First, a man plays a role, then the role plays the man.
«Men don’t cry!», «Big boys don’t hold their mommy’s hands!» – the gender role programming follows our children at every step. Numerous trite phrases (sometimes truly ridiculous phrases) create strong boundaries that predetermine our behavioural stereotypes for the whole life. Virtually any imposed stereotype denies the men’s right to emotions and sensibility, the capability to respond to their feelings. Expressing these feelings is considered to be abnormal, and a sensitive child is offended with labels. For example, it is totally normal to be worried about the risks to the health, but society presses on boys and forces them to go in for the potentially dangerous sports. If a boy refuses to put himself at risk, everybody would think he is coward and weak.
The unfortunate consequences of the tough social pressure are the limited person’s potential, violated integrity, narrowed the perception of reality. This is the root of the myth about the «soul mates» – people should seek for the qualities they lack in their partners.
The often repeated direct (or indirect) instructions determine the destinies of the boys. Let us review the most popular taboos and remarks and how they affect the men’s future.
«Men are always right!», «Don’t be a milksop!», «You have to take care of everybody!» – such remarks make a hyper-caring man from a boy. A kind of Atlas, he holds up the Earth on his shoulders. A man should care about the everyday life, vacations, wishes and future of his household folks. Sometimes he would engage someone only to once again support his belief that no one is capable of coping with his tasks.
As he grows old, such a man becomes an abrasive person. He would not communicate with his children (but for their financial addiction). In order not to feel emptiness, he needs to be treated with respect and admiration.
«You deserve the best!», «Do not be open to women!», «Woman’s beauty is the most important thing to a man!» – such programming is rife in advertising using the image of a perfect woman to boost the sales. The illusion casts the reality into shade: men would search for perfect women for their whole lives. One by one, their favoured ones would prove to be younger and younger, as women of their age would not live up to the perfect image due to the age-specific changes. The problem is the beauty of the youth cannot fill the emotional void. The divide between generations, the difference of opinions and the lack of experience encourage those men to keep searching.
«Don’t be cute!», «Do not think – just go ahead!», «Life is a competition!» – a man instructed in this way pays much attention to his body and sports. The rest of his personality sides such as the intelligence, sensibility, intuition and spontaneity are left behind undiscovered. His kindness and naivety are not fully recognized as people believe them to be the signs of a narrowed mind.
«Take is easy!», «Don’t emote!», «Think with your head!» – a man who follows these formulas becomes emotionally voided. The way he writes down and calculates, plans and systematizes everything in his life kills any relationship. Unfortunately, society supports this scenario, particularly at school. The encouragement by way of giving marks, the way how teachers and schools management praise children and parents tend to feel pride for them persuades the children that this scenario is correct, so they grow up fast losing the joy and spontaneity.
«Trustfulness is a fool’s errand!», «Don’t relax!», «Women are the second class!» – a man with this kind of attitude cannot be good to women. He works with men, prefers to make friends with unmarried men, his hobbies engage no women. His disrespect to women originates from his findings about his mother, the way his father used to treat her. Even if he creates his own family, he fails to keep it. Eventually, his inability to express his feelings openly, to trust and open his soul destroy the family. A man of this type cannot be helped for he does not trust a psychologist with his emotions and his friends live in the same scenario.
Actually, the mentioned scenarios are exaggerated and averaged. In most cases, two or three scenarios are combined. But it does not mean that the person is doomed to move in a circle of mistakes unable to get out. Please think over the way you speak with your children and how your words can affect their future lives. Do not be selfish, do not sculpture them to live your lives!
Author Anna Kulinich
Translator Nataly Bondarenko
Original text Мужские роли или Убийственная сила слова