There is something I haven’t spent enough time exploring within myself and that is masculinity and how it affects me. Back when in Fall 2014, I gave a presentation about myself including some pretty basic information that one would probably find on a dating website as well as significant obstacles I have faced or am currently facing in my life. One of those obstacles was seeking love from my father and what that meant for me. My father is a very stoic figure who reveals very little emotion especially feelings of sadness, sorrow, and the like; he’s very consumed by his work and hobbies with little regard for human connection on an emotional level. He’s pretty much a surface dweller when it comes to these things. After I finished my presentation, my professor recommended to me bell hooks’ Men, Masculinity, and Love. He has also struggled with a similar issue of finding love and acceptance from his father, especially on an emotional level. When I was able to get my hands on this book, I only read a chunk of it because all my other class work took precedence over this. From what I read, it helped me understand my experience in the sense of how my dad acts and what I think of when he acts that way. I still couldn’t explicate this experience with terms and ideas that would allow me to further reflect and know myself until I started working on an upcoming MOSAIC workshop called Love +.
I remember a few weeks ago when I started working on this workshop, I stumbled across a Ted Talk by Tony Porter called: A Call to Men. This video had brought up two key ideas: 1) masculinity and its expectations are toxic and 2) the “man” box. Masculinity being toxic is best explained by talking about the “man” box. A picture of what the “man” box looks like with examples is posted so that y’all know what I’m talking about. This box is a metaphorical representation of what it means to be a man in American society. Being inside this box, one adheres to the societal norms and expectations. When one is outside this box, one is subjected to humiliation or in social justice terms, oppression. There are many examples of what these things are located in the image. What I came away with after watching Mr. Porter’s TED Talk is having the ideas and terms to explain my masculine experience with my other social identities and my dad. Whenever I cried, he had told me to stop crying and that I needed to be a man whenever I had any conversation with him. Now I know why my dad acts the way he does which is because of the collective socialization he continues to experience as a male in this society. Given that this is something recent for me, I still continue to explore my masculinity and be critically conscious how I am being shaped as a man in this society. If you’d like to join me and my co-facilitator Elaine for MOSAIC’s workshop Love + to explore ideas of gendered styles of love and more, it’ll be March 1st in Student Wellness center from 6-8pm. I’d hope to see you there to help combat the toxicity of masculinity and what that means for the current and new generation of young men and women.
by IAN ZAMORA