We have all heard the phrases,be a man, stop crying, stop acting like a girl, dont be a pussy, man up, grow some balls, dont be a punk.”
These phrases are usually targeted to men. When women are showing emotion, the usual responses are, its okay, dont worry, get it out, it’ll get better.
We sooth girls when they are crying but tell boys they need to grow up and be a man. And then when they grow up and show no emotion, people wonder why its so hard for them to open up. THEY’VE BEEN TAUGHT ALL THEIR LIVES NOT TO? to completely reverse what they’ve adapted to and what society encourages is not easy. Men shouldnt have to repress their emotions because they fear they will be emasculated because of it.
Masculinity is defined as “possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men.” This definition alone is problematic because it is assuming that only men can be masculine. But besides that, traditionally some of those qualities would be the money maker of the household, strong, protector, sexually experienced and dominant, a fighter, unemotional and this last can go in forever. The problem with this is that masculinity of often linked to one man’s hood and to prove they are “man enough”, they try to showcase or exaggerate these characteristics which emphasizes hypermasculine culture.
Masculinity affects all men but even more so, black men. In mainstream society, the black man is often seen as strong, powerful, intimidating, dominant moreso than any other race. There is pressure in that, whether men want to defy it or not. Just as women feel pressure sometimes to be dolled up, to not be as sexually free as they want, men feel pressures as well, especially our black men. Because of these expectations we hold for black men, when they come out as gay, or wear anything that’s typically feminine or show any other emotion besides anger, they are seen as weak and not a man. Since when is masculinity linked to sexuality or choice of clothing? Masculinity is about how you feel and your inner being, not something that other’s dictate.
Men can’t even compliment each other without feeling “gay” or justifying that comment with “no homo.” Because men have been encouraged to sleep around, get as many girls as possible, being seen as gay defies what we define as masculine. It can lead to so much psychological damage to have men repress themselves afraid of defying these odds. I wrote a spoken word piece a couple weeks ago about my thoughts about masculinity.
Masculinity is such a funny, you see. Because this social construct that humans decided to create to help them better understand other’s tendencies.
Though, other’s tendencies dont have jack shit to do with them but the concept of masculinity so fragile for our men.
Men are taught to be brave, strong which is all empowering but also told to not cry, be a man which leads to emotional suffering,
Men are telling men to be bigger men knowing the harm it can cause to their well being.
But who cares about well being as long as theyre not leaning a little to the left, as long as they’re not gay, as long as they dominate their women.
We are teaching boys that the power in their strength and losing that damages who they are which is pretty bazaar because it reinforces rape culture, domestic abuse but thats how theyve been taught to express themselves.
To love,and this continuous cycle of hyper masculinity is nothing to be proud of.
We need to reconstruct the concept of being a man, especially a black man. You can be a black man without being intimidating and aggressive.
Dont let them box you in and make it easier for them to enforce stereotypes. You have so much might to resist. They want you to fall into the dark abyss.
But instead of telling men to be more of a man, lets tell them to just braver. Lets stop excusing them by saying they will just be boys as if they’re all born with an idiotic gene that we can excuse them for.
Because I know deep down in your core, that anger is masking love, heartbreak, sadness and elation. Because there’s more to you than the world wants to see. When we redefine masculinity, we open a world for men to explore feminine possibilities.