‘Ser hombre es mucho mas todavía, es no rebajar a nadie, con una orden, con una propina. Es mas, es… no permitir que nadie al lado tuyo se sienta menos, que nadie al lado tuyo se sienta mal’ ~ El Beso de la Mujer Araña
For a long time now we’ve been hearing about the impact of ‘lad’ culture and the pressure for young guys, particularly at uni, to conform to the very narrow acceptable face of masculinity. I’ve spoken before about how feminism isn’t just for women, it involves men’s issues as well and this is a perfect example of how gender stereotyping affects men too! The idea of what it means to be a man is no doubt holding a lot of young men back. I’m not even sure what ‘being a man’ is supposed to entail, other than being in charge and being in control of your own life, traits which, it seems to me, don’t need to be gender specific and certainly don’t barr you from liking so-called ‘girly things’. The focus of young people’s public persona’s seems to be moving, (tentatively), into a more well rounded one. Be independant, stand up for those who need it and use your influence wisely. To me, being a man(/decent human being) doesn’t mean having the most power in the room, it means sharing it equally and making sure everyone has their voice heard.
The idea even seems to be hitting the mainstream!
“But whether you want it or not, you’ve inherited the responsibility of creating a new answer to the ancient question of what it means to be a man. The old answers are no good.”
It’s been said that lad culture fosters guys who feel uncomfortable being anything other than the ‘lad’ persona, which isn’t a great one at that. It mainly involves drinking, getting with girls and generally acting the arse around your mates. Not only that but it really is the last bastion of the misogynist and the homophobe. You may have seen the news about the LSE Rugby Society and their infamous leaflet. Describing girls who play sports as ‘beast-like’ and stated that ‘outright homosexual debauchery’ wouldn’t be tolerated. They’ve since apologized for the leaflet, but the need they felt to make it in the first place speaks volumes. A casual bit of homo-bashing at freshers fair isn’t acceptable and the student body seems to have spoken in rejecting the society outright.
So could we be seeing the death of this outdated stereotype? It would seem that young men are getting tired of the lad stereotype, (it really does them no favours) and people are getting tired of hearing from them. There might always be certain groups that will continue to believe that being a man means rigidly ahereing to the mainstream ideas about gender roles, but slowly and surely, they seem to be dying out.
Robert Webb has spoken out about the particular pressure he felt growing up to be ‘manly’ in an article describing some advice he would give his younger self if he had the chance.
It’s a sometimes heart-wrenching read. Webb is painfully honest. Although some would say that the stereotypes Webb discusses are long outdated, clearly some semblence of them still remains. Through a tough upbringing and different family struggles, Webb defines himself as a full human being, not compartmentalized into solely masculine qualities and not through the eyes of someone elses vision of what a man should be like. If we stop thinking of ourselves in terms of what we should be to fit in, we get a fuller picture of ourselves and this is ultimately more helpful.
“Nobody ever told me: you don’t have to waste years trying to figure out how to be a “man” because the whole concept is horseshit. We are people, individuals comprising a variety of sexes, races, shifting sexualities and all the rest of it.”
Well said Webb.