Masculinity in Robert Webb's 'How Not To Be A Boy'
Comic actor Robert Webb’s autobiography, 'How Not To Be A Boy,' depicts issues of ‘manning up’ and how the term shaped and determined his own life.
Revealing the worries and doubts of growing up through grief and family strife, Webb’s autobiography tackles the reality of coping with what’s expected of boys and men.
Webb, one of Britain’s most notable comic actors and writers, draws attention to the concern of expressing emotion, and falling dramatically short of social expectations of masculinity.
In his intimate memoir ‘How Not To Be A Boy’, the actor and writer displays his deepest feelings, recounting his father’s abusive tendencies and the feeling of inadequacy and queerness as a teenager.
Webb's book explores the gender stereotypes of male superiority, the objectification of women, and the repression of feelings within males in modern day society. We’ve all come across the phrases: ‘man up’ or ‘boys don’t cry’, but the main concern is that of the far-reaching consequences of boys having to hide their emotions and ‘be a man’. It reaffirms an outdated and somewhat toxic culture which stipulates men must behave in a particular way in order to be perceived as ‘normal’
The UK statistic which finds British men under 45 more likely to die of suicide than anything else, is clarification that gender stereotypes need to change - an alteration which Webb successfully highlights throughout his book.
Waiting three years before seeing a therapist to address the grief he felt after his mother’s death, Webb discusses how men are unable to give themselves permission to express their true feelings, instead opting to bottle them away.
Through a collection of confusion and challenges, Webb unpicks the meaning of masculinity and femininity, asking what it is to “act like a man”, and why men are more likely than women to kill themselves.
Advocating throughout, Webb displays how this renowned worldwide attitude is wrong, and that men should be able to ask for help and be emotionally honest, without fear of judgement.
Webb’s memoir allows people to know they are not alone. It’s the push society needs to open the conversation around gender and mental health, underlining intelligently, the detrimental effect sexism has on men.
'How To Be A Boy' is available now.