Welcome to my 21st century where masculinity has been broken down into a list of dos and don’ts and every day we have a new set of standards whose sole aim is to safeguard the perceived fragility of this masculinity. I doubt our forefathers ever had to deal with such trivialities. There’s was a matter simply of black and white. Day and night. Hot and cold. Man or Woman. They had no qualms about gender roles; they needed not tackle such issues. Right now we prance about such issues delicately afraid that a wrong step might tick off a bomb. Start a war. Total annihilation. And true to that; most times it does.
But today I am not interested in talking about gender roles. I want to talk about masculinity or rather its fragility. The disenfranchisement of the modern man. The rules that govern this maze of questionable manhood. The gate keepers of machismo.
You see I have this friend, let’s call him Ted. Ted loves a good bottle of wine, some smooth jazz, decent conversation with either gender at uppity secluded clubs in leafy suburbs. Ted is not the kind of guy you meet off the streets and hit it off. Kind of like his wine he is an acquired taste, with his little eccentricities and odd questions that make you shift around in your seat. Ted is those guys that will look above the rim of his glass, wine, and ask you what would happen if you fell in love with a married giraffe. Weird question. But it gets you thinking.
Now Ted, has an opinion on a few kinds of men. His first beef is with men that speak in abbreviations. He will and can forgive texts but will not let an OMG in speech fly. He will shoot it down at first sight and bring into question the perpetrators masculinity. He will ask how a man could be comfortable using abbreviations in an actual conversation. He will not mince his words; he will let the whole steak of his intentions choke the poor guy either into shame or quick defense. Either way; masculinity will be questioned and a guy will end up having to have his testosterone refilled at his earliest convenience.
On the flipside, the guy being ostracized for his choice of speech was probably OMGeeing to the fact that Ted here is drinking wine. In his books wine drinking is sexy and hence a preserve of the ladies. There is no such thing as sexy men. Men cannot be sexy. They can be good looking and maybe even handsome if we tip the scales a bit. But never sexy. The closest a man can get to sexy is having a really nice car. And the compliment would go to the car; not the man. He would just be sexy as a matter of association. So to him Ted would need to have his balls drop; drink neat whisky followed by two crates of beer and watch sixteen seasons of EPL back to back just to afford a seat at the table of men.
For instance let’s look at grooming. As a man the furthest you can go with this is discussing football banter with the barber and maybe throw in how fine that new lady that moved into the estate is. That’s it. You might allow yourself to get pampered a bit. A quick shoulder rub by the lady that shampoos your hair and to finish off getting tickle by that metal contraption I like to call tentacles from hell. That thing that makes you feel things from the inside. It will make your toes curl and eyes roll. You will leave the barbershop 100% sure that your G-Spot is located in ten different locations on your skull stimulated simultaneously.
But there are guys out there who go out and get manicures, pedicures, and even full body massages but won’t breathe a word of it to their friends. Until that fateful day when they get a call from Joan. The pedicure specialist confirming the appointment.
“Hey ummh can’t talk right now what’s up?”
“Are we on for today? I know we booked you in for a 3 PM but Mama Sally just came in with an emergency.”
“The one whose toes look like they survived world war one?”
“Yes that one. Are you okay if we push you to a 5 PM?”
“Okay that’s fine. You guys have a TV right?”
“There’s a game showing.”
“Really? You want us to show a game at the salon?”
“Too much of a stretch?”
“Look we can do this. Every time one of your friends calls we will switch the TV to football. Deal?”
“Cool. Deal. See you at 5 then?”
“5 it is.”
Personally I would not let a stranger touch my feet. Also why is a foot fetish not called a feetish?
In some man codes; written by no man ever anywhere, as a guy thou shall not have thy feet and hands pampered in a salon. Thou shall let your nails over grow, thou shall have dirt under the finger nails and have palms as rough as the bark of an oak tree. You can imagine what this would do to your self-esteem right? If you are the man talking about Mama Sally’s toe nails and a pedicure appointment that needs to be pushed to 5.
What about the gym rats; guys who spend a good amount of time at gyms burning calories and building muscles. You would tend to think that muscles would be a good sign of masculinity. But apparently; it is not. Not in our definition anyway. Guys are now more concerned about showing off their pot bellies and not eh number of miles they ran on the treadmill Monday evening after work.
It even gets more trivial to matters social class and tastes. Men need know what is happening locally; they should know who the MCA of Nyaribarichache is and by how many votes they won. A guy cannot simply show up and declare why Mike Pence is unfit for office and the possible looming impeachment of the Trump administration.
It even gets worse when an accountant is expected to know the exact amount of horse power his Toyota Premio churns out when it red lines on third gear on an uphill climb in Kitui. He cannot admit the much he knows about his car is the make, model, number plate and insurance expiration date.
Then it makes you wonder who these gate keepers of masculinity are. What sort of life they live. And why they are so concerned about what makes a man so much that they have made it their life purpose to enforce it.
Why can’t a guy enjoy a glass of wine, in a salon getting their feet pampered, watching Nairobi Diaries and replying to Sarahah texts without their masculinity being brought to question? Most importantly why doesn’t masculinity encourage diversity? Why does it thrive on conforming men into one stream of thought till kingdom come?
Come to think of it you can’t even spell manicure without man. Try.
So maybe it is time we altered our school of thoughts. Maybe it is time we opened up masculinity to be more inclusive. Maybe it is time we let go of our petty insecurities and loose labels and let people be versions of themselves they are comfortable with.
I don’t know. It’s just a thought.
What do you think?