The man box is the socially accepted mindset of what a man should be. Once again the man box actually does not describe the typical man but rather the “ideal man”. In this way the man box is actually a fiction. The box includes rules about a type of a man who does not actually exist. We are socialized with messages about the “ideal man” (Captain America, Marlboro Man, Tom Brady, American Sniper Chris Kyle) that then becomes internalized. Externally and internally many men are trying to live up to a fictitious standard of masculinity. In April Dr. Chris Kilmartin will be coming to campus to discuss how the man box pressures men into behaving and experiencing themselves in gendered ways.
The man box or “cultural masculinity” shapes many aspects of our daily lives as illustrated on Friday at the Women’s Mentorship Program Event – Women and the Eating Clubs. The panel discussed how messages about gender are internalized by many men and women. The conversation demonstrated how our cultural norms reflect a dynamic process between socialization and internalization. Healthy masculinity is one response to the fiction of the man box and gender norms. As Don McPherson said “Healthy masculinity is men giving ourselves and each other the permission to be whole beings… to expand and add to the [man] box”.
What are your observations about how the man box shapes our campus culture?