What do people mean when they say that “it’s a man’s world?”
They mean, in most cases, that men possess most of the power and control in our society. But, what does that mean? Most men balk at the idea that they are “in control.” That’s because, like most things related to gender expectations, the definition of “control” can be a little murky. Men get the message in a million subtle ways from birth that a “real man” steps up and takes control in any critical situation. He’s expected to be the leader in the boardroom, the living room, and the bedroom. He’s expected to be in control of his emotions at all times, to be the one to discipline himself and his children. He has all the answers. He solves all the important problems. He earns the income, and controls how it is spent. He decides and directs. He takes action. He moves others to action. And he… must be so freaking exhausted. THESE are The Man Rules and the expectations they place upon men.
Of course there is nothing wrong with men taking on leadership roles if they feel qualified and called to it. It all comes down to whether they have a tendency toward “toxic control” or “nurturing control.” The rule that says men must lead, must control all outcomes, and must control those around them in order to achieve desired outcomes, is a form of toxic control and leads to a lot of misery for men, and the people around them. In contrast, “nurturing control,” which we agree sounds like a total oxymoron, is a tendency to take control of a situation when and if it is needed and warranted, and when those affected feel comfortable with ceding control to you.
In this episode, Dr. Allen Berger returns for another installment of the What Men Would Tell You… series. He and Dan offer some insight for women into where a man’s tendency toward toxic control often comes from, and how they may be able to support him in adjusting that behavior. AND, as an added bonus, women listening may be able to begin to recognize some of their own tendencies toward toxic control, with the end goal of forming a more equitable, mutually supportive, and satisfying relationship.