The Mask of Masculinity
We men have many masks we hide behind, but there are three masks which govern most of our lives. These masks are society backed. socially acceptable and even wanted by many guys and girls. Because they do provide some results- but the problems that come with them are destroying the person wearing them.
The masks that I am talking about are the emotional, financial and sexual mask. So let’s dive into each of them:
The Emotional Mask
“Hey bro, I love”, said one guy to another and he responded “Gay”, while telling everyone in the locker room what this guy just said. And he became the center of all jokes in the locker room for the next year or two.
Similar situations, where guys express their emotions are seen as a sign of weakness.
“Don’t cry! Crying is for wusses and pussies” – when we genuinely want to show either pain or happiness.
“Toughen up!” – when we want to talk about our problems.
“You are spending too much time feeling. That’s for girls” – when we want to express ourselves.
All of these and multiple more from our parents, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, society, news, media and magazines show us that we need to put an emotional mask. A mask which prevents any emotion going out from us.
You are a guy and you shouldn’t have emotions, let alone express them. Because the society only rewards tough guys and guys who have their shit under control.
If you even try to talk about these things, you are branded as a pussy. Even from the other, more sensitive gender.
And that is why in the US guys kill them themselves four times more than girls.
When you try to hide your emotions and never express them, always bottling everything down in yourself, you will eventually crack. And that will be uncontrolled and it will show its ugly face in areas you don’t want it to.
You can become an alcoholic, start abusing your wife or kids, attack your friends or just fall into a depression and never get out of it. But as long as people don’t see it, it’s all good. If you are perceived as someone in control, it will all be okay- and this is the message we have been fed and therefore the mask we wear.
I’ve had this attitude for years and years, bottling my emotions, taking it all within me and thinking that’s what I need to do- because, you know, I am a man. Until I exploded one afternoon on a balcony, hugged my boss and just cried on her shoulder for 20 minutes. And this made me realize that I can’t bottle emotions anymore. That I need to express myself even if someone out there will call me a lesser man, a pussy, wuss or any other term that I can be called.
The masks don’t stop here. There are 2 more which govern our lives.
A guy needs to take care of himself and everyone around him. He needs to provide for his family, show off his wealth and let other people know that he is successful.
I have nothing against money and being financially free. That is a great goal to have. But the problem is when we tie our finances with our self-worth.
We live in a free society where poverty is no longer determined by simply your birth rights or your family’s position/situation. If you are poor now, the society considers that your fault and holds you responsible for that.
We guys need to be wealthy and financially well-suited. That is how we show our achievements to everyone else in the society. And that is how we show ourselves that we are worthy, worthy of being enough to have something. A wife, kids, respect from society and others and at the end, respect from ourselves.
We have been taught that it’s our job to provide for our families and if at any point we fail at this, we are considered a failure. Anything else doesn’t matter. If you cant provide, you are a failure. And providing always becomes more and more and more. It’s never enough. Because there is always someone out there living better than you do, having more than you do, enjoying a longer vacation than you do, driving a better car or living in a bigger house than you.
There is always more out there- which just pushes you to give more out of you. And you give so much, work so hard and at the end, you just ruin your health. Worrying, stressing, pushing yourself to work 16 hours a day only to come home and be bombarded by messages of a 20-year-old kid who has millions and enjoys piña coladas on Thailand.
Growing up in a poor society, I learned that people do look at money and perceive others by the money that they have. And that can really destroy your confidence and make you doubt yourself as a man. But at the end of the day, you decide how you are going to measure yourself.
And money – money is just means to an end, not an end itself so treat it like that. Gandhi was poor but that doesn’t mean we respected him any less.
Just remember, you are enough even without three Lamborghinis in front of your house.
But what about all the things money can buy – like good looking, bikini-wearing models like in the Tai Lopez commercials?
For that, we have the last mask.
The locker room tales of how many girls you slept with. The bigger the number, the bigger the respect you get from others.
But it’s not about the numbers. It never was. It’s also not about chastity.
The Sexual mask is tricky because it has 2 masks – a lover one and a provider one. So let’s dissect both of them
This is the guy who just goes from one girl to another, always becoming disappointed because he never finds a girl he desperately wants. There is always something missing so he needs to move on. And on he moves and moves and moves.
But girls love him because he is, most of the time, a great lover and an interesting guy. And guys love him because, you know, tales of his conquerings. But what hides behind the lover mask?
We have been taught that sleeping with a lot of girls means that you earn respect from others, especially other guys. And society will also look at you as a highly valuable guy – as we have seen in the success of Tucker Max or Neil Strauss’ books. A lover has value in the society because he is wanted.
But what is happening behind the mask?
As we have seen again in the works of people mentioned above, their internal lives crumble down. Just going from one girl to another didn’t resolve their issues. There was a whole left inside of them even though they had girls, respect, fame and even money. But the thing they were searching for couldn’t be found while the lover mask was on.
As any guy who had his conquerings knows, the numbers don’t mean a thing. They never did. But we have been taught that they did so we pursued them only to discover that it left us at the same place but much older, tired and disappointed.
But is the other end the solution then?
This is the guy who finds his perfect girl in any woman and is the complete opposite of a lover.
The society teaches you to become a provider as soon as possible (also connected to the financial mask) and in general, wants you to settle down. But is that we guys really want? To find the love of our lives in any girl that comes near us?
That is a mask more guys wear than the lover mask. Lovers operate on a high level of uncertainty while providers hate uncertainty. So the first opportunity they have, they settle down with a girl. In fact, they settle down with any girl that comes their way, without exploring themselves first.
We hide behind this mask so we wouldn’t feel alone. So that we won’t feel that anxiousness of uncertainty for the future.
So we are, in fact, not going to something, we are running away from something. And that something is ourselves.
It gets easy to bury yourself in obligations when you settle down and not think about this. But it will always be there, crawling up our mind whenever there is an opportunity. And it will happen the moment you are left alone. The questions like “What if…” will pop up and it will cause the thing we were running from- anxiety.
So the solution for this mask is neither in lover nor provider? But what then?
When you explore yourself as a lover first and figure out what you like, what you want and what you don’t want, then, and only then, can you actually settle down as we have seen in examples of Tucker Max and Neil Strauss.
When you are settling because you want to settle down, not because you are running away from something, is when you will be at peace.
It’s like the quote by Werner Heisenberg:
“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you”
What he means by that is that the journey is the one that matters, that the journey will show you your Why, your reason. And then, it will all matter.
There are many masks we wear as men in today’s society, like a Joker or Indestructible mask, but these three mentioned above are the most influential ones in our lives.
Remember that you are allowed to express your emotions and that it won’t make you a lesser man if you do.
Remember that you are not your net worth.
And remember that it’s not about the sexual encounters you had, but about the meaning you found in another person. So drop down the masks that were imposed on you and live your life freely. Trust me, it feels good.