Let’s play a 30-second game. For the next 20 seconds, think of a person being masculine. Okay, if you’re following directions, you’re still thinking, not reading this sentence….lol
Alright, now what came to mind? Was it man? A woman? How did he/she act?
As you can imagine, it was a trick question all along. As Andre reveals, masculinity isn’t something that should be considered synonymous with being a man.
In fact, he posits it should be inclusive to both sexes and all genders and sexual orientations. Why? Because masculinity is what you want it to be and who you already are. It is already a part of you.
Growing up, a real man was supposed to like women. As a kid, he didn’t play with dolls or hang around his aunts or his mom’s friends. He stunk with sweat and was a steady provider. He was confident and strong, he had control of his emotions. Just manly. But in terms of what I saw, I was always more attracted to someone that was more soft spoken and calm. A person that thinks more. I saw that as the opposite of me, which is why I wanted that. My definition of a man was the opposite of what others said it should be.
And that’s what sparked my depression. I realized I wasn’t what everyone considered to be a man or what I found attractive in a man. And I wasn’t comfortable with myself. And when that discomfort came out in the form of emotions, I was told that I was feminine because I was reactive and “in my feelings.” I internalized that tension and conflict, turning into a Debbie Downer because I felt like there was nothing I could do to change how I was.
If someone asked me to act masculine, I’d say, “What is that?” Because even if I acted hard or tough, that isn’t really what you can describe as masculine and doing that doesn’t make me more of a man.
In my early 20s, I would say that I was attracted to what society considered to be masculine. But that’s also when a major change began to happen: I realized my idea of masculinity was just a facade. To me, masculinity was no longer an adjective, something you just turned on or off, performed. It didn’t really describe anything, and definitely not a person.
I no longer saw masculinity as synonymous with being a man. Instead, I saw it as simply who you are. In many ways, a person who is confidence, slow to speak and quick to listen, and comfortable in their skin could be considered masculine. But that doesn’t have to mean the person is only male, it can be a woman, too.
Now, if someone asked me to act masculine, I’d say, “What is that?” Because even if I acted hard or tough, that isn’t really what you can describe as masculine and doing that doesn’t make me more of a man. That’s simply a performance. That doesn’t really describe or mean anything. Plus, when you ask someone to describe what masculinity is, the very definition can always be applied to other people, regardless of their sex, gender, race, or sexuality.
I no longer saw masculinity as synonymous with being a man. Instead, I saw it as simply who you are.
I’m still working on my definition of what it means to be a man–it’s constantly evolving and growing with me. But I can say that most of the men in my life weren’t the perfect definition of being a man. So, I used their experiences to help me decide what I wasn’t going to do. For example, my uncle was always hooked on drugs. I didn’t want that. I was the only child from my mom, but my dad had a lot of children from other women. I decided that I didn’t want to do that, either. Based on their actions, I determined what did and didn’t feel right for me. And I’m still growing and learning.