What’s a guy s’posed to do?
Is masculinity dead? Are all men bad? Why does it feel like sometimes all males are accused of being sexist misogynist creeps? When society and feminism started questioning the harmful roles and stereotypes assigned to women, we also began looking at masculinity – and it didn’t look great.
While feminism has highlighted many problematic male stereotypes, it is not meant to mark the end of men or masculinity. In this three-part series, we present men giving their takes on what it can and should mean to be 'a good man' today...
Part 1: Ryan McKelley
Dr. Ryan McKelley, shared an early experiment from the 13th century where infants were denied social interaction. The nature of the study was to find out what language would naturally develop without influence from a caregiver. However, the study failed because all of the infants died.
Study after study has shown that social isolation is a risk factor for development of disease. It highlights the importance of social connection for mental and physical health, yet the stereotype is that men are less capable of emotional connection than women, notes McKelley.
McKelley suggests otherwise. Studies show when men's physiological responses to emotional stimuli are measured, their internal experience is similar to that of women.
McKelley wants men to do away with the mask. Sometimes emotional restriction is necessary, but it doesn't need to be the default mode, he says. He challenges men to eliminate phrases like "man up" or "stop acting like a girl." They should understand that opening up and being vulnerable is courageous. Taking small risks to open up will give them a broader experience of all of their emotions and allow them to make deeper connections.
McKelley is a licensed psychologist and UW-L associate professor of psychology.