In Man Box culture, we raise boys in a bullying dominance hierarchy. The result is millions of men who hide our authentic selves, do not express our emotions, and view caring for others as a means to an end.
The personal and professional interpersonal challenges this creates for all of us are innumerable. Men in Man Box culture vacillate between dominance-based “power over” behaviors and expressions of our more loving connecting natures distorted by a transactional mindset.
The rules of Man Box culture: don’t show your emotions, be tough, never ask for help, have power over women/girls, have lots of sex, talk about cars or sports, but never anything deep, be heterosexual, not homosexual, be a breadwinner not a caregiver, all add up to disconnection.
Boys are trained out of wanting close friendships. (See Niobe Way’s Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection) Once isolated, boys are slotted into our dominance-based masculine hierarchy. Caring for others is forbidden to us. Dominating others becomes the primary way to validate our masculinity.
The transactional distortion of our human, connecting side is a product of years of hiding all the aspects of ourselves that don’t fit the bullying rules of dominance-based masculine culture. We don’t trust our need for expression/connection, tenderness. Transactions are safer.
Courage for boys and men isn’t conformity to our dominance-based culture of masculinity. Real courage is seeking the knowledge of who we authentically are, what version of masculinity fits best for us. This is what good parenting can offer our sons. We can seek this in men’s work
A transactional view of intimacy isn’t only outward facing, it eats away at us inside as well. To not be able to give freely of ourselves is a terrible burden born of Man Box trauma early in our lives. Our authentic selves hidden away, suffocated under a blanket of self loathing.
We, as men, must have the courage to break out of Man Box culture, do our work and become who we are meant to be. We are born to be expressive, distinctive, joyful, care givers. We are born to give without the expectation of a return. All healthy humans do this.
Want to begin doing your men’s work? @mankindproject is one way. Therapists are another. There are books. We have the Remaking Manhood podcast available on all major steaming platforms.
Previously Published on Medium