Our Dangerous Definition Of Manhood » VSB

Featured, Theory & Essay

Our Dangerous Definition Of Manhood

iStock

 

While performing a couple of my daily tasks at EBONY this morning, I came across two extremely tragic news stories. The first was out of Detroit, where a 27-year-old mother of three was killed recently after rejecting a man’s advances in a bar.

From My Fox Detroit

A mass shooting killed one person and wounded five members of the same family Saturday, A confrontation led to fight, which ended in gunfire, killing Mary “Unique” Spears.

Afraid to show her face or to go outside her residence, a relative of Spears says that night, she and Spears had just left the funeral of another family member to celebrate his life inside the Joe Louis Post on Sherwood and 7 Mile on Detroit’s east side. A 38-year-old man inside who her family says they’ve never seen before, began harassing Spears, 27. “He said, ‘Can I get your name, your number,'” Spears’ relative said. “She said, ‘I have a man I can’t talk to you.'” But her family says the harassment continued until 2 am when on their way out, they say the man grabbed and hit Spears. Her fiancee confronted him as a fight broke out. Then suddenly the man began shooting.

“He shot her one time,” Spears’ relative said. “And she tried to run. And he shot her two more times in her head.”

The second was from Alabama, where a high school football star committed suicide.

From The Grio

One of Alabama’s top high school football players has died of an apparent suicide.

Hazel Green High School junior defensive end Julian Jones, 16, died Monday morning according to WHNT-TV.

Unfortunately, these types of stories are not uncommon. Hundreds of people are killed in this country every day, and a little over 100 commit suicide each day. But certain circumstances make certain stories stand out. In Spears’ case, it’s the fact that her death allegedly came about as a result of her telling a man “No, I’m not interested” and the man not accepting the answer. From what I’ve come to understand, this is a very real fear many women possess, and hearing about a man who actually killed a woman because of a rejection is chill-inducing. In Jones’ case, he was a young, popular, handsome, talented, and Black athlete — basically the type of person we’d assume was least likely to take his own life. Obviously, those types of assumptions are misleading. Dangerous, even. But there is an element of shock when someone who seems to have had the world at their feet decides to leave it, and this news was shocking.

As I thought about what could possibly be going on in a man’s brain to make him want to murder a woman just because she said “No” and what could have possibly been going on in Jones’ head that convinced him suicide was the best option, I came across another story. An interview, actually. New York Times columnist Charles Blow spoke to Gawker about his new memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones. In it, Blow explores what manhood and masculinity means, and he shared some of his thoughts in the interview.

Gawker: The book challenges static representations of what manhood should be or look like or talk like. I’m curious, what does being a man mean to you?

Blow: I believe that we have drawn masculinity in this incredibly narrow, rigid, dangerous way. We think of it as a peak, and I think of it as an ocean.

Gawker: Dangerous in what sense?

Blow: Dangerous in the sense of—writing a note to a song so high only a few people are meant to hit it, and nobody is meant to hold it. And so, boys are constantly confronting this notion of failure because they cannot live up to idea of people saying to them, Man up! Be a man! And they don’t know what that is because they’re just trying to be human. And being human is sometimes fragile. I believe we have to redraw our collective concept of what masculinity is so that it includes the possibility of difference and variation. And once we do that we free these kids up to be kids, and to be human beings. Also, allowing them to be honest about things they are experiencing, things people don’t traditionally identify with masculinity. Because there’s no way to be a real man without being an honest man. So when we force these boys to lie and suppress, we’re robbing them of truth and honesty and all the real things we would like an archetypical real man to be.

After reading Blow’s interview, I couldn’t help but wonder if and how these societal expectations of and constraints on malehood — Black malehood, particularly — contributed to the two tragedies I read about earlier. I wonder if our expectations of what men are supposed to be able to do helped craft a mindset where a man felt so entitled to a woman that her death was, in his mind, the only rightful response to her “insult.” I wonder if the pressure of meeting a certain societal standard of malehood led Jones to suicide.

And while I know what I’ve learned and what I’ve been told, I wonder what being a “man” actually means.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Guest

    There’s a sh*t-ton to be said about this topic. However, I’m not a man. So I’m giving up the floor to listen.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      You can still comment. You’ve seen life with your own two eyes. Even what you have to say can reflect actual experiences us men have had.

