“I can’t. Ok I should say, I shouldn’t. For some stupid reason, as a male person it is not appropriate to shade yourself under an umbrella”, I explained to my wife when she asked me to do said taboo activity.
“Even in the blistering sun like this?”
“Only if the sun will literally melt your skin. Perhaps then it will be okay, otherwise, nope.”
Welcome to the state of masculinity in 2017.
Photo credit: Vincent Erhart
At a time when feminism is said without the accompanying word “movement”, men look awfully backwards. Feminism has encouraged and continue to support hundreds of thousands of girls and women around the world to proactively change the way society views and treats them in the workplace, in positions of power, at home and on the street.
While women around the world have been busy becoming better versions of themselves by advocating and showing us (men) by example that women are just as good as men (or better), we are responding by sitting in our leather sofas and sipping whiskey by the fire. It appears to me as though we’re feigning nonchalance all over again, as though the sweltering sun is no match for our macho skins of steel.
If I could indulge in jumping to conclusions, which I will now, I’d say this: we, men, are insecure. Our fear of revealing our weakness is somehow thriving amidst the tremendous displays of strength by women. (Perhaps I’m feeling this more than it is called for, being still awestruck by Jenkins’ Wonder Woman.) This insecurity is stifling any chance of progressive masculinity, whatever that may look like.
Modern masculinity. I just made that term up, but that’s because I see a need to put a label on the thing that I wish would become reality.
Of course, I’m not saying that we need a male equivalent of feminism. No, males are still the privileged gender in all the societies I’ve come across personally, so there is nothing I can think of that would band disparate men together all of a sudden. I can’t imagine us getting away with “Sorry ladies, men only event tonight. Male power!” slogans at a conference. And for the record, I don’t think it is a particularly affective tactic for feminism either.
What I’m hoping for is a kind of enlightenment among men. (Please don’t get offended, man. Just saying.) We have a lot to learn from women, from the way they selflessly commit to the goodness of our children to the way they affectively resolve conflicts by being conscientiously vulnerable.
I’ve already collected a list of things men can learn from women in the few short years of observation since this idea took root in my mind:
- Having humility to be taught a lesson
- Defaulting to collaboration and/or peaceful resolution rather than destruction in a conflict
- Having the strength of character to be selfless without needing constant ego-stroking
- Having a smaller ego
- Having willingness to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of the opposite sex
- Being more readily vulnerable towards another human being (to me vulnerability is a prerequisite to love)
I’m sure I’ll add to the list with time, but these are the characteristics of women that I, as a man, hope more men will possess.
Of course, I’m also talking about me. I’m 27 and I think being married at this age has given me new perspectives about modern masculinity. For me, I choose to start with me. I will choose to wield an umbrella even in the mild sun (if it isn’t a relatively short walk) as my way of soft rebellion. I will consciously make myself vulnerable to people who show the desire to reciprocate. And I will train myself to be humble in the face of a lesson, from woman or man.
First, we need to break our own chains. Then only can we lead an uprising.