Recently, a picture of Snoop Dogg sporting a French manicure and as I expected, all hell broke loose. Black men across the country lost their collective shit and the debate over the supposed emasculation of black men reared its head. Cue the man tears.
Brothas had a fit when D. Wade painted his nails black . Someone has something to say every time Kanye West decides to put on one of those leather skirt contraptions and don’t get me started on the feels generated by people like the Princess Boy and the patron saint of black ratchetness, Tyler Perry. Any prominent black male that decides to do something that isn’t man code approved is met with contempt and blamed for the continued emasculation of black men.
To be honest, it’s tired.
Brothers, I get it. Kinda. You have been fighting for your masculinity for decades, centuries even. When our ancestors were enslaved, the males had to watch helplessly as their wives and children were abused and taken away from them. Post-slavery, you struggled to find jobs and support families. It was the first time you even had a chance to assert your masculinity. Still, you were expected to defer to white men and maintain a stoic face when they referred to you as “boy” and disrespected you in other ways. My own grandfather told me stories of having to cross the street if a white man was walking down the sidewalk and needed to get by. You have been subjected to beatings, lynchings, mutilation, castration and other forms of abuse. Needless to say, you’ve had to deal with some heavy shit. Your masculinity was the only thing you could hold onto and it seemed like that could be snatched in an instant.
Still, why must you police each other’s masculinity and gender performance? Another man doing something feminine shouldn’t affect you nor does it make him less of a man in my eyes. Gender (not to be confused with sex), is a social construct. There is no such thing as a universal masculinity because every culture has its own definition. An American’s idea of masculinity probably differs from that of someone across the globe. If our Westernized idea of masculinity was natural, it wouldn’t have to be forced upon people and policed. No one is genetically wired to wear pants or dresses. We are trained to gravitate towards qualities that match our assigned genders. To paraphrase RuPaul, we’re born naked and the rest is drag.
That said, no one is asking or demanding that men have to alter their gender performance. Brothas, if you like traditionally male activities, that’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to change a thing and no one should pressure you to do so. I’m just asking you to live and let your brothers live. Manhood, womanhood and any other hood isn’t a competition. In addition, check any internalized misogyny you may have. Femininity is viewed as a weakness and something that men are supposed to avoid. Boys are taught the worse thing they can be is a sissy, fag or woman. A girl is typically allowed to be a tomboy (to an extent) but under no circumstances can a boy like “feminine” things and activities. They can ogle, fuck and procreate with women but they shouldn’t want to be one or be like one. It might sound crazy but it’s something to think about.
Brothas, I’m not trying to tell you how to be a man because it isn’t my place. It isn’t my place to tell anyone how to be male, female, both or none of the above because it isn’t none of my business. It isn’t your business either.