      • Guest

        I have two stages in my life when I had an opinion of manhood based upon my personal experience. One was as a child. In my family the men ate first, and we did not eat until they got home. My cousin had no curfew, while I was not allowed to even visit a friend’s house. A man’s word was believed over a child’s, in any circumstance. In church women were encouraged to press forward in their marriages, despite abuse or infidelity. I told my mother I wanted to be a man, because to be a man was to be free and to be heard.

        As I became older, broke away and began to define womanhood for myself, I became much more sympathetic to the humanity of men. They often drowned in the sea of their own possibilities, as without the strict rules infringed upon girls they made any decision, not ones that reflected their role or maturity. Many mistakes were made. Many people were hurt. But they were doing the best they could. And I found, for ME, that “manhood” in relation to “womanhood” is the A+Z to my B-thru-Y. I muddle with details, men think big picture. I worry how a decision will make someone feel; his ability to compartmentalize stabilizes my tendency to over-empathize and decisions get made. I make decisions with the thought of individuals in the family; he makes decisions for the family as a whole. I am in no way deficient or unable, I am just more efficient with that other half. But as you’ve read, my only definition of manhood is in relation to me as a woman, and I think there is more to this discussion to be had.

        • cancergirl08

          ” I became much more sympathetic to the humanity of men. They often drowned in the sea of their own possibilities, as without the strict rules infringed upon girls they made any decision, not ones that reflected their role or maturity. Many mistakes were made. ”

          Yes! That’s it. You explained what I was fumbling to get at, in the differences between how boys and girls are raised and socialized. Sometimes, when there are no rules or little guidance and too many options, you have too much opportunity to make mistakes. And without a personal moral compass that says “this is who I am as a man, this is what I stand for no matter what anyone else says” some boys are deciding right and wrong and what type of man to become based on groupthink.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Well thank you for sharing. Despite what you might think, it is refreshing to hear about manhood from a woman’s perspective because our own can be pretty jaded. As weird as it might sound, you experience of manhood as a child is the same as mines, but in reverse. My sister got way more leeway than I did, my mom controlled the finances, and my dad worked all the time, so I was always with female family members or family friends. Your adult version mirrors what I currently live through now.

        • Mercy, Maris. Cut quick.

          “I told my mother I wanted to be a man, because to be a man was to be free and to be heard.”

          • My father and uncles had the freedom to leave, get their lives ALLAWAY wrong, and come back to an INTACT family to “make it right”. **shrug**
            I mean…it is the freedom to even discuss what “manhood” means, on a platform as popular as this one is. Women can’t do that without input. One may argue that the blogosphere is a woman-dominated industry but it is much like “black twitter”-it’s only because it is the ONLY place we can speak amongst ourselves and be heard. Once you get into actual journalism, the voices, again, are largely male.

          • That quote is so far from the opposite of my experience in so many situations, it’s not even funny. From being a single dad to being a young boy bullied mercilessly by girls, the day that happens is the day you need a bomber jacket to keep from freezing in hell.

        • menajeanmaehightower

          You’re insight and way with words are beautiful.

    • Damon Young

      I want to hear what women have to say about this too

      • Meridian

        Yeah, I kind of paused too. So you won’t be offended by a verbose opinion on this?

        • Damon Young

          VSB could very easily stand for VerboSe-ass Blacks, so no. I won’t be.

          • Meridian

            ‘Kay. I shall post my musings on the topic.

          • CamCamtheGreat

            Troof.

