Visit the children’s clothing aisles in your favorite department store, and you’ll quickly see how deeply obsessed we are with gender dichotomies. You can be either masculine or feminine, dolls or trucks, pink or blue. You can either be tough or you can be soft. You can either be objective or you can be emotional. You can either be devoted to family or devoted to career. Everything is either/or, rarely both/and.
This means that in order to embody our cultural idea of masculinity, men have to give up any and all claims to traits or behaviors we label as “feminine.” This forces men to detach from the fullness of the human experience.
In order to change the ways we think about men–and help men change the ways they think about themselves–we have to be able to hold competing truths in our heads–You CAN be a total badass and total sweetie pie at the same time. We also have to stop looking at men who display hyper-masculine perspectives and behavior and calling them “typical.” They’re not. They are extreme examples. In order to change unfair expectations about who men can and should be, we have to focus on what’s really going on with men who live between the extremes.
In this episode, Dan talks to psychologist Dr. Ryan McKelley who helps shed some light on what is really going on in between the extremes and how men can tune in to the full range of their emotions to develop more self-discipline and make more meaningful connections.
Ryan A. McKelley, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist, Associate Professor of Clinical/Counseling Psychology, and Department Chair at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He earned a B.S. in Organizational Communication from Northwestern University, and a M.A. in Educational Psychology and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He regularly teaches courses on health psychology, behavior modification, abnormal psychology, group counseling, and men and masculinities. In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. McKelley has provided clinical services in a community mental health center, three university counseling centers, and a pain clinic. He currently provides contract clinical services in individual and group therapy, and clinical supervision. He’s been a weekly discussant on the internet radio show and iTunes podcast The Secret Lives of Men, and is President-Elect for the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity, a division of the American Psychological Association.