Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Confidence Myth

How many times have you heard a woman say that what is most attractive about a man is confidence? And it's true, confidence and a natural self-belief in anyone, regardless of gender, is very attractive. I think we are all guilty of expecting a kind of consistency and confidence from others that we know we are incapable of embodying within ourselves.

This is really the most frustrating thing about being a man, in the context of sexuality. You have to exhibit an unrealistic kind of confidence. You have to act like you know what you are doing, in almost any situation, and if you don't, you are simply not attractive. Or worse, you are simply not a man.

But the fact is, being a human has only a passing relationship to confidence. In a world that seems by definition to be overwhelming, where we are bombarded to the point of sensual overload, how can we always be confident? Even in the things that we are good at, or show some natural potential for, it is harder than ever to maintain confidence. Most of us are forced into a kind of schizophrenia because of this. Most of us have to exhibit confidence, bury insecurities, just to maintain a projection of masculinity.

You might argue that since the rise of feminism, it has become impossible to get away with masculine bravado in favour of natural confidence. That women, and society in general, are no longer willing to accept it. However, my reply to that is that the form of our masculine schizophrenia has merely become more sophisticated. The lies that men tell themselves about themselves have adapted and become more subtle. As the image of what a man should be has been adapted to change in line with the demands of feminism, so have the masks that men wear. These days we might intergrate more false modesty, or humourous self-deprication into our personas, but these are really just multi-dimensional ways of hiding our vulnerabilties.

Confidence is attractive. But I would argue that those women who demand it are really still trying to make men into daddy figures. That the need for a man to exhbit confidence is a form of objectification that masquerades as something more benign. I will accept that women are justifiably less tolerant of bravado and arrogance. I believe that as men, we should be less tolerant with each other in these cases. But demanding that men should be permanantly confident is at best unrealistic, and at worst, the cause of further patholigical dishonesty in the male psyche. No one can be completely confident all the time. Mozart himself probably had his moments of terror facing the keys of his instrument.

The demand for unending confidence, is a scourge on true masculinity, because at its heart is a demand for invulnerability. However we couch it in the new age lingo, we are still unable to accept that men can be vulnerable, and that there is an essential, evolutionary legitimacy to owning one's weaknesses.

We don't live in a world free from masculine narcissism. As I say, it's just become more sophisticated and risks becoming more insidious as a result. It still stops men fom owning the truth about themselves, and therefore can be classed as a form of objectification. It's time that the modern feminist owned up to her responsibility in this as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment