Be a real man??? Our invitation to Piers Morgan
What does it mean to be a 'real man'? Isn't it time we created a new conversation, asks Suzy Walker, Editor-in-Chief of Psychologies?
Piers Morgan, a TV presenter, has mocked James Bond himself for being less of a man for carrying his baby in a papoose. Daniel Craig was pictured with his new baby daughter strapped to his chest in New York this week and Morgan tweeted: ‘Oh 007.. not you as well?!!! #papoose #emasculatedBond". Emasculation? I looked up the official definition. It means to ‘deprive (a man) of his male role or identity.’ Isn't it time to re-define what that male role or identity looks like? These old-fashioned definitions of what it means to be a ‘real man’ are putting our men’s mental health at risk and we must challenge it, question it and let go of these limiting beliefs that hold men back from living a happy, fulfilled life. In a world where we lose a man to suicide every minute of every day, where 1 in 8 men in the UK have experienced a mental health problem, when a media commentator can mock another man for carrying his baby daughter in a sling, something needs to change.
In our dossier this month, we ponder the question, what it means to be a man in the 21st Century? We ask – how can our menfolk take care of their emotional health and thrive? We talked to men about what it means to be a ‘real man’ and what needs to change to leave the era of ‘toxic masculinity’ behind?
We talked to Lewis Howes, New York Times best-selling author of The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, And Live Their Fullest Lives. Howes was recognised by Obama as the one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country. “In my personal life, and my career, I’d always subscribed to the traditional notion of masculinity. Work hard, be tough, win at all costs, be aggressive. As a straight ‘jock’ guy, I was not allowed to share my emotions. My pain, my fear, my anxiety? I had to swallow them or be called multiple derogatory names,’ he says in our interview. ‘The torment of my school years – having trouble reading, being big and awkward and enduring my fair share of bullying – was so profound, I could barely stand to be alive.” Howes is now committed to ‘helping men end their suffering, to find a way to be vulnerable, to feel less lonely, to express themselves, access inner peace to find ways to create meaning, fulfilment, love and connection in their lives.’
Thomas Page McBee, a trans man and author of Amateur: A True Story About What Makes A Man gives his insight into gender stereotypes and the reality of masculinity in the modern world. ‘We need to challenge the old idea of masculinity. Feminism taught women to do this about their own gender a long time ago, but men need to look at our behaviour and ask why we are conforming to certain cultural expectations. Genuine enquiry is profound,” he says.
For the love of man, let’s create a space for that enquiry. Let’s challenge these limiting beliefs about men which can cause great damage to our loved ones – our sons, our fathers, our lovers, our brothers.
It’s time for a new era where we can stop forcing men to adhere to a ridiculous stereotype but rather open our minds to ‘see the full spectrum of humanity in ourselves and in others’ as McBee encourages in our interview.
What would it be like if someone like Morgan could open his mind and use his voice and platform to conduct some intelligent interviews with experts and find some healthy role models for a new generation of men and for Morgan to do some genuine enquiry about what a 'real man' really is? For himself, and for all of mankind.
That's our invitation. Be a true leader, create a new definition, Piers. We're all trying to navigate this new world. Be the change you wish to see.