WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE IT LIKE A MAN

Since I was born in a conservative family, my father always assumed the role of protector and provider whereas my mother is nurturing and caregiving. One would think I’d talk more with my mom, but my dad is actually easier to talk to, reachable and understanding. Society deems such as feminine qualities. But are they really? Lets take a moment to actually reflect about masculinity. What is like to be a man after all?

Upon research, I came across this Documentary called “The Mask We Live In” from Jennifer Siebel Newsom. It is available on Netflix and tries to show “how can we raise a healthier generation of men”.

I was grabbed by the balls one or two times in the movie, ending up with watery eyes. In no way I’m taking away from my masculinity by saying it, because you know what? My balls were still there even though grabbed.

Father and son.

I’ve seen my father cry once. When his father died. It was my dad’s birthday and my grandad was in the hospital. He stayed there visiting till he got home late and all of a sudden, we got a call. My aunt gave him the news. A few words in disbelief, phone down and off he went to the hospital (again). Before he could go down the stairs, I actually called him…”DAD!”

He turn himself to me and my brother. We all hugged and cried, together. My mom watched in tears as well. In that particular moment, three man cried (I’m crying as I write this, by going back to that memory).

I don’t think we ever talked about that. But looking back, two sons, young men, showed their male role model, that is okay to cry. That superman is human as well.

Another episode was when I had a problem in 5th grade. There was this bully with no parents, living in an institution full of young men in similar scenarios. History of abusive families, alcoholics, etc.

Everyday he would ask for money, saying that If I didn’t cooperate he would be outside of school to beat me up with his friends. I was scared to death.

And I couldn’t tell anyone because that’s not what man do. You deal with it. Man up. Endure. You, as society dictates, take it like a man.

My mother always worked close to the places I studied so I always had lunch with her. And moms have this thing, a six or seventh sense to perceive when their kids aren’t well. So one time while having lunch she noticed I was a bit nervous, anxious, strange.

She asked what was wrong and I said nothing. She pushed the questions through and through saying that it was alright. That I could talk. She made me feel safe, so I told her what was happening.

Within seconds, she was calling my dad and within minutes he left in the middle of work to pick me up, take me to school and have a chat with the little fella. I was terrified.

We met the boy and my father confronted him. He couldn’t say a word while my dad was explaining that if he kept messing with me the next person he’d be talking to would be the Police. Then he asked me if I was okay and left. I sat on a bench and kept quiet waiting for social judgement.

To my surprise, boys in my class, who were kinda suffering with the same, were inspired by my action. I got support from them so when the bully tried to humiliate me as a way to get ahead of the game again, nobody actually cared.

And instead of feeling humiliated, I was proud and happy to have a father who actually cared about my feelings instead of saying man up.

Sex is a biological term. It refers to which chromosomes you have. XX for male, XY for female.

Gender is a social construct. These are expressions of masculinity or femininity. Both of these are spectrums and they overlap.

– Dr. Lise Eliot (Neuroscientist)

A young man on a blackboard with drawn muscular arms.

The pressure women get when it comes to beauty standards, is sort of similar when it comes to this weird notion of manliness.

It’s not about being tough because I think it’s easy to jump into conflict, there’s no toughness in that. Tough is to actually avoid conflict. Even if someone is being a douche, violence won’t make it right. It will just put yourself on the same level.

I also don’t think money or power could be the answer. You can’t buy manners and nobody cares how much power do you have but rather how you make use of that power.

And it’s definitely not about being big and muscular because we all know they shave their bodies and get fake tan (see what I did there?).

Let me share with you some statics from the Documentary I told you about, “The Mask We Live In”:

1 in 4 boys are bullied but only 30% tell adults about it.
Everyday 3 or more boys commit suicide being the third leading cause of death in young men.

What kind of children are we raising? Imagine those who actually surpass those stats and grow old to became men of the world. I remember when I did a campaign on Domestic Violence using the male victim. I had this idea based on the “Three Wise Monkeys”. They see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.

In Domestic Violence, they don’t see the problem in it as they even think they deserve it. They don’t listen to themselves and they don’t talk to anyone about it. If they would speak up, maybe we’d see a different balance on the percentages about the subject that tells us 80% of the victims are women.

I’m not saying it would be a game changer but I’m saying that every single percentage counts. And that there are men suffering in silence because we fail to give them the comfort of opening up, as a society.

If we take that to a general point of view, men are blinded by a fabricated manliness, don’t listen to their inner self and don’t talk about their problems, aspirations or dreams.

We have to change this non-sense because silencing love and reason, is a free highway to hate and violence and this leads men to hurt themselves. Or more so, hurt others as an extreme form to finally fit in.

Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because, the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!

– Tom Schulman, Dead Poets Society

Ultimately, being true to who you are is far more fulfilling and healthy than adapting to a mere social construct. That reaching out is far more manly than suffering alone. I wish my 5th grader bully had the chance to hear that. From a father, a mother, someone…anyone!

It’s our duty to teach our children and fellow men that it’s ok to be sad instead of pissed off, it’s ok to be hurt instead of angry. We can cry, we can love, we can actually feel or express ourselves the way we see fit.

And if that is being less of a man, no problem. It feels better to be human anyway.

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