Challenging, and Disrupting, the Stereotypical Ideals of Masculinity
By: Carla Sayer, OHMME, Men’s Yoga & Work Out Pants
What does it mean to be a man, now?
Long gone are the days of ‘me Tarzan, you Jane,’ but, as a man today, you’re still supposed to be good at sports, macho and able to save the day. And if you are good at sports, macho and regularly save the day then kudos to you. But… what about the guys who are funny, sweet and kind, who do not like football, are they not men?
Since the days before women were able to vote in the western world, they have worked very hard to challenge the stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a woman. And they still do; many are CEO’s, many are mothers, many are both, and some are somewhere in between. Collectively women have worked together as a gender to allow themselves the freedom to choose. Some want to be saved, some would poke your eye out if you inferred they weren’t capable of saving themselves, and others would like you to come along for the ride of your lives. Women have, and are still trying to, break the pernicious traps of societal expectations. And it doesn’t always work out exactly the way they want, but together, women have supported each other and they’ve tried to break their societal stereotypes.
But what about men? What does this mean for men? Have men been left behind? Do women have this encouragement thing down, exclusively? Are men still supposed to save the day, and be societies ‘rocks’ at the detriment of their own mental health? Well, if the male suicide rates of the USA and UK are any indication, then it would seem that, yes, men still feel they are supposed to save the day, be the rock, but what about when men need help? According to the AFSP suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US costing the US taxpayer $51 billion a year, and with a 21% increase in deaths since 2006, it’s not getting any better. Men are three and half times more likely to die from suicide than females, and white middle-aged men are the largest demographic of suicide victims. Sad. And, most importantly, preventable.
Why is there such a stigma about men not needing help? Some men believe if you admit you need support, you need connection, you need love, that some how you’re failing at being a man. Where did these beliefs come from? And why do we still subscribe to them? We also know that when men make the decision to end it all, it’s usually final, there are no stomach-pumpings to revive them. There are gun wounds and broken necks, and the results are irreversible.
We can take this back to neuro-psychology, when a man makes a decision, it is usually because he believes, in his mind, that it is the best for all concerned; whether that is where to move, the family holiday, the new car, the restaurant choice. The suicide.
If men get it wrong (in the eyes of the women they love) men are riddled with feelings of failure. These feelings of failure don’t get talked about over a lunch with the boys. They don’t get discussed at all. They get suppressed. They get swept under the proverbial carpet. Men are actually gentle creatures, who do not communicate in the same way as women, because men, in society, are supposed to be big and strong and not affected by feelings. But everyone has feelings. Sadness is sadness. Pain is pain. Anxiety is anxiety. It is the same for everyone, men and women.
And all these feelings are felt somewhere in the body, and your body never lies to you. Your mind lies to you 1000 times a day, but your body doesn’t lie; it feels. And those feelings are real to you. It’s your body and no one can feel your body but you. But as a man, do you feel free to express this?
OHMME is a disruptor brand that is pushing yoga as ‘normal’ for men due to the increase in male mental health issues, and they want to help guys find a way to take control of their own minds. To be who you want to be. OHMME is challenging the stereotypical ideals of what it means to be a man, and don’t get us wrong, if you are happy and have your path figured out far be it from us to question you. But we implore you question yourself, are you happy?
At OHMME, we believe yoga goes beyond the physical mat-based practices and expands to any practice that gives guys that space to freely explore who they are and what makes them feel authentic and individually alive. Whether it is via yoga asana, dance, Pilates, martial arts or primal movement, we see the exploration of our bodies as integral to this development of self-connection, and THAT is why we create clothes that make it comfortable for guys to move.
We are disrupting the stereotypical idea of masculinity, not by making yoga clothes or by encouraging guys to do yoga, but by saying it’s OK not to do what you’ve been told to do. You can break the male stereotypes. Remember…you don’t have to feel alone and you don’t have to be alone.