Being a man is one of those things that has always come easy for me.
Obviously, I have the wide world of patriarchy to thank for that: I don't get cramps unless I am dehydrated and engaging in physical activity; I get to be loud, boisterous and borderline rude without being called a bitch, emotional or angry; I don't have to justify to potential employers why I should be paid a fair wage; I don't have to endure the pain associated with giving birth; nor will my career have to potentially be put on hold to parent children, and the rolls and folds on my body - better known as fat - are hardly ever an issue, and even when mentioned, it's in that cute cuddly teddy bear kinda way.
Let's not forget that I can travel to faraway lands alone and roam my neighborhood after dark without having to consider the horrific and very real possibility of getting verbally and sexually assaulted or at the very least dodging the incessant catcalls, followed by the words bitch, ho, slut and trick for ignoring said calls.
Little by little, and more and more, I am trying to redefine what being a man means for myself. Being a man isn't changing the car oil, picking up the check, taking out the trash, pulling out my wife's chair or opening her car door - yes, surely those things can be good and are appreciated, but being a man should also include listening to women, creating spaces for women to express themselves freely and openly, supporting women backed ventures, and defending women's rights at every turn - especially there right to choose and make decisions about their bodies for themselves.
I want to be a staunch advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and their rights, and not just when in the presence of members of said community. I wanna respect and defend the rights of those with disabilities and embrace those who are different from me.
Being a man also means being capable of exhibiting grace, kindness and being able to love freely. I enjoy crying when I feel like it and giving other men real hugs (the same way I'd hug my mother or sister - none of this I-am-black-and-a-homophobic-small-minded-ass-so-I-can't-give-another-man-a-real-hug kinda shit), being a man is sitting my ass on some therapist's couch to help with the healing process of all of my internalized trauma that the world keeps telling me is okay because I am a man.
In all honesty, I don't have a clue what's next for men or even mankind, but I will tell you this, the first step to being a man that you can feel proud of is acknowledging your privilege and ensuring that you're using it to make our world a better place for people that don't share in and that have never benefited from those privileges.