What is it about men and overconfidence?
It seems our society encourages men to brag, lie, deceive, exaggerate their abilities.
It’s way beyond just saying, “The fish was THIS BIG.”
It’s not cute. It’s not endearing.
I dated a boy in high school who bragged constantly and I really didn’t know any better then. He claimed he owned a 64 1/2 Mustang. He claimed he did yard work for the Monticello subdivision, and he led people to believe it was the highly affluent neighborhood on the far side of town. He made a lot of claims that I never could actually refute because I didn’t ever really confront him. The car was in storage (apparently it belonged to his uncle) and the subdivision turned out to be just some duplexes.
I’ve met lots of men who feel a need to brag and exaggerate and flat-out lie to appear better than they really are. Many just allow us to believe whatever we assume without any correction, as long as they look good.
Many men want constantly to relive their “glory days,” whenever they feel that was – high school, college, early adulthood. Whenever they felt biggest and baddest, strongest and most in control.
The really sad thing is that people who brag the most just can’t accept who they really are, so they have to portray themselves as somehow more than they really are.
Carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre straight white man.Lily Tomlin
When women believe men, they suffer.
As much as I despise about my father and all his faults, this is one area where he doesn’t fall short. I can’t remember him ever misrepresenting himself. He is 80 and still thinks he can do things he could do at age 50, but that’s a little bit different.
My first husband’s father told everyone he was retired. I believed him. Who wouldn’t? But, he didn’t pull a pension from anywhere. He never retired. He just quit working. He claimed when he became a Christian, he just couldn’t manage to work in secular jobs anymore. There has to be more to the story, but that’s all I ever got. I wasn’t allowed to ask questions. His wife worked herself to death and they lived on credit until they filed for bankruptcy.
My second husband used his religion to manipulate me and others. The final straw was when he was fired from his job and deceived me for over three weeks. He just pretended to go to work still. When I saw through his vast façade and tried to leave, he destroyed me in every way he could with outrageous lies. I lost my job. I lost my friends. I lost my church.
My current husband bragged for years about what a great gift giver he is, also how he could build a deck and fence. He is not really a good gift giver, some because I am not a good receiver, and I have purchased and wrapped all gifts for everyone for every holiday for almost two decades, but who brags about that? What is it about men who buy gifts for their wives that they themselves want or are the traditional no-no’s – electronics, foods, housewares? When we bought our house and I called him out on his stories of building decks and fences, he balked and we had to hire someone to replace the fence – who did a rather shabby job anyway. He helped his brothers-in-law build a deck over twenty years ago, but he didn’t singlehandedly design, plan, or implement anything. At least he can actually do basic plumbing and electrical chores.
My kids have known people, adults and children, who feel the need to puff up and brag about who they know, what they do, what they have, what their family and friends have or do. It’s rather distasteful and very disappointing when my kids find out the truth behind the lies.
The funny thing is that men are allowed and encouraged to brag, but women can’t even be honest about our accomplishments without being told to be more humble. Women are supposed to be modest or humblebrag to downplay ourselves and our accomplishments, our victories…especially when in the presence of men and their fragile egos. Women can’t appear to be efficient or capable or not needing a man to guide and protect us. Women are supposed to pretend to be helpless, less than we are, dumber than we are, powerless…so as to not emasculate men.
I was actively taught to exhibit this behavior by my own parents and teachers and adults. I have seen it in my kids and it disgusts me that I have actively tried to teach them to be confident and assertive.
We are living in dangerous times when men continue to grasp power and fight to keep power away from women, children, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized groups.
- Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo
- Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
- Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
- Dying of Politeness: A Memoir by Geena Davis
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
- The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
- Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women by Kate Manne
- The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina: Separating the Myth from the Medicine by Dr. Jen Gunter
- The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism by Dr. Jen Gunter
- In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker
- Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk by Delores S. Williams
- Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today by Rachel Vorona Cote
- Hysterical: Why We Need to Talk About Women, Hormones, and Mental Health by Eleanor Morgan
- Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
- Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis
- Vox by Christina Dalcher
Linking up: Eclectic Red Barn, Pam’s Party, Random Musings, Ridge Haven, Mostly Blogging, God’s Growing Garden, LouLou Girls, Anita Ojeda, Jeanne Takenaka, Jenerally Informed, April Harris, InstaEncouragements, Simply Coffee, Joanne Viola, Soaring with Him, Homestead, Life Abundant, Create with Joy, Fluster Buster, Penny’s Passion, Artful Mom, Imparting Grace, Slices of Life, Beyond the Kitchen, Modern Monticello, Momfessionals, Answer is Chocolate, Lisa Notes, Being a Wordsmith,
Jeanne Takenaka says
Jennifer, I’ve found that when a person feels a need to extol themselves, they’re often covering deep insecurity. It is frustrating to be in the presence of someone who does this, but even more, I often find myself pitying them for the underlying message their actions convey. You’re wise to teach your children to act with confidence and assertiveness. These skills will serve them well into adulthood.
Anita Ojeda says
Oh, boy! I agree with you so much here! I especially love the tweet about guns… I taught our daughters to be assertive and to stand up for themselves. It’s always surprising when they turn into adults and use the skills you taught them to call you on things ;). But I’m proud of them for doing it!
It’s so sad that Christians get this all wrong–they pay no attention to the way Jesus treated women.
Lisa notes says
You’re definitely on to something here, Jennifer. As a general rule, our culture has trained men to be overconfident, and women to be underconfident. And then to make matters worse, we often live with a “confidence bias,” trusting people who exude confidence regardless of whether or not their confidence is based on reality.
Laurie Cover says
I’m sorry that you’ve had some bad experiences.
I’ve lived with guys for all of my life. Three brothers, three sons, and a husband with a brother. Some do brag a bit, and that’s not my nature, so I can’t say I understand it always, but it seems that my guys puff it up a bit when no one else notices. They do it with each other, and it’s just “what they do”. It’s a way of challenging each other to do more, and just is one way that men and women are different.
Idk, the more I see our differences, the more I value what men bring to the table. Mine have skills I certainly don’t, and I find that their confidence helps them to tackle more, do more. God gives them more of a risk taking ability in order to protect, to provide, and to just get things done.
Once again, I see that God made men good. Is every man good in every way? Of course not! And no man is perfect at all. But no woman is either. All men do wrong sometimes. It’s never right to lie. But often I find that we become bitter and can only see the wrong. With my guys, when they know I am “against them” mentally, it defeats them. We can do much to lift up our guys, just as we are blessed, and really expect the men to show love and support for us.
I hope that you can find some peace.
I appreciate you sharing your post at the a Homestead Blog Hop.