Book Review: Mask of Masculinity

Book Review: Mask Of Masculinity | She Sweats DiamondsGosh, where do I begin? To be honest, today’s blog post of this book review almost didn’t go live. Why? I have SO much to say about the topic within the pages of this book that I was afraid this blog post would be a novel in itself!

Well, get ready anyway because this is going to be a long post and for two reasons: 1) I love Lewis Howes and am a huge fan of what he’s doing and 2) the topic he talks about personally hits home. Hard.

If you’re new here, I talk about Lewis a lot. I have many things to say regarding this book and this topic so you’ll see why I talk about him and the work he’s doing so much. Let’s get started!

A few months ago, I was talking to my best friend (hey, Rachie!) about what was bothering me: how men are not able to express their emotions. I told her how it bothered me that men can’t talk about what they’re really feeling because it makes them “less than a man” in society’s eyes. Truthfully, this has bothered me for so long. 

Apparently, Lewis had been reading my mind for awhile because it wasn’t long after my conversation with Rachel when I heard that he was launching his new book soon. When I found out the title of his book, I totally broke my rule for 2017: not to buy any new personal development books until I finish the ones I own.

In Lewis’s latest book, The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives, he talks about the seven masks men wear:

  1. The Stoic Mask – Meaning that men should never show emotion
  2. The Athletic Mask – Meaning that men must be physically superior to others
  3. The Aggressive Mask – Meaning that men show aggression whenever they are angry
  4. The Sexual MaskDictates that men must be “successful” with the opposite sex
  5. The Joker Mask – Meaning that men use humor to deflect and dodge real issues
  6. The Know-it-all Mask – Meaning that men be intellectually superior to their peers
  7. The Invincible Mask – Meaning that men can show no signs of emotional or physical pain
  8. The Material Mask – Meaning that men pursue material wealth and possessions
  9. The Alpha Mask – Demands that men portray an image of dominance over their peers

Here’s my short review: Lewis gets vulnerable and deep about masculinity and uses examples not only for us to relate to, but so we can feel what he’s saying about this topic (while including his personal experiences). He drops many truths, gives calls-to-action and then some! I couldn’t help, but get emotional reading this book (Lewis’s voice on Audible intensified my emotions even more so!). 

My long review is lengthy because it’s more personal. As I read this book, it was natural to think of my own friends in my life. The leader in me also wanted to figure out a possible problem and the solution to this problem too.

Here’s what I’ve learned as I wove my personal experiences with the points of this book.

PROBLEM: Identity

The problem people struggle with at some point in their life is identity. As I get older, I see it more and more with the men I meet and have in my life. It’s exactly like how you’re about to buy a certain car and all of the sudden, you see it everywhere. Yeah, like that.

Personally, I related to The Stoic Mask, The Athletic Mask, The Aggressive Mask, The Joker Mask, The Invincible Mask, Material Mask and The Alpha Mask the most.

Here are real examples I’ve seen in my life:

The Athletic Mask – In high school, I remember one specific football game. We were playing our town rivals. The vast majority of our guys on the team were injured and yet they played through their injuries. For me, I’m not sure if they played through injuries to show their masculinity or if it was about winning at all costs. Maybe it was a little of both.

I’ve also seen the effects this mask has once it comes off of professional football players. A great example is Brett Favre. Once he took off his athletic mask, he didn’t know who he was without it, hence the multiple comebacks before finally retiring. Several of my guy friends who played football at various levels in their life often talked referred to their past when talking to someone. Sometimes it made me think that talking about their athletic abilities made them feel better in a sense.

The Aggressive Mask – When I was little, I witnessed a lot of aggression with my daddy. If he didn’t have a “comeback” to what my mom said (and she hardly ever screamed), he’d break stuff. I thought it was so weird because the level of his anger didn’t match the level of my mom’s voice when they argued. Instead of having a conversation with her, he went into the kitchen and broke a lot of dishes instead.

The Joker Mask – The interesting thing with this particular mask is that one of my girlfriends wears this mask. She’s good at making people laugh and tends to derail conversations before it gets too deep with a joke.

And over time, I’ve noticed that her method has turned from protecting herself to isolating herself. 

Material Mask – During college, one of my guy friends told me that he was going to pull back the reins on dating. Another friend asked him why because she didn’t understand why he was doing what he was doing. And because I think like a guy, I flat out asked him, “It’s because you want to be able to be ‘successful’ and take care of yourself before you take care of the girl, right?” He responded with, “Exactly! How did you know?”

I knew because to him, being manly was being able to take care of himself. And if he could take care of himself by being able to afford nice things, he could take care of the girl in his life.

The Alpha Mask – I’ve experienced this at my job for the last five years. If other people that work in our office were traveling, this person was nice and normal. If people were in the office, he made it certain to show who’s boss.

The Stoic Mask and The Invincible Mask – I left these two last as it’s the most personal to me. To me, these two goes hand in hand. I’ve experienced this throughout my life, but more so within the last decade of my life. One of my guy friends shared with me what he had been struggling with for 20-something years of his life. He also revealed that he kept it a secret from his family, me and our other mutual friends.

