December 02, 2020

Today we will talk about the Man Box. Sociologist Paul Carvel theorised it to represent the ways that men are expected to conform to a rigid set of behavioral and physical expectations.

Therefore, like the Lady Box, analysed last week, the Man Box can be seen as an infographic about what society considers a “real man”, and what isn’t deemed worthy of such a name.

It is important to note how the set standards are particularly hard to meet for queer men.


  • tough, strong
  • non-emotional, 
  • decisive, 
  • physically imposing, 
  • verbally forceful, 
  • heterosexual
  • handling others who are weaker or lesser.


  • sensitivity, 
  • kindness, 
  • vulnerability, openness, warmth, gentleness, 
  • fear, 
  • sadness, 
  • being physically small or weak
  • being quiet.

The most apparent thing is how this box is basically a reversed “Lady Box”. Everything the proper lady is required to be and do, a proper man needs to avoid. Because, of course, feminine is (considered) “lesser”.

What is terrifying, is that if we look at what is outside of the box, much of it is the very core of being a human. Feeling emotions such as fear and sadness, being kind to one another, allowing one's self to be open and vulnerable are all fundamental for humans to grow healthy and balanced. On the other side, many of the things we encourage men to be or do (more or less knowingly) are extremely toxic.

Shame Researcher Brenè Brown reports that a man after her show went up to her and said

“My wife and three daughters, the ones who you just signed the books for, they had rather see me die on top of my white horse than have to watch me fall off”


Women still play a big part in keeping men inside the box. Simple sentences like “he’s the girl of the couple, he’s way more sensitive than I!”, “I wouldn’t date a guy shorter than me”, “Men should be the ones making the first move”, reinforce the idea that manhood stays inside the box. Not to mention the evergreen “Boys will be boys”, which excuses them for harmful behaviours as long as they are “manly”.


I guess if there is one thing that I would like to leave you with, it is the understanding the patriarchy spares no one, and that when women ask for equality, they MUST ask for equality for all. Wanting to be free of gender expectations but wanting men to pay for dinner won’t cut it. Telling them we want a new role in the family but they better not get out of their own won’t cut it. Claiming back our power while expecting them not to ever show weakness won’t cut it. 


Can you think of a way that you are upholding societal standards against men? I, for one, am very attracted to “big” guys (tall and physically imposing) and it took me a very long time to realise that, if it coincides with societal gender stereotypes, it isn’t a preference: it’s patriarchy! 


Let me know what you think of my blog, what are the ways you might be still problematic when it comes to gender stereotypes, and the one you freed yourself from!

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