Just Gonna Say It: Men Need To Speak Up About Outdated Masculinity Ideas To Shift The Narrative

Contributor: Matt Agnew

When it comes to conversations around masculinity and the role that men play in dating, relationships, and society more generally, I have always felt passionate about having a voice. To be honest, I found it frustrating that men largely seem to keep quiet when it comes to conversations in this space.

When you think about it, it is such a luxurious position because there is this sense that they have this choice — they can decide whether to engage or not. For me, it was really important to use my voice, take part in the discussion and be a strong ally, because I believe that by men speaking out, change starts taking place.

The reality is there aren’t many men who have open and honest conversations about what it means to be a healthy man in 2023. And what that silence does is create a vacuum, one that allows a space for people like Andrew Tate, Joe Rogan, and Jordan Peterson to have loud and powerful voices. For me speaking up is about trying to fill that vacuum and prevent it from being filled by all that negativity.

matt Agnew masculinity
Image: Instagram / @drmattagnew

Masculinity and the role that it plays needs to be completely reframed in our society. Bumble’s 2022 research found that three-quarters of the 14,300 respondents are examining their behaviour and have a clearer understanding of toxic masculinity and what is not acceptable, so my mission is to see that statistic climb in the years to come.

Thankfully we are now in a time where we have witnessed growth in the economic power of women — I see this as tremendously important in moving towards gender equality. But there is still excess baggage from our past – men often still have this outdated, antiquated stereotype that has seen them positioned as the breadwinner, the protector, the one with the power – but now it is a time to rescript what men bring to the table.

In dating, I see modern masculinity as first and foremost getting rid of this terrible stoicism and not showing vulnerability and emotions. Now, I am not suggesting that on your first date you should pour your heart out to someone — although this too is ok, if you meet your date’s energy, but for me being able to talk about your emotions and your feelings is everything.

Bumble’s Modern Masculinity trend found that 50% of men are breaking outdated stereotypes and one-third feel more confident talking about their emotions, this is certainly a step in the right direction, but we need to keep moving forward to make real change.

I also see modern masculinity in dating as communicating honestly. This means setting your intent upfront and starting with a totally honest foundation. There is nothing wrong with having an intention that you are looking for something casual or that you want a long-term relationship, but both parties need to share and communicate their intent and be on the same page.

Finally, it also falls on men to create a safe space in the dating experience — I believe this is our role. It is really important that men are respectful and lay the foundations of establishing a safe atmosphere, if their date makes the decision and wants to end the date early — this is ok.

matt Agnew masculinity
Image: Instagram / @drmattagnew

Everyone should have complete agency over their decisions. Men need to foster a sense of safety that the other party feels safe to be able to make a decision to leave the date – should they wish to.

My overall message to men is to get involved and take part in the conversation. The men and the brotherhood need to listen — without judgement — and hear how women feel and then examine what their role might be and the role of the community.

It really is time to stop thinking ‘I don’t want to get involved’ or ‘I don’t want to be political’ or ‘I don’t want to rock the boat’. We need men to drive the change and stamp out poor behaviour. We need to see this as a powerful opportunity to show what a modern man looks like and shine the light on old, outdated and toxic values.

At the end of the day, men have a choice. And we have a fundamental responsibility in reexamining and reshaping what we bring to dating, relationships and the community more broadly.