I recently came across a celeb's recent Instagram post: "been having the epiphany that the dudes who’ve been pursuing me don’t really like me, they just know they should like me because it says something abt them to be able to rock with a woman of sound character, emotional intelligence, and economic independence. However, when they realize that they for really don't get what it takes to keep her, they become tyrants and go on the attack mentally/emotionally cuz in being juxtaposed with that which they desire, but cannot digest, they are made to feel vulnerabilities and insecurities that they don't want to feel/face. [heads up, I’ll be addressing this A LOT until I’m over this hump!"
This post really got me thinking about masculinity, and even more so the toxicity of it all. Wikipedia defines Toxic Masculinity as adherence to traditional male gender roles that restrict the kinds of emotions allowable for boys and men to express, including social expectations that men seek to be dominant (the "alpha male") and limit their emotional range primarily to expressions of anger.
As I thought back to the images of men growing up and the person I've been at different stages of my life so much about masculinity and what it means and who it does and doesn't benefit came to mind. My personal belief is that men, in general, are uncertain about who or how they should be in this worldwide web of ours. Funny enough, all it takes to be considered a man is your gender or how you express or identify said gender. Unfortunately, we've allowed society to dictate to us over and over what a man should look like, feel like, sound like and act like and because society/media hasn't done the best job of showcasing men of all shapes, sizes, personalities, and men across a healthy emotional spectrum existing in the world, we've become in many cases incapable of self reflection and incapable of expressing our very natural insecurities and vulnerabilities. Before this turns into another media blaming rant, I'll be honest and start at home. My father and/or the other men in my family were far from the antithesis of toxic masculinity which basically translated into me being the very vision of what I would come to reproach, but not until about the age of 20.
I can't say that I was ever anti-lgbtq or people expressing their gender as they saw fit, but I certainly wasn't above using slurs to slander and debase anyone I felt didn't fit into the mold of masculinity so poorly modeled for me as a youth. As easy as it is to blame my forefathers, this is about accepting and calling out my shortcomings and admitting that I too made decisions to perpetuate a culture of ignorance, stupidity, and discrimination against others, not because I didn't know it was wrong (because there came a time when I certainly did), but because the very strength that pretended to possess and saw as such a positive attribute in men, was exactly what I lacked to be able to stand up, stand out and say something. (mother/father fucking ironic right)What we're almost always forgetting when these discussions come up is that most men are still caught up in trying to lead the team instead of understanding that when the team wins, everyone wins, regardless of who gets the credit. Because we've failed to take a hard long look at ourselves and challenge the societal norms and bullshit around masculinity, we've failed ourselves and our partners. We've done so by allowing fear to establish a sense of permanence in us, only extinguishable through deep self-reflection and a total mindset shift. Fear and danger are two very different things, but as men we don't often enough give the women in our lives credit for time and again continuing to create a safe space where judgment is reserved for situations that call for it; and that they can very easily decipher between fear and danger and won't hold what we're feeling against us, unless it is putting them in danger.
Therefore and unfortunately we've become men who are looking for relationships that equate to going viral as opposed to being in relationships that are vital. Vitality is difficult, arduous, time-consuming, painstaking and yet worth every minute; while "virality" is often happenstance and not lasting. Choosing the latter often says just as much about us as it does society. It also says quite a bit about us that our belief that liking/being with an emotionally intelligent financially independent woman will actually change us into who we think we are as opposed to shining a very bright light onto who we aren't!