This is for every man out there who is in constant psychological battle for his masculinity
Gentlemen, shall we?
For once let’s talk about what it means to be a man. Let’s leave society’s drama of man versus woman and social media standards of men and women. Let’s look beyond the Yoruba demon hash tags and the men-are-insensitive speeches and take a look at what it really means to be a man.
Admittedly the Nigerian society is unfair on women. It’s very demanding on us, tasking us to have woven ourselves many yards thick into the fabric of wifely actions and/or inactions from our teenage years. Judging us to be good wives and great mothers, expecting us to birth and raise children who will be model citizens from the moment we become women and making sure anything short gets us the “you’re not a good woman” tag. But this is not about women.
Carried away by the noise constantly raging between the sexes, we forget that this part of the world is equally unfair on men. It’s more subtle but it’s there. It’s there every time you approach a girl for a relationship and in the first few sentences, she’s gauging how much you’re worth, if you can cater for her needs and if you can really match up with the image of the man she has in her head. So first you have to be better than the man in her head or some prior man in her life.
Society’s unfairness is there in the subtle way it expects you to cater to your family and woman’s needs not minding whether you even have enough for yourself. It’s also there in other men’s expectations of you. So from go, you’re made aware of the many people you have to convincingly provide for to be called a man. There’s you, family (nuclear and extended), woman (or women) and of course social responsibility. It’s brutal if you’re unable to. Society will not hold back.
So you get a job to keep up with those expectations. You’re happy with the job but soon, the little you make is no longer enough because the bills at home keep going up or “your mates are driving good cars and you’re still on leggedez benz” or “Temi’s boyfriend took her to Dubai for Christmas but where did you take me?” So you buckle up and start one or two side-businesses in order to meet up responsibilities and keep up with the social scene. Did I forget to mention that the kind of career you find yourself increases your reputation? Oil sector is equal mega hit. Business and ICT equals he-get-prospects. Banking is big-boy. Medicine/Law/Engineering gets you a he’s-a-professional. Every other, you’re on your own. Try explaining to a Nigerian what it is you do as a copywriter (hopefully they don’t get it confused with copyright).
The unfairness is there in the expectations from family in taking care of your younger ones or in even supporting the home front especially if you’re the first born son. And just when you’re getting the hang of it, just when you’re beginning to understand what it means to be a man, then you’re subtly urged to begin to include iyawo rere in prayers because you need a woman who will hold home down so you can focus on the hustle. So like the woman who doesn’t want to be tagged for Shiloh 2030, as a man too, you don’t want the tag of someone who can’t keep a woman. So you try to be a man and man your way through heartbreaks and sadness and deaths and depression and manipulation and family. So you learn to be bigger than you really are, even if it means faking it and dressing it up. You have to be a man. Remember?
What about sex? Every day you go online, somebody is talking about 6 inches and 9 inches and without even realizing it, you’re measuring yourself against someone’s preconceived idea of how many inches you need to be a conqueror in bed. You begin to wonder if that hot new girl you are about to conquer has been with someone bigger or smaller and if you’ll somehow do better or less than her last man. You begin to ask yourself if the you’re-the-man which Precious was chanting the last time you both rolled in the hay was her being good at faking orgasm or her being the real deal.
In the end, the struggle to be a man is no small feat. Men may break your heart, take advantage of your love, choose the hustle over you; in the end those things are things society conditioned them to be in order to be called a man.
So for once, guys tell us, what does it mean to be a man?