They say good things don’t last, which would explain why 2016, the year of the Grim Reaper having beef with every celebrity, felt like it lasted for about five decades. Luckily, those of use who survived it are well into 2017 already and trying to ignore it is already showing all the potential to be even worse. If, of course, one was to sustain some positivity about the past year, it would be to recognise that there have been certain leaps made in the roles imposed on men by society, such as Cover Girl and Maybelline hiring their first male ambassadors, thanks to the general rise of male MUAs in the public eye (for the purposes of the point this article is trying to make, perhaps we can ignore their lack of racial sensitivity and talent respectively), or Axe, the epitome of teenage hypermasculinity, presenting male dancers in heels and drag queens in their advertisements.
The real benefit of this shift in the normally stiff male gender roles of our world aren’t as simple or skin-deep as just having the option to dress in traditionally feminine garments, but rather much more meaningful: by being shown that there is not just one specific way to be a man, we can slowly but surely begin to deconstruct many unnecessary stereotypes handed to us practically at birth. Boys are bombarded with consistently similar images of “a real man” throughout their childhood, and by the time we reach our teen years, we have more or less been successfully brainwashed into thinking there is only one right path to follow with our gender expression and behaviour in a wider sense, believing that any traces of sentimentality or femininity, two meanings we learn to see as intertwined, are harmful to our very precious and very, very fragile masculinity.
We become accustomed to censoring ourselves, telling ourselves not to show signs of ‘”weakness”, forcing ourselves to avoid activities and hobbies we might enjoy just because they’re not what’s expected of a man.
And that is a toxic, self-destructive thing to do. It eats you up from the inside, it teaches you to hate, others and your very self. Because it causes you to believe there is something off about you, that you should be enjoying “boy things”, you’re clearly doing something wrong.
And don’t get me wrong, many boys love doing traditionally masculine things, and that’s perfectly fine. The issue is that there needs to be the option for boys to do whatever they want with their lives and for those boys who make the classically manly choices to not be considered superior to others or judge them. We deserve a world in which boys are free to act as they please, make they choices they want, express their emotions, show fragility, a world where boys are free to be feminine, and soft, and to remember that no, there is not one way to be a boy.
If you feel you’re a boy, you are a boy, and that doesn’t change regardless of how you want to express yourself.