What are the effects of pushing the narrative that our young boys must always be STRONG and MASCULINE?

So often there are pressures from parents, family, friends and society for our young boys to be strong and masculine. What do you believe are some of the effects on our young boys of this narrative being pushed?

15 thoughts on “What are the effects of pushing the narrative that our young boys must always be STRONG and MASCULINE?

  1. As a black male in education I am highly intrigued by this topic. I do however recognize that in this era of political correctness it is extremely touchy and at times, even dialogue on the matter feels like a trap. My first thoughts veer to an episode of “Atlanta” when PaperBoi is on a talk show and is affronted about his personal view that Caitlyn Jenner is NOT a superhero. Everyone (in a democracy) is entitled to their own opinion.

    With that said, I agree with many here that there are pros and cons to masculinity. In modern day, when gender roles as a concept are being attacked, it would seem that the idea of masculinity is threatening to some, but it has a place and IS important. No, not every family needs to follow the prescript of a man as the “head” or “breadwinner” but I believe that most heterosexual relationships still follow some form of the status quo. I have rarely found a straight woman who is attracted to, or interested in an effeminate man. If the ideal is a heterosexual relationship, then there are certain desired roles- a man who is solid, supportive, confident, reliable, responsible AND strong. All of these things in their own right show strength. This is not to say that women cannot have these traits, but it is generally prevalent and expected in men. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this and I agree with these concepts being taught to young men. An example that my single-mother ingrained in me is that, “as a man, your word is your bond.” [integrity]

    Ironically, most of my conversations about this have been held with females. I think the level of influence women have in the matter is unfair. Just as it isn’t a man’s place to tell a woman what to do with her body, it isn’t a woman’s place to teach a boy to be a man. This is a double edged sword because unfortunately many males in the African American community are raised by single women, trying to teach them how to be a man. In most of my experience in these conversations, the women immediately jump to “toxic masculinity.” I think this is a very real issue- the idea that boys or men can’t be vulnerable or show feelings. In fact, during conflict I often find myself shutting down rather than expressing myself. While this is certainly not appreciated by most women, I think most guys can recognize and align themselves with this. Some may even say it comes natural. I think many lessons are observed by young men that show them men take, dominate and don’t feel. These ideas are problematic and can lead to a host of other issues; however, these are extreme cases. I don’t believe that strength and masculinity are inherently bad, but when learned without concern for the other side, it can be.

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  2. There’s a phrase we use in activist spaces to describe what happens to a young boy when he is told what a “real man” is: we call it “soul murder”. Everytime we tell a boy to stop crying/man up, he becomes afraid of vulnerability. That part of soul is crushed. When we consistently tell a boy he’s gonna be a player or a heartbreaker, we groom them for toxic relationships and murder the part of their soul that WANTS to love and be loved. When we tell a boy he’s not a man for liking certain things, we socialize him into being what the world wants and not his authentic self. And then when that boy grows up and becomes the man we had always been pushing him to be, we blame him!

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  3. So what kind of masculinity are we pushing are young people towards I guess is my point. The more modern view may allow them to be better people with skills that allow them to coup and succeed.

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  4. I feel like I could talk about this topic for days.
    Masculinity can look like many things. Yes there are classic perceptions of what it means to be manly. However is that the only way to be a good man, a good Black man, good Hispanic man, good Indian man, etc.

    Boys learn in part by watching and emulating the men in their lives (family, friends, teachers, etc.). When the men in their lives demonstrate patience, dedication, compassion, integrity, thoughfulness, intelligence, dependability, selfcare, etc those attributes will be considered masculine to them.

    When I was younger, early 20s, this was considered the heaviest of weights, being someone for others to possibly look up to, while I still considered myself to be a kid in many ways.
    Years later this responsiblity to my community and younger people in my life has defined the man I am today and frequently reshapes what it means to be a good black man.

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  5. So if I’m being accepting and politically correct. I believe in pushing “boys”(or whomever what’s to be considered a boy). But my definition of “strong” and “masculine” and based with in 4 things:

    1. Keeping your mind right. Basically continuing to educate yourself on the things in your life; school, your job, hobbies, news, skills, etc.

    2. Maintaining your sexy. Personal appearance is very important. One of the 1st things a person sees every day is themselves. So with that being the case, if you’re happy with the way you look ,that gives you a better chance to be happy with yourself that day and every other day after. So workout, keep yourself properly groomed, etc.

