By Beardy Ed
We have all been treated to some ‘hilarious’ definitions and examples of who a real man is. This is not the first time this topic, as I would like call it, has cropped up in online circles. We surely do remember the ‘gangsta’ points memes and the Future-inspired memes on toxic masculinity. It all seems funny as we tweet, retweet, like, share on our Instagram stories, Facebook stories and WhatsApp statuses. However, there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, away from the clout-seeking and recognition as meme gurus. Toxic masculinity is defined by the American Psychological Association (A.P.A) as a set of behavior and beliefs that include the following:
∙ Suppressing emotions or masking distress.
∙ Maintaining an appearance of hardiness.
∙ Violence as an indicator of power. This is closely associated with misogyny.
Photo credits: Innovation Unit
A lot of young men are disoriented and have a very vague idea of what it means to be real man. Boys are raised by fathers or father figures who entirely mislead them. Children learn mainly through observation and copying. If the man in a boy’s life is one who is promiscuous, a drunk, a loafer, a cheat or a violent baboon then it follows that the boy is highly likely to grow to exhibit similar traits or show signs of trauma from the above. In another scenario, the boy entirely lacks a father figure due to reasons I shall skirt around and he has only female figures around during his formative years. Due to societal demands, the boy will have to ‘man up’ and it is not uncommon for him to gather knowledge on masculinity form already misguided peers. On the other hand, the subject may tend to be feminine according to society’s definition and end up being labelled as gay or be a subject of ridicule.
It is not news that a large proportion of men from the baby boomer and Generation X generations have entirely let down the current crop of young men. We can sit here all day and night and rant online about how much boys and young men have been let down. Newsflash: this solves nothing neither will a solution rain down from the heavens.
How can we fight this growing monster that is slowly taking our young men away from us? First, it is important to note that no one should define your identity as a man. Choose your own values and beliefs and stand by them firmly. Do not let society feed you some sickly-warped up definition of who you should be. Second, try to unlearn any negative traits picked over the course of your short life and remodel yourself. This does not mean you should unlearn everything. Some masculinity traits make men noble and dependable creatures such as chivalry.
Try to be open to feeling and expressing your emotions. It helps to create a bond with those around you leading to long-lasting friendships and magical relationships. Lastly, ensure that you pass all the good stuff and lessons from mistakes to others. It would be of no use to selfishly watch your fellow men head down the wrong road. Keep the bro code alive.
On a light note: A bro must not call another bro to chat. Mwanaume ni kutumia smoke signal.