          • Wild Cougar

            You, sir, are the real MVP

      • Guest

        Honestly my main thought…privilege has a price. Many of the consequences in the underbelly of Patriarchy pale in comparison to the benefits. Many of the reasons such narrow standards are upheld are because nobody wants to give up their perceived advantage-ESPECIALLY if it’s the only one you think you have-which, IMO, is why the the definition of ‘manhood’ in the Black community is more exaggerated.
        Think about it. When it got to the point in this country where Black people were allowed to at least be in the room (we had a long way to go to have a seat at the table) our leaders-or at least our “representatives”- were male. The language was, “you may not be my equal but at least you’re a man, step inside”. When you are fighting for scraps no one cares if you lose your humanity. And it’s been trickling down ever since. Nasheed wouldn’t even let women take credit for #NMOS2014 without a fight, for chrissakes.
        Now, what does this have to do with being a man?TBH, we cannot expand the definition of manhood or accept men who do not fit the narrow standard until we allow women an equal space to broaden their own definition of a “woman’s role”. The two are intrinsically linked, and we cannot have one discussion without the other.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Perhaps. However, even if you choose to discuss both, what we both ultimately rail against are those of both genders who believe there should be no freedom of thought on the issue. Those who believe the lines in the sand have been drawn for a long time and have no reason to change. Neither gender will ever accomplish much without serious reworking of the gender role, yet neither side pushes hard enough to challenge the status quo due to fear of those who favor it.

          • Exactly. It’s like the war on drugs where too many people benefit from the status quo to make the deeper changes needed.

    • Neptunes presents The Clones

      Riddle me this. Has there been too much focus on the girl child as opposed to the boy child

      • camilleblu

        too much focus in what respect? (real question) bc there are countries that are still killing girl babies in favor of boy babies.

        • Neptunes presents The Clones

          In all aspects and we are talking about the United States arent we not China

          • camilleblu

            ah…ok…(it’s not just china)
            then no – i don’t think there has been too much focus on the girl child as opposed to the boy child.

            • Neptunes presents The Clones

              Then explain the whole there are no good men mantra that is always on repeat. Boys are not being taken care of. Kids are growing up in a world where whatever they do is harmful to the opposite gender. Male enrollment in tertiary education is dropping. Why is all this happening then.

              • camilleblu

                i don’t know that i can explain it all sahel. i know that there is a no good men mantra out there – just like there is a (black) women ain’t ish mantra out there…but i don’t believe in, nor subscribe to either of them, and no one in my immediate and extended circle of family and friends does either. best i can say about that is that there will forevermore be bitter, angry folks in this world. as far as boys not being taken care of – please elaborate on that for me, as well as the harm to the opposite gender. as far as education – black male college enrollment is, not decreasing. the whole *more black males in prison than college* mantra is not true.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        In this country, there is a focus to empower the female youth, and castrate the male youth. I don’t think it is on purpose, I think it just merely started as a reaction and became a norm.
        Boys are rough, rugged, and fast. They cause trouble, and people can’t keep up with them. So you yell at them, for everything they do. Then feed them pills so they slow down. Then you leave them with few male influences to look up to, and before you know it, you have a recipe that does complicate a boy’s life beyond repair.

        • I…can’t agree with this. The focus to empower girls is the act of digging ourselves from a ditch that you are already standing atop of.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            I’m not going to argue about right or wrong. There are plenty of studies that exist today that show very much from the ages for 2-10, young males are being targeted for signs of aggression, or what would be perceived as aggression by female teachers. Due to this, the suggestion of medicating the boys became widely used to keep things calmer in class rooms.
            Its a messy subject no matter what. The success of children is still based heavily on the failures of other children.

          • Jay

            You see yourselves as being in a ditch because you’re comparing yourselves to men at that metaphorical peak yet the men who are way further down on the wave, most of us, are lumped in with the select few at the peak. Therefore we are punished as if we are doing the oppressing when in reality we suffer from male elitism as much as you all do.

            • No. I am speaking of the very bottom from which we start. All things being equal men will always have a head start because we accept that we are to listen when a man speaks while women must first fight to be seen, then to be taken seriously. Men often do not see this section of a woman’s struggle because as the saying goes, “fish didn’t discover water”. There are some things that are a given for you that I cannot ever properly explain our struggle with. And, honestly, vice-versa, which is why I stay away from some topics.

          • Meridian

            I often hear men talking about how they don’t feel completely okay even though they operate as if they are, and that no one cares about that reality they’re experiencing. It’s hard to hear that as a woman because of how much we’re already carrying. The best way I can think to describe it is to look at my peers. I see guys who are in and out of relationships dogging the women they’re with. They have all these friends who cater to them. They have all these family members who cater to them and support them in every way. Even in their relations with women, the women are buying their clothes. Paying their bills. Letting them stay with them. Women are making personal sacrifices to uplift men, encourage them, back them up, fight for them. Let a woman ask a guy for something though. Let her have a need. Let her be in the hospital. Let her lights go out.

