In this interesting article written by my guest writer Boluwatife Afolabi, He takes on the foul misconceptions of masculinity amongst Nigerians
The most interesting feature of masculinity is how at the very mention of the word, an image slowly begins to form in the mind’s eye depending on the social consciousness and awareness of the individual in question. One comes to the realization that the only similarity between all the definitions and depictions of manliness is the image of strength -a certain assertiveness that is thought to be inherent in men.
This assertiveness comes with some privileges. A boy grows up and if he is lucky enough to have a sister, he starts to learn that there are tasks that are not specific for his gender and that his mother does not bother him if she is cooking in the kitchen and he is not there with her or if he goes to play in the streets and does not come back on time. But his sister cannot say the same, she comes to the awareness (from that young age) that for the rest of her adult life, she must master how to be woman and wife enough for a man she is yet to meet – a husband.
So, the version of masculinity the boy-turning-into-man assimilates, is the one he is taught by his father, nudged on by his mother and reinforced by his friends. Sometimes, the lesson is passive, it’s in the way his father speaks to mother when he is angry, it’s in the way his mother tells him to ‘man up’ when he cries, that men do not cry and he begins to learn the language of dominion (maybe even violence). And so, it starts to come to him naturally how to fit into a definition or a description.
The major challenge on the misconception of masculinity is how this misunderstanding goes on to affect not only the life of this boy-turned-man but also the individual lives he gets to encounter. Depending on how much of the definition of masculinity he fits into he could be the sexist guy on the street that believes that women are inferior to him or the neighbour who beats up his wife on slight provocation or the school bully who abuses effeminate boys.
The misconstruction of masculinity is prevalent and has always been with us. We must do better by shifting away from these societal imposed definitions and description and soul search. Psychology has taught us that behaviour is learned. It is important that we contemplate and seek out the traits of toxic masculinity we have learned over the years. The key is in the question “How can I be better?”