Man Box Culture Pervasive in Student Body

With students returning to campus this week, many have been reflecting upon the elements of campus culture that may have made their previous school years more negative. 1 issue that has been brought to light is “man box culture.”

Man box culture was born from previous wartime eras, when men were expected to reject vulnerability and only be aggressive. However, this warfare-created culture has persisted into the 21st century and even has made its presence known at Campolindo.

Human Social Development teacher Stephanie Verbanszky explained man box culture as “refer[ing] to the rigid definition of what it means to be masculine in our culture… In American culture it represents a rejection of everything that is considered feminine or ‘girly.’”

1 primary aspect of man box culture is that it restricts male students.

Sophomore Isabella Perry listens to the “Evolved Caveman” podcast hosted by Dr. John Schinner which discusses man box culture and similar topics. “[Man box culture] affects men a lot with the 3 major emotions that men are only allowed to show, [which] are lust, anger and stress, we can see that a lot portrayed throughout the media and… in our day to day lives,” Perry said.

The name “man box culture” refers to the social box men are put in. In our society, men are expected to act a certain way because of these limited amounts of accepted feelings. Not only does man box culture limit male emotional expression, but it also can cause unwanted stress.

“Men can suffer as they strive to meet unreachable expectations and feel they must reject parts of who they are or embrace other interests or behaviors that are not truly theirs,” Verbanszky said.

Sophomore Bryce Maher has noticed this culture among male students. “I think the biggest restriction [for male students] comes from peer pressure from other men and how it forces [male students] to conform to other ways of thinking…[such as] how men can’t show weakness and men have to be strong. It’s all just 1 big… contest,” Maher said.

However, man box culture is harmful to all students, not just male-identifying students.

Toxic masculine traits that come from man box culture “foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence, [which is violence that happens for no logical reason],” according to the Journal Of Clinical Psychology.

Verbanszky said, “Women can suffer [from the culture] because of the narrow definition of femininity that compliments man box culture. Anyone whose gender identity or expression falls in between masculinity and femininity on the spectrum can suffer as they exist outside of what our culture often considers ‘normal.’”

Man box culture can cause women to be seen as the “antiman,” Perry explained. “If men are strong, women are weak, or if women are compassionate, men are uncompassionate,” said Perry.

Verbanszky added, “I have frequently seen evidence of this at Campo. The gender imbalance in certain courses like computer programming or AP English reflects these expectations of what each gender should be interested in.”

Perry believes this damaging culture can be stopped via education and said, “It’s very important to educate teenagers about man box culture because it affects every single 1 of us. Also, this is something that gets passed on throughout generations and that’s why it’s still around… By educating people about man box culture, it allows us to stop that harmful tradition that hurts both men and women.”

Verbanksy added, “The more children and young people [that] can be allowed to develop into themselves without strong pressures to conform to these [man box cultural] norms, the better.”