Adding the Human to “The Man”
Sweat-drenched tees and facial expression transitioning from a wince to a wink; being masculine is tough, ironically so.
When pondered, who decided this?
I mean, I try to visualise cavemen and wonder how their discussion must’ve been (assuming, of course, that it is they who set the RULES OF MASCULINITY)
“Hey, Man! Can you help me out with this coconut, please? It’s too hard to crack open. A nasty one, if I’m asked.”
“Oh, yeah. Sure, woman. I’ll get that for you.”
*cracks the nut in half with just one strike (with a stone hammer of sorts).
“Oooo! That was nice. Now go and kill that elephant charging towards us. Then protect me and our cave from the neighbours who aren’t that friendly. Get food. Light up the fire. You’re strong. Live up to it and… err… yeah! Teach our son to be like you lest you wanna raise a damned pansy.”
Shoving stereotypes down the throats of innocent kiddiewinks should be a legitimately punishable crime. Just to demonstrate this point, have a look at how toy companies market their products. Below you will see word clouds in which the larger words indicate those words which are used most often.
Love being the most outstanding emotion, we are raising a gender bearing the potential to a better world someday, which is great. I mean, love, babies, fashion and magic won’t harm the world now, would it? Just that the nails do but it won’t cause WW3, that’s certain.
However, boys are subjected to this…
Err… not a pleasant picture.
Given the fair amount of time to grow, the “roughened” mentality of boys flabbergasts people all around, only when it starts hurting physically or mentally. Otherwise, it’s just shunned aside with a playful gesture and an eye-roll. Men will be men.
Turns out, no they won’t. Not unless you want them to be.
If a woman loathes being seen as someone who is incapable of certain traits like being brave, strong, ambitious, etc., men don’t even know what they should be loathing. Their elemental composition itself seems to be minced to be what the society wants them to be — guardians, bread-earners, strong and hefty, bearded and muscular, etc.
Unless a man isn’t all that, he isn’t a man.
Boy doesn’t don a beard? Must be queer. Holds a man purse? Gay detected. Respects the deadline put down on him by his mother? Mama’s boy.
These are just what I would like to call “Gender Tasers.”
Let me share this bit from the yonder lands of nostalgia. As a kid who was oblivious to the nuances of societal expectations, I liked the colour pink. There was no rhyme or reason for it, not that I was compelled to offer one. I just liked it. I still do, in fact (along with other colours too). To my fortune, my parents never made a big deal out of it. They were cool enough to encourage it so much that they painted my room pink. I was the only kid among my playmates who had a room with pink walls. As I grew up (which isn’t much a pleasant experience for many) I realised that perhaps my inclination towards a colour reflects my sexual orientation. I learnt that liking pink and being heterosexual are absurdities that just can’t go together.
A combination as seemingly odd as pineapple on pizza. Connoisseurs of the dough-base wonder and that of unbiased humanitarian judgement would know that odd-pairings are common AF. Wonderful even.
Not putting the Man in Manacles
In an era of free expression, why are men pigeonholed to be hunks, stinking of what could be sweat and whey, talking about engines and bikes and trucks? Men they go out. Men ride bikes and drive cars. Men fix vehicles when it breaks down. Men play sports and toil hard. Men don’t crumble under pressure. Men shouldn’t cry. Men can’t cry. The list is endless but well-known. We’ve all seen it. Heard it. But done nothing about it. Nothing about establishing a ground zero. Nothing that puts forth the fact that a man is human first.
Men can cry. They do. They watch chick-flicks and not just because their girlfriends want them to. They could simply like the plot-line. They like shopping and grooming themselves up. They like gossiping too.
The point here
The pulp of the matter: let people be people and not mules laden with expectations of being molded into a structure that’s ideal. The damage this does is tremendous.
In his book Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration, Robyn Ryle states “The area of morbidity where men exceed women is in their tendency to sustain injuries. What do smoking and being more prone to being injured have in common? Both can be considered risk taking behaviors.” She also adds, “The men were both perpetrators and the victims of violence whether being caned by cruel teachers in their schools or beaten by their fathers or other family members (including sisters). These experiences led to a general code regarding violence among these men, namely, that violence is OK when it is justified.”
This could be a longer story but seeing that you have the attention span of a squirrel in heat, I’d wrap up by saying that in a pool full of products that bear the phrase, “Sports edition” and “made for men”, decorated by some denimized texture or camouflage print thus serving Fragile Masculinity, this article would certainly be “too hard” and “too long” to be taken in.
Be a man. Not THE man.