The Man Was Once A Boy
About Fixing Trashy Men
Recently, I followed the #MenAreTrash and #AllMenAreTrash campaigns which tried to expose the trashy behaviours of men from emotional abuse all the way to physical abuse (which includes rape). Although I hold lot of reservations on the title of the hashtag (I’m really not making a pro-male dignity argument), I feel the campaign was very much needed and urgently too.
It’s high time we, men, started owning up to our shit and righting our wrongs. There’s no questioning that. However, the major flaw of the #MenAreTrash campaign is that it’s reactive. From my little experience in life, I’ve come to understand that prevention is always, better, safer, and cheaper than cure.
To create a more proactive solution to the trashiness of men, I tried to understand what the root cause of the problem was. There may be something deeper than this, but this is where I concluded.
What was my conclusion?
We train boys to grow into trashy men.
Yes, I said it. Think about that sentence for a couple seconds before reading the next paragraphs.
Can you see now how you are guilty? Okay, you may be too young to be guilty, but I bet your parents are most likely guilty. Before you begin to hate me for calling the parents out, keep reading.
Open your mind.
Think for a second in an attempt to answer the following questions:
- How do you think boys are raised?
- How differently are they raised from girls?
- Do you think boys are raised to show their emotion and be openly vulnerable?
- What do you think happens when people lock up their emotions? (especially toxic ones)
- Do you think people who hurt on the inside, and are afraid to show just how much pain they feel, are able to show genuine love to others?
Can you now see how we are guilty?
Let me break it down.
DISCLAIMER: There’s a lot of hasty generalisation, but focus on the main point in the following paragraphs.
Men are emotional beings too
When we raise boys to be hard by concealing and not feeling their emotions, we rob them of a fundamental part of their humanity—open emotions. This error always backfires. When we teach boys not to express their hurt and pain by venting, crying, or just living the experience, we force them to look for auxiliary ways to express what they feel—violence.
Emotions, like energy, can neither be created nor destroyed; they can only be changed from one form to another.
So when boys are taught to keep their emotions of pain, hurt, sadness, depression, etc. inside, they grow into men in whom these emotions diffuse into one another and collectively transform into the most destructive emotion—rage. This emotion is noisy. It can’t be shut up. It can’t be concealed. So when men begin to express this emotion, we call them trash? We fail to see how we contributed to making these men trash. We collectively facilitated the transformation of their emotions, and now we complain?
Most men have fragile egos…face it
When men grow up being told what it means to be ‘truly masculine,’ it gets confusing. We don’t let them simply be. Let them define their own masculinity. They then walk on eggshells to ensure that their machismo is always in check and they aren’t being seen as sissies by the rest of the masculine community. This causes them to build most of their identity from the opinions of others around them. They feed their egos with constant validation in an attempt to feed their feeling of self-worth. This fragile ego remains dominant even when they are in relationships. When their women stand up to them, their egos are almost completely annihilated. They try to patch it up by taking to violence and abuse.
The man was once a boy; the boy is not yet a man
We (men) have grown up from the boys we were, and it’s only logical that by this time, we have formed our habits, shaped our personalities, and crafted our destinies. By this stage, it’s already almost too late to begin to make a complete U-turn from the persons we already are. However, the younger boys are not yet men. Let us all (men and women—fathers and mothers especially) take advantage of the opportunity we have to shape these younger boys into the non-trashy men that we would like them to become.
Let them know it’s okay to cry.
It’s okay to hurt.
It’s okay to want to pull your hair out from its roots because your heart is broken.
It’s okay to feel pain. It’s okay to show it.
Let them know it’s not okay to abuse a woman.
It’s not okay to play with her emotions.
It’s really not okay to be violent towards her.
It’s not okay to become trash.
Next time you see the #MenAreTrash campaign pop up on your newsfeed, remind yourself that #TheManWasOnceABoy and begin to fix your boys while they are still young.
You only get one chance.
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