I've recently become intrigued by the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a man. With all my travels lately, I have begun to observe and experience men with different societal expectations and gender roles. In those encounters, I've found certain experiences to lead me to the conclusion that American masculinity or at least the definition of it, is a deep chasm of idiosyncrasies that are predicated on a false idea of what manhood really means. This kind of American Machismo that is taught from childhood such as "man up!" or "Boys don't cry", being made fun of for being too sensitive, or having to lie about their virginity and brag about sexual conquests to gain street cred, has limited our men in the range of behaviors they are allowed to exhibit. The idea if boys are mean to us or pull our hair that means they like us. "Boys will be boys" enforcing when they misbehave, that boys are innately unruly or unkind. One of the few male emotions that is seen as manly is aggression or anger. But if a man, doesn't show anger to being disrespected he's pressured to react impulsively rather than praised for being calm. I see so many couples walking around here with the girl holding his arm with his hand in his pocket, as if he's not really with her... because if really loves openly, or shows affection he is criticized for being "whipped". If he cries or get emotional, he's a "pussy" ( which lets be clear should be a compliment, pussy's are very strong). Being a man means being the antithesis of anything feminine and seeing such a dichotomy after my travels has shown me we have given our men a very narrow view of what masculinity is. Their masculinity is constantly up for question of what it means to be a " Real man." But what qualifies as real? It's something that they constantly have to prove... instead of get to be. And when a man is sensitive or outside of our manufactured ideals, we almost don't know what to do with it.
These are my own thoughts and observations. As a feminist I believe that as we empower women and dispel the myths and social constructs that damage us, I believe that should also include the ideals and constructs that damage men. I have started this personal project to dispel the narrow idea of what "being a man" looks like. For my first one, I focused on the tears. I think it takes great courage for a man to be able to cry these days.