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What does 'being a man' mean to you?

"To me 'being a man' or to perform masculinity, is exuding ideals of power, positionality, and overwhelmingly aggressive, loud, and sometimes violent behavior. Even more, maleness and masculinity is often defined by one’s gender. As a Male, being viewed in society as masculine is reputed as a gift, while being viewed as feminine is a curse. Personally, I have “masculine” traits, but I have often been called “pretty” and “bougie”. Being a man and being masculine means communicating what you like and don’t like to the people in your world and the groups who affect you the most. Being a man means listening to yourself and being who you are on the inside, despite what others and the society around you think."

What is revealed about you through the ways that you express yourself?


"The way I walk, the way I talk, how confidence flows from every fiber of my being, has an effeminate touch which most seem to define for me. Without asking, or second thought I am labeled and categorized based on [my] actions. As a black bisexual male, the identity assumptions used to bother me. I asked myself 'Why do so many people automatically pin me with something that they didn’t ask me about?' It’s my body. It’s my life. It is my decision and no one else’s.”

What is your story?

"Masculinity has always been present in my story. As a child I had been told to “man-up” by male family members, after saying I didn’t want to play football (or any sport really). Regardless of what I had expressed, I was told to do as I’m told, and so I play football for five years… when I was old enough for them to validate my dislike for sports, (13) I was told I needed to replace it with some thing 'useful in life' as a cover-up to continue the toughening up chapter of my childhood... boxing was their very masculine solution... I don’t know of a more masculine sport than boxing, two men fighting until one wins, establishing who is more dominant through fighting. Though I only did it for two years, I liked boxing, [while] being seen as feminine, and still leaving the ring a winner fighting the stigma of being 'soft.”

“... The victories stood as reminders that I am not the one to play with. In a way that ideal is masculine, showing off physical capability to a crowd, proving you are superior. But it felt good, and I have no shame in it. Having masculine & feminine treats doesn’t bother me. But it seems to bother so many others. In the society we live in gender expression is just so dismissed and if it’s not dismissed it’s used as a weapon."

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