The 2015 man is confronted by several realities. Let’s, for instance, explore the life of Jamo.
Jamo is 32 years old. He works hard – a true believer of the “Work hard, play hard” mantra.His early mornings, late nights and working weekends at his Kileleshwa office are not for nothing – Jamo cashes is a handsome cheque at the end of every month, enough for him to afford a home in the beautiful Green Park Estate in Athi River.
How does he get to work, you ask? Well, when you have Cruise Control on your Land Rover Discovery 4, Mombasa Road (that he prefers to refer to as “the A104″ – it just rolls off the tongue better when you say it that way) is quite the ride at 5am.
He cannot afford to lose money over the weekend – which is why he’s out golfing at 6am every Saturday, after which he swings by the office to respond to a few emails. Come evening, he meets his boys at the new status statement in town: 1824. After all, what’s a few bottles of Johnnie Walker among friends?
Jamo has a beautiful fiancee, June, and their wedding is set for May 2015.
Now here’s the thing about Jamo: He gets it. He’s a man’s man. He gets what he has to get done.
He knows he needs to provide and protect – which is why he works as hard as he does. He understands the unwritten rule of successful relationships: He must always bring in more money than June. That’s how to command a woman’s respect, after all.
Jamo has made a few mistakes in the past, and he considers having “gone raw” one of them. He nonetheless considers little Mike the best thing that has even happened to him, and he is never happier than when he’s seeing the little man when he visits his ex, Sue, at least once every month. Incidentally, he makes mistakes once in a while whenever he goes to see his little man – after he’s put Mike to bed, Sue has a way of allowing him to see a little more skin than a man of sound mind and sober judgment can take in private quarters.
However, Jamo doesn’t go to Sue’s because his occasional mistakes are more pleasurable than he’d like to admit. Far from it. Jamo actually looks forward to seeing his little man, as it’s the one time he can teach Mike about what it means to be a man. It’s the only time that Mike can get instruction on how to be a man from the man’s man.
With Jamo’s firm mentorship, Mike now knows that he must not cry – men don’t cry. Men man up and push on.
Mike is fully aware that money is key to defining your manhood – he knows that as long as Daddy is bringing the money, and the expensive and exciting gifts, Daddy is truly a man. He looks forward to being able to give his own family money, as that’s what manhood means.
Most importantly, little Mike knows he must never wear pink. Pink is for girls – like heels, dresses and dolls.
Little Mike knows exactly what it means to be a man: The roles (provide and protect, a.k.a money) and the rules (avoid the girly stuff).
What Mike doesn’t know: The values he actually needs to embody.
You see, what Jamo (along with a good number of men today) has done is reduce manhood to a checklist. “You must… You must not…”
Conveniently neglected is the fact that over the centuries, this checklist was incredibly different from what it is today. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Heels? Those delightfully sexy things ladies wear so beautifully, allowing their derrieres to move in ways that light up male mind in delight? Originally worn by men.
You see, at this point in time, high heels were a status symbol – the higher the heels, the wealthier you were. And the manlier you were.
So how did such a symbol of masculinity become a hallmark of femininity? Well, women started wearing heels to assert their equality, and men subsequently moved away from them to – yet again – distinguish themselves from women. Thinking about it, I will not be surprised when one day, men yet again wear heels.
The crying thing deserves a mention too.
“But Marcus,” you protest, “Surely crying is definitely a girly thing!”
Hardly: Tears were once seen as a sign and proof of a man’s sincerity, honesty and integrity. Because a crying man was not a sissy, but rather, a man that could be trusted to fight to the death for something he cared for and believed in. In short, a crying man was a trustworthy man.
And now the fun one: Why the belief that, in a relationship, the man must always bring in more money than the woman?
Once upon an era, industries required raw physical strength. Men therefore had infinitely more opportunities than women. As a result, “bringing home the bacon” was associated with men.
That was then. That was a time when pink was actually considered to be a boyish colour, and blue a girlish one.
This is 2015.
Here’s my question to us as men: Must we stubbornly stick to an increasingly redundant checklist? Do we have the capacity to adapt to a world that has greater appreciation for intelligence and emotional awareness over physical capabilities? Must manhood continue to be defined by how big our cheques are, rather than values instilled within us?
Will it break us to carefully reconsider what it means to be a man?