A Tedious Task
A few weeks ago, I spoke with a small group of men about manhood. Over drinks, we shared stories of the lessons men in our lives taught us when we were boys and our individual journey defining it now that we are men.
One of the young men openly spoke about his difficulty finding love and meaningful relationships, though, to me, it seemed he only wanted to eagerly sleep with women without grappling with the thought they saw through his portrait mask.
I couldn’t help but contemplate bell hooks' words in The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love:
“Most men think that sex will provide them with a sense of being alive, connected, that sex will offer closeness, intimacy, pleasure. And more often than not, sex simply does not deliver the goods. This fact does not lead men to cease obsessing about sex; it intensifies their lust and their longing.”
When asked: “Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable around the women you’re seeing?” He shook his head and proceeded to laugh, adding, “She told me I hide too much of my feelings with jokes.”
I took another sip, leaned forward, and asked, “Do you guys still speak?” although the answer was abundantly clear.
A loud smack of the teeth, followed by a sharp “Not anymore,” escaped his short breath as if somewhat disappointed.
It was blatantly obvious—He could not adore a woman entirely because loving himself seemed to be a tedious task.
All this to say, as men, we need an intermission to the show we’ve been actors in to better shape our approach to love, vulnerability, and intimacy, not only with the people in our lives but with ourselves.
For a moment, think about the emotional censorship, nights clouded in harmful behavior, rampant promiscuity, and streamline of tears concealed in utter freight. For a moment, think of perceptions from people who don’t think twice about steamrolling you with their versions of hyper-masculinity.
We need to question and reevaluate how patriarchy force-fed us this idea of masculinity that’s been incredibly harmful to our emotional health.