As a trans woman, I might bring a different perspective to this question, as I’ve actually had the experience of being perceived and treated as a man, as well as being pressured to look and behave like one. Here’s a short list:
- Being pressured to participate in toxic masculinity. Observing men mistreating women and having them give you the wink to say “it’s ok, we’re men… were allowed to behave this way”. Ugh!!! (Shudders)
- Not being allowed to cry. This is probably one of the biggest single things which hurts men! Crying is a natural response to extreme emotions, and it’s an emotional regulator. Back when I thought I was a guy, after any of the few times I allowed myself to cry, I always felt better about the emotion which brought me to tears, but I also felt an immense sense of guilt and shame about having cried. Once I finally dropped the pretense of trying to be a man and allowed myself to cry as needed without shame, my emotional state is vastly improved.
- Men stink. Really. It isn’t their fault – it’s a side effect of testosterone. When they sweat, it becomes a stench. Yuck! Thank goodness when I killed my testosterone and got my estrogen levels under control, those smells went away!
- Hair! Omg! Body hair is so gross! And male-pattern baldness is such a tragedy! Don’t get me wrong – men can absolutely rock being bald, but it’s unfair that many men don’t get that choice!
- Expectations — men are expected to be:
- strong. Showing any weakness calls your manhood into question.
- independent. There’s nothing wrong with being independent, but as humans, we are built to need other humans, yet men are so often isolated because it can be perceived as a sign of weakness (see above) to ask for help.
- stoic. There’s a power to being vulnerable. When we admit vulnerability, we give others the opportunity to show their love for us. When we are stoic, we can take away those opportunities, which can lead to feelings of isolation.
Being a man isn’t all bad, but if we could do away with some of the rigid rules and expectations and bad behaviors, I think most men would be much better off!