Pride conserves confidence, boosts the ego, and is where strength is found. Pride hides shame, represses emotion, and has a lack of empathy. Pride without humility is toxic, it damages the host and their surroundings. As damaging as pride can be, a lack of pride develops into insecurities and self-hate. Balance is the pairing of humility and pride. It is in the cross-section where value of self and others can be found.
The future is non-binary…
Masculinity has been defined by society as traits of power, strength, and leadership. Femininity is defined as meekness, compassion, and servanthood. Masculinity is associated with manhood and femininity is associated with womanhood. If it appears there is a power imbalance, that is because there is a power imbalance. However, I would argue that the issue is not with the definitions but rather with associations tied to the definition.
Each person has both feminine and masculine qualities and how they are expressed vary from person to person. There is no one person who is completely masculine or completely feminine. Furthermore, femininity should not be synonymous with being female and masculinity should not be synonymous with being male.
At 5 I had no concept of gender other than the label that was placed on me. I was told I was a boy and I believed it. I was not given expectations or rules about what it meant to be male. I was a free-spirited individual who tried on his mother’s shoes but also competed with my friends to see whose urine was darker. It would only take a few years for the unspoken regulations of gender to reveal themselves.
I remember back when I was in grade school when my best friend thought it would be funny to take my flip flops away from me. He ran across the street with them so I would be forced to run across the black pavement in the 90-degree heat. My feet burned and each time I got closer to him he would run away again. I cried and he laughed at me. However, it is not his cruel joke that lingered with me, kids are cruel sometimes, it was my father’s reaction that I remember. I remember him yelling at me telling me to, “stop all that cryin’ and shit.” He told me how I was a boy and needed to toughen up. My tears stopped when I realized my pain was not worth crying over and I stood on the pavement ignoring my pain.
Slowly but surely, I sunk into my role. I learned how to be angry when I was sad. I learned to hold in my tears during the movies that I liked. I learned to be aggressive when I felt weak. I learned how to be a man…
Many men live by the notion that pain is not something you deal with but something you get through. The acknowledgement of pain is weakness and interferes with the perceived strength of man. As a result, men often repress their emotions and are more susceptible to mental health issues. As I have mentioned in a previous blog post men are more likely to commit suicide because of depression than women (Some Not So Good Vibes: Reality).
I was set to continue my pursuit of masculinity when I was interrupted. While in college I was watching behind the scenes clips from the “Harry Potter” franchise. It was late at night and I stumbled into a hole on YouTube and had not yet discovered how to turn off auto-play on videos. I eventually ran into a speech, cast member, Emma Watson shared at the United Nations. She spoke about feminism and the inequalities women around the world are facing. However, what stood out to me was her message to men. She spoke about males and their inability to express emotion and society’s pressure on men to take charge and be strong. In her speech she said, “both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.” I became a feminist in that moment. Feminism applies to me (Emma Watson – UN Speech).
I have every right as anyone else to express my emotions, but society has not always been accepting of that. Society has told me men are strong and sometimes I feel that I am, but other times I feel weak and defenseless. Gender has dictated too much of how individuals should act. However, the future is not male or female, the future is non-binary. Humanity will progress when people are truly seen for the fullness of their being and not the label that was given to them.
Recently I sat down with a friend from college. She studied ministry during her undergrad and has worked for a variety of different churches in the Christian realm. She is a very outgoing and outspoken woman of faith. I always saw her one day pastoring her own church. During our conversation I asked her what is was like to be a woman in ministry. She told me about how difficult it was to feel that her God had equipped her to lead but time and time again she was told to sit on the sidelines. She was not attempting to be political or controversial, she was doing what she was called to do. My eyes water at the idea that someone could look my friend in the eyes and tell her she is not able to do the job that she was made to do.
Being a black male, I fight against the fear future employers will have of me, or the preconceived notions they have about my education. Although I do not know what it means to be a woman, I stand with her in the feeling of rejection because of something out of her control. I also recognize that while presuming the role of a man that I have hurt others in the process. I recognize that while my sex is affected socially by sexism, women are not only are not only affected socially, but economically and politically. Furthermore, I acknowledge that sexism still affects me to this day. Although I have learned much, there is still more for me to learn.
Masculinity does not define men. Femininity does not define women. Each person is on a spectrum of masculinity and femininity and should be able to express these traits without fear of being judged or abused. I define what is means for me to be a man. I am both powerful and meek. I am both strong and compassionate. I am both servant and leader. I am human…
“I would like to thank Taylor, Shelby, and Grace for sharing their perspective this month. It has been privilege to be able to create alongside each of you. Thank you for tackling such a multi-faceted topic. Thank you to my readers who have been with me during this series. I look forward to sharing with you again in the future.”