For a lot of us, the standard of masculinity is modeled before we can even walk. And by the time we’re tiny tots, we’re already being conditioned by phrases like, “No, boys do this. Girls do that.” Or we’re reminded to stop, “crying like or girl” or told to quit “being a punk.”
And as Brandon reminisces, “[Boys in high school] were always trying to prove how hard they were–well that still goes on well into adulthood–they had to be who they weren’t. It was kind of sad, especially in high school where your hormones are raging and you just want to be accepted.”
Brandon reminds us that nothing has changed. And he asks us to consider if we’ll ever be free from the chains of toxic masculinity and brave enough to shed the labels altogether.
Growing up, real men were hard core, emotionally defunct, and very machismo. They were kind of like neanderthals. They were always trying so hard to be a man they could never be themselves. They wanted all the girls and poon poon they could find. But it was a facade.
And when I try to look at it from the black male perspective, they wanted to be accepted and thus their level of masculinity granted social acceptance. They had to be who they weren’t just to feel part of the group. It was kind of sad, especially in high school where your hormones are raging and you just want to be accepted. And that really hasn’t changed.
In the gay community, when you look on the social media apps, you see the person with the fitted hats and this persona. And when you meet them in person, you realize they are not that at all, it’s kind of funny but also sad. Then they have the nerve to say, “No femmes,” yet they are femme. It blows my mind. I realize they truly hate themselves that much they are willing to hate on the very thing they are…crazy man.
I think our president is a great example of toxic masculinity: he’s a bully, rude, and sees women as inferior. But that’s what society praises as what it means to be a man. And that shows me that we still have a very long way to go. With that definition, it’s almost like we make men to still be neanderthals with their clubs, hitting each other. And that’s what they see as fun time.
To be human is such a subjective, scary, experience. It’s really just being able to be without fear of being stigmatized, being free. All of us don’t get that experience, especially if you’re black or gay or anything else… and it shouldn’t be that way.
With masculinity, it’s just a word. If we take out the biological male part, it’s a gender expression term. And humans are ever-evolving on a spectrum. It’s stereotypical qualities of men but not all men fit that. How can we fall into these boxes when they are based on a patriarchal spectrum that doesn’t fully encompass full human expression?
Humans are afraid to live without labels and definitions, all the extra. We’re always having to define everything. We use labels a little too much instead of just being human. I get that it’s a survival technique to label things to know what danger is. But in absence of an actual a lion eyeing us like a meal, it isn’t healthy to put so much emphasis on labels. If I did that, I would have to assume that since I’m a man, I can’t appreciate crying sometimes or wanting to enjoy literature from 18th century Russian poets.
We need to just be. To be human is such a subjective, scary, experience. It’s being able to be without fear of being stigmatized, and being who we truly are. All of us don’t get that experience, especially if you’re black or gay or anything else. They all end up being restrictions on just being human, and it shouldn’t be that way.