Excellent article about the expectation of mail violence, stoicism, hypersexuality, and emotional denial.
When I did my informal, unscientific poll of the men in my life and asked what was expected of them as men, this one came up a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Like, an amount that took me seriously by surprise. My slice of society — and the slice shared by most men I know — is comfortably middle-class: educated, chatty, civilized to a fault, and mostly very peaceful. We resolve our conflicts with words, with glares, with strategies, with the law as a last resort. Even raised voices and insulting language are considered somewhat outre. Not counting sporting events, I could count on one hand the number of physical fights I’ve witnessed in the last decade. Or even threats of physical fights.
And yet, man after man that I talked to brought this one up. The willingness to, as my friend Michael put it, “actually, physically, with fists or other weapons, fight” — to defend one’s honor (or the honor of one’s lady, or country, or sports team, or whatever) — is more central to how men are taught to see manhood than I had any notion of. Even if conflicts never get that far — even if you never actually have to pound anyone with your fists — being both willing and able to do so is a weirdly high priority in the Penis Club. As Adam said, “You would rather get a concussion than be called less than a man.” And Damion told me this story: “I’m in the passenger seat when my (relatively butch) sister-in-law flips off some guy in Baltimore traffic. He jumps out of the car, enraged, and my first thought is ‘Great, now I’ve got to beat the shit out of this guy.'”