Blog 8 Masculinity
Over the last couple of months we have been inundated with rhetoric that reinforces racism and misogyny. I could go on for days about the enormous weight it is to be female and the blatant inequality in the home, work place and justice system, but I’ve realized how we define musicality is a stem if not the root of the problem .“Toxic Masculinity” is a byproduct of negative and hateful ideologies in reference to manhood. I felt it was essential that I touch upon this because it affects both genders in a harmful way. The question then becomes how do we define masculinity?
If we limit femininity to weakness, vulnerability, and nurturing we miss the mark the same way we mislead ourselves by defining masculinity as macho, aggressive and brute strength. I find these characterizations to be periscopic of another time and less reflective of our society as a whole.
As a woman looking in, I see positive attributes of maleness in the adjectives of compassion, encouragement and mentoring. Though it may not technically be my place to offer alternative definitions, I feel we must start somewhere to reclaim a more accurate and positive meaning to masculinity. Current definitions of maleness fail to mention the importance of societal roles, familial or communal relationships and their respected responsibilities. In addition, there is largely no discussion of the positive roles such as leaders, protectors, warriors, peacemakers, and teachers. Granted some of these qualities and roles are shared between the genders, but it’s the subtle beauty of how we enact and contribute to society that celebrates our differences.
I’ve been privileged to be in the company of men who truly embody manhood. These men come from different walks of life, different ethnic backgrounds and are of different ages but all share the positive qualities of masculinity. Part of my goal, when I embarked on this photographic journey was to highlight these positive male attributes within the Black community and to show the depth, strength and even vulnerability of these men. Some of the photographs were meant invoke a specific emotion where others are small glimpses of gentle interactions and relationships. These photographs are meant to be a challenge to our perceptions of maleness and also a reminder that we are more then what we are defined as. It’s my belief that it is essential in this current climate to reevaluate or remove some of those old classifications and not be afraid to define our roles and ourselves differently.
By reclaiming our right to define masculinity and the roles associated with it we show our young men what is expected of them, how they should interact within our society, treat members of the opposite sex, and that they are worthy of respect. As women, we benefit because it sets a higher standard and requires a certain level of responsibility from our men. No longer should we accept the “boys will be boys” attitude, we expect our boys to become men.
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