The world has been known as a place where men always rule, but these days things are changing. In fact, women have a lot of power in our society. After the sexual revolution in the 60´s and 70´s, girls liberated themselves after decades of oppression. Women have been breaking the stereotype by playing strong roles in society and making important economic, social and political decisions. They have accomplished changing society, acquiring the advantage to have a double standard of being feminine and masculine at the same time.
On the other hand, men didn’t take too much from the sexual revolution. Boys are not allowed to be less tough or have a more passive role. Being sensitive or expressing emotions in public is something that men are still not allowed to do, because society will judge them as less masculine.
Everything starts from the family. Boys are raised in a different way than girls. The concept that we are all equal is not true. For example, even today mothers don’t teach their sons how to be householders, they keep these kind of lessons just for their daughters. Males are raised in a way in which position and financial stability will determine success in their life. It is very common that families will expect that their son will study a major that will give him a lot of money and, more importantly, represent masculinity. Engineering, medicine, business, and scientific-technical are the careers that parents want most for their sons. If a man wants to study fashion design or nursing, he will be very criticized. Yes, it is hard to believe, but careers still have stereotypes.
Women also have had a big influence on repressed male behaviors. Females are very sexist when it comes to males. Some mothers still raise their sons in a patriarchal way, in which a woman should be modest and passive and men very aggressive and active. It is not common to see a mom teaching to his son how to clean a house, wash clothes, or even cook. Males, the same as females, should know how to play both roles because in that way they can complement each other. On the other hand, those aspects that people consider as “feminine,” like cooking, cleaning, being sensitive and understanding others in a compassionate way, do not interfere with their manliness. Instead, this will help every man to improve his personal life and skills. Yes, women have been raising sexist children and after that, they complain about certain attitudes that they develop in the future. Changes not only should happen in men but also in women, to prevent sexist attitudes.
Talking about certain behaviors, it is known that from the time boys are very little, they try to identify themselves with another man. This is not a bad thing but sometimes the typical role models are not the best since they don’t teach what the real essence of being a man is. As an example, T.V. superheroes such as Batman, Spiderman or James Bond are not exactly the best role models of how a man should behave, specifically with the amount of violence that these characters promote. Boys observe men to understand how to act. Today’s society emphasizes that being courageous, hard-working, respectful, tough, and brave are positive qualities that every man should have. However, this message is generally misunderstood for boys and teenagers. The examples are everywhere; you can see that young men try to find respect through violence. Hard work becomes a way of dominance and abuse of power and courage turns into false pride and arrogance. It is like a brotherhood in a society that doesn’t really teach anything valuable.
So what is the best way to raise a boy to be a man? Don´t. In the same way that we don´t raise boys to be women, we should not put any labels on our children. We need to break the stereotypes and finally understand that every person is different, that men also have feelings and can be sensitive and there is nothing less masculine about that. Avoiding femininity, restricting emotions, strength and homophobia do not make a man.
Parents tell their sons not to cry or show what they feel, but feelings are tools that help you to confront everyday life and sometimes help you to relieve stress or pressures. Therefore, masculinity it is just a mask for those men that are very repressed and can’t show their deepest feelings.
The problem of homophobia is another issue in how boys are raised. We all know the reaction of a boy if someone calls him a pussy or a sissy. He will probably commit a violent act to demonstrate that he is not. Even mannerisms in men are criticized and judged by society. Apparently, a gender code has being created and everyone should follow it, in order to always show their “masculinity”. In our society, people relate being “feminine” with being gay, an assumption that it is not necessarily true. A man doesn’t need to behave as a woman or consider himself as a girl to be gay. According to the theorist D.A. Miller, male heterosexuality is defined not only by the desire for women but also (and more importantly) by the denial of desire for men. Therefore, homophobia has its basis on the fact that men should keep as much distance between themselves as they can. That’s why heterosexual men are constantly rejecting homosexuality, because being attracted to another man will mean that you do not completely belong to your gender.
Although this kind of behavior is changing in our world, it is happening very slowly. The closest “rebellion,” happened with metrosexual guys in the early 2000s. Metrosexual men have a strong concern for their appearance and lifestyle; they are not ashamed to be more “feminine.” The ambiguity of metrosexuals was a very big step in society, but the concept failed, because people concentrated on the fact that metrosexuals are very narcissistic and perhaps gay. The message that these guys are more connected with their feminine side was totally misunderstood and became something totally superficial. The whole “movement” was considered a type of fashion. Being a man more connected with his feminine side it is not a bad thing. Actually, women like men that are open with their feelings and are secure about themselves.
Perhaps we cannot change the mind of our parents and grandparents who were raised in a patriarchal system, but it is time for the new generation to wake up and start to let their children to be themselves. Now, we know that women have been redefining themselves in society, but real question is, where is the male revolution? It is time for men to look inside themselves in a more deep and critical way. The belief that being sexist and homophobic is good is no longer something to be proud of. Many men are ashamed by the behavior of other men but their silence is consider as validation, giving the appearance of approval. This is not anymore about being a man; it is the admiration and pride of being ignorant.