Reshaping Masculinity—Part II
Last week, I took the liberty to examine what it means to “be a man” and what society teaches young boys to idealize in Reshaping Masculinity. Today, I want to delve a little further into the subject and touch on the negative impact it can have on young men and the double standard society has created for boys and girls.
As I said before, little boys are taught to internalize their problems instead of talking to a friend or parent about them. On the flip side, little girls are encouraged to be vulnerable and express themselves however they see fit. What is acceptable for little girls would get a little boy labeled a “wuss” or a “crybaby.” But why is this? What makes it okay for girls, but not boys?
Furthermore, young girls are taught to always stand up for themselves, against a male or female, it doesn’t make a difference. But if a girl was found to be bullying a male classmate and he took a stand and fought back, often he’ll be labeled as the aggressor just because our culture has taught us to assume that the male is always at fault when it comes to interactions between genders.
The fact is, sure, growing up is hard regardless of your sex, but society has created a network of support for girls through empowering female characters who teach them to embrace their sensitive side. Boys are not granted this luxury and, unfortunately, their tendency to push back and ignore their emotions can often lead to poor coping mechanisms and eventually mental health issues later in life.
Particularly in the teenage years, the fact that young men are taught to supress their feelings, countless cases of depression go unreported because it’s not “manly” to ask for help. Although diagnosed depression rates are far higher for females, studies show that teenage boys are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than girls. The public does not view signs of aggression in boys as a symptom of depression, which therefore contributes to the false narrative that boys aren’t depressed, they’re just angry, and that’s okay. As of a matter of fact, less than 33 percent of teens with depression get help, yet 80 percent of teens with depression can be successfully treated.
Of course, there is a myriad of non-environmental factors that can lead to mental health problems, but in any case, we should be encouraging boys and girls alike to express how they feel. With my debut children’s book, ‘Arise Little Man,’ I want to flip the script on the treatment of young boys. Much like our little princesses, they are our little princes, and we should be telling them this every day, just as we repeat it to our little girls.
My debut children's book is now available to pre-order and will be released next month.