By Shanique Mullings
What defines a man’s masculinity? Is it the way he dresses, the way he walks or talks or the way he interacts with people on a daily basis? During this workshop I learnt that throughout history men have been perceived as being the breadwinners, the protectors, and the providers of the family. There are certain emotions and behaviours they are not able to show because this makes them seem weak and vulnerable. As a young boy growing up at a certain age they are no longer able to run to mommy and cry about a cut they received or about someone bullying them at school, because that makes them look like a wimp. So they have to bottle up their emotions and act ‘macho’ and tough. For example, the father in a family dies automatically, the boy, age eight, is now the ‘man of the house’. He has to be strong, tough and can’t show emotion. That is, in my opinion, too much for a child at that age.
Men go through similar struggles as women. When it is okay for a female to give her friend a kiss on the cheek or a hug at close range, if a male does that it is seen as gay. Why is there a double standard as to how males or females interact with the same-sex? What a man wears should not be used to describe who he is or his level of masculinity. A number of topics were covered but what really stood out for me was the picture of Crosby, the Canadian hockey player, who got injured when he was on the ice. The comments made about him made my stomach cringe and made me think. Why is that when a man shows emotion he is therefore weak and not a man anymore? Then I came to think, I bet if those same people got that same hit they would probably react the same way or even worse.
As a future CYC it’s important that I know what both males and female go through on a daily basis. The stereotypes they face and the resources and places that males who are facing ridicule may go to talk about their issues. There was a lot of discussions and stories that were not only informative but also nice to hear about. It was good knowing that not only females were ridiculed or discriminated against because of how they are dressed and talk, or this code society sets for us that we think we have to follow. It is not for everyone, because there are people who know how to think for themselves.
It was a well put together and organized workshop. The only challenge we had was the time and I think most of the information that could be covered in-depth wasn’t because of the time. More discussions could have happened, but it was rushed. However in the space of two hours I learnt a lot and would recommend it to anyone male or female to just go and listen. In an open forum like this, be involved because it is nice hearing from others and giving your input where you think it is needed.