Men are expected to put themselves at risk. It's part of performing masculinity — the stuff everybody does every day to act like their gender "should."

For guys, this means leaping into danger. Because that's considered "manly," and being manly is what you dad taught you to be. It means acting like you don't care about your own health and safety. After all, valuing something as ordinary as safety is viewed as something a weakness in men — a real man ought to be able to recover from anything, and never show pain...right? But this mentality is doing our society, and then men in it, an enormous disservice.

Recklessness is not manliness

It’s well known that men have to pay higher car insurance than women because they’re “more reckless.” Did you know that actually the opposite is true? And yet it fuels the expectation that men should act stupid just for social points. This extends to the workplace, where there's less place for recklessness than anywhere else. People's careers can bring the most regular brushes with hazardous situations in a world that's otherwise pretty safe. This is especially true for men, who face less violence elsewhere on average.

Well that doesn’t make sense...

Particularly hazardous work environments are seen as especially masculine: construction, mechanical engineering, heavy equipment operators, etc. Due to government regulations, these jobs push awareness, caution, and tons of training on their employees, but negative social pressure can encourage men to ignore these precautions. The result is often injury, whether by accident or overwork. And sometimes those injuries have lasting consequences.

Just be smart

A real man acts on his convictions with confidence, ignoring the insecurities that other people try to force on you, or how they think you should be. Ironically, the implicit demand that men act "strong" by acting recklessly relies on people's weakness. It feeds on fear of losing respect or being excluded. If you’re in an unsafe situation, resolve it or get out of there. If you get injured, report it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — just common sense.

And be careful!

Some construction workers keep photos of their families in their hats or inside their lunchboxes to remind themselves to be safe while on the job. Remembering the people who depend on you and the goals that you want to achieve is one of the best ways to fight against the social pressures that seek to pull you down. It's better to protect yourself, and keep your life options as broad as possible than to face early retirement on workers' comp, or suffering silently through an injury that was never reported.

Frankly, most gendered stuff we're asked to perform doesn't respect our rights as individuals. Society’s media-defined expectations of masculinity are warped at best, changing by location and era. We know this, and yet we still let them chain us. Instead, be yourself, be confident, be smart, and be safe.

Author's Bio: 

Shae Holland is a professional copywriter with expertise in a range of subjects. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, exploring new chocolate recipes, and spending time with her two dogs. For more information related to this article, visit this link.