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Does Pressure Really Make Diamonds?

How patriarchal archetypes backfire on men today.

Man looking at the camera with hands above his eyes and

The rise of mental health awareness has been a unisex movement opening a path for people to talk and express their feelings, which in turn shined the light on the severe problems of society set by the previous generations before us such as the silent generation. Social constructs such as the 'breadwinner' and the 'housewife' have bottlenecked women's abilities to follow their true passions for generations until the second wave of feminism. The patriarchal social construct of masculinity has not stood the test of time as men do not benefit from this in our current social timeframe, but has proven to hinder men's mental health now more than ever.


Pressure of masculinity

Masculinity has been an extremely reinforced archetype for a long period of time, which has started to change in the past decade. Even though we are changing our perception of what it is to be a man and the idea of masculinity, we have to still undo hit the shadow that traditional masculinity placed upon us males (specifically those that are in their 40s and 50s in my opinion). Traditional masculinity is the idea that a man must be rational, unemotional, always strong and unwavering. This was beneficial for a long time as it would put men above women in status, as well as the traditional feminine archetype was practically the complete binary opposition of traditional masculinity.


However, in the past decade, we get more exposure to the burden that traditional masculinity has put on men that are well-established with families and jobs (who tend to be double my age of 20) because it has pressured them to bottle up how they truly feel until there is too much emotional baggage to bare, as well as I think have stopped countless that generation of men to be able to follow their true passions as it may not have conformed to society such as taking careers in creative industries.


The traditional masculine archetype has cursed men of Gen X, as they have to bear the immense pressure without an emotional outlet (due to their conditioning), which usually crushes them mentally and in turn, they fall into a spiral of depression and eventually suicide. Needless to say that it is horrible, but that is the burden that previous generations before them have left behind.


Though we are becoming progressive as a society, I think Gen X men had fallen through the cracks as the difficulty for them to even come forward and display their emotions is immense as those around them would expect them to be stoic and unwavering in the face of adversity, thence leads to being awfully overlooked and overshadowed by our society I believe which seems to focus on men in the younger generations such as myself (Gen-Z). This is a massive shame, despite rapid social change for younger men it leaves Gen X males forgotten in the equation, which is hurtful to me as it is our fathers, uncles, teachers, mentors and maybe even grandparents that suffer greatly.


Relieving the pressure


Although I think Gen X has succumbed to the stress of traditional masculine values, I do believe that we are taking a huge step in the right direction in this social movement that radically benefits younger men, this will eventually benefit Gen X and older generations too. It is only a matter of time, as for the example of racism in the Western world; the civil rights movement in the US ended only 55 years ago, to now having BAME programmes in place in the UK such as Durham University. Particularly now, with the development of technology and social media improving our ways of communication and therefore making it easier for us to express our feelings to each other. Social media has become the centre of this social awareness of men's mental health, but also other social issues too.


Additionally, there have been more progressive and realistic representations of masculinity in media and in particular films such as Everything Everywhere All At Once and the Creed trilogy, which Pop Culture Detective and The Writer's Block made great analysis videos of the previously mentioned films on YouTube that I highly recommend you watch. I think that media representation is extremely important as media still have a great amount of influence on our perceptions, therefore these more progressive representations inspire us as a society to be more aware and passionate towards the men in our lives (especially older men).


The consequences of traditional masculinity have left wounds, which are deep, but they can be healed with the factors I have mentioned combined. We are already doing this and as time passes, the wounds will finally heal sooner than expected in my opinion.


We alone cannot just use social media to help (the general person like myself doesn't have a huge social media presence), but we should also do the good old-fashioned thing of talking face to face and checking on the men in our lives, as well as reminding them that men cry too and there is no shame in doing so.


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