Respectfully replacing the word whiteness with masculinity in a portion of Noel Ignatiev’s talk, “The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness” (it works well): Masculinity has nothing to do with culture and everything to do with social position. It is nothing but a reflection of privilege, and exists for no reason other than to defend it. Without the privileges attached to it, masculinity would not exist, and the masculine complex would have no more social significance than big feet. Masculinity is not a prerequisite to being African or male. I spoke with a black elder tonight. He expressed similar views against what he called pretty men, men spending more time in mirrors than women, men who were weak, men who were not real men. I kept pressing him to truly get to the root of what he felt. Finally he said, “What do they want us ‘real men’ to do-just go somewhere and die? These young boys today are pretty with no drive, no backbone. They don’t stand for nothing. Our generation is the last of the ‘real men’. We are becoming extinct and its scary.” Effeminate, in my opinion is the fear of being powerless. Fear of your power being extinct, killed off, forgotten at the expense of femininity. It’s looking at how we value or devalue feminine. Feminine is not weak.
I believe that masculinity does not lose itself to femininity, it only gains. Feminine does not equal homo, weak, pussy, docile. If people only understood that, accepted that. Just because these men are judged and frowned upon doesn’t mean they should be bullied into expressing differently. Ancient African culture never began as a power driven masculine culture. Europeans brought that. I realize that those men don’t need to wear heals or dresses to understand her thoughts, but what if by chance they want to? What if they desire to relate to a woman intimately, personally, purposely without fear? Women need to hold that space for men without judgment. I’ve known for quite sometime that we cannot live by the STANDARDS of others. They are void to our ability to survive our relationships when learning how to relate and freely express our love.
And remember male and female slaves were raped (violently taken over). Those despicable acts were acts of violence at the hands of white privileged men at the expense of vulnerable people. We must never forget how those same masculine men-after being raped, cried on feminine shoulders, nursed back to health from bloodied, battered remnants of battle scars, pleading for his manhood in pain and shame. Black men I’ve talked to about emasculation seemed more afraid of being outcast, viewed as connecting too closely to feminine, or being labeled as gay; rather than holding space, acceptance, liberating their experience in sex, and love, and mind, and spirit, and body, self-expression, making contributions to the healing of a nation. STOP BULLYING FEMININITY! MASCULINITY IS NOT GOING EXTINCT!