The Perfect Man …

I’ve been paying particular attention to the messaging that is being thrown about in commemoration of Women’s Day and Month. By and large it’s about society acknowledging and embracing the virtues of womanhood. Basically, it’s about women being women above and beyond everything else, not just as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and side chicks.

As with many things to do with intersex discourse, with women wanting equal rights and all, questions are asked about “what about men or Men’s Day”. Sure, Women’s Day is based on an actual event, the women who marched to Union Buildings to denounce pass laws, but the subsequent holiday doesn’t have that much to do with that day. Do men even deserve a day? Is there much to scribble home about? Then, there’s this big “Brothers For Life” campaign. That whole “Not in my name…” vibe. I’ve started seeing a disconnect in how messaging between communicating  about/to men and women is being executed. Women are being celebrated for who/what they are, whereas men are celebrated for who/what they are, whereas men are celebrated for who/what they are not.

What it is wrong with society?

There is this collective search for the ideal male. This “man” is often described as “a real man (who) doesn’t…rape, abuse, cheat or steal”.  So a “real man” a collection of things he doesn’t do. Whereas a “real woman” is all about what she does do. Does this mean that if I don’t these “unreal man” things, then I’m good to go? Say you have two kids, a girl and a boy. How do you impart to them how to embody their gender based identities? What has to be looked into is how exactly do men “come into their manhood?” like how do boys model how to be when they grow up? It can’t be based on what they shouldn’t be. So then, the question then is, “Who IS This Perfect Specimen of Being A Man?”, Tyler Perry, you can sit this one out dawg, you ain’t helping sh*t.

Who is this man that we are all looking for, this dude that guys want to be and women want to be with? It seems women have a clearer or more defined idea of who this dude. As far as I can tell, the things that society complains about that men do, most of these things are actually illegal, they are crimes. Rape, abuse, violence, not paying maintenance, etc. It is actually illegal to be an “unreal man”. So based on that, it should be pretty simple to be a “real man”, just don’t be a criminal. Easy enough, no?  No?

We are not telling our boys how to be men, we are just telling them not to be f*ck ups.

What is also interesting about all these celebrations of women is that men are judged/weighed in relation to how they are towards women (and children). Where women are celebrated in almost a vacuum of womanhood. The assertion seems to be that you are what you are as a man based on how you treat women (and children). What this inadvertently does is that it relegates men’s issues – issues that men deal with outside their roles as partners and providers – into secondary or peripheral after thoughts. They go ignored. As these issues grow, unchecked, they begin to manifest in these prescribed roles. When that happens, the incidents are judged in the context of “he did this to her/them because he as abuser or is irresponsible or is a coward or whatever”.

I think it is a common understanding that to be human is flawed state of being. We all have issues. As we watch the ads, the men’s rallies, listen to women head twerk in unison about what kind of Idris Alba you should be, we have to ask if the perfect does not actually exist then what faults fall within the quota of being a “real man”

Writer: Vus Ngxande  

Photography: Gugulethugraphy