• Patrick McAndrew

Men and Their Egos, Am I Right?

“Men sure know everything, don’t we?  I mean, we are strong, we are smart, and we definitely know what’s best for women!  We got the biggest guns, the biggest toys, and the biggest thing-a-ma-bobs in all the land.  Certainly bigger and better than that other country’s thing-a-ma-bobs!  Am I right or am I right?  Heck, why am I even asking?  I’m always right!  I almost forgot that men are always right and don’t make mistakes! Much unlike our female counterparts!  Har-har-har!”

Wooo there, grasshopper!  Let’s take a couple (thousand) steps backward, count to ten, and actually think for once.  In a world that’s mostly ruled by men, it’s often that many of us jump the gun without actually considering who we are talking to and what nonsense is coming out of our mouths.

Many of us men tend not to think things through as well as we should.  We must assert ourselves!  We are often on the defensive, afraid of even the littlest of criticism that may come our way.  “We must protect the almighty ego!”

This is a generalization, but a lot of men are not too good when it comes to empathy, sharing their feelings, or simply being a kind, genuine human being.  A lot of males believe they must show off their dominance by putting others down and by being an a-hole.  More quiet males may retreat socially due to fear of rejection and ridicule.  Why can’t men handle emotions?

Of course, we have all seen our fair share of men demeaning women in all of the worst ways possible.  It always baffles me that this sort of language and action takes place.  Many men will say that women are “too emotional.”  Are you serious?! I always found this super ironic.  Men are waaaaaay more emotional! I’m not one to push buttons, but I find that men are much more touchy and get offended much easier than a lot of women.  Perhaps men use this as a defense tactic against women.  I also wonder how it became an insult to be called a girl.  Doesn’t make sense to me.  I could go on and on, but alas! Let’s focus!

In grad school last year, we read this amazing book titled Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson.  Talk about a great book!  I highly recommend it.  In one section, she discusses feminist criticism and quotes, “Patriarchy continually exerts forces that undermine women’s self-confidence and assertiveness, then points to the absence of these qualities as proof that women are naturally, and therefore correctly, self-effacing and submissive.”

Only until recently have some men felt that women and men are equals in this world.  We’re talking hundreds and thousands of years in which men belittled women constantly.  Obviously, a lot of men feel threatened by women.

I’m a man so I’m no expert on women and feminism and will never understand all of the awful things women have to put up with on a daily basis.  But I bring this up because research has shown that technology is further isolating men, which isn’t good for anybody.

A couple of years ago, Philip Zimbardo wrote a book titled, Man Disconnected: How technology has sabotaged what it means to be male Although I’m not a huge fan of the title (because who decides what being male means?), I’m interested in the content.  He discusses how increasingly boys and young men are retreating to the digital world over reality.  While girls and women progress at an increasing rate, boys and young men are losing the capacity to connect and socialize with their peers, especially those of the opposite sex.  While males become more seduced by technology, their cognitive abilities are being rewired in a way that is not beneficial to the human population.

It should not come as a surprise that males are experiencing this.  Being vulnerable, empathetic, and compassionate are skills that are not often taught to young boys.  Many are told not to cry, to toughen up, and to “be a man.”  Many believe they have to be, as they sing in that classic tale Mulan, “as mysterious as the dark side of the mooooooon!”

Men have a hard time opening up.  I’m certainly guilty of that. But it’s important that we encourage this.  If we don’t, young boys will retreat back into their online worlds, playing video games that simulate a life that they have control over.  In her book, Tyson also highlights that men are conditioned to believe that they cannot show fear or pain or express sympathy to other men.  No wonder there are so many challenges in the world!

In my opinion, the term “manning up” means setting our differences aside and respecting each other as equals.  It means being friends or, if not friends, then respectable acquaintances.  It means showing compassion and love, especially for those who may have treated you poorly.  It means listening to understand and not listening to respond (also known as not listening).  It means playing an equal role in a partnership or marriage.  I think it just means being a good person. “Manning up” is such a subjective term, but that would be my definition.  So if any of you men out there are feeling isolated and shut off, be a good person.  Overall, it’s not too difficult.  Nobody’s perfect, but it’s just a matter of changing our habits.  It’s simple.  We just have to commit to it.  Committing is the hard part, but it is well worth it for everyone’s sake.

What are your thoughts?  Are men in danger of themselves?  How can men become stronger role models?  Comment below!


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