Long hair, moisturisers, facial cleansing products, body hair removal, getting your eyebrows done, hair up in a ‘man’-bun… All things that were once considered to be inherently female and have now edged their way into everyday life for some males. So what’s next for this bold new generation of men, the he-hive? Or are we finally on track as men to being not just where, but who we want to be?
It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of two heterosexual guys engaging with each other emotionally would raise questions among their peers. That stereotypical masculine facade allowed no room for sentiment, sappiness or anything that could be deemed ‘sissy like.’ At first glance that does seem like a fairly bold stereotype to open with and indulge, but sadly this particular branch of conventional male behaviour is, alas, rooted in truth.
As children we are (fairly) gender neutral when it comes to displays of emotions; boys are equally as affectionate towards their parents and playmates; small children hold hands with their classmates regardless of their gender and it doesn’t in any way dent their social status. However, by the time most males reach adulthood other traits begin to crystallise. Traits such as emotional avoidance, externalised displays of distress, such as fighting and yelling, became not only standard but also expected. And the idea of one dude cuddling another? Nope, none of that. No, thanks. Get the pints in, mate, the footy is on shortly.
Fast forward a few years to present times and that beefcake image and blokeish boilerplate is slowly beginning to be chipped away at by this generation of men. As we progress, we’ve began to see a lot more personal engagement among guys to the point that society, having noticed these rapidly changing relationships, came up with its own little name for it: Bromance. Guys communicate with each other constantly, via text, Twitter, the infamous group chats… They have private jokes, hug, open up to each other, but all the while still maintaining a firm grasp on both their sexuality and masculinity. It’s ok to be slightly ‘effeminate’ now if you’re a straight male. Guys are popping that bubble of oppression and you know what? We are better off for it.
Sure there are still those who meet such displays and relationships between guys with a degree of cynicism or a few snide ‘gay’ remarks, but sadly not everyone lives in 2016; some people are quite simply more comfortable back in the dark ages. With Donald Trump. But this mindset is one I cannot fathom. Why wouldn’t anyone welcome this change? I’ve heard remarks that begin with ‘real men don’t do this’ far too many times lately, and it irks me beyond belief. What does a real man do? Burp, fart, belt out demeaning and often racist football chants? Treat women as second class citizens? Have no pride in their appearance or concern for their health? Keep everything they feel bottled up and completely abandon psychological reflection until their needs go unmet for so along they begin to exhibit extreme behaviours that may come to the attention of the authorities? Times have changed. We no longer construct a spear from dry wood and a sharpened rock to hunt wild boar to feed our offspring, we simply go down to the supermarket. So why reject something that is obviously better for the emotional and psychical health of modern young men?
There is a perceived social threat associated with being in need of help if you’re male. It’s seen as a sign of weakness. Whether it’s talking about that girl who broke your heart or how you’re perhaps harbouring same-sex tendencies or something darker, something that has so much stigma attached to it that men are often afraid to speak up about it: That you’re feeling depressed, anxious, maybe even suicidal. As far as we’ve come and despite how much we’re progressing, there’s still that tender issue of being able to actually open up, take those first steps because you don’t know how your bro is going to react – he might think you’re an absolute weirdo or hitting on him – and talk about how you feel, can we actually do that, cause that’s what girls do isn’t it?
The younger generation of men now engage on a deeper, more intimate level with their peers and like-minded people, and this can only be in our favour. Contrary to what we may be expected to feel as young men, allowing ourselves access to a plethora of emotions that you can discuss without judgement, over social media or with your friends is a positive. So many of an older male generation are emotionally stunted, set in their ways, refuse to talk about anything no matter how serious it is, so see today’s younger generation as a complete enigma. This isn’t anything new, in fact I’d say its the same with every form of social progression whether it be racism, sexuality or even just having a ‘effeminate friendship’ with your best friend.
I used the phrase ‘effeminate’ earlier and I’d like to readdress that and ask a question: Why is the word used in such a context that it is considered to be negative thing? Equality is important and women are now open to taking on the role traditionally filled by a male, being the sole breadwinner and the like, so why should men be critiqued for adopting traits that are inherently female? It’s a noticeable generational difference and not everyone is willing to progress but that shouldn’t stop you from forming a bond with someone you care about.
These are all questions that are being asked because we are evolving. This generation of men is armed with a brand new mindset, which has seen new laws being passed, new trends being set and with the aid of social media, which is a massive platform when it comes to sharing opinions and raising awareness, we are on our way to changing the game completely and I’m thankful for that.
Right I’m away. I need to get my eyebrows done.
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