The American Man Box

The last few weeks we have been discussing the man box. Once again the man box actually does not describe the typical man but rather a stereotypical man. The man box is also context specific so the American Man Box is actually quite different from the Brazilian, French or Turkish Man Box. Each box has different rules or different answers to the question – What does it mean to be a man? One of the rules of masculinity for American men is Robert Brannon’s 3rd rule of masculinity:

  • “Be a male machine” – solve problems without help, maintain emotional self-control at all times, and never show weakness to anybody

This is a stereotype of what an American man should be. Many American men tend to break this rule when they do ask others for help, express their emotions and are vulnerable. Many men do not behave like machines. They are compassionate, caring and kind. They challenge the stereotype and break out of the man box. Many men display courage in breaking this rule. As Dr. Chris Kilmartin states “It takes a good deal of courage to negotiate one’s life without using the stereotypical road map of masculinity”.

Conversation starter: 

What are some differences you may have seen between the American Man box and other cultural versions of the man box?