One of the things I like to talk about on here is the concept of masculinity. The concept of being a “real man” is one that’s caused no end of distress, anxiety and out and out pain to well-meaning men. Trying to live up to the societal construct of “masculinity” is in many ways a rigged game; it’s almost impossible to be a “real man” because of how fragile the concept is. Anything from your build to losing your job to – I shit you not – using the wrong lip balm is grounds for having one’s “man card” revoked.
I’ve written quite a bit about how damaging toxic masculinity can be for men and women, and why we need to move past it. But it can be hard to do so when you’re not entirely sure what masculinity means when you’re not following one stereotype or another.
In fact, one of my readers sent me a message about this very issue:
I hope you can help me. I am firmly in your target demographic: I am thin, not manly at all. My mother passed away when I was a kid and as a result I think I tend to seek the favor of women because throughout my life I’ve felt more kinship with women and, for lack of a better term “beta males.”
I believe in equality (I’m half black/half white so I have a somewhat unique perspective on the subject as it pertains to race relations) and I feel because of that I was particularly vulnerable to the Jezebel, Tumblr feminism school of thinking. I ended up being involved with a girl who left me to get back with her ex, a guy who had previously refused to be exclusive with her. (It was her dating me that finally made him agree to be exclusive.) I was pretty devastated.
After that, I became interested in the “manosphere” and, for lack of a better term again, was “redpilled.” After several months and feeling as though I’ve cooled off, I find that the redpillers have made me feel that unless I’m working out every day and earning a certain amount of money, no woman will even look at me.
So feminists make me feel like I’m a monster and MRM makes me feel like I’m a cuckold beta shrimp who should probably kill himself and make more room for people who aren’t a waste of oxygen. After seeing the two extremes, I can’t find my sense of what the truth is. Please help.
CW’s anxieties aren’t uncommon at all; I hear a lot from people who feel hemmed in by the strictures of what a man is “supposed to be” and the stress that comes from not measuring up. So let’s break down some of these worries and talk a little about how you find your own masculinity.