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Be A Man! by Joshua Warren

Being a man is so much more than being masculine. I know sometimes we get caught up on how masculine or feminine presenting men are along with how they fit into the traditional standards of manhood, but that's not what makes a man. I mean don't get me wrong, it's definitely a factor that makes up a man, but his manhood does not begin and end with his masculinity and traditional values. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that men who focus solely on that aren't men at all, just boys that got bigger. Here's why.



Manhood goes beyond the scope of what society says that men should be. Men go out and get the bacon, but with the shifts in dynamics within the household and society at large, he better know how to cook that shit too. He also better know how to stay fit, keep shit clean, act like he's got some sense about him, and make sure he's not wasting his time on frivolous things that keep him troubled. Thinking back on the traditional standards of manhood, especially within black cultures, we have been told to be protectors, providers, leaders, and defenders of the of the family and community at large. There's no room for emotion, because emotion makes you weak, frail, soft. As if you're supposed to be hard all the time.



My parents did a pretty good job at expressing to me that a man must be as hard as steel, but soft as velvet. To me, that meant that a man must know when to be more assertive and know when to be submissive. Most men view submission in men as a flaw or an error which can be a breeding ground for everyone's favorite subject, toxic masculinity. See, a real man knows when to dominate and to be more submissive. This makes for a man that leads with strength and wisdom. Oxford defines masculinity as qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men. This means that masculinity is based on the characteristics that a society attributes to men. This also means, that it is subject to change based upon that society's beliefs. And what makes up society? Basically a group of people that live in an organized community. Therefore, when we say that a man is presenting masculine energy, we're agreeing to the societal standard of what it means to be manly.


However, we recognize that manhood is more than just masculinity. It is the state of being a man. A man can present himself however he pleases. It doesn't take away from the fact that he is, in fact, a man. Men have the ability to possess masculine traits as well as feminine traits given a number of factors including the phenotype of both parents, upbringing, societal influence, psychology, hormone levels, and more. So why then do we believe that because a man exhibits attributes that are more regarded as "femininity" that it somehow destroys the manhood of the man?



I personally observe that men come in different types, styles, expressions, shapes, and sizes. How they present themselves never made me think of them as any less or more of a man. If he identifies as a man, then so he is. However, why is there such a challenge with this philosophy when it comes to common societal ideology (group think)? Women, too, come in all different types, however if they identify as a woman, they are regarded as such. What does it matter whether a man or woman is more masculine or feminine than what society at large believes them to be? Is it because society dictates what is deemed to be the qualities and attributes of a man and woman?


However, if this is the case of masculine and feminine alike, would it not be beneficial that we just shift the scale from black and white to more of a spectrum? Some men are more feminine and some are more masculine, but they are still men. Some men fight wars, while others run fortune 500 companies, but they're still men. Some men have a switch in their step, while others walk with a lean, but they're still men. There is an assortment of expressions when it comes to manhood and what it means to be a man. What makes a man is that he identifies as such. Whether cis gendered or trans, he is still, man. We use all the arguments to try and combat that fact as if that will make a man discontinue self-identifying as such, but it won't. And what business is it of anyone that is not directly associated with that man? Hell, what business is it of anyone that is?



Men have been told that in order to be seen and respected as a man that they must present certain attributes while reducing, and in most cases, eliminating others. This has harmed us in so many ways. We have castrated ourselves emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually because of a standard that is not the only expression of manhood. There is somebody for everybody, and for every extremely masculine guy there is an extremely feminine partner. Oop, I bet you thought I was going to say woman.! Nah, we're past that now. It's 2022. The point of this piece is that we as a society make the rules. And if you ask me, it's about time that we make room for everyone at the table. Truthfully speaking, there's enough space for every man to be a king.



Men are funny, strong, intelligent, and loud. We're also serious, puny, dimwitted, and quiet. We show up in a multitude of expressions. We are emotional, spiritual, protectors, and providers. We're teachers, mentors, business owners, lovers, friends, family, and everything in between. The sooner we acknowledge that fact and make room for everyone to coexist in all of our unique expression rather than isolating, separating, and belittling one another, the sooner we can get to the real issues at hand and really start making an impact. You can keep your toxic masculinity if you please (and ladies, you can keep being victims of it as well since if you love it so much). The fact is, God intended for there to be diversity, which is why we all exist as such. Our society has an issue with inclusion which raises an even larger concern. Do you want to live in a free world, or a world dictated by what the few believe is the "norm?"

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