The pressures of being a ‘man’


  • Be buff

  • Do not cry

  • Get a job, and be a provider

  • Pay for everything

  • Do not wear pink

  • Behave like you do not care about your clothes and appearance

  • Do not wear make up

  • Do not express emotions

It is quite difficult to list down all the obligations men are fed, since they were little boys. The patriarchy puts down every other gender, but also pressurises men to be so much more than just themselves. If any image of society’s perpetrated ideas are there convince you to fulfill a mere image, without a purpose, it must be categorised as a farce ideal. That ideal serves little to no purpose, except appearing a certain way, and representing a certain strength.

The psychical strength plays a huge part. It may not be untrue that a strong man may protect you, by jumping in the way of goons like in a Bollywood action sequence. But that assumes one thing:

Strong men would protect people and not use that strength to denigrate them. The understanding that you want to be able to protect a gender in the eyes of society, may be great. But unfortunately this mental understanding does not come from having a muscular physique, it comes from understanding the need to be helpful. A well built tricep does not tell you to go save someone in danger, the willingness to help does. Awareness and responsibility in our mind to help and contribute is a social necessity, and not a result of fitness.

Having that sensitivity and caring nature, is framed as the noble work women do as their matriarchal self. But it must not alienate men from their ability to perceive and feel too. Instead of teaching a man to buff up, teach every one to be kinder. Instead of teaching a man to be ‘masculine’, let us allow society to re-define that word to include human-ness.

Then comes the requirement of being a provider. It is no harm for any one to have a job. But it is pressurising if you are forced to have one, and provide for a family all by yourself. This is what keeps us from glorifying the duties of a stay-at-home-dad, as compared to a stay-at-home-mom. People may not accept any thing but the bi-gender norms already set in stone. But since every one is human, the provider needs to fulfill only a category i.e. of being a human.

Further this alienates the man’s ability to express. Psychologists say that this pressure of being a provider, and the ‘all encompassing strong man’, dilutes a man’s ability to express. In the past, it may have been hard to trust some one in control, who can not control their own feelings. But as society evolves we understand that expressing your emotions, is as important as expressing your need of food, or air. It reduces the biological stress on your body, and relieves you mentally – an action which should be ‘allowed’ for every one, and not a perceived privilege to non-male humans alone.

But doesn’t society want ‘the ideal man’?

Probably yes. But masculinity should not require you to hone only the talent of domination. All men may not take up this pressure, or feel it. It may never be required. However, this is what society demands of them, and is not fair to any one.

Questions like ‘Are you man enough?’ are even worse. Being a man is not an exam, that having a minimum percentage allows you to be ‘enough’. If all the other genders understand each others’ pressures, they must have a look at the man’s life too. Men may be at the top of the social pyramid, but yet experience intense burden. Probably freeing men of their need to be ‘masculine’ will allow gender norms to lax on others too.

It is only joint effort and understanding, that might allow society to spiral back and have a look in the mirror of man’s ideal self, which is not accompanied by being a stoic, or having a certain wallet size.

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2 thoughts on “The pressures of being a ‘man’

  1. Palak – Nicely written. Thank you for choosing to write about this! I am sure most men reading this will be saying – “Pressures?? What pressure?”. :-) It is time that all of us realize that at the core we are all human! The stereotypes that have been passed down over generations need to be broken and challenged.


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