As time I went on, I learned that his dad didn’t allow his kids to show their emotions, otherwise, he’d “give them something to cry about.” The struggle my friend is battling with even messed up our friendship at one point too.

I had the toughest time forgiving him for hurting me and “ruining” our friendship. However, after some time and a lot of prayer, I forgave him. And that’s when I realized that he didn’t know how to express his feelings because he was never allowed to in his home when he was growing up. Feeling/being hurt wasn’t a manly thing to do.

The most heartbreaking thing I’ve seen in regards to emotions, feelings, identity and self-worth is my friend not being able to express his emotions. It’s heartbreaking to see how he holds back sooo much for fear that others might judge him. He never felt that he had safe place where he can express his feelings without being judged so he made up stories in his mind that weren’t real. Examples would be, “So-and-so is too busy to talk to me.” Or “I must’ve done something wrong because so-and-so hasn’t called me in weeks.” or “I’m afraid ___ won’t love me anymore.”

In the end, a lot of his relationships were broken because of these two masks he unknowingly had on. His self-worth was tied to those emotions. He couldn’t express anything because his dad suppressed this kind of “behavior.” So what happened? He used pornography as an avenue to channel his feelings.


SOLUTION: Starting and having conversations WITHOUT judgement. 

Lewis does just that with his new book, The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives and then some.

He talked about how opening up about his rape experiences began the healing process he needed. Lewis also talked about how his vulnerability changed his life and business for the better.

I admit, having these conversations is hard…on both ends. The person dealing with this may not be ready for fear of judgement. And the person who’s the support system is probably just as scared because they don’t know what’s underneath the mask. However, the way to start the healing process is talking about it.

Lewis is right. The journey to remove the mask/masks is a long one. But, it’s something we need to do if we want to help more people in our lives. And it all begins with the simple step of having a conversation. However, just know that you can’t have the conversation if you don’t create a safe environment for the other party.


ACTION STEPS:

Lewis just doesn’t “talk” in this book, he relates to his readers by explaining what happens when you’re open, vulnerable and honest. On top of that, he gives the reader calls-to-action with step-by-step plans. Depending on which side of the line you’re on, you can begin by asking some of these questions:

What’s your vision?

What’s your commitment in life??

What do you want from your family/friendship relationships?

What have you been neglecting?

Are you dealing with a huge void? Are you avoiding something?

It’s important to give the guys in your life permission to feel so they can understand that they are worthy and have a sense of belonging and a sense of self-worth.

And the best thing a woman can do to help the men around her is to lead by example and be open herself. Of course it’s hard to be vulnerable, but I’ve found that it gets easier the more you open up. I know for me, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m an open book. When I’m upset, sad, angry or happy, you know it. And you know what? It FEELS great and very freeing. 

My own goal is to create a safe place for the men in my life and ask them more questions from a place of understanding. 

By beginning dialogue on this very topic, questions such as the ones above give the guys in our lives the opportunity to be open as we seek to understand.


RESULTS

Reading Mask of Masculinity is just the beginning of a much-needed movement, a change this world needs. It’s the beginning of a long, overdue conversation we need to have with one another. And if we can just take our own masks off for a few moments to talk about it, that would make a difference in itself.

Healthy relationships with your identity, connections/relationships, self-worth, goals, inner peace, worthiness, groundedness, true partnership and healing are the major results of these kinds of conversations.

And Lewis is right: Sometimes the hardest thing is to forgive yourself. Click To Tweet

So, what happens when you drop your mask or help someone remove their mask?

You’ll find people who care about you most on the other side of your mask. No judgment, just love. You’ll also find that you’re practicing love and patience. You’ll learn that there are so many hurt people. And you’ll learn that you most likely have something in common with that person. In turn, with what you learn, you’ll spread more love into this world.

All in all, this was such a greattt book. Aside from my love for fashion and beauty, leadership is a major passion of mine. However, to me, leadership encompasses identity, communication and knowing how to build strong relationships with others. As you can imagine, I was very excited to get my hands on this book! 

Lewis stresses that even though his book is geared towards guys, women need to read this to better understand and communicate with their men better. I wholeheartedly agree! After reading this book, I decided to write this blog post to start a conversation this world needs. Lewis really inspired me to talk about this topic even more. I also feel more confident because I felt like my communication skills got better. 

Even if no one comments on this post, I know someone out there will be reading it. So in my eyes, I know I’m helping someone to lift up their mask even if they’re not ready to take it off completely. And it feels so good to have an awesome tool to help others and strengthen the relationships in my own life.

Have you read Mask of Masculinity yet and if so, what are your thoughts?

Truth: I nabbed this book as gifts for those in my life because I felt that it was that important to talk about this subject. I want to make waves, cause a ripple affect of this message and have everyone begin to talk about it…kind of like Finding Nemo style where he finds out through the grapevine that his dad is coming to rescue him.

Actually, I just gifted two copies last night and am beaming today!!! Why? Because after one of my guys opened his book and thanked me, he told me, “Watch, you’ll see what I learn from this book come out in my classes!”

Oh, you don’t even know, haha

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Book Review: Mask of Masculinity