RGM Blog 8 – Shaming Vulnerability in Men

We live in a society where gender roles are strongly defined and have the influence to shape our opinions. One of the most damaging gender roles for men is that they are taught that vulnerability and showing emotions makes them weak.

In reality, vulnerability and expressing emotions is a very important aspect of interpersonal relationships and self growth. The gender stereotype that men must not show their negative emotions and instead keep them bottled up, can be very detrimental to both the man and our society as a whole. Shame is a very powerful emotion and motivator and men are shamed often for not acting “manly” enough, or not lining up enough with our society’s predetermined definition of masculinity.

“The number one shame trigger for men is being perceived as weak. Men walk this tightrope where any sign of weakness illicits shame, and so they’re afraid to make themselves vulnerable for fear of looking weak.” More information about shame and its societal effects on men can be found in the article linked here.

This kind of shaming can have a variety of consequences on the man and his life. Not only will society look upon him poorly because he is not adhering to the societal gender norms that our culture perpetuates, it can affect his health and personal life greatly as well.

“It is the external and internal suppression of men’s desires and aspirations that contributes to epidemic levels of male anger and reactivity, male depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce and suicide.” More information on the effects of suppression in men can be found here.

Not only are these health effects very negative for the man himself, the problem can become much more far reaching. When a man turns to violence as a solution for his suppression, it can affect his family and friends and even have an impact on society itself.

It is important that we become more aware of this problem and work on being more tolerant in our own lives and as a society. We all experience hard times and negative emotions and should be free to share those with our friends and family without fear of shame. If our society became more tolerant on this issue, I believe we would see less violence, depression, and alcoholism in men, as well as a variety of other positive personal and societal effects.


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