Challenges for 21st Century Man
Notions of Manhood
Recently, I read a comment online by a man who said, “Its not so easy to be a man in the 21st century.”
As I thought about his comment, it occurred to me that it’s not often we hear men speak like this. Women on the other hand, are much more comfortable talking about their experience of being a woman. The question of what it is to be a 21st century man can be complicated by several factors:
- Exposure to modern and historic male stereotypes
- Individual masculine role models
- Cultural, community, racial, familial and religious influences
Notions of manhood in the 21st century can be confusing to many men. Traditional male roles were often were linked with strong leaders, breadwinners, and the accepted notion of men being the head of the household. This type of thinking, while still prevalent to many, has been challenged steadily over the past 50 years particularly in the West.
Change is an inevitable factor of life and benefits all of us in ways that fixed or rigid thinking doesn’t. Notions of men being in charge of and responsible for women and children are gradually changing throughout the world. Universally, these changes have been kick started on several fronts through legislation for equality in education and in the workplace. Most modern thinking men – and particularly those born after the mid 1970 ‘s, are more likely to accept these changes as the way forward.
Men often struggle to find a place of acceptance in this fast-paced changing world and internally may be asking themselves the following questions (the answers they give themselves will be as complicated and confusing as the questions themselves);
- Am I acceptable as a man?
- Will I be seen as less than a man if I . ?
- Will she/he/they like the kind of man I am?
- Am I getting this right as a father/husband/employer/employee?
- Am I manly enough?
Questions like these can impact on men’s self esteem and erode self worth.
Women give themselves permission to talk about being women almost every day. As a consequence women feel less restrained about discussing the issues which impact on their self-esteem. Women are also more like to talk about their life issues to friends and family or seek personal counselling. While men often say they don’t or can’t talk about their personal feelings to others, evidence says men that do experience significantly less emotional stress.
The ability to talk openly particularly with other men is key to freeing men up from the restraints they often feel about their own notions of manhood.
When men follow fixed ideas about manhood they limit their potential to embrace change or to accept their own individual notions of what it is to be a man. More importantly, men may rob themselves of their true potential as they struggle to maintain the status quo of maleness.
Join Susie Carr in a one day workshop about Self Worth for Men.
Susie is an experienced trainer and facilitator of men’s groups and men’s issues. In this workshop Susie facilitates conversations between men about self worth and what it is to be a man in the 21st century. Group numbers are limited to provide a relaxed atmosphere in a safe and confidential setting.