Our Closed Loop of Isolating Masculinity is Killing Us
It turns out what millions of men want most will also save our lives
As boys, we are bullied from birth to suppress emotional expression which cuts us off from learning how to create authentic relationships. The result is millions of men live deeply isolated lives. The way we are bullied and policed to suppress our need for connection is through the denigration of the feminine. “What are you a sissy? What are you, a girl?” It’s a lifetime of anti-female brainwashing beginning when we are too young to even know what is happening.
This is the ironclad closed loop of our dominant culture of masculinity.
This closed loop of bullying and policing of expression is why millions of men don’t know how to form healthy personal and professional relationships. We never got the chance to do the decades of trial and error work needed to learn nuanced expression and connection. Powerful relational capacities like empathy, emotional self regulation, connection across difference, care giving and more, are wrongly gendered as feminine, and in man box culture, feminine is “less.” Display these characteristics and face brutal policing until you cease.
The result is, we hide our authentic selves, relying on interchangeable surface level friendships of proximity. If we change jobs, or change our gym, we change all our friends, because they’re all the same, right?
Cigna’s 2018 study on our American epidemic of loneliness points to the resulting catastrophic public health issue that is hidden in plain sight. Men, and often too, the women in their lives, live deeply unhealthy lives of loneliness. The health impact of chronic loneliness equals smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, dramatically increasing the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and more.
After years of being policed in man box culture, I did my work “on the carpet” of a Mankind Project weekend. My moment of truth was pretty straightforward.
“I don’t trust men. I don’t like men. I hate men. And I’m sick to death of being alone.” Lovely, eh? But true for so many of us.
We are bullied and beaten into conforming to a thin, brittle version of manhood. We police “the feminine” in other men, attack any man who shows authentic emotion, or seeks real connection. We’re pressured by all the men around us into treating women as less. It’s a closed loop of violence and isolation
The war on women is real. It is put in place and maintained by a generations old man box culture that wrongly genders human capacities for connection as feminine and uses violence to police connection as less. We are taught to control and dominate, each other, women, difference.
Domination based man box masculinity, the “I got mine, now you get yours” macho, hyper individualizing view of manhood underpins predatory capitalism, environmental destruction, white nationalism, class and race divisions. Man box culture is killing us all, men, women, children.
When people talk about “toxic masculinity” this is what they are talking about: the man box culture version of being a man. It’s a gender binary driven, domination based, violent and painfully lonely experience that is killing us all.
But here’s a little secret. Man box culture isn’t what millions of men want. We want to come in from the cold and find community, connection. The 10% of men who are bullies and alphas don’t want us to do this work, but we can break out of the man box and find the connection we need.
When we are finally sick to death of living empty half lives under the boot heel of an archaic and destructive culture of masculinity, we can break out, create connection. The rewards of doing so are life changing. I love my community of brothers and sisters. I love my life.
For nearly fifty years, I did not. Don’t be like me. Don’t wait.
I rely on organizations like the Mankind Project or Humen to put me in the room with men who are ready for authentic connection. As a result, I have a diverse community men who I can be real with. I rely on them. They rely on me. If you are ready to find real connection and friendship in your life, consider reaching out to The Mankind Project, HUMEN, or Evryman or any other men’s group that fits for you.
We can leave man box culture behind whenever we are ready. As men, we just have to make the choice to move toward connection and community. We can make the choice to come in out of the cold, to create truly satisfying personal and professional relationships.
I do not condemn masculinity. It is beautiful. I condemn our dominant MAN BOX CULTURE, which bullies us to contort ourselves to fit a narrow, abusive version of masculinity, when we could instead find what fits for us on the vast human spectrum of musculinities.
Boys and men, along with everyone else on the gender spectrum, deserve to live fully authentic, fully connected lives.
When we choose to break out of our dominant masculine culture’s closed loop of isolation, we bend the collective arc of the world toward good. But understand, the world is depending on us to put an end to man box culture.
And time is running out.
Mark Greene‘s Book The Little #MeToo Book for Men explores the full range of these issues in men’s personal and professional lives. It has been called “…nothing short of a blueprint for men’s liberation.”
“When millions of men live our lives subject to the rules of a culture we are not fully conscious of, it can be damaging for our families, our communities, our collective quality of life, and even our longevity. First, see the culture. Then change the culture.”
The Little #MeToo Book for Men and Remaking Manhood are available at Barnes & Noble online:
They are also available at Amazon.com
Learn more about Mark’s work at RemakingManhood.com.