Idealized Labels: “Real Man/Real Woman”

Lately I have become pretty annoyed with all of these labels that people give themselves. There are alot but the concept of a “real man” and a “real woman” are the ones I want to blog about today. We are obsessed with these preset ideas of what a “man” and a “woman” ought to act, look and sound like. So much so that anyone who acts outside of these gender norms aren’t considered “real”.

Being a black woman I hear alot about what a real MAN is supposed to be. this definition is usually a cisgendered definition that is rigid as hell. Men are supposed to be aggressive, highly sexual, physically intimidating, and stoic (devoid of emotion). Just to name a few traits that are encouraged in men at least as far as the community I grew up in is concerned. There is no serious room for a man outside of this unless he is openly homosexual, trans, or bisexual (and of course in these instances he is seen as deviant). When you compare every man that you meet to a predetermined set of characteristics then you are setting that person up for failure. Especially if you have a romantic interest in them! This can go for any person of any sexuality!  No one can be your exact definition of a man/woman ALL of the time, and you shouldnt expect that either because somewhere along the way you will need other qualities. Women are expected to be nurturing, emotional and submissive and as most feminists  know; when you get a woman who is the opposite of this people get to negatively labeling her. But there are so many repercussions involved with setting up a definition of appropriate behavior and assigning it to a sex! To you ladies one day you will need him to be passive, you will need him to express his emotions and when you’ll need him to do so? He wont. Because he won’t feel safe being anything other than what society and his mate have expected of him since he started constructing his gender. To you men, one day you will need her to be aggressive and logical. And if you shun and call these traits in her unattractive then your stunting her humanity and her growth simply because of some preconceived ideals of behavior

When you say she/he is a “real” man or woman. Your saying this person matches perfectly, both physically and mentally the characteristics expected of them. But as we all know LIFE calls for a plethora of characteristics that are pre-labeled feminine or masculine in ONE person. Life calls for a person to be hard and soft and we are denying people their ability to cope, to survive, to remain stable emotionally and mentally when we deny who they are or want to be by labeling them and casting them out when they arent “real” enough for us. This “real”-ness is a myth. Because being real, is not fitting perfectly a set of norms and codes, its staying true to yourself.

Now lets not forget the privilege surrounded by these labels! when someone is extremely close to the definition of “male” they are put on a pedastal and encouraged to take leadership, and behavior that is very far from the definition is deviant! When you are the perfect definiton or appear to be i should say, people let you get by with treating others like shit, and they even admire you for it! For example this guy on facebook had a status that was a shout out of advice for women, it read :

Ladies..If someone steals your man, let her keep him.. A Real man can’t be stolen unless he wants to be….

I have a problem with this! first off a real man cant be stolen……unless he wants to be so …what exactly is the advice? If my man is stolen, then he wanted to be, so he is still a real man because he chose to leave? it makes no sense and something about this stinks of privilege. No matter what a man does, if he is real, than that decision was right for the both of you? accept it….? I think we should get off the masculinity track and get on the actual character of a PERSON. Sincere men and sincere women don’t leave someone they love for someone they dont on a whimsical fancy, it doesnt have to do with how “real” they are but the depth of their commitment and the strength of their will. So instead lets say “ladies if someone steals your man let him go, his decision while it may hurt you, shows that his sincerity and will to love you was lacking” bang!

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