The way we tackle ‘Hypermasculinity’
In this new age of thinking, it seems we have all come to the consensus that we need to reverse the effects of Hypermasculinity and start showing that men, particularly black men, do not fit one stereotype of looks and personality, and they should be free to be who they want to be.
Naturally I should start with a definition…
Hypermasculinity = the exaggeration of male stereotypical behaviour such as being aggressive, having limited or no emotional involvement and having excessive sexual desire etc.
The black community typically embraces this type of behaviour, hence why a lot of the work has been focused on this area in order to reverse this indoctrination. However, it is important how we decide to tackle this issue and in doing so make sure that we are sending out the right message.
I raise this point because I have recently seen a lot of photoshoots aiming to protest this issue, but I feel it has been focused more on sexuality than actually tackling Hypermasculinity. For example, most of these shoots have been extremely feminised, showing men in crop tops, with make-up, or flowers in their hair. This is all well and good, but what exactly are we trying to say here? Often when trying to find a narrative in promoting a cause we forget about what is right in front of us. For example, we shouldn’t be forcing what our community would look like without Hypermasculinity, but instead we should be taking it for what it is and showing that yes, a black male could wear his hoody, and love what is classed as boisterous things such as fighting and football but that doesn’t mean he can’t also love art, or be emotional. Or for example, maybe a guy does like to wear bright clothes or dance around in a dress but it doesn’t mean that he isn’t strong or can’t shoot a hoop.
What I’m really trying to say is that for those feminised photoshoots that have been circulating on social media, how does a typical guy from the hood relate to that? It is important to be relatable, and unless a guy is waiting to come out as LGBT+ or is into androgynous fashion, these shoots are not really going to get the right message across.
A good movement that I have seen is #BlackMenSmile and that proved the angry black man narrative is a façade and it is not necessary to have this aggressive unemotional personality that is portrayed, but black men can be joyful and can be beautiful and can simply smile.
It would be great to see more simple movements like this, and photoshoots that show different types of men and how they embrace emotions that are not typically male, or how they can embrace masculine traits but not be exaggerated.