Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Be a Man!!!
Nowadays, one can frequently hear a person telling somebody else to "be a man". There is little doubt that once a human being is born with the structural characteristics which make him a male, society tends to brand that individual with a list of expected behaviours.
What is a man supposed to be like as a person? Based on the messages that are often circulated in most societies, a man should never cry, should never shun physical work, should not like to gossip, should prefer engineering or mathematics instead of home economics and English literature, should exercise almost daily in order to have an athlete's body, should love cars and driving, should only be attracted to females, should lose his virginity in his teens....
Although some could argue that the above characteristics are due to genetics, I strongly believe that they are stereotypes. Furthermore, they tend to instill fear in many, if not most, males - the fear of being different. Society's pressure to conform seems to be most evident when puberty kicks in and a young male reaches the teenage years. During that period, most males usually start becoming more self-aware than ever before. Indeed, likes and dislikes normally become more prominent, doubts concerning personal attractiveness could easily take more importance over one's studies, and losing one's virginity frequently develops into an obsession. The most important thing for what appears to be the majority of teenagers is to "be cool" since it is not always easy to talk about manhood to a 15-year-old male.
Of course, the problems start when individuals stray from society's standards. How does society react to a male who suddenly confesses that he feels more attracted to other men than to women? What happens when a man expresses a desire to be a baby-sitter? How is a crying man normally treated in most societies? Isn't it true that a 40-year-old male virgin is likely to end up as a subject of ridicule and perhaps the protagonist of a movie that is supposed to make people laugh like crazy simply because of the man's sexual status at his age?
Nowadays, most people appear to enjoy talking about psychology. Well, whoever bothers to take a serious look at what various scholars have written about gender stereotypes would probably be shocked to discover the negative impact that such assumptions could have on the lives of countless individuals. Yes, males and females are anatomically different. Yes, there are physiological differences between males and females. Yet, has genetics determined the age at which a man should lose his virginity? Has genetics determined whether it is acceptable for a male to cry? (By the way, crying is said to be a healthy activity for the body.) I strongly doubt that genetics has anything to do with such behaviours!!!
One of my favourite songs is called "Uomini Soli". The latter was composed by Pooh and it helped them to win the Sanremo Song Festival in 1990. The song dwells mainly on men who are alone for various reasons. The words are excellent food for thought! For those who are interested, the video is available here:
With reference to this song, a certain Francesco220 wrote: "In questo mondo infame all'uomo non gli son rimasti ne gli occhi per piangere,ne la voce per gridare,ne le mani per pregare..." (In this awful world, a man no longer has the eyes to cry, the voice to scream, and neither the hands to pray.). Another person, nicknamed "lunaestiva", stated: "A tutti quelli che si sentono soli e diversi..a tutti quelli che non trovano pace nel cuore e che viaggiano lontano con la mente perchè non possono cambiare questa realtà ... spesso tanto difficile da comprendere e da accettare, dedico queste mie parole!!" (To all those who feel lonely and different...to all those who cannot find peace in their hearts and who travel far in their thoughts since they cannot change this reality...often so hard to understand and to accept, I dedicate my words!!").
To conclude, I believe that we should never forget that we are, first and foremost, human beings. Perhaps we could prevent a huge amount of pain in the lives of many people by focusing on what unites us rather than on what separates us. And if there are differences, perhaps the time has come to start understanding and tolerating them rather than to immediately perceive them as inherently negative.
Image taken from http://www.hero.ac.uk/resources/14110.jpg