inherent negative side effects.” In other words, a lot of toxic negativity comes from male expectations.
Maybe I’m just an optimist, but I’d like to think some of the unspoken rules of masculinity began with good intent. Some say gender roles evolved out of a need for men to control and dominate women. I don’t think so. I’d like to say they were based on something noble, but things went south at some point. It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch, right? Some good expectations still exist (i.e. it’s not ok to hit a woman).
I’d like to propose that male expectations are but a shadow of decent male ideals we should all aim for. Here are 7 Toxic Male Expectations and the Forgotten Ideals:
male expectations
1. Brute Strength: When we consider strength as an ideal male trait, we generally consider physical attributes: a masculine guy should be a beast in the gym, a good fighter, or able to perform death-defying acts. If this is you, congratulations, but we have to look at strength beyond the physical. Character strength is also difficult to achieve and honorable. The strength to overcome physical or emotional obstacles is something we should all applaud. Another ideal is self-restraint…
2. Cold & Distant: In an on-demand culture, discipline is quickly becoming a lost art. Instead, the rigid, emotionless male prototype has evolved. If we could step back in time for a moment, we’d find men who were willing to wait physically and emotionally. These men were willing to sacrifice their immediate desires in return for a hopeful future. At one point technology didn’t exist at all.
3. Entitlement: Today’s expectation is expectation. I’m all for declarations, affirmations, and vision boards. But, demand has come too far. Many guys have high expectations without a work ethic to back it up. Whether it’s a class grade, a work bonus, treatment from others, or even sex, many guys want their appetites served up-front. The missing ingredient? Honoring others. We do a great job of taking care of ourselves, but how about honoring her physically, honoring process, honoring a good work ethic?
Can we get back to gratitude? In the past, gratitude was the honor and respect you gave to elders. After all, these men and women paved the paths you now walk upon.
4. Marriage by a young age: Recently, while promoting 10 Ways to Win A Girl’s Heart, someone asked me,
“How old were you when you got engaged?”
“I was 37.”
“Oh,” they said. “So you waited later in life?”
No, I waited for the right woman. I waited on God’s timing.
Commitment is an ideal for every man, but I have friends who live in shame because they are 30 or over and single. Marriage is amazing, but only if you marry the right person. It’s ok to hold out for the right one.
5. Wealth: Women are making just as much money, if not more than some men today. But, I know guys who don’t like the idea of their wives or girlfriends making more income than them. It hurts their “manly” pride because they feel they should be the main financial provider.
Provision encompasses much more than being income rich and “bread-winning.” How about providing a safe environment for dating? How about providing strength of character during distressful moments? How about providing a good and healthy home? These are ideals more important than simply making money.
6. Cockiness:  Women are attracted to confidence. But, when so many guys lack it, girls will compromise for cockiness. False confidence is better than none. Wrongly, some men feel they need to be jerks and act arrogant to get a girl. But cockiness develops out of shame. True confidence come from self acceptance.
7. Aggressiveness: Guys are expected to be bullish when they find something they want. In effect, some girls don’t feel comfortable going to the gym or even the grocery store. Girls don’t want to be hounded, they want to be pursued. But not like some firework you’d see on July 4th (a grand display that quickly sputters out). They want to be sought after with intentionality. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Knowing is half the battle: When you pinpoint the ideals you’re aiming for, the likelihood of your actions becoming toxic is minimized. The question is, what kind of man do you want to be? If you could write the story, how would you become the real American hero?


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