How do you define manhood? Masculinity?
How many times have you seen a male child crying only to be told to stop crying, to act like a man? How many times have you experienced an adult told a boy to “stop acting like a sissy?” I don’t think a lot of parents or people charged with raising children realize the effect this has on the psyche of a black boy. By trying to “toughen” up boys our culture plays into the patriarchal socialization that insists boys should not express emotions. These young boys and girls get a warped sense of how males and females should behave. These children take the attitudes that they’ve learned at home to the classroom. Boys who display any emotion that deviates from what is deemed masculine are ridiculed.
Methods used to beat down a boy’s natural instincts and raise him to be a “man” includes: physical beating, scare tactics, extraction of love, and isolation. In most black homes these forms of punishment are vastly different from the punishments handed out to little girls. Eventually young black boys, like all boys in this patriarchal culture, learn that manhood is tantamount with the domination and control over others. In their minds they start to believe that by simply being male they are in a position of authority that gives them the right to assert their will over others.
As children grow into young adults the message that black boys should not show any emotion is reinforced by mass media. Rich, powerful men (at least in their eyes) rarely refer to their emotions or show any signs of them. Instead they focus on how much better they are than the next man. Flexing their amount of money, access to easy sex and ability to murder you or have you murdered. These images are not only reinforced in rap music but also on the silver screen and on television.
Eventually these young adults develop into grown men who will seek relationships with women. The problem is the psyche of this man is damaged. His whole life he’s been taught that showing emotion is weak. It’s been beat out of him figuratively and literally. Women wonder why a lot of men have such a difficult time communicating. To answer that they would have to travel back in time to discover and unravel the years of emotional abuse (that’s what it is in every sense of word) that’s already been engrained in him.
The biggest example of this phenomenon Black America has right now is Drake. Drake is a man who is in touch with his emotions and is not afraid to admit it. For that men and women alike chastise him. I will admit that even I’m kind off turned by some of the ways he chooses to display how he feels and frankly a well timed shot at Drake is funny. Maybe its because many people label him as a rapper he gets so much shade thrown his way. I don’t see nearly as much shade being thrown in the direction of Chris Brown or John Legend. Maybe singers can display their emotions but rappers are supposed to be hard and only talk about cash money, fucking bitches, murder and any other materialistic depreciable asset.
I’m not suggesting that parents should give their sons Barbies instead of GI Joes but letting your son know that its ok to display emotion every now and then will go a long way in helping him develop into a fully rounded adult. Show boys more attention. Not only when they are misbehaving but try positive encouragement when they do something right. You never know how you may reflect negative behavior that’s so deeply deeply rooted into you into impressionable minds.