The Modern Man …

Three letters on this topic: W.O.W! That being said, how about I ans-wer the question at hand. I’m not too certain, who the modern man is, but I can draw some insight.  I’m one of two girls, but I have the pleasure of living with two young black men. Along with these young men, I dwell with and call family, I have several male friends. I would like to say with all the confidence in the world that they are all modern. But then I’d be lying.

In any case, the modern man is one who has to be to be three steps ahead of the rest, in an ever-progressive world. He’s a man who is not afraid of accepting the masculine and feminine archetypes. He’s a man who’s willing to accept change without fear and prejudice. More importantly, he’s a man who knows that the women in his life are not only his equals but are as strong as he is. What I mean by that is, the modern man fully understands and accepts the new role played by women. He is not a male chauvinist, nor does he overly support the feminist movement. The modern man is one who is secure in his position.

Let me take time to draw from a more personal level. The first “modern” man I encountered in my life, would have to be, hands down, my late father. The man was a bit too liberal for his time if you ask me. I only started living with my parents when I was six, and even then, the typical gender roles were non-existent, in my family. My mother is far from domesticated, and to this day it takes a miracle to get her to do household things. My dad was the one who did the grocery shopping, cooking and washing dishes. He drew the line at doing the washing and cleaning the house (I secretly think he wanted my mom to still feel like a “wife”). Anyway having said that, my mother has always been a working woman and my dad was the self-employed house husband. Yes, a house husband of sort; I think it happened by default. And I’ve never really bothered to ask my mom why she never “corrected” the roles.

My father did all the things society would expect the good wife/woman to do. But what was impressive is how he did all those things with ease. In fact, my father was and is still the best cook – and his three girls don’t even come close.

The second encounter with the modern man would have to be my very best male friend. Like most of these types of relationships, it started as a crush. I was the one with the biggest crush on the most beautiful man I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Let’s call him Q and well I met this boy in a mall of all places. I think I was 15/16 at the time and he had these long dreadlocks. But it was his legs and lips that had me going, oh boy was this man fine. Little did I know that a simple high school crush would turn into one of the most meaningful relationships I will ever have! It’s about some 13 years later and he is to me, one of the most progressive modern men. Q is everything you want in a man, even if he is just your friend. I can’t really put a finger on it but like the saying goes “he is born before his time”. Q is a considerate, honest, respectful and compassionate individual. He is also a very attractive man and a very well mannered man. He doesn’t come from a broken home, and I think that is what makes him complete. Not that those other men aren’t, but I feel that it has contributed immensely to his character. He is eldest of three boys and has an adoring mother. And I think she is actually the reason he turned out so well, and his father is quite the cook as well. He is always hungry to know and understand where he comes from. He is a well-read man and is currently studying law (his second career change, but I think that this is the ultimate move for him). I knew Q was a modern man when he encouraged me to be secure in my place in all relationships. More especially intimate ones. I’ve always been “one of the boys”. So I kind of always get to see their side, and I know that you can play a player. It’s about who has the best hand.

Q is secure in himself, that he can fully express his emotions and not have anyone assume that he’s gay or that he’s trying to get in your pants. He is the man I go to when I need practical and honest advice. The modern man I will take along with me to a poetry session or to fashion week. When he walks in, he commands your attention; the man is suave. He takes care of his appearance and you can’t help but be proud to stand next to him. His presence is strong, yet not overpowering at all. Q and I will hang all night and talk nonsense like a bunch of little girls. He appreciates quality like a woman does, and yet respects that any woman that’s good is worth the effort. I could go on and on about Q. He’s my modern man. The woman who marries him will be a very lucky one, and I hope she knows that.

The last modern man I know is yet to be born, but I feel that once he is here, can draw inspiration from many great men. He will have the presence and compassion of men like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. The intellect and foresight of men like Albert Einstein and Steve Biko. The humility of another great man, Jesus Christ, and he will be courageous and fearless like Neil Armstrong. More importantly, this new modern man will be a man of honour and integrity. He’ll have the wit and humour of Chris Rock and David Kau. He’ll have the insight and respect instilled in him by all the wonderful and powerful women in his life. My next modern man will be gracious and poised like a dancer. He will have the street-smart of a hip-hop head on the block. That new modern man will be the son I will bear one day.

Writer: Nhlanhla Msimango          Photographer: Khumbelo Makungo