Before I even say anything, I need to say firstly and most importantly that I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to male insecurity. However, that's one of the primary reasons for beginning this segment of The Intentionality Project. I started this project focusing on women, because, well, I am one, and that's what I know best. I am far too familiar with a lack of self-esteem and the constant pressure to live up to certain physical standards if I want to be considered "beautiful." I am aware of our culture's high priority in the exterior, and significantly low priority in promoting internal beauty. We live in an overly sexualized world that puts an insane, INSANE amount of pressure on women, and I feel it, and I hate it.
I think if I were to ask the general public, "is insecurity more of a woman's issue or a man's issue?", I think it's safe to say that, regardless of their answer after thinking it over, the immediate thought is probably "women". I don't think it is because people assume men aren't insecure, I just don't think there is the same kind of platform for men to discuss it. Beauty campaigns, movements, support groups, constant conversation pertaining to female security...I think the amount of platforms we women have to discuss our struggle is just a reflection of how deep those painful roots run, and equally, how willing we are to bring such matters into the light because we know we are not alone.
As a woman, when I think of masculinity and male behavior, I think of how I've been conditioned by our culture to view men and how they operate. I think of the men I've known that would rather take a fist to the face than discuss "feelings." On the flip side I think of the men I've known ridiculed for being "sensitive". I think of aggression/temper. I think of men that take pride in being cruel towards other men as a way to lift themselves up, and similarly will degrade women to feel good about themselves. I think of distance, fleeing at the sign of emotional conflict. I think of men I've known that are quick to demand respect but slow to extend it. Pride. Passive. Double-standards regarding physical appearance. Impatient. Diligent in the work place, lazy in relationship...
Some of these things are examples stemming from personal experiences, but most are things I've seen in the media, in the movies and television I watch, in the music I've listened to, in stereotypes created by our culture, and frankly I don't think it's fair to hold those perspectives over men in general. My theory is that, generally speaking, we become what we feel we are expected to be by living up to the expectations set before us. So if culture glorifies men that are hard-hearted, cruel, proud, offensive and insensitive, then it's not surprising that certain men live up to those [very low and sad] standards. In the same way, if culture glorifies a woman's exterior when it looks one way, and ridicules it when it doesn't match that ideal of beauty...if culture places an extreme importance on physical beauty, and not enough importance on the quality of a woman's heart, it is not surprising that we are experiencing an influx of women so focused on their appearance that they've neglected the health of their heart and soul. It's not easy to go against the grain.
Basically what I am trying to get at is this: insecurity is not just a female issue, but I know I am missing a lot of pieces in understanding how it is also a male struggle, and I want to understand. My hope with this segment is that it becomes a platform for men to talk through their perspective of masculinity and how that effects their sense of identity and value. I want to discuss topics like emotion and stereotypes. I also want to give men a reason to talk about it. Speaking of stereotypes, I think it's common to expect that men don't want to talk about their feelings, especially on a topic like this...but maybe they will if there is a reason to do so. Hence, The Intentionality Project. But like I said at the beginning of this post, I have no idea what I'm talking about regarding this topic, so everything I said could very well be wrong. All the more reason to organize more interviews and ask more questions,
Thank you for joining along in this little journey with me.