            You call that same guy and you get the run around in 50-11 different ways to the point where you’re leaning on other women who are just as starved as you are. That’s abusive and to say that no one cares when you have all these women catering to you, and then you ask more of them? Or take issue with their empowerment? It’s inhumane. On the flip side though, while I think a lot of men have those tangible needs taken care of, the vast majority can’t express their internal states. When you can’t express your state it doesn’t get taken care of. When you can’t express what’s going on inside as you’re moving through life, the actualities driving your behaviors are never addressed or resolved. That’s the dangerous part of manhood. The repercussions of avoiding your own feelings as well as your demons. They have to be worked through so in that in regard I understand how they feel a way, but as a woman, I’m not trying to hear it. When is the last time a woman you know has had a team of men around her building her back up? When’s the last time you heard of a man having a team of women catering to his every need?

            • T.Q. Fuego

              “When’s the last time you heard of a man having a team of women catering to his every need?”

              Goldie? Pimpin Ken maybe?

              • Meridian

                Look at your actual life and peer group. Tell me how common that is.

                • T.Q. Fuego

                  It’s only common for the men who did everything within their power to become attractive and valuable to those women (it’s hard work whether you respect it as such or not). Even these men only have women catering to their every “need” because they don’t have many needs. If they were as needy as a lot of women are it would be impossible. It’s not like all the women in their lives love them unconditionally or without wanting anything in return.The important thing to remember is that the men I know who are getting what they desire from women get it because they worked really hard to build attractiveness within themselves and figured out how to present value to other people. The ones who still aren’t there yet get treated indifferently just like everyone else.

                  • Meridian

                    “Even those men only have women catering to their every “need” becuase they don’t have many needs.”

                    That’s kind of profound. I’ve never heard someone say that before. I think men are inherently simplistic but I wonder how many of them feel like that. Like even the “good ones” feel they have to keep their needs to a minimum. I don’t know if I can disagree with that but I do believe a man who is doing his best and his absolute for everyone should be able to have that returned to him. It should always be a fully mutual exchange.

        • h.h.h.

          Boys are rough, rugged, and fast. They cause trouble, and people can’t keep up with them. So you yell at them, for everything they do. Then feed them pills so they slow down.

          “More than any other group, black males are identified (and misidentified) as having A.D.H.D. Frankly, black males in special education are as common as apple pie and ice cream. Professionals, lay people and parents have become very comfortable and complacent with concluding that children who are vervistic — physically demonstrative, tactile and kinesthetic — and easily distracted require a label, medication and special education classes or services.”

          http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/10/12/are-americans-more-prone-to-adhd/racism-and-sexism-in-diagnosing-adhd

          • Kim

            I can attest to this. When I attended middle school I watched the school administration funnel several of my male classmates into special education classes simply because they were rowdy.

        • menajeanmaehightower

          What Maris said below.

        • Freebird

          maris is right but you are not completely wrong.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            The proof is out there. I didn’t make none of that stuff up.

        • DBoySlim

          I totally agree with this. I experienced something like this in elementary school. We had a boys side and a girls side on the playground with an imaginary line separating the two. If the girls came on our side they were politely ushered back. If we acted like we were going to cross the line, we were yelled at. The boys were also punished more often and more severely. Most of the people working with us were single women.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            It happens so easily that it is unconscious, women don’t even realize what they are doing to these young boys. That’s the problem. A clear gender line is being drawn, and after all the years that women have clamored to give young girls the opportunity to start with a clean slate, they’ve instead demonized young boys for being boys. So now, whatever they turn into is the fault of these adults, but they’d never take responsibility for it.

