During the week there was a viral tweet that criticized men taking studio pictures.
The tweet said that this was unmanly he did not see how a grown man has enough time in his hands to book a photo shoot for his birthday.
I found it hilarious and quickly read the reactions to the tweet.
Most men agreed. A few talked about this being a symptom of toxic masculinity.
A comment made me laugh.
He said: “Real men wash their hair with soap and not shampoo.”
This made me examine myself and the role that I have played in perpetuating toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity refers to traditional masculine norms that can be harmful to not just men; but to the whole society as well.
Things like telling boys not to cry and from that you get grown men who are unable to process their emotions properly, hence are prone to violence or self-destruction.
Also, men are told that paying too much attention to how they look and even paying a lot of attention to their basic hygiene makes them effeminate. Men are not supposed to use any lotion. Only Vaseline is allowed. They are supposed to have musky scents and they are not to wear tops with flowers, etc.
This definition of masculinity simply means repression for a lot of men; as they are given a tiny space with loads of rules.
Why on earth would anyone criticize a man for taking pictures in a studio? What is feminine about that? After I laughed at the list of things ‘real men’ were supposed to do and not to do; I got thinking seriously.
I examined my husband and the men I have been attracted to in the past.
We live in times where one has to censure what he says for fear of insane projections and the cancel culture.
I will probably admit to some things that are not kosher. But I hope that this encourages people to self-reflect more than ever.
Do I really think that toxic masculinity is ridiculous or do I just say it; while silently perpetuating it by judging the men I come across based on how masculine I perceive them to me. For example, my husband does not own a single shirt with flowers or funny groovy patterns on it. When I shop for him, I avoid anything that screams flamboyance. I like plain-colored polos and I do not like silk fabrics. I prefer cotton.
Also, I do not really like him in seriously tapered trousers with those funny precise cuts. I like to see him in something with a little room. My husband does not use lotion. I have to force some in his hands to prevent in between his fingers from flaking.
My husband does not scour the internet looking for styles of clothing for himself. Plus, the few photoshoots we have done in the family were initiated by me.
He does not wear jewelry. Once he wanted to wear these bands or beads that men wear on their wrists. I found that so odd and I think that discouraged him from wearing them.
I have never seen all these preening and pouting men as attractive. Indeed, I do not think that a man should ever pout. Pouting is for women and babies. I am reasonably comfortable with men that can articulate their emotions but when it crosses a certain line; I am afraid it affects how I see them.
Meanwhile, I don’t understand metrosexual men. I am intimidated by men that are too neat.
Men who consistently do manicures and pedicures are weird. I don’t believe in men carrying a ‘murse’. A purse is a purse and a murse is just a purse a man is carrying.
I find men who bicker and are petty as extremely unattractive. A man that talks incessantly is exhausting. I like the strong silent type (add small brooding inside).
I would say that this is just my personal preference. But the truth is it is obvious that I have bought into the idea of how men should be.
On an intellectual level, I get why toxic masculinity is toxic; why men need to be given the space to express who they are. We are not Neanderthals where men go hunt and women stay and feed babies. Maybe then it was a matter of survival for men to be intimidating and brusque. Now that most of our jobs involve sitting on a computer and exchanging strongly worded emails or subbing people; who needs a man to carry his testosterone on his sleeves?
Women are strong. We don’t need to be rescued and protected and be saved. Men can relax or can’t they?
We are looking for a secondary school for my son. My husband didn’t seem to fret when we got there. He let me look around as I voiced all my fears and worries. I commented to a colleague that he didn’t seem to have much to say about the school and this my colleague who is a man said he probably did not want to fret visibly as that would make me fret even more and who needs for the whole family to be in panic mode.
He said men feel all the things we feel but they do not voice it; simply because someone has to project confidence and calmness or anxiety will be amplified.
I kind of appreciated this. It feels good to be faced with an uncertain situation. But to have a take-charge man beside you that will boost your confidence and tell you ‘Don’t worry, I will handle it.’
But is keeping quiet and accepting this ‘male strength’ not perpetuating toxicity? Where one person suppresses all he feels so that others may be comfortable?
I like millennials. I have never dated or would be interested in dating them. They are great at rejecting roles that Boomers and Gen X accepted without questioning. I could not have thrived in a relationship with anyone of them. Unfortunately, that toxic tint is what most of my generation found attractive and called Alpha men.
I admit to being problematic. Agreeing toxic masculinity is a bad thing but still liking it.
Don’t criticize me. This is bravery right here. Still speaking honestly about what your thoughts are even though it is not cool to do so if you are not thinking and saying the ‘right’ things.
*Please note that the conversation to the tweet was on Facebook and I could not locate the post to give credit to the comment that fascinated me.