Sometimes I think the world expects too much from the man. He is expected to be like some sort of superhero that is always on top of his game. The pressure is real and it is simply unattainable at times. The myth of the perfect man is just that – a myth.
When you ask people, men and women alike what their definition of a good man is you get a plethora of characteristics and qualities that range from “trustworthiness” to “humility” to “confidence” and “emotional intelligence”. But is it really possible for a man to have all these characteristics? Is it possible for a man to be emotionally intelligent and courageous as well? Can a man be a good provider and be good lover at the same time?
The problem is there has never been a proper benchmark of what really defines a man. A complete and perfect man. It is not just our masculinity or our organs that make us men. Our value is even more complex than even we understand ourselves. Most of us underestimate our potential and we are afraid to tap into it. Some women will say men lack self esteem but how much do they know about the internal struggles we fight every day?
Being a man in essence has been long since defined by your society and where you come from. The African man and the Asian man for instance have always been seen as occupying the role of “provider” and “protector”. In some Euro-centric communities these values still apply but it is in Africa and Asia that they still hold centre stage. But how easy is it for a man to be a provider? He is always expected to provide for himself and his family. How achievable is that?
Most societies in the world have always held men in high esteem as leaders. Whether this stems from biblical stereotypes or whether men of the past just naturally assumed these roles is unclear. However we are expected to lead and guide and the difficulty with leadership is that it comes with a huge amount of responsibility and accountability. When things go wrong you are held accountable whether it is your fault or not. Did we ask for this responsibility?
Our biggest critic is our women. Our women are the first to criticize us when something goes wrong. First to criticise us when we underperform or fail to please them. Whether financially, emotionally or between the sheets. We are useless fathers when we fail to provide for our children. We are useless lovers when we fail to make you cum. We are not romantic if we don’t buy you flowers for Valentine’s. If we hang out with other men doing things only men like we are accused of not being there for them. How can we win?
Our experiences and our upbringing have a lot to do with how we turn out in the future. It is basic psychology. If a boy grows up in a home where his mother was beaten up by his father everyday there is a chance he will do the same to his women when he grows up. If a boy does not have a positive role model in his life he will look for those who he feels may fill that void, whether they are a positive or negative influence does not matter. Societies need to encourage good teaching and role modelling in boys from a grassroots level so that they grow up to achieve their full potential.
A lot of us go around showing this tough exterior to the world and yet we are hurting on the inside. We are carrying the baggage of assumed responsibility and failed expectations. Failed expectations of our wives, our parents, our children and society at large. Even when we are failing to cope we cannot show it to anyone for the fear of being labelled a “wimp” or “you are not man enough”. Some fall into self destructive behaviour as a result of this. Men are 1.8 times more likely to commit suicide than women. Men are more likely to become alcoholic or become drug addicts than women.
Some men when faced with the responsibility before them they retreat or run away. The responsibility of being a father or being a husband can be too much to bear. Deadbeat father is a common phrase in today’s society and it has spoiled the image of men in general. It is not easy yes but we have to take care of our responsibilities. It takes two to tango.
It would be naive to suggest that we are always victims. We have our fair share of blame for how we are perceived by our women, our children and other men. Some of us fail to realise our value. Our importance in this world and how we can change the narrative that has been created about us to some extent. We can start by making a conscious decision to “do better”. A better hubby, a better boyfriend, a better father, a better leader, a better provider and a better role model.
So ultimately what is a man? A man is someone who should be accountable for his actions and his choices. A man should strive to inspire those in his circle. He should inspire his children, his woman and his community. However our women and our children should also realise that we are not always going to be on top of our game. Sometimes we are also going to make some mistakes. We need your help just as much as you need ours.
The Roddy Chasewater Show.