Breaking Down the Man Box

While many men live into the confines of the Man Box, they aspire to something else. These men want to be "good" men, which implies being responsible, honest, treating others with respect, and being able to give and receive love. Many young men want to explore their full humanity, embracing manly traits as well as traits that the Man Box tells us is not manly enough.

It is clear that the Man Box needs to be dismantled, but we must be careful not to emasculate boys and young men in the process. It's important to remember that there are many ways to be a guy while valuing their full and authentic human expression. Being a guy is multi-dimensional, and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all definition.

We need to understand the man Box, and realize when we are helping to reinforce it. We need to tell young men, and better yet show them, that it is okay to cry, to be sad, to be overjoyed, and to experience the full range of emotions. We must demonstrate that it is far more cool to be a good man than a real man. If we can do that, then we may be able to finally send the man Box to the recycling bin.


Boehman, J. (2019). Thinking Outside of the [Man] Box: How male gender socialization impacts academic persistence and achievement. Publishing information forthcoming.

Greene, M. (2013). The Man Box: The link between emotional suppression and male violence. Retrieved from

Harris III, F. (2010). "College Men's Meanings of Masculinities and Contextual Influences: Toward a Conceptual Model." Journal of College Student Development, 51(3), pp. 297-318.