"Push your way to the top," "Be the breadwinner," "Stick in there and fight," "Men don't cry."
These cliches and others like them have left 32-year-old Dale Neburg, of Baltimmore, unhappy.
"I feel sexual stereotypes in our culture are oppressive to men and we must find alternative ways to define male roles," said Neburg who, along with more than 150 dissatisfied males, attended a unique seminar on Saturday aimed at finding alternatives to the traditional "macho image."
Richard Haddad, executive director of the "men's lib" organization called "Free Man" said self dissatisfaction is directly tied to what he believes are disproportionally high make rates of alcoholism, suicide, crime, drug addiction and childhood emotional disorders.
Although, Haddad said he cannot statistically prove that point, he said seminars like the one held this past weekend will interest people in thinking about that possibility.
Haddad said the issue of the "macho role" of men first came into question during the women's liberation movement. "We were always discussing why men were always assuming roles that were detrimental to women. We found that was not enough," he said.
According to Haddad, men have traditionally been forced to overlook issues such as their role relationships with other men because of the sterotyped male role.
"Most men are scared to death they will be called homosexual if they are too friendly with other men," said Haddad.
Haddad and other spokesmen for Free Men claim that it is not unsuccessful men that are calling for a change in the traditional "macho image."
"The men who attended the workshops today are . . . mostly successful businessmen, who are questioning the image they have been cultivated to pursue," said one spokesman.
One workshop, called "Career Traps and Escape Strategies," dealt with the effect of rewards and penalties in careers, and their affect on the male self image.
One participant told the group that he was very unsatisified with his job, but it paid well and he had a responsibility to provide for his family. "I want to get out, but I just don't know how."
In another workshop session called "Non-traditional careers for men," Barry Townsend, of Columbia, explained how he opted out of the traditional male role and image by quitting his job as a salesman for McGraw Hill book company and letting his wife work instead.
"I was just not satisfied as a salesman. Sure I could play the role of an intellectual and sell books, but I just wasn't getting below the surface with people," said Townsend, who left his job where he was one of the company's top salesman to become a homemaker and a part-time day-care worker.
On another topic covered by a seminar called "Being Tender and Being Malle," a participant siad. "The contrast between love and lust just screws me up."
The participant told the group how he had a girl friend on the West Coast with who he was very much in love and how another girl had finally told him, "Look, I think we are in lust" rather then in love.
A number of men in the group said they have become numb to emotion and that they feel their lives are missing something very important.
The depression that comes with such feelings was discussed by Mark Edwards, who in another workshop indicated that such feelings often lead to drag and alcohol abuse.
"We are told to drink like men . . . and to be tough," said Edwards who described what he called "the hairy leg," philosophy of society.
He said that men have been placed in roles where drinking was the measure of their masculinity. He said to "drink someone under the table" is considered a masculine feat. He explained, however, that the ability to "hold your liquor" had more to do with the your liquor tolerance level and experience than with masculinity.
The leaders of Free Men said they are using this past weekend's seminar to kick off a membership drive. They said they hope to reach men throughout the Washington Baltimore area.
"We do not expect to change things overnight. We believe that there can be a change through education and that is what we plan to focus on," said Haddad.