For most of my life, my own self-image as a man has only caused me harm. I’ve denied myself the ability to feel love and happiness to conform to the expectations of patriarchal society. I’m happier since I chose to start being me.
Growing up as a boy in a Mexican family, I was exposed to the patriarchy like a blazing sun beating down on the desert.
There were examples of male dominance over everyone and everything in the movies and shows I watched, the games I played and the boys I hung out with. It taught me my worth was as a force to be reckoned with; a dominator and a conqueror who could use violence to assert that dominance.
I remember being bullied by bigger boys when I was small as a part of these “games.” I was insulted, demoralized and fought with. One time in the sand pits during recess we all took turns beating each other up. I had no idea why, even when it was my turn.
A boy once ripped a flower out of my hand. “Flowers are for girls,” he said with a sneer, and threw it off the playground. Moments like this killed my sweet, kind spirit, numbing me to make it as horrible for others as it was for me.
I’ve since developed a healthy relationship with my masculine energy. I’ve been reading “The Will to Change” by Bell Hooks, a visionary feminist thinker.
She addresses the conditioning we are subjected to under the, “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy,” as she so accurately named our nation’s political system. Under this system of oppression, I am a product to be sold and profited off of: an asset. I am manufactured with a hyper-masculine sense of self so that my anger, pride and rage can be utilized by my oppressor. I am assimilated out of my culture so that I can conform to society’s product description of a man.
Hooks’ writing has affirmed my choices to change as a person into a softer, kinder and gentler man. I am acting differently. I’m not afraid to feel, or tell and show others how I feel. I act friendly and kind, I have genuine intention, and I treat others with empathy without expecting anything in return. To be clear for the dudes in the back: nobody is obligated to return any favors if you hit on them.
Most importantly, I treat others with the knowledge that men have caused horrible pain to so many people. My male privilege is at the cost of patriarchal terror and violence which has caused emotional damage across the globe for generations, and I reject that privilege for a healthier heart and soul. I claim my power and strength to fight for a more loving and caring world.