Sometimes I think as a species we’re moving ahead. Then there are other times (like when an orange beast is elected president of the free fucking world) and I realise that maybe we’re not as progressive as I first thought.
I had one of these realisations last week. I was in the park and a cute little boy was walking home from school with his parent. He was crying, something about being bullied. As a fat gay kid who literally spent his time knitting (this is not a joke, I was in knitting club), my heart went out to him. I then heard his parent say something I had assumed was no longer a thing. “Suck it up, boys don’t cry.”
I live in a queer loop hole that apparently makes it acceptable for me to show my emotions and also enjoy rom-coms, but even I’ve had my fair share of ‘man ups’.
Men are still being told they can’t show emotion. Tears and ‘feeling things’ in general are deemed as socially unacceptable and exclusively female traits.
Fellas, this is bullshit. We need to re-think this whole “real men shouldn't feel/express or talk about their feelings” crap because last year we lost 2,292 Australian men to suicide and I’m just not okay with that.
It ain’t hot man
Many straight women see me as a religious figure sent to them from above to give relationship advice. This problematic notion often leads to conversations such as “Babe, like what do you think of this guy? Like do you know what I mean?” I’m given a run-down of a person and asked my opinion. Let me just say, if I hear anything even close to “Yeah, we watched that movie Room where the mum and son are held hostage. I loved it. Mark said it was shitty and didn't cry” I raise a red fucking flag. Mate. You want to tell me that the Oscar winning performance of Brie fucking Larson didn't tug on one of your manly heart strings?
My mum said to me when I was younger: “No one should be scared of emotions. Your dad cries and I value that, it means he is connected.” My mama bear was right, meaning this bear is right.
There is nothing hot about disconnecting. So take a leaf out of my dad’s book — shed a tear and land a gem like my babe of a mum.
It ain’t cute broseph
After taking one gender studies class at university, I feel entitled to use the term “toxic masculinity”. Toxic masculinity is a social construct that tells men they should be tough, violent and emotionless. It’s reinforced everyday and we are all probably guilty of perpetuating that idea in some way.
“I like tough guys.”
“Don’t be a pussy.”
Not only does this use female language as a means to put someone down (gross, that’s another article), it's defining normal stuff like fear and sadness as something to be ashamed of.
So, what happens? This view of masculinity means some men need to maintain dominance by ignoring emotions, being sexist and using violence. In the end, you become a toxic skeleton of a person. (I’m being harsh? It’s because I love you. A mother’s job is never easy, you’ll thank me one day.) We are conditioned to be this way, not made. So fight that. It ain’t cute honey bun.
It ain’t healthy my home slice mcnugget
Let me tell you a little story about a boy named Daniel (dats me); we’ve established I like talking about myself, right?
About a year ago, I had a lot on my plate and was feeling super anxious. I started to lose it, I felt worthless and shit. My daily mantra became “suck it up.” I thought if I cried, or talked about how I was feeling, I was weak. So I didn't. I let everything compound within my chest until it exploded which left me feeling worse. I was encouraged by people in my life to talk about it, which was clearly the better option.
Turns out talking/crying didn't make me weak, but stronger. I got things out, felt better and moved on. I’m not a facts guy, calories scare me, but it’s clear the rate of male suicide is very high. Of course it is, generations of little boys are being told they shouldn’t feel or talk about things, let alone cry.
I refuse to end this with ‘real men’ blah blah blah because I can’t and won’t define a ‘real’ man. So, I give you all a challenge. No matter your gender identity, sexual orientation, favourite fake tan (Bondi Sands for me FYI), I want you to do two things. 1 - Ask someone how they are doing. 2 - Tell someone how you are doing (and be honest dick head. I’ll know if you’re lying). We can do it team. Let’s beat the patriarchy. Oh, and if you get the time, treat yourself to some dumplings.
Images: Alex Jack Photography
Daniel is a 20-year-old student living in Sydney. His personal mantra is, “Oh god why did I eat that”. He is currently working on his goal of becoming famous enough on Instagram to promote weight loss tea. Please help him reach that goal by following @daniel_hayek