James Brown may have sung, ‘It’s a man’s world,’ but let’s be real—being a man today is far from simple. It’s a layered experience that can sometimes feel like the emotional equivalent of a Linkin Park song: intense, complex, and fraught with highs and lows. While society often downplays the challenges men face, the reality is that masculinity is misunderstood in countless ways. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to walk in a man’s shoes—or combat boots, as it may be—stay with us. We’re about to unpack the 10 crucial aspects of masculinity that men wish the world understood better.
1. There’s No Stock Image of Masculinity
Some men prove their mettle by spending most waking hours at the office and accumulating as much wealth as possible. Others believe stay-at-home dad life is how a man demonstrates their value. Others chop wood. Some go snowboarding—many cook.
There’s no single stock image of what it means to be a man. So long as you handle your business, you’re a man.
2. Men Have Emotions
Every day, men experience a spectrum of emotional states—joy, anxiety, sadness, exhilaration, dread, and empathy. Just because we sometimes bottle them up doesn’t mean emotions aren’t there.
3. Many Men Feel a Lack of Belonging
When men compare themselves to guys they see on Netflix or Instagram, many see themselves as different. Many guys feel like a teenager in their angsty phase. “You don’t understand me!” – Every teenager to their parents, and every man to the world.
4. Masculinity Means Uplifting Others
There’s a cliché archetype of a man venturing into the wilderness on his own, chopping wood, hunting bears, and redefining the limits of self-sufficiency. However, there’s nothing more masculine than lifting others into the realms of success and contentment.
5. Strength Is Not a Given
Men are expected to maintain and project strength, as if being a man, by its very nature, makes someone strong. The truth is, maintaining psychological, emotional, and physical strength takes work.
When you see a guy with discipline, good health, and emotional restraint, know it’s the product of serious, prolonged effort. These states are anything but the default.
6. Men Don’t Consider Manhood All That Often
Occasionally, when we’re manning a saw or lifting heavy weights, it will occur for a fleeting second—an ancestral feeling. For the most part, though, men go through their daily routines with zero thought given to whether an activity is masculine or not.
7. Masculinity Can Be Non-Toxic
A bucket of masculinity, to some, warrants a hazardous material label. However, many men argue that masculinity is not intrinsically toxic. Toxic behavior is toxic, whether it comes from a man or a woman.
Masculinity can be protection, service, productive leadership, and civil confrontation of challenging topics. Moreover, masculinity can be decidedly non-toxic, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
8. The Concept of Masculinity Can Be Emasculating
The very concept of masculinity has caused men to feel inferior. Outsized caricatures of masculinity, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Davey Crockett, set an unattainable bar for the modern man to live up to.
Rather than comparing, men must view man’s men as ideals to strive toward, not points of comparison.
9. Every Man Is His Own
The Bible states, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers.” In addition, countless other parables, novels, films, and legends warn against holding one man accountable for another’s sins.
Men are responsible for their own actions, nobody else’s. So why does it sometimes feel like society believes otherwise?
10. Men Are Constantly Assessing Threats
It might be our biological wiring, but most men view the world through the lens of “what can go wrong will go wrong.” We’re looking for potential escape routes, observing that guy standing over there acting sketchily and gaps in our homeowner’s insurance policy.
Our inner catastrophizer can be an exhausting companion, but it’s one we’re stuck with.
This thread inspired this post.
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