      • cancergirl08

        Hmmm. Not sure. In terms of in Af Am households that I’ve observed personally (I’ve got at least 5 sets of friends, including myself, who have brothers) I would say that my parents pushed me towards higher education and other opportunities more than they did my brother. It was like, you are a double minority. “You should be have a graduate degree, travel, be well rounded, know how to take care of yourself.” Its similar with my other girlfriends as well. And they are doing better (higher paying jobs, home ownership, stability) than their brothers, some of whom are actually older. Not sure why this is. My brother wasn’t pushed to go to grad school the way that I was. My Mom was very particular about the type of woman I should be morally and the opportunities out in the world that I should pursue. Not sure if all Moms and Dads mold their sons into the type of “man” they want them to be, or how much they delve into morality? In some ways, I do think boys are left to figure out a lot by themselves. So they look to peers for lessons that are probably better taught by an experienced, responsible father or other father figure. Maybe parents don’t think that young boys need that extra molding? Either that, or maybe the parents do try to mold them but these ‘hard headed boys’ just don’t listen, lol. My Dad grew up without his father and in some ways, with my brother, he was just an “enforcer.” For example, my Mom talked to my brother about sex, protection, relationships, etc. My Dad didn’t really teach a lot of moral lessons (he did teach us practical stuff; how to drive, etc), just enforced whatever groundwork my Mom put there.

        • I think that people are so afraid of Chesters that there are so few men around kids in their formative years. I can see how it would leave a dude struggling. Also, there’s this assumption that boys will be fine.

          • Epsilonicus

            This is so true. I remember working with kids in HS and I was practically chased out because the director was paranoid. My female colleagues could do everything solo with a kid. I could not even watch the kids on the playground by myself. If I was prepping snack, a kid could never help me without a female colleague present.

      • Nope. The only real instance where this is an issue is allowing the space for a boy to be a victim if taken advantage of in a s*xual manner.

        • I’m not too sure. I see where you’re coming from, but it’s not just about $ex abuse situations. We as a society wait until boys are just about teenagers to give them guidance, not realizing that all those years around women messed them up, especially if they aren’t used to dealing with boys

      • Jay

        Part of the issue is that most of us are raised by women with no male figures around. Women grow up with a model, however flawed, to follow. When they are instructed it is done with the thorough knowledge of what it means to be a woman. With boys this is not the case. A mother can try and try and try and actually mean well but she will be unable to give a male child the type of guidance and attention that he needs by herself.

        • There are always male figures around. Maybe most or all the men were terrible but they were around.

          • Jay

            Around means nothing. I’m talking about guidance.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            That still depends on what you can get out of them. What if they die? What if they are in jail? What if they work all the time and you barely see them?

        • #facts. Heck I can see the subtle ways I’m doing my daughter wrong by not having a woman around, the little things she’s missing…

          • Jay

            Yeah man. I’ve said it a million times. Kids need both parents. There is no denying this. I hate when women (or men) say “we will be just fine. I can raise my baby by myself”. Yeah your child will survive… The child will live, but we live in a competitive world and that child is starting out with a huge disadvantage compared to his peers that he will later compete with for jobs, resources, and mate selection.

            • Stanley

              I worry about this line of thought and what it means for LGBTQ Black families (or non-straight families in general). I agree that every child needs positive role-models and mentors who look like themselves, but I don’t think this is the same as saying all kids need a mother and father in the home. A two-parent household is a blessing, no matter what the gender of the parents.

        • AlwaysCC

          while i agree with your point, i think we should be careful about painting a “most of us are raised by women with no male figures around” picture. the biological father may not have been around or living in the same home, but that doesn’t mean there were no men around at all.

          • Jay

            I’m speaking from my personal experience and you’re absolutely right. Malik said the same thing downthread and I’ll respond to you the same way I did to him: I’m referring to guidance and actually playing a part in a boy learning to become a man.

            My mom has 7 brothers, that is 7 uncles for me. My dad has 5 brothers. As a child my interaction with them consisted of seeing them jolly, drunk, and high at holiday get togethers and maybe the gift of a dollar here or there. Also my father was not wholly absent from my life, but guidance and true fatherhood was.

            The fact that we think that men being present… just present makes some kind of difference is the sentiment that I find really dangerous. It’s better than them being completely absent but when it counts it doesn’t amount to much.

