Man up

Toxic masculinity.

That’s what you’re encouraging when you tell a little boy, a teenage boy, or a man to “man up.”

You are telling him that his feelings are invalid; that no one wants to see that kind of emotional display; that no one cares.

You are telling him that being honest and authentic about how he feels is a bad thing; a terrible thing. Worse, that it’s a thing only girls and women do; that to do it is weak.

When you tell a boy or a man to “man up,” you are encouraging violence. Against girls and women; against other men; against himself.

When you tell a man to “man up,” you encourage him to lash out at a woman when she hurts his feelings, maybe through a relationship break up, because what else can he do? He can’t cry about it; he can’t talk about it. You’ve taken away his emotional agency. But he will feel it; he will express it, and it is likely to have dire consequences for the woman who hurt him and also for him.

Women have higher rates of diagnosed mental health issues, which is not to say that women have higher rates of mental health issues. Men are encouraged to hide what they’re struggling with and, in doing so, men have higher rates of both attempted and completed suicides.

We – women and men – are doing our boys and men a complete disservice when we tell them to “man up.” We are doing all of us a disservice.

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