The masculine stereotype demands that men are healthy, strong, and self-sufficient. Admissions of weakness are seen as contradictions of manliness. Yet listen to these findings by Dr. David Forrester: · By age six, boys perceive themselves less vulnerable to illness and injury than girls.· Men experience more accidental injuries and coronary artery disease than women.· Men die more frequently than women from an array of respiratory illnesses.· A higher proportion of men suffer from physical limitations due to chronic conditions.· Men engage in more physical activities characterized by risk, aggression, and violence than do women.· The average women will outlive the average man by seven to eight years.· And yet, men see physicians less often, take fewer days off from work, and spend less time convalescing in bed than women! Men are expected to be rough-and-tumble, which exposes them to heightened potential for illness and injury. The expectation to be competitive and self-reliant discourages any admission of weakness or incapacitation. Therefore, countless men everyday deny their ailments, ignore medical care, and disregard time they need to recover from sickness and injury. Men, part of coming to terms with what it means to be a man requires coming to terms with your physical limitations and weaknesses. The myth that men are physically invulnerable is dangerous. Have you bought into this masculine stereotype?
Subject: Dynamos 7/16/06 #1
The myth that real men are sexual dynamos is widely accepted, and gets strong support in the media—particularly television and film. The man on the screen who’s perceived as truly manly is ready at the slightest sign of female interest, and the encounter is always a smashing success.
Guys, the media’s depiction of sex comes straight out of Fantasyland. In the real world, a man’s readiness for intimacy with his wife can be dampened by a number of factors: illness, a bad day at work, a good football game on TV, or a large number of other things. The man who compares his real life situation with the dynamos on TV may be tempted to panic and wonder if something might be wrong with him.
The myth of the perpetually ready, willing, and able male promotes deep feelings of inadequacy in many men. And when they feel inadequate and out of control in this area, the temptation to become angry is never far. In fact, some of the most violent men psychologists counsel are those who suffer from some form or another of sexual impairment.
For the vast majority of men these fears and frustrations are unfounded. In other words, relax! The more confidence and inhibition you have in this area of your marital relationship, the more you’ll see through popular mythologies. And the better you feel about yourself the less anger and frustration you’ll experience as a result.
Men in the farming communites of yesteryear counted on one another for everything. They helped one another build barns, retrieve stray animals, teach and mentor children, even bury and grieve deceased loved ones. The very survival and success of their community depended on the mutual caring and support of the men in it. But today’s man has been programmed to believe that caring, supportive relationships are largely the domain of women. In fact, men often look with suspicion at other men with close male friends. Yet in order to meet basic emotional needs, which are both authentically human and masculine, men need deep, caring relationships with other men. A man who doesn’t have at least one other man he can be accountable to regarding his failures, hurts, and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger. The angry man in our society is caught between mythical masculinity and true masculinity. He feels pressure to achieve, earn, conquer, and win—and to do these things as a “Lone Ranger.” Yet he also feels the need to love and nurture those he loves, and to be loved and nurtured by those who love him. Men, too often our attempts to reconcile these pressures in our lives are futile. Consequently, we remain perpetually torn between invincibility and vulnerability, between being aloof and involved. Take heart! Exposing myths and identifying problems is a tremendous move toward healing! We’ll move in that direction together in the days ahead.