Latest posts by Andre Spivey (see all)
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Support Will Increase Resources For Those With Autism- March 13, 2017
Let me start by saying that I’ve been a man who has debated the mere notion and usage of the term “toxic masculinity”. I’ve spent time studying it, trying to distinguish it and prove its existence in comparison to manhood, femininity and all of the other labels that humans need in order to identify each other and each other’s assumed values.
The problem with all of these labels is that they are of course defined by humans, and humans are constantly evolving, therefore, the definition behind the labels evolve.
What was considered feminine in the 1920’s has changed a lot in comparison to 2017, what was considered manhood has also changed in definition. Typically; the subsequent groups control these definitions, meaning women decide what womanhood or femininity looks like, while men decide what masculinity and manhood is, this is sensible and logical, but there is one important x-factor to this.
Men and women have a biological drive to build relationships with each other in some way shape or form, so the definitions of both are heavily influenced by this drive, henceforth heavily influenced by each other, the competition and opportunity to build relationships with each other. The most formative years, where we are influenced by this are our teen and young adult years, much of what we intake doesn’t just come from parents, but from peers, movies, media, music and other external influences.
In Tom Burrell’s pivotal book “Brainwashed” he states that “Negative media reinforcements not only influence how cops, judges, employers, and others view black males, they affect how young blacks view themselves.”
This statement is at odds with those in the media, actors, musicians and others that claim, music, and movies have no effect on a child’s development. Most of us, want to believe that the media has no effect, but we know that truth lies in how much is spent on using media to sell products and influence people.
Growing up I was quite often influenced by music because like most teens music was my main pastime. Much of it growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s was rough, it glorified the “gangsta and thug” image. Many argue that we as young men tried to emulate these images in order to follow older men, but the truth is we emulated this because young women were attracted to these images.
The music made by the women considered beautiful during that era, reflected their desire for the “thug”. Mc Lyte wanted a “roughneck” when I was 9 and Beyonce and Kelly wanted a “soldier”, which became the synonym for “thug”.
As a young man, in a community that had real thugs and soldiers readily available to teach you how to mirror their behavior it wasn’t hard to follow the path and be rewarded for it.
This brings us to Soulja Boy, he seems to be having a difficult time charting his path even as an adult. This is always more pronounced with young child stars, initially, his image was fun, positive, about dance and music as a teen, but soon that popularity wore off.
Soulja Boy has found himself in a world full of Gucci Mane’s and 21 Savages, being rewarded for these images, while his fun dance image is no longer accepted. Now he has taken on an ultra-serious so-called thug image, as a rapper, he is supposed to be “bout that life”. In his rush to be “bout that life”, he seems to be losing his own mentally, and if it continues to escalate, like many other young men he could lose his life physically.
He is, however, being rewarded, the views, clicks and business opportunities keep coming along with fans gravitating to this. Masculinity attracts women and attracts people overall, but misguided masculinity can be destructive, the same goes for femininity and anything else. Too much of anything can be bad, especially when that thing is misguided.
Let’s take a look at what is and isn’t masculinity, by definition and some changes that should be made. Some will agree and some disagree with my definition, but real masculinity is not one-dimensional.
- Real masculinity is not “bout that life”, it is about “life’, protecting it preserving it and enjoying it
This means caring about your body, your life and your future. It also caring about how your decisions impact those whom you love.
- Real masculinity approaches those whom they want to be in love with a “choose me, don’t use me” mindset.
This means I don’t have to buy the fanciest car or biggest house because those things can’t cover up my flaws. I know my flaws and I hope you love me even with them as I will with you.
- Real masculinity considers the future 100 years from now, will my family be taken care of, will the next generation be better based on what I have left for them.
This means learning to delay instant gratification, to help your family or yourself be more secure and stable. On a practical note, it means choosing the $5K land plot over the Jordan collection or the rims.
- Real masculinity is flexible, stands against abuse, not afraid of emotions but can contain and control those emotions.
The abuse of other people, whether they are male or female is destructive, it proves that you are abusive even to yourself, that is not real masculinity.
- Real masculinity support and upholds and believes in true freedom for women!
This means, women are not less than us, weaker than us, they are just people who deserve what they earn just like every one of us, and yes I want to especially note, that as a black man, my mom, sister, wife, and friends that are black women deserve more and real masculinity does not ignore that!
This means understanding that nobody is truly the “masculinity police”, so we are secure enough to let others be free to express versions of themselves that aren’t in line with our perceived definitions of masculinity.
Masculinity is not one-dimensional and destruction is not a characteristic of masculinity. If nature and the environment could talk they’d argue that destruction is a characteristic of humanity, but that is a topic for another day.
Young men all over the world, have at times lost their way and found misguided versions of masculinity to practice. In the city of Chicago, these misguided views combined with extreme poverty has led to one of the most deadly years that the city has ever had.
Throughout our colleges, false and misguided versions of masculinity are transforming what should be an enjoyable learning experience to a nightmare for young women that become victims of rape. While we are not “masculinity police” and we should accept our brethren that may be homosexual or bi-sexual, we should not accept men whom are rapists, or destroying our communities through violence.
We must stand as men and make that clear, we must seize masculinity back from those who are misguided. The next young Soulja Boy, or Chief Keef or 21 Savage doesn’t have to struggle to find their way to a semblance of masculinity and manhood if we show them what it really means now.
They’ll have a plethora of positive versions of manhood and should be promoted if we are open and real about masculinity instead continuing to push nonsense and false masculinity.
Featured Image From Bossip