Man Up. A phrase I heard on different occasions when I was growing up. Luckily not so often from my parents, but from various people around. Most of the time it was used after crying for no big reason or for not going hard enough in sports. Sometimes it was meant to encourage me but either way it wasn’t helping.
I had to learn that I’m not supposed to suck it up, that I’m not meant to withstand every struggle I face on my own. For men in general this is something we have to learn. Or better: unlearn.
Unlearn that you’re strong, wise, or capable enough to achieve everything on your own. Unlearn that not talking would solve anything. Unlearn being the man you’re not.
There are so many (toxic) effects on our behavior resulting from how we were raised as boys that we find ourselves in this dilemma of what is me and who am I supposed to be. Often, we don’t even question the second part although we are causing discomfort to the people around us and ourselves.
So, I thought I’d collect some ideas to help men unlearn their toxic behavior bit by bit, assuming that we actually want to get rid of that macho personality. It can act as a helpful reminder for me and everyone else identifying as a man. This might be an incomplete list but maybe it can be a good starting point for some.
How to Man Down
Take criticism seriously
It’s easy to wave things off and say: “This has nothing to do with me.” Hear out criticism and try to understand the other person’s position. Maybe there is some truth in it that can help you grow as a person. Most of the time it’s not meant to hurt you. Especially not in romantic relationships where it is crucial to hear each other out and take concerns seriously.
Occupy less space
Remember that you belong to a group of people in the society that is more likely to threaten or harm others. Although you may not be the problem yourself or would ever harm anyone, backing off or changing sides of the street makes people feel more comfortable on the way home.
Offer seats in trams and keep your legs tight. You’re not the only one here. And society grew very tired of manspreading. In my (our) case, as I am a musician, I can check how much space men occupy in the industry. There is still a huge gap.
Let’s listen to, support, and integrate female and LGBTIQA+ musicians as much as we can!
Check your speaking time and topic of conversation
Who is mainly talking in the group and who’s the loudest talking? Does everyone get a chance to express their opinion? Is the topic interesting for everybody? If the answer is you or another guy in the group (or “No!”), let others take on from here and change subjects. It’s still a big issue I am recognizing in so many conversations.
Care about your (mental) health
Men are still more likely to die earlier than women. Men are also more likely to commit suicide than women. Part of the reason is they don’t see a doctor on a regular basis to check on their health or see a psychotherapist when suffering of mental illness. It is still a big issue for a man to talk about their feelings because it is not in their definition of being strong. But you’re not weak if you take care of yourself and talk to other people about your concerns or problems. It can actually make you stronger and develop your ability to handle your struggles. Find a good friend to share your thoughts. There are possibilities on the web to seek help when suffering from mental illness or feeling burned out.
Housework is work. And it feels better if you split the amount of work equally. Always look out for things to be done and participate early.
There are tons of more topics to discuss but this may help as a starter. Maybe you could see yourself in some of them and start to see how important it is to dismantle the idea of “Man Up”. It’s a too simple and degrading answer to a complex problem in the system of our society today. Let’s start to unlearn those habits and do more in taking care of ourselves and the people around us.
Kisses and hugs
Sascha of Soft Drug
Ps.: Here is a great read about the “Men and mental health“ topic. The numbers listed are UK based but it’s helpful nonetheless wherever you are.
Soft Drug’s Easy will be released 20th of May.