    3. Know what you’re saying. A man (anyone really) will earn a lot of respect from people when they are a person of integrity. And one of the keen aspects of integrity is a person who stands by what they say. If you say your going to do something “do it” and that doesn’t mean just trying it for 5 min. Take the hours of effort it means to pursue something. Your words are often the one and only thing outsiders have, as an insight to who you are as a person. So if you can stand by your word, that you will most likely have you seen as a person who can be respected and is about their business. No one likes a bull shyt artist.

    4. Be a gentleman. This one may actually be the only sociaty based “male” point I have. But I think it separates the “boys” from the “young men” or “fuck boys” from “grown men” (lol). But anyways this part is the culmination of the 1st three I said earlier, and it’s about being courteous to those who warrant or deserve it. Key word is warrant. I hate seeing elderly ppl struggling in public areas; absolutely shameful. Get your behind up off that seat and let that person sit. But holding doors, saying “ma’am”, etc. Those are all courtesies that make this world we live in feel better and I think it’s important to do.

    I came up with these 4 points as a young adult and used to teach them to my nephew and make him recite it when we lived together. I think it’s important to continue to have mantras and stuff like this because if we don’t instill this kind of stuff in the youth, we are forced to hope they find it on their own. Because it’s the finding stuff on our own that ideals and statements like “must always be strong and masculine” get confusing. Like in this case, being strong and masculine alone doesn’t make you a man. So if we are teaching boys to be men, then they need to know all that encompasses being a man. Which does includes always being strong and masculine but so, so, so much more.

    It’s funny in thinking about this topic, one of the phrases that came to my mind was when my best friends mom said: “I think it’s beautiful to see a man cry”. That should be a contradictory statement because crying by itself is weakness. But when its associated to a man it can’t be. And I stand by the word “can’t” because when you are a man you will cry, you will fall short, you will need a hug or a gentle touch on your shoulder for support. All of that is and will be a part of your life. But the key to me is being a MAN. Because when you’re a man, no matter what you do, you will always have the respect of yourself and peers. So yes always being strong and masculine is very important, but so is apologizing, not bottling up your emotions, having resources and people to talk to about things, walking away from situations, etc. These are also just as important and what men do. So that is what I believe should be taught to push young boys.

    #StepsDownFromSoapBox

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  6. I think the pros are the lessons they learn in being strong and developing as leader of a household or amongst their friends to where it inspires those around him. As ideal as this sounds though, the cons overshadow it greatly when the narratives changes to showing feelings is a feminine thing and makes them less masculine. It negatively effects their relationship with their partner and even the path they go down in life. They have to portray this image of being this super tough guy, the beats people up if they’re disrespected or looks at them wrong, etc. I rather hang out with my boys then lay down and watch a movie with my girl so they don’t make fun of me. The approval of others is a hell of an influence in making sure they have this certain image and I hope over time they learn to balance that feeling. Be yourself, be a MAN…BUT don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and express how you really feel just so others don’t think of you differently.

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  7. It’s imperative to have strong black men in our communities to lead and be strong examples for our young boys and the only way to do that is to teach them to be strong and masculine. This doesn’t automatically negate them from having an emotional side and expressing those emotions but it should be a healthy balance. There is an agenda to demasculate our boys to prevent procreation so its important to protect standards and traditions thats in place.

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  8. There are positive and negative effects of the narrative being pushed that are at times most damaging and at other times bringing great reward. I feel like the constant push blocks the room for emotions and connections that are vital to just plain sanity and also growth to love, let go or go harder. It can build a distance which makes it difficult to mature.. then at that point whatever the issue is or arises it’s met with the inappropriate tools to deal with whether it’s aggression or not…… but at the same time it’s so crucial for young boys to get that strength so they are able to fend for themselves and face the tough challenges in life. Especially for young black boys, who are faced with double if not triple pressures of the time. Nothing compares to having Mom and Dad or the WHOLE village in the child’s life from which the balance is given where we can be receptive and taught to nurture and love but in the same moment or second breath Fighting and Providing with leadership quality..

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  9. I believe it is very necessary to push for our young men to be strong and masculine. Especially like some people have said, there are certain agendas and messages being pushed in todays society that diminishes that part of the male upbringing. Men are essentially the head of the household and the leader of the family, so those traits are very much needed. However, with being taught to be strong and/or masculine, there also needs to be a balance where boys or young men are not condemned for expression of emotions and It isn’t looked as “weak” or “gay”. So many of the young men I service have experienced trauma due to loss or abuse or witnessing some type of violence and in their world they are taught to be “tough” or “strong”. They aren’t taught or even given the space to say they feel anything like “sad” or “hurt” or “scared”, or express any emotion that makes them, in the eyes of society, look anything other than “Strong” or “masculine”. So they then develop displaced emotions and take those into relationships where they can’t make connection or can’t accept or give love and things like that…. All that to say, with the lessons of being strong and masculine, there also needs to be lessons of positive expression and emotional management.

