Life in itself is a challenge. We wake up every day with complete ignorance of how events are to unfold. For some, the odds are ever in their favor; for others, not so much. My life in particular hasn’t always been a convenient one. Admittedly I have had the fortune to be born in a 1st world country, the grand ol’ USA, so there’s that. But I belong to a racial minority group which has, let’s just say, had some tribulations in America’s history (slavery…cough cough). Economically, I grew up in the bottom end of the bright-colored money rainbow of America’s glory and being in a Southern rural area pretty much guaranteed that that’s where I’d stay. Access to education you ask? I had full access indeed, but the chocolate in that box had melted quite some time ago. To put it bluntly, dear reader, life was hard, Period.
However dour these circumstances were found to be though, no matter how unseemly, no one can deny that I am one of the most privileged souls walking this earth. This is because I can answer the age-old question, “Who am I?” and have my declaration readily accepted. That is because I can say that I’m a man!
What is a man? That’s easy for someone like me, a regular everyday tall muscular cis-gender heterosexual male complete with a nice scruffy beard and full head of hair. People see me and can tell themselves, “Yeah, that’s a guy.” And thanks to their gracious acceptance of my status, I’m afforded the keys to the kingdom (sexist term). Everything, or at least 95% of everything, was made of, by, or for my benefit, my desire, or just simply my amusement. The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown, knew exactly what he meant when I sang those straightforward words, “This is a man’s world.”
Placing all racial tensions and discriminations aside (a topic for another day), every day is rather easy for me; it is nigh effortless. I wake up, and the world invites me in. I turn on the TV or the internet and immediately see my representation at the forefront. I step out my house and feel the confidence of complete security! Nobody’s going to mess with me as I take my stroll. As I walk, I see reminders of my masculine dominance and those who exude it. Pictures of LeBron James and George Clooney market objects which have been approved by my kind. The only women that I’ll see are the ones that have been deemed desirable such as a Cara Delevingne or maybe even to get a little ethnic, Ms. Beyoncé. Later on this day, I may want to be entertained and head to the cinema where I’m sure to find a man saving the day, perhaps even with his bare fists (I salute you, Captain America!!). And to pay for all of this wonderful dream, I look down at my money and see the faces of “great” men who remind me that this world of ours was made possible by their noble sacrifices and heroism. As the night comes in and I take my leave, while breathing in the night air I have little doubt that there’s a secure path home. What a day! Isn’t it good to be alive?
Privilege…That is the world you just witnessed, an entire system run for my sake. I make no apologies for enjoying life, but I can’t ignore that my enjoyment has come at the cost of others. I am privileged to taste these wonders while anyone who differs from my earlier description of myself very likely will not.
This takes me back to the question, what is a man? If you go by the socially acceptable response which matches me, then that world rings of truth. But what if someone says he’s a man and doesn’t fit my description? Perhaps for him, the existence I detailed seems to be a complete work of fiction. And I can do you one even better; why does it take being a man to live life?
My intention for this piece is to clarify one simple truth. The patriarchy is real and has a grip so tight nothing slips through without approval. To deny this is criminal, not by any of man’s laws (sexist a bit?), but by any rational sense or simply a sense of compassion. It would be to ignore an entire half, or more, of the planet. It would be a shame unworthy of anyone who calls her/himself human.
To admit is not to admit guilt, but reality. On the other hand, to accept, this is, my friend, the 1st step.
Psychology 101 states that the first step to recovery is the admission of a problem. After centuries of enlightenment, we’ve still yet to find the courage to take even that first step. Then I’m afraid I just gotta ask, are we really civilized?
I have misspoken fore I have incorrectly stated that this piece serves only one purpose; there is indeed another. These recollections of my experiences serve to ask you to look into yourself and everything around you and to reflection upon this, “When will I realize the ocean isn’t blue?” It’s just a reflection of the sky.
Our world is a mirror which reflects what they want us to see, the patriarchy. On the other side of the glass, people are crying. If you listen, you’ll hear.
As a benefactor of everything there is, I dare not try tell you what they need and want. So hopefully, the next time I write, I’ll recount to you their stories through their voices. Until that time, answer me this: What reflection in the mirror do you see? Think about your answer; it may just surprise you.