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Hypermasculine culture and its consequences

Hypermasculine culture and its consequences

I was very upset when I heard about Jovan Belcher, a football player for the Kansas City Chiefs who killed his 22 year old girlfriend, then killed himself.

English: Jovan Belcher, a player on the Kansas...

English: Jovan Belcher, a player on the Kansas City Chiefs American football team. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For starters, they were both so young. She was 22, he was 25, and it seemed like they had a bright future. Not to mention the 3 month old daughter they have together.

Now, that little girl will grow up without parents.

It’s hard to imagine what could have problem could have been so big that murder-suicide was the only solution.

An article by Kevin Powell provides an explanation and point of view that I don’t think we can ignore. Powell blames the hypermasculine culture of football, as well as the way men are socialized to deal with problems, as the root of this tragedy. What Powell basically says is that from a young age, men are told that they cannot cry or they are girls; they cannot show or express emotion, or they face disrespect from both men and women.

What happens when you hold back all of that frustration and anger, and throw in fame, money, pressure to perform, on top of the struggles involved with parenthood?

I think we’ve already heard about one possible outcome.  And it isn’t pretty.

The positive side to this article is when Powell discusses his own struggles with understanding what manhood really is, and how he has mentored other young men who have struggled with how to express their feelings. At one point he describes men who are unable to express themselves as living in an “emotional prison.”

I think Powell has hit this topic right on the head. We can’t ignore the expectations society places on men if we are also talking about discrimination women face. I don’t know how many times I have heard women say something like “He just needs to man up” or “I wish he could act more like a man!” I remember one incident when my friend was out dancing with her boyfriend, and another guy came up and started hitting on her right in front of her boyfriend. Her boyfriend tried to take the high road, so after telling the guy to go away several times, the boyfriend went to security and told them to escort stupid guy out. And they did.

My friend later said she was disappointed that her boyfriend didn’t “man up” and knock the other guy out. Brilliant solution that would have led to a lot of people getting hurt or put in jail.

Women who think this way aren’t helping. Women who conform to these old stereotypes, then complain about not being treated equally, are just as guilty of holding themselves back. A hypermasculine culture basically puts men at the center of the universe, to the detriment of the rest of society (ie, women and children.)

The moral of the story? Think twice the next time you tell a guy you know who is going through tough times to man up or grow a pair – you aren’t helping!


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