I am Man, Hear Me Roar
Masculinity is overrated
AFTER ENOUGH GULPS of my favourite social lubricant one night, I decided to head down the rabbit hole of armchair psycho-analysis and ask my brother what he thought it meant to be a man.
Ever the wiser of the two of us, he merely shrugged and said, “I always thought of just being human first.”
The idea of masculinity is something I used to struggle with. I’d seen the worst of male behaviour ‒ domestic abuse, misogyny, the plain belief that a man constantly needs to prove he’s better ‒ all before I was 10. And like most children, I emulated what I saw. A man needs to raise his voice to get his point across, a man needs to belittle others to remind them he’s ahead of them.
As an adolescent male, I wasn’t exactly the nicest person around. I had the knack for finding people’s insecurities and highlighting them to others. I used slurs when I shouldn’t have, I belittled people when I shouldn’t have and, worst of all, I excused myself every day with “well, I was only teasing.”
Unlike the caricaturised bullies of media, I was a skinny bespectacled nerd and I had learnt from a young age that words cut much deeper than testosterone-charged shoving on playgrounds.
I had something to prove ‒ I was just as much of a man as anyone else. Let’s chalk it up to toxic masculinity, this innate urge to be “manly” and misunderstand manliness as towering above others.
As I grew older, and further removed from those negative influences of “toxic masculinity” I grew up with, the idea that “we’re all humans” started to make more sense. It’s really so simple that the number of outliers out there who still believe men are better than women astound me.
You see them all too often on social media, they have their own forums and they stand to perpetuate a slowly dying myth that gender divides matter. They’re the ones sitting at keyboards typing ridiculous things like “Give me the permission to open fire. I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes.” for no other reason than to prove that they’re manly men.
So, what is a man then? Nothing more than what nature gave us in terms of physicality. A mighty sensitive crotch region, a better ability to gain muscle mass and the off-chance that we might grow facial hair. We may be scientifically proven to be more prone to rage (no thanks, testosterone) but using that as an excuse is like saying “Apologies, I’ve an attraction to that woman. Excuse me while I force myself on her.” Oh wait, some men still use that excuse.
The past two months have seen a highprofile rape case, another mass shooting in the US and more outliers of a gender divide rearing their heads with stupid comments on social media. And this is where my brother’s wisdom comes into play ‒ at the heart of it all, we’re humans first. Men need to stop believing there’s an innate superiority and investing in a trope.
I always thought of just being human first