Toxic Masculinity

“Pretty boys can’t be too pretty.” 

“I don’t want to date a guy that is prettier than me.”

I’ve often overheard these phrases when asking women what they were looking for in a man regarding his physical attributes. These were just some of the things I paid attention to in my efforts to seduce women. I didn’t realize that these comments contributed to some of my toxic masculinity traits that my daughter had pointed out on our podcast.

 

According to my friends from the hood, a Black man who wore a tailored three-piece suit and is well-groomed every day is gay. They didn’t understand that I had to adapt my swag according to my job. It wasn’t professional for me to dress casually to work. They would judge me on the clothes’ cost, but they were spending the same amount of money on items that you couldn’t wear where I worked. That is what I had explained to Sherika on our podcast. 

I wanted her to understand that toxic masculinity is a form of protection sometimes. 

Sherika finds it attractive when boys wear makeup or dress up in women’s clothing. I’m not interested in wearing makeup, but I’d be teased for hours consecutively if I wore it to my current job; there are men that get teased and bullied for less. Depending on the department you work in, it could be dangerous for you to express yourself in that way. 

She sees some of my toxic masculinity traits, she says, partially because she feels I limit how I can express myself. As if the extreme skinny jeans weren’t enough, last year I added extensions after seeing Chris Brown doing it, and I took criticism from my peers, both male and female, in the form of roasts. I didn’t lose sleep over it, but roasting is part of the culture, and because my kids aren’t being raised in the same culture, it makes me worry if they will be able to defend themselves when being picked on by insecure people.

 

Sherika assured me that toxic masculinity is now being normalized. “Not fast enough,” I thought. One would hope that my son is in high school by the time that most people with toxic masculinity traits have either adjusted their thinking or have passed on.

My concerns for my son come from his passion for affection. At six years old, he enjoys showering his mother and me with an endless amount of hugs and kisses. My son greets his kindergarten friends with hugs and kisses. He is the youngest of his siblings. They are all girls. His eight-year-old hold sister influences some of the toys he plays with or his interests.  When they play house, they mix Barbies and action figures in their scenes.“It should be no big deal,” is what I thought to myself. I tell myself that it doesn’t make him gay that he is playing with Barbies. After all, they are just toys.

Unfortunately, what I tell myself isn’t as loud as the voices I hear in my head from my uncles, stepfather, and cousins that haven’t adjusted their mindset. I haven’t spoken to my family in months. There is no beef. We don’t stay in touch. I’m to blame partially because of what I’ve been trying to build, but everything from my childhood is still very vivid in my mind about masculine expectations. I hear my uncles telling me to take those Barbies out of his hand. I remember hearing them lecture me that boys should not be playing with Barbies or dolls. 

The males in my family, generally speaking, never accepted gay people when I was younger, and it is not talked about now, especially with the generation of my parents. Sherika finds guys who wear makeup attractive because they aren’t afraid to express themselves regardless of traditional cosmetic masculinity.  

My daughter Sherika and I were raised at different times. It seems there is a new normal. I thought it was enough to be woke about Black issues and to be accepting of everyone regardless of their sexuality, religion, creed, opinion or otherwise. I’ve come to realize that as a father of three, it’s not enough just to be woke. The world is forever changing, and as a parent, you have to adapt to the changes. If you don’t? You will come to understand that children will help you adjust your perspective, especially when they are at risk of being exposed to different forms of hate. Still, I also have to set an example while raising my children by adapting to whatever the new norm is or preparing myself for these awkward conversations.

 

Can straight males wear makeup or dress in women’s clothing?

Where do you draw the line, or are the lines now blurred?

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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