Before I even go any further with this article, I want to say of course it is. Masculinity doesn’t come with a determined list of things that you should or shouldn’t like.
For some reason though, there is a huge amount of pressure for guys feel pressure to conform to these gender stereotypes. Recently I’ve been working with LYNX as an ambassador, and as part of their #BiggerIssues campaign with CALM they have asked me to share my thoughts on this topic.
Research has found that guys have been turning to Google in their droves and using the ‘is it ok for guys…’ to feel, act, or look a certain way. In fact if you type that phrase into the search engine up pops a selection of the most searched queries. Is it ok for guys to cry, is it ok for guys to wear skinny jeans, is it ok for guys to be nurses? Really the list is endless and the answer to all of these questions is yes. It’s ok for guys to do whatever they want.
Rather shockingly 42% of men aged 18-45 have considered suicide and 41% of those felt that they couldn’t talk about their feelings. This is something that we need to address, and urgently, the whole ethos of men not being able to talk about the way they feel needs to end. It’s perfectly normal to have worries and feelings after all.
But with sport considered one of the manliest of pursuits, is it really ok for guys not to like it? What does it say about you if you don’t like at least one sport? And even further than that what does it say about you if you like the ‘wrong’ type of sport. When guys in the UK talk about sport, they generally mean football or rugby – the most ‘manly’ of sports. In fact there seems to be some kind of mythical ‘man point’ system in existence depending on what type of sport (if any) you like. It’s often the icebreaker whenever you’re in a situation and faced with other guys that you don’t already know. Are you a red or a blue, are you a round or egg-shaped ball chaser. But what if the answer is none of the above?
Does it make your gay? Of course not. You’re gay if you like other men. There are plenty of gay men out there who love playing and watching sport, just as there are lots of straight guys who don’t. Hobbies don’t define your sexuality anymore than they define your gender.
What if you like watching sport but not playing it? Or you like playing but you suck at it? Well none of that really matters either. The truth is that we aren’t all built to be particularly athletic, some of us excel in other fields and some of still love playing sport even though we are not very good at it.
Don’t waste your life liking things that you feel you should just to fit in, or worrying about things that you have no interest in. Try instead to make the most of your time and find things to fill your spare time that your really enjoy. Stereotypes will always take a very long time to dispel, but by talking about this stuff we are at least at the beginning of the road to knocking them on the head.
Lynx, the UK’s number one male grooming brand has launched #isitokforguys, a Google search-driven campaign that reveals how guys are hiding behind their screen to ask the questions they can’t face asking out loud. The research shockingly revealed that 65% of respondents have been told that “a real man” should behave a certain way. 66% think society expects them to act strong, even if they feel scared. And 56% feel they are expected to figure out problems on their own without asking for help.
Search and see for yourself…
If you need some more advice or are struggling to be yourself, then check out ditchthelabel.org.
This is a partnership post with Lynx.