That’s patriarchy that says that. Men are supposed to be strong and in control all the time and women are allowed or even supposed to be weak — it’s what’s expected of them. Patriarchy is all about forcing gender norms and not allowing human beings to be whatever they naturally are. It also demands that men blunt their emotions -except for anger. That’s yet another way that patriarchy harms men.

I agree that society demands that men must prove their worth through doing and accomplishing; women prove their worth through being attractive and compliant. Fuck that — like all of that!!! I love and value the men in my life for who they are not what they accomplish. Several years ago James got laid off due to a change in leadership. He got a year’s severance and immediately found another “landing pad” job to tide him over until he got his career back on track. In other words, we now had two incomes, but he had a complete crisis around this because it went against all of his programming about what his worth was. I kept telling him that he’d be fine; we had plenty of financial security and he’d get another job that was a good fit for him very soon, but it took nearly a year of upset and angst (and actually getting another job) before he realized how self-destructive it had been to assign all of his self-worth to his job in that way. That wasn’t me doing that — it was completely and entirely him buying into societal programming.

Thanks god he finally got through that! At the end of this week he’s retiring (at age 54) because he can. He’s going to do some consulting and who knows what else — whatever he feels like doing, but rather than stick out work for another 10 years because that’s what he should do, he’s going to spend more time with me, take over the cooking (he’s a much better cook than I am), and do other things that make him happy. It took going through that prior crisis to make him understand that he can do what he wants, not what society demands. And that’s how we opened up our marriage as well. Fuck society — we do our relationship(s) in the way that work for us!

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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