Within feminism, women talk about what it means to grow up as a girl and live as a woman, recording memories, events, traumatic experiences, repeating patterns, our relationship with our bodies from pre-adolescence to post-menopause. Thousands of articles, testimonials, discussions.
We share how others see our bodies and how it makes us feel, how we’ve been harassed and abused, and thoughts and feelings. All in all, this is the female experience. The experience of living as a woman. Women, we know. But what about men?
There is no detailed record of the male experience. Men don’t share things like this with each other, unless it’s isolated incidents for laughter or to talk about sexual conquests. As a society, we don’t talk about the male experience and the male trauma. Not because it doesn’t exist but because it is assumed that men will overcome it without help.
There is no discussion of the common male experience and what they have lived in their bodies, except in the military or sports. How do they deal with the pressure they suffer since they are little boys to act “like men” and then the pressure from their peers and society to have sex?
How do they feel? What are their thoughts while they are in adolescence? What do they go through when they realize their penis size is below what is seen as “normal”? How do they feel when they look in the mirror and their bodies don’t look like the ones in superhero movies? How do they feel when they realize their height will forever be an obstacle?
We’ve been fed the caricature of the teenage boy who only thinks about sex 24/7, but I’m sure it’s much more complicated than that. What are his feelings? I know men can be raped by women too, through psychological violence and manipulation. And when they tell their friends, they receive mockery instead of gentleness and care.
Who talks about this? Where is the support for men for all they go through? Who talks about men’s need for tenderness and affection, which they often fulfill through sex because they are ashamed to ask for it by name? How many men dare to say that they do not want sex but intimacy and companionship?
Articles written for men focus on how to become fit, rich or a player, or at best something humorous and easy to digest. There’s nothing raw and honest, about weakness or inadequacy or feeling like you’re not enough. Nothing real about fear, with unadulterated feeling. And having this content is absolutely necessary, because we all feel that way, it’s only human to feel that way, and men have to pretend they feel nothing.
It’s time to document the male experience and redefine masculinity, because being a man isn’t all about muscles, sex and money. Power and balls are not enough. Men are so much more than that and deserve to live the full spectrum of human existence. We’ re on the same side.