Patriarchy hurts men.
It is a system that drastically needs to be challenged and dismantled for everyone’s benefit.
Patriarchy’s continued impact on women is actively challenged. Progress is there but it’s slow and encounters frequent setbacks.
Comparatively patriarchy’s impact on men is often sidelined and doesn’t garner as much attention.
Men speaking against patriarchy feels like an oxymoron or the ultimate betrayal. Who wouldn’t want to be a man in a patriarchal system?
The answer, as I’ve witnessed, is most men.
From an early age, a lot of men find themselves placed in the role of an armoured knight, a naïve soldier of the patriarchy. We are expected to be ready to face any challenges that the world throws up and emerge victorious.
The origins of this ‘role’ derive from the inherent need within a patriarchal system to proactively challenge and fight other patriarchies. This requires literal man-power, and men willing to go to war, and make the ultimate sacrifice.
Compelling the majority of men to be prepared to give up their lives, requires considerable indoctrination. Indoctrination tells you that if aren’t willing to put everything on the line, there is something wrong with you. If you aren’t strong enough to perform when you are needed, there is something wrong with you.
A lot of men, throughout their lives, are expected to be strong, resilient, and unwavering in the face of adversity. The armour we wear is a collective construct of stoicism, emotional restraint, and the belief that seeking help is a sign of weakness. This armour protects us from judgments and vulnerabilities but can hinder growth, emotional well-being, and the ability to form genuine connections.
It can become an inseparable part of a man’s identity, shaping his perception of strength, vulnerability, and weakness.
“Be a man” and “man up” are phrases that are uniquely conveyed to the male gender. And interestingly there is no female equivalent for the word ‘emasculating’.
Choosing to step out of this defined role, often brings ridicule, bullying and exclusion, as many men can attest to.
It is a very difficult thing to do.
Just as a knight requires the assistance of squires to help him remove his armour, men often need support and understanding to dismantle the protective layers that have been built or imposed over time. Breaking free from the shackles of traditional masculinity is not a sign of defeat but a declaration of courage and growth.
Friends, family, mentors, therapists, coaches and support groups serve as the modern-day squires, offering a helping hand to assist in the delicate process of de-armouring.
They encourage men to embrace vulnerability, express their emotions, and seek help without feeling inadequate. This support network helps men understand that seeking assistance doesn’t diminish their strength but empowers them to face their battles more authentically.
Just as a knight feels relief and liberation when his armour is removed, men experience a similar sense of freedom and peace when they shed the societal expectations that have bound them for so long.
It allows them to stand tall, unencumbered, and authentic in their feelings and experiences.
Underneath this armour they find themselves. And others start to see the real them too – instead of another reluctant knight within the patriarchy.
Removing the armour doesn’t diminish their heroism; instead, it showcases their bravery in confronting their struggles and evolving into their true selves.
Let us acknowledge this, extend our support, and create a world where men can be proud, unshielded, and truly empowered.