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  10. Well…….I have yet to meet a woman….who wants squishhy unmanly man…..who didn’t cheat on him with strong manly man!…….The effect of pushing this weak and sensitive man mentality on a growing boy is that he will spend the rest of his life wondering what could have been, and why the girls always go for the strong man!

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  11. There are benefits and disadvantages to the narrative that our young men must be strong and “masculine.” I think teaching strength and “masculinity” inherently pushes our young men to understand that they have a responsibility, specifically to their families or their partners. I think sometimes in pushing that narrative we miss an opportunity to discuss with our young men the importance of also being responsible to their respective communities or environments. However, the downside is that our view of what it means to be strong or masculine often bars people, especially young men, from experiencing the full range of their emotions, stops them from seeking proper guidance on internal and external conflicts, and just stunts their emotional growth. I think we have to start having more conversations around what strength can look like without placing gender on it.

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  12. I think it’s very important now more than ever to push for young men to be strong, MASCULINE, young men because they are growing up in an era where the “gay 🌈 agenda” is being pushed on them through laws, school, television/entertainment, to see it as normal. NO, I’m NOT homophobic and idc what niggas do with their dicks, however, I am raising a son in a different world that I grew up in where schools are now introducing same sex education without parental consent, Disney movies and cartoons have gay characters, a celebrity announces he’s been gay and hiding it and then he’s celebrated like a civil rights hero because he like man butt. Smh. To each their own but it’s being forced in our faces to be accepted as normal. It’s not. We all know human anatomy and why each sex has what, to procreate LIFE! Know what else is normal? Testosterone!! Which is a hormone men were given by God or whoever you believe in to possess this masculine traits they’re now trying to frown upon. They want niggas soft.
    *side note* If you don’t believe there is an agenda, THERE IS. Being brief, it’s to demasculate men. (specifically African American) Why? I’ll sound like a conspiracy theorist but idc 🤷🏽‍♂️😂 because I think it ties into the same reason the coronavirus was CREATED and RELEASED. DEPOPULATION!! I have a lot more to say on the subject but out of respect to my friends platform I’ll stfu up now. 🤐😂 Stay MASCULINE tho my niggas! 💪🏽

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  13. I have to say that being strong isn’t the singularly a male trait. It’s all well and good to groom men to be the head of household but doesn’t it then hold that women cannot be the head of a household and family unit too? And that the only way to show strength and be leaders is to be “strong” and “hard”. Unfortunately, by pushing the narratives that young boys of color must be stoic and emotionless when surrounded by a sea of troubles, it leaves them without an outlet to express any pain or fear they might be feeling. When we feminize the ideas of sharing the load, of being vulnerable, it can make them devalue their own emotions and that of others in order to not be like a girl or a woman.

    What does this do to their relationships? It can lead them to always stuffing their feelings down in order to not appear weak or woman-like; you ignore your feelings long enough, it can cause those feelings to explode or erupt in other ways. The only way to counter that narrative is to allow boys to feel their emotions openly, rather than tell them not to cry, not to show any outward demonstrations of their feelings. The culture around openness and communication has to change across the board before boys can feel comfortable being vulnerable. In that way, the household can be one of sharing; where each partner is strong in their own way and hopefully pass that on to subsequent generations.

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  14. Okay so… Pros: it allows men to be strong, dominant, and does not minimize their masculinity. It teaches them to lead as the head of the household when the time comes.
    Cons: They detach from all emotions, crying, fear, romantically…they feel like showing emotions is a sign of weakness when it’s not, and it can be an issue in an intimate relationship. Women need to see that they can tap into their emotions. If anything, it makes them stronger and not weak.

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  15. I definitely believe it can have both good and bad effects on a male. The good is that with the idea that they have to be strong and masculine, it indirectly teaches them to be responsible for their homes and teaches them that they are the ones that their family will depend on for leadership. The bad however, i believe, is that they may end up building this wall that is difficult to tear down. A wall that discourages emotional support, therapy or even just a space to express and communicate their feelings. Because now, they feel like the world is on their shoulders and is depending on them not to be ‘soft’ and talk about their challenges or weaknesses or mistakes. They become over concerned about ‘looking’ like they have it all under control.

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