Boys and men are still being conditioned into thinking they are very different from women. The differences between the behaviour and the abilities of men and women are infinitesimal. They have so much more to do with conditioning and nurturing than physiology or nature. The myths which surround these differences are complex, multi-layered and very entangled, but it is urgent we start to unravel them now.
We can start with these three:
Boys don't cry
Even if they don't hear these exact words, all our boys and men have been confronted by this myth from day one. By having this message drilled into them boys and men eventually try to live up to the myth. They harden themselves, suppress emotions, try to override pain and lose their emotional intelligence. What levels of war, torture, abuse and hatred are a direct result of absorbing this single false myth?
Boys don't cry is a lie. Put simply, boys do cry. If we were actually to encourage our boys and men to cry, to grieve, express their emotions and share their vulnerability, we would start alleviating a lot of the social problems we now face.
Men are loners
I don't think many will disagree when I say human beings are innately collaborative and social animals. Our recent ancestors the bonobos and chimpanzees show how important socialisation and community are to us all. Somehow, we deny men this common ancestry, believing women are the sociable ones and men don't do that kind of thing. Men are allowed to isolate themselves, indeed, culturally, we encourage and reward such behaviour. The many role models are all around us - the lone ranger, the action hero, the lone law enforcer, the entrepreneur, the self-made man, the eccentric genius, the lone sportsman, etc.
Men are not loners. Men can be just as sociable and gregarious as women. It is only as a result of how we nurture them that this isolation has been generated, propagated and become common place. Men love the company of others, and given the opportunity will flourish and mutually assist. Many men may have to re-learn these skills as they have been unused for so long.
Men are more logical than women
Men are logical, women are emotional. This is a natural progression from the first two. Boys and men are taught to use the modern day religion of science to 'prove' the veracity of their actions and worldview. If something falls outside the bounds of the mind orientated world, then it is dismissed. Any emotional responses are ignored, any fantastical theories are rejected, any eccentricities or abnormalities are suppressed and ridiculed.
Men are no more innately logical than women, indeed, they are just as imaginative, creative, and revolutionary. Men and women enjoy fantasies, behave eccentrically, and can dream of a better future.
We have suppressed our boy's innate emotional intelligence, then denied our men's sociable nature, and, finally, divested them of their capacity to be creative. Is it any wonder we now have so many dysfunctional, violent, ill, unhappy, miserable men?
It is time to replace these negative male myths with new values and sensibilities. Boys can cry, men can be emotional, men are sociable, men have the capacity to think outside the box. It is time for men to reclaim their innate nature, and by doing so they won't lose or diminish their masculinity.