Interlude: Unpacking Masculinity With the Man Box
It feels like a lot of people are having conversations around what “makes a man” here’s what I think…
It’s a busy week, and I want to give you my best, so we’re taking a break from the Black Album this week. Enjoy this short essay on masculinity instead.
Originally I was going to use the song “Coldest Winter” to finally address all of my Kanye baggage, but then Will Smith broke the internet, when he slapped comedian, Chris Rock on National TV. After that, I was obsessed with writing a reaction post that talked about the way ghost from our past can haunt us, even when we believe we have conquered them. I might still write that essay, but there’s too much to say, and I’m not sure where to start. However, what I know clearly is that what happened last night was an example of the way’s masculinity holds too many of us hostage. Everyone in one way or another is impacted by the narrow ideas we have for masculinity. Someone really smart calls this the “Man Box” Below, I try to talk through what the impact of this narrow box can look like.
Boys are always told not to cry, that showing emotion equates to weakness, that feelings are irrelevant, and unnecessary. Has anyone ever stopped to think about what the impact of that education has been? All boys eventually grow up to be men, and during that time, we face trauma, heartache, heartbreak, and disappointment. When it’s time to deal with the weight of these things many of us are helpless. We have no tools to help us cope. Instead we get angry, we get violent, we turn cold. We look for ways to numb the feelings with alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, fear, and power . We use these as tools to deal with what makes us human, and in turn these false idols take away our humanity. Unchecked long enough what was once a hurt little boy will soon grow into an abusive monster.
Like all monsters, someone will have to face us, and feel our wrath. That someone is usually the people closest to us. Our friends, family, co workers, the people in our communities and anyone willing to get in our way. But more often than not, the women in our lives feel the full force of that rage. We release that pent up hurt in such a burst that it’s damage shows up in more ways than either party can comprehend. We pummel them with our judgement, our words and our first, they become the physical embodiment of the pain that makes us weak, and the only way to get rid of weakness is to kill it. Right?
We’re training our boys to be killers, and telling our little girls that they should accept that the one they love the most will also be their oppressor, and when the toxic behaviors begin to manifest, we have no strategy to fix the monsters that we created. At least not a strategy that hasn’t been tried and failed. Our only solution for this long term drama is a prison cell. Once a horrible deed has been done, we ostracize the oppressor, remove him from one box and push him into another. All we seem to know how to do is put people in cages.