Clinging to the traditional scopes of masculinity – is Guyana ready to move on?

 “Guyana has an antiquated idea of what it means to be a man – what obtains of manhood and boyhood. What are masculine things and what men should do, and what men should not do.” – Me. No one, but me.

That is my view; it is mine because Guyanese are culturally engendered to generate negative stereotypical energy towards a man/woman wearing anything that is not deemed acceptable in their eyes.

In a world where hyper-masculinity is unfailingly sold to us on a daily basis and questioning a man’s sexuality has become part of our daily lives where we sit, gossip, make assertions and come to unsubstantiated conclusions about the lifestyle choices that a man or even a woman for that matter has chosen to pursue.

Yes! We sit there like prosecutor, defence lawyer, judge, jury and warden passing our unsolicited judgements on people not being completely cognizant of the effects that our unkind sentiments might have on these individuals.

The prevalence the ideology of exaggerated male traits, as the epitome of masculine identity, essentially promotes a world where all of male existence is a struggle of supremacy of others, where sex is a matter of influence and female obedience rather than one of affection and reciprocated pleasure and that any “feminine” idiosyncrasies are to be repressed.

Weirdness or quirkiness or anything that deviates from the “norm” are not things that are readily accepted in Guyana unless it is done by a majority. Whatever happened to minority power?

It’s a complete shame that Guyanese youths have not been granted the privilege and freedom to embrace and explore “nonconformity, instead they have to adhere to societal norms or face the option of being ostracized – detrimental developments. How are you supposed to be unique when you’re to follow the crowd? It’s practically saying ‘you can be anything you want but not yourself.’

The question of the role and meaning of masculinity is especially strong in younger men – men in their late teens and early twenties – as they strike out to find their own place in the world. It’s only natural to look to the world around us for gender cues and role-models to guide us through the thorny questions of gender identity and the role to take in the world.

Although there has been an increase in men’s openness to relationships and much greater participation in the emotional and domestic arenas, the majority cling to the older norms that emphasize work and individual accomplishment over emotional intimacy and family involvement. Men are strongly reinforced to abide by these norms to prove their masculinity…those who do not follow them tend to experience psychological distress brought on by failing to live up to the “masculine” norms.

My challenge to men is to break out of this stuck pattern and create a new spectrum of roles that rest more on our humanity than our so-called “masculinity,” as it has not served us or our families or the existence man with any formal good.

I want to see a world where manhood isn’t something that can be taken away or lost and day to day existence isn’t about trying to shove everybody into the same inflexible roles, constantly having to repress their feelings and living in fear of having a vulnerable moment. We can make manhood into something inherent instead of something that we constantly have to prove, where the only value you have is your willingness to hurt other people who dare to step out of line. Something where men aren’t constantly living with the never ending anxiety instead of contentment and self-assurance and afraid to be themselves and where simply trying to be a man doesn’t end up causing us more damage than any imagined feminist agenda ever could.

The traditional idea of masculinity has failed us.

“In a society that deems young black men hyper-aggressive and hyper-masculine and teaches boys across the spectrum to bury their feelings, being carefree in any capacity is a way to push against those unfair expectations.” – Huffington Post.

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