The other day I was, as usual, swiping around on Tinder, trying to find someone interesting to meet. I started a conversation with one of my matches, a very sarcastic and funny girl from Denmark. At one point though, I realized she wasn’t interested in me, so I just shared my blog with her -the ultimate cockblocker. It wouldn’t be the first time I do this, mostly for fun and blatant self-promotion. Her answer? She started calling me “whiney” and “mopey.” My ego took the hit, but her mean comments also moved me to self-reflection. “Am I mopey?”
I define myself as a feminist. I was raised by my mother, due to the lack of care and interest my dad had for me and my siblings. Being the oldest child put a lot of pressure on me, but it also brought me closer to my mum. She, a half-Native independent woman, was very strong and self-driven. She had charisma, empathy, courage and a bulletproof determination. She was, also, my first approach to masculinity. I wanted to be like her, because I saw in her character all the skills and strengths a man should have; much more than my dad had even shown.
Emulating my mother, unfortunately, also came with a price. I became effeminate, by reproducing her every move and words. This, at an age where gender was still not quite settled in me. Of course, in a sexist country like Chile, it was not well seen upon. Soon, even girls started mocking me. I isolated myself from most social interactions with kids my age, and became quiet and shy. Soon after, I started going to a Catholic all-boys highschool, which reshaped my masculinity idea in a completely different way. A way that lasted for longer than I feel comfortable to admit.
On the last few years I finally came to terms with what being a man means. Or, at least, what masculinity is for me. A great deal of this understanding came from being with an empowered Norwegian woman. With her, I could clearly see how deviant were the ways of my Latin American culture, and how sexist the whole world is. Yet, at the same time she emancipated me from the narrow mindset of a male chauvinist education, she also put me through the pain and struggle that every awakened and sensitive man goes through. The dark side of masculinity.
In a modern society where gender equality has slowly began to become the norm, there is still a long road ahead to go. A two-way street, to be more specific. For as long as women castrate and adopt nice sensitive guys as their cockless friends to whom they can bitch about the douche bags they end up fucking, things are not gonna change. As long as non-aggressive and non-alpha-male guys keep being rejected in favor of rapey dudes, things will stay the same. As long as girls keep looking for unreal physical and behavioral male models, men will keep asking the same unreal ideals from them. And so on and so forth.
Everyone agrees that being a woman, nowadays and always, is and had been hard. But few think about how hard it is to be a good man. How much shit we have to go through to make a stand against traditional outdated gender roles that demand us to be tough and strong all the time. That it is expected from us to bring food to the table and endless nights of passionate sex. That we must fight and bleed and kill to get what we want. That we should be tall and muscular and driven and determined. That insecurity and any display of “female emotions” are not allowed, because “boys don’t cry” and bullshit alike. And, still, after all of that, we must be gentlemen, fun and delightful. As if we were gods or robots with an endless source of energy and knowledge.
For 33 years, knowingly or not, I have been trying to make a difference, to change the widespread concept of masculinity. This work can be found in my writing and the way I conduct myself and my life. The costs of this have been enormous, but the rewards, fulfilling. For every time I achieve my goals, enjoy a new experience or have sex with a new girl, I am proving the world -and myself- that being sensitive and genuinely nice pays off. That not because a man is seemingly passive is not interested nor interesting. And that masculinity is not about how aggressive, hairy, smelly, muscular or douchey you are, but more about how in touch you are with your emotions and how connected and emphatic you are with your fellow humans. Strength and character are not the lack of insecurity or “whining,” but the fact that you can get shit done. The fact of being driven despite having to fight the world and yourself to follow your passion and dreams. And the fact that doing this by not screwing over anyone is possible and much more rewarding, although the extra work it requires.
Maybe with these words I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. Perhaps, man and woman will keep mocking and looking down on guys like me. Regardless of that, mopey, whiney or whatever the fuck you wanna call me; I am proud of speaking my mind and giving back to the mother who taught me how to be a true man and to the woman that put the concept of feminism high up in my list of core values. The values that deeply connect, in my humble opinion, with what masculinity really entails.
Originally published at thegrayscaleinbetween.com on October 22, 2016.