Did you ever wonder if you were man enough? Ever wonder if you were even considered worthy of being called a man? Have you rolled your eyes yet at the utter stupidity of the questions? If you did, great; you've already figured it out and are patiently waiting for everyone else to play catch up. But, if you didn't and suddenly wondered where you fall in the man-scale, let's me and you have a chat, hm?
There's a long held and popular belief that to be allowed the title of “man” one must achieve certain goals and commit certain acts. You should have the good job that pays the big money and own a house and car and fill it with the wife who stays within those walls raising the kids while you venture into the world and support all those who live beneath the roof you supply. You should lead the pack, be in constant command of those around you and never once falter in your naturally superior masculinity.
These ideas are wrong, stupid and dangerous.
I know I must sound like ye broken record but the only qualifying achievement you need to reach to be called a man is to reach the age of majority. Feel free to add all the adjectives you want - strong, powerful, stalwart - but leave the m-word alone. Unassigned the extra meanings that’ve been forced upon it - and men - and allow people to just be they're freaking selves. Life is tough enough to deal with without constantly hearing how unmanlike you are.
Of course society doesn't seem interested in separating expectations from body parts so it's up to us - the actual body part owners - to overcome the restrictions placed on us by that uncaring society and embrace who we are while claiming that gold standard title - MAN - and stripping away the unnecessary nonsense that works so hard to bring us down.
Go ahead and have that Up Close and Personal-inspired cry. Stay in that comfy little apartment. Choose the VW Bug over the Camero. Be a stay-at-home dad while the misses sharks her way through the courtroom. Wear that pretty pink dress. This is your life. Live it in a way that makes you happy. Don't let ancient ideas that refuse to die dictate what you can and cannot do as a man.
The strict gender roles have their place - in history. There were important reasons like survival that men were expected to be a certain way. But we no longer live in caves. We don't need to hunt for our meals. We're not afraid of a shooting star. We've evolved. Our ideals need to as well.
So what's the danger in allowing these Real Man ideas fester? Do you watch the news? Gay and bisexual boys are targeted for their perceived non-mannishness simply because of their attraction to other boys cause Real Men only want sex with women. Trans boys are targeted because they were born with vaginas and Real Men have giant penises that women fall to their knees and worship. Physically weak boys are targeted because they can't break others like twigs. Artistic boys are targeted because their talents involved things like pencils and paintbrushes instead of footballs and baseball bats. Boys who end up with successful women are targeted because Real Men take care of their women so they can stay home and watch Oprah. Fat boys are targeted because they'll never have the six pack Real Men have from spending six hours a day in the gym.
Am I getting my point across?
If you fall short of the idealized version of manhood, it can consume you and think of the impact that has on mental health? Ever wonder why men have a higher rate of suicide? Try being Superman 24/7 and see how mentally strong you feel. It can be exhausting being part of the XY crowd if you're unable to free yourself from the expectation that come with the chromosome. Something's got to give and it needs to not be boys and men.