I am a man with struggles, and women are also affected by them.
After the news of having the first female Doctor Who, I started seeing all sorts of comments that made me ask myself too many questions. But this is not the first time I think about writing something like this, since it is something that has affected my life since I have memory and that by watching ‘The Mask You Live In’ made me sit down and write, finally.
I remember the first time I created a personal website for myself and how I thought that I had to make it clear that I was a man and that I wasn’t homosexual, I literally wrote that on my bio. I was raised in a culture in which having to make that clear was fundamental and also something that would determine if you were on the right or wrong path. Now that I look back, I see how twisted that was and how wrong I was; but thankfully I changed that some years ago. Also, Sense8 came to my life and opened my eyes to know that I don’t want to be classified or defined by my sexuality at all, I don’t really want to label myself as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual or any other “category” because all that matters to me is that I am a human being. All of these cultural precepts made me grow in a way in which I had to struggle not only with opening my eyes but with dealing with who I was.
I wasn’t like the other guys even though I had the social pressure and I could have let that guide the way I behaved. I never wanted to be involved in a fight with my friends or people who I disliked. I never wanted to be tough and talk trash about women or even men, I never wanted to talk about my private experiences or hear what my friends had done with their girlfriends because it is disrespectful when women are seen as objects and a relationship is defined as something you need [to brag about] rather than something you want.
Instead, I wanted to have friends with whom I could talk deeply without being afraid of tearing up, asking for help, hearing what they wanted to say, and get a hug without thinking it was “weird”. I wanted to have fun without having to include disrespectful, offensive or violent behaviors in my interactions. I wanted deep connections without having to worry about how I was going to say things so I didn’t look fragile and awkward. And I didn’t want a relationship just for the sake of having someone to kiss or brag about.
But I had to shield all that up because no one else seemed to want that.
I have been dealing with very low moments and depression symptoms for some years now, more or less in different times… And recently I have been dealing with anxiety, which is why I decided to reach out for professional help for three reasons: number one is I need help, number two is that a professional truly knows about this stuff and knows how I can get better, and number three because most of the people around don’t seem to care about these things and I don’t want to bother them with my sad talks all the time [even if they do care].
Admitting this isn’t a way for me to achieve a “pity look” from people, but to raise awareness and stop the stigma around these topics, especially considering that I am a man.
But why did it take me so long to start looking for help for what I struggle with and actually speaking about it? I was afraid of how I would look like to others and to myself if I acknowledged that I needed help. I am a guy who lives in a rather “macho” society and so even crying makes me less.
I strongly recommend you to watch ‘The Mask You Live In’ (available on Netflix) and so you can understand that this is a topic that more men than you think have to deal with, and that is the cause of issues like “machismo”, violence, and suicide.
The fact that so many guys struggle with expressing their feelings and saying things how they feel them, contributes to the fact that women are still being objectified, devalued, raped and even killed. They can’t have the same rights and not even the same look from society because men are taught to believe they are better than them by nature. Guys have to demonstrate their masculinity by hooking up with every woman they can and talk trash about them. Guys have to demonstrate their masculinity by not being able to be open up about their feelings and therefore not having real connections with people. Guys have to say “grow a pair” or “don’t act like a little girl” when they want to either encourage their friends to be braver or shame them for being less strong or tough, as if not having two testicles or being a girl was something to feel inferior for.
What if instead of trying to make everyone fill an stereotype we focused on trying to understand what makes us the same as humans and different as individuals? What if we acknowledged that men also cry, that men also should be able to decide if they want to be physically strong or not? What if we tried to make men see that talking about women as if they were objects is wrong? What if we taught the little guys who are just starting to live that being a girl is no less and that they don’t need to hide their feelings even if they make them cry or lose control? What if we tried to make people listen and leave the stigma behind mental and emotional health?
I know that we can’t force everyone to hear about our struggles and also that we can’t turn every conversation’s focus to the sad/less happy/depressive/anxious deals (or however you want to call them), I think there’s a time and a place for everything. I wouldn’t want to hear a friend complaining or talking about their darkest thoughts or experiences all the time, instead I would try to listen but also bring new things to their lives so they find a distraction or something else to give them joy. But we can let people around us start understanding what goes around and what could also happen to them at any point in their lives.
As for me, I am done with trying to look or seem like a real man because all that I want is to look and feel the way I am.