            • AlwaysCC

              i gotcha. i’m not referring to presence though. i *am* referring to guidance. i’m married, but my father and father-in-law are a HUGE presence in my children’s lives providing guidance (sometimes more than i want them to be). even my unmarried friends who are mothers have additional support besides the father (whether the father is or is not around).

              ETA: the quality of guidance provided to young boys and men may be lacking (depending on who you talk to). i think having bad guidance is actually the problem – not having no guidance.

              • Jay

                That’s amazing and great for all of those kids. I wasn’t so lucky. I can not or do not pretend to speak for everyone in every situation. I’m addressing a problem that was my reality growing up and I know that I’m not alone.

                Also I think we discount how special having and being a parent is. The attention that you get from a parent is (idealistically) the most focused, intensive, omnipresent attention that one can get… and kids NEED that. It’s that far reaching love and guidance that is there every day when you go to bed and still there when you wake up in the morning. I got it from my mother so I know and appreciate what that’s about on that end. Having an uncle or a grandfather around, even a great one, is still only a substitute. It helps but it’s usually not enough.

                • AlwaysCC

                  i hope i didn’t come across as discounting your experience – that was not my intent. i apologize if that is how it seemed. i admit i get sensitive when i see/hear statements about how men (especially black men) aren’t around for their kids. i know that happens…i know it happens much more than it should. and the children always suffer in some form or fashion because of it.

                  my only point was let’s be careful not to talk/act like men being good parents is a #unicornexperience. i know having an uncle/grandfather/stepfather/mentor doesn’t take the place of having a father around (i agree wholeheartedly with you about that), but those men deserve some recognition for what they do, too.

                  because your response was to sahel – the father of all spies from unknown origins – i took your statement to be more of a recounting of fact than an anecdote. so can we just blame sahel? :)

                  • Jay

                    No need to blame anyone. Maybe I shouldn’t have said “most of us”. Once again I was speaking from my personal experience and have no stats to prove that “most” men grew up the same.

                    • AlwaysCC

                      maaaaaan i ain’t got stats either. and i still wanna blame sahel for something…

            • Heavens2Murgatroid

              I hear you wholly. If I could double upvote I would. I grew up with my dad living exactly two streets behind and three houses over from me, and I can’t once remember him calling me, I was always the caller. Don’t let me pass the spelling bee or get honor roll, I’d hop-skip my jolly áss on over to his house. 9/10 of the time he’ll let me in with a “hey son, good job. I knew you was smart. Want some chicken I was frying?” And that’d be the sum of the celebration.

              Even though he wasn’t “around” I still learned from him. The biggest lesson being Don’t be that guy. If you’re going to say you love somebody, show it.

              The main father figures I looked to we’re my friends’ fathers, and teachers who mentored me. But as you pointed out it doesn’t beat having somebody I can go home to and claim proudly as my father.

      • IcePrincess

        Yes.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    Since I’m 30 years old, as I reflect on my entire life, I think this is the best way to explain being a man.

    It’s like being a stick of dynamite that had its fuse lit, but immediately being told “don’t blow up loud, keep it quiet! Make it a controlled blast, don’t blow up everything in sight! You’re dangerous, we need to get rid of you! We need you here right now, forget what we said before!”

    It is a contradiction within a lie supported by an urban myth. I am a human. I am engineered to experience life at its best and worst while making decisions that can lift me high and bury me beneath the Earth. I can only be one thing at a time. But I am actually 3 things at a time, at all times, even when I sleep. It is a confusing, difficult, and heartbreaking journey to understand manhood.

    All of that was said to say this: I don’t know what a man is supposed to be. But what he could be? He can be aware. He can be proud. He can be understanding. He can be powerful. If you let him.

    • cakes_and_pies

      “If you let him.”
      I abhor the fact that you feel that you have to have permission to be human because contradicts whatever arbitrary, mental hopscotch definition of a Black man.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        That’s life for many of us though. If every direction you turn has a finger pointed at your face that tells you what you can’t do, what exactly do you think someone would really believe they COULD do then? We become slaves to opinions and rules until we decide to break the chains.

        • cakes_and_pies

          You can see it in your faces and the way some carefully curate sentences and thoughts with all hints of emotion wiped out so you don’t come off as “soft.”

