Dashiki Dialogues: Why give macho men such a hard time?

2013-11-24 10:00

Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly difficult to celebrate masculinity in public these days?

It appears that social projections of masculinity are generally frowned upon.

Suddenly, as men we find ourselves needing to attend to grooming tips that are splashed across magazines and radio shows, coming at us more aggressively than before.

Now it seems there’s an explosion of brothers in pink shirts using all sorts of hand lotions, and getting ­manicures and pedicures.

Boys don’t even play-fight any more.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself when last you woke up to watch a blockbuster boxing match.

But I bet you know a boy who is into ballet.

Okay, perhaps I’m going a little overboard here.

Ours is a country with high rates of violence against women and children.

This means a responsible tone has to be worked into these conversations.

I’m an uncle of a number of beautiful girls, you know.

But I also have a number of nephews.

But I must insist that teaching them to respect and protect women doesn’t have to come at the expense of the fire that animates all things alpha.

Besides, it won’t help anyone to have everyone playing with dolls.

Okay, I know my feminist bells should be ringing here.

These are gender roles devised by the very identity regime that is culpable in crimes against all things female: patriarchy.

That said, I must confess I feel pushed into a corner of sorts.

Somehow, being macho comes with the danger of being read as the “other”.

You become suspect in discussions of homophobia and women’s right to claim spaces for themselves.

Somehow it’s assumed that by simply projecting machismo, you are defending patriarchal privileges and going against the progress made for accepting other gender identities.

I’m not happy with this. I mean, even rap music has lost its strongman appeal.

These days, Ice-T, the hard-ass who invented gangsta rap, has a pet pug with a Twitter account.

Just a week ago, I overheard a colleague mutter something about how it’s ridiculous to suggest that men should not be emasculated.

I almost wanted to launch a protest in response.

Jay-Z raps about how “America tried to emasculate the greats/ ­Murder Malcolm, gave Cassius ­[Mohammad Ali] the shakes”.

Jigga further protests that young men are often told to be humble as a way to “dim their lights”.

I agree with him that we must tell our boys to “rumble young man rumble”. Here he quotes Ali, The Greatest.

It’s not just the US trying to “dim the lights” Jay-Z raps about. It’s everywhere.

The truth is that nurturing responsible manhood and strengthening our sisters is not the same as attacking manhood.

It is a dialogue of balancing our pinks and reds to colour our dashikis.

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