          • Neptunes presents The Clones

            This is over romanticizing the situation.

            • cakes_and_pies

              Maybe for you, but a lot of dudes are fugged in the head for only being allowed to express hunger, horniness, and aggressive behavior.

              • Wild Cougar

                How are you not “allowed” to express something? I get sick of hearing that. It’s bull. What you express is your right as a human. You were born with autonomy. Yeah, I know it’s hard and yeah, I know, society frowns on certain types of expression, but to say you’re not “allowed” is a lie. You choose to follow the norms because you don’t like the consequences of not following them. It’s your choice, your responsibility and the consequences belong rightfully to you.

                • cakes_and_pies

                  “Allow” is a forest through the tree type term where it’s inperativre to look at how it’s being expressed and not how it works against a dictionary term. I fully agree with you but…semantics.

                  • Wild Cougar

                    I think we are both getting lost in the trees. What I’m trying to express is the frustration with men who won’t take responsibility and blame society for what they have consciously decided to not to do. They looked at their perceived reality and decided that they could get what they wanted better if they did not emote. I get irritated when they want to blame others for that decision.

                    • cakes_and_pies

                      Oh…I ain’t here for that self martyrdom boolshyt either. It’s just as manipulative as the people who emote every single emotion that ever existed as a tool to blame others,

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Not like we have a choice.

            I’m 6’1, 250 lbs. If I say “excuse me miss” to a woman in public, I automatically see her defenses go up because she assumes she knows what will come out of my mouth, despite the fact that I just want directions. If I approach a group of older women alone on an elevator, there is a heightened tension unless I smile and say “good day”. If I have to speak to my wife about something important, I have to watch every word I say, lest she take my words the wrong way due to what she imagines them meaning, rather than what I actually mean.

            I am working…all day, all night, on just being alive because I can’t be free as long as I’m alive.

  • I’m curious to see both the men’s and women’s responses.

  • Rachmo

    I’m still working out how to be a woman so I got nothing.

    • miss t-lee

      Okay, listen.

      • Rachmo

        I mean if you have some answers I’m all ears hon. *munches on goldfish crackers*

        • miss t-lee

          I’m sure we both have some of the same answers.
          *eats pretzels*

  • “And while I know what I’ve learned and what I’ve been told, I wonder what being a “man” actually means.”

    Let me know when you find out because you and I are in the same spot when it comes to the what I’ve learned and what I know. 35 year old Keith doesn’t have the same static positions on manhood that 25 or 30 year old Keith has. Learning what a man is in America, black or otherwise is a stress-ridden lesson of watching and learning from the bad men we see to the good men we see who we also have to start by acknowledging are in no way perfect. That black boy box that we get put in is a hard place to come out of considering we’re put there by those who hate and love us.

    I added Blow’s book to my Goodreads’ list last week and I just finished having a discussion with my best friend about the young man from Alabama. Dodging all of those pitfalls is a h*ll of a thing.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      There are times when I think as a Black man, we won’t ever get a proper answer on the definition of manhood.

  • panamajackson

    We’ve been asking this question at VSB for a long time.

    January 26, 2011: http://verysmartbrothas.com/man-up/

    Of course, the HUNDREDS of comments we had on that post are in WP bolivion somewhere, but I’m sure the conversation today will be the same as it was then, nobody really knows.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      One thing you may take away from this subject as opposed to years ago is that the answers that were given before probably remain the same now. Which is weird, because we are in a much more precarious position than we were 3 years ago.

    • Dumb question…what happened to all of those comments?

      • nillalatte

        Not everything migrates when you change interactive commenting services.

  • miss t-lee

    I hadn’t heard about Julian Jones until just now.
    Sad, sad situation.

    • We have to take mental health more seriously in our community. Mind and body.

      • miss t-lee

        Yes. Yes we must.

  • h.h.h.

    The first was out of Detroit, where a 27-year-old mother of three was killed recently after rejecting a man’s advances in a bar.

    sidenote – a woman got slashed last night for ignoring a guy ( http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Woman-Ignores-Man-Slashed-Queens-Building-Lobby-278467001.html)

    i typically have issues with pieces like this, because it comes across as males should no longer seek to uphold any sort of ideal of what a man entails..essentially a male, or a man, is a human being that can do #1 standing up, and anything past that is a threat to the opposite gender.

    but since this is the wrong way to think about this, i’m going to get Mountain Dew, 1L size, and think about this carefully. and listen to those across the aisle give the answer.

    :)

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      Says the man who’s Arrancar comes with two guns and a pimped out mink.

      • h.h.h.

        well, just like my arrancar…nothin’ i can do about it…lol

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          I swear you stick to your guns (pun included) about everything.

        • Neptunes presents The Clones

          Bleach,noted

    • Wild Cougar

      I’m curious why being a man should be more than being an adult male. Being a woman is being an adult female. It’s the extra stuff that leads to the problems, seems to me. Being human isn’t enough?

      • h.h.h.

        if that is your definition of being a woman, so be it.

        for me, being ‘human’ isn’t enough.

        • Wild Cougar

          Of course, being me means excellence, but even if I’m not excellent, I’m still a woman and that’s enough for womanhood. You think being male and adult is not enough for manhood? Because that would mean that most men are failures at existing, pretty much.

          • h.h.h.

            yes, i believe being a man requires more than being an adult male.

            i’m not sure what your inquiries are leading towards.

            • Wild Cougar

              Do you think being a woman requires more than being an adult female?

              • h.h.h.

                Yep.

                • Wild Cougar

                  Alrighty then

          • AlwaysCC

            i think i see where you’re going. being responsible (for example) isn’t a a wo/man trait. it’s just a trait. so you would therefore have aresponsible (or irresponsible) man or woman. right?

  • BlueWave1

    Manhood in America is the collective of what American men individually do. I know that is not the esoteric answer we may be looking for. But it is the only thing we really know for sure. There is no magic formula of being that leads to that mythical place called “manhood”. As someone else already noted its just living life and making adjustments on the fly. And hoping you don’t screw everything up.

    With that said, I’d be careful not to tie every short coming of a man to manhood in general.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      There’s no magical method for any form of living in this country but when it comes time to discuss what we are right now….there’s got to be more to be said than “well we just are what we are as we live life”. Because there is more.

  • Asiyah

    It’s weird. I define masculinity and femininity in the same manner. To me, both mean taking ownership and control of oneself, admitting one’s strengths and weaknesses, not being afraid to be vulnerable, working hard, things like that. In my opinion, the differences between masculinity and femininity are more about how they are manifested (e.g. men are typically considered more left-brained, while women more right-brained. Bare in mind that I don’t see things as that black-and-white, but I referred to that for the sake of argument), the differing priorities amongst the two (e.g. studies have shown that men prioritize independence in relationships while women prioritize intimacy. Again, not sure if I agree with that exactly as I consider myself more on the independence side than the intimacy side), things like that. Ultimately, when I say “be a man!” (and I’ve been saying that a lot lately) I really mean be a thinking agent who assumes ownership of his actions. I use the term “be a man” because I’ve been saying that lately about a lot of guys I know. But just as it is difficult for some women to take ownership of their lives, so is it for some men, and both genders tend to place these difficult standards on themselves.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      Do you think the men in your life understand what you mean when you say “be a man”?

      • Asiyah

        Honestly? Only one of them does. The rest chalk it up to me being “bitter” because I’m single and/or label it “negativity.”

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          You should expound on it more, because when men usually hear those words, they don’t come from a place of confidence, but rather a place of frustration.

          • Asiyah

            That’s easier said than done. Most men tend to think that anything “negative” that comes out of a woman’s mouth is a direct result of her relationship status. Anything that doesn’t flatter or praise them is due to her issues with her relationship (or lack thereof). Many hold to the belief that women do not offer constructive criticism or sound advice: they either nag or provide a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear, but not any insight. I would love to get the opportunity to expound more without a man either cutting me off from his life or throwing it in my face that “this is why you’re single.”

          • Word. Sometimes the dumbest thing a woman can say is man up. It comes off very manipulative, as if my manhood is her joystick.

            • Asiyah

              When you tell a person something in a nice, nonmanipulative way and that person still doesn’t get it, you get fed up and eventually stop sugarcoating it.

More Like This