To Be a Man In This Society

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This is not the story of my life. It’s only a fraction of the daily struggles I have to face. I live in a community where men protect women, where fathers get scared when they know their daughters are taking a cab by themselves at night, where the curfew is not much after the sun goes down and where streets are simply dangerous all day round. Whenever my parents are listening to the news, I join them. The news rarely varies: political history revisited, forest fires, burglary, murder, rape. I’m no longer a stranger to this news, having gone through an experience that was close to the heart and that made me realize how many more incidents are being left unreported. I was young and ignorant to say the least. It was the phase of my life when I was experimenting with my body, with my clothes, with my look. I wasn’t really out yet; I was living a double life. I would go out, enjoy the day with my friends, and at night I’d go back home to spend the little time that was left with family.

I couldn’t wait for the next day to start. I really was only living outside the boundaries of my house. No, my parents never abused me. They never laid a hand on me, they never grounded me, they never called me names, etc. It was this security that I was scared I would lose, if I were to come out with a gender identity that did not match my physical anatomy. So, I took my time… I took my time in forming the image I had of myself inside my head, and I was waiting for the day that I would be ready enough to share it without limits. Then, I heard news that I haven’t so far recovered from: someone close me had gotten raped. That event broke my self-image. It reshaped it and peppered my thoughts with a lot of anger and unidentified feelings. My initial reaction was to blame her. What was she doing at that time, in that area and by herself?! Saying that sentence in my head was enough for me to realize how wrong I was, how much this society shapes thoughts, thoughts that are so demeaning and insulting and yet nobody stops and thinks twice about them. I decided to stop and think about them twice: no, it wasn’t her fault.

After that, I hated men and I hated being a man as well. I wanted a name, an address, a face. I wanted to have something in my hands so I could find the assholes and get even. I kept looking in the mirror and I saw this man in myself. I wanted to escape him. I hated seeing that reflection. It represented everything that I despised with all my heart. I had turned into something I couldn’t identify with anymore. I had become aggressive and angry, and all I wanted was to be found and beaten up so that maybe then the root of the pain would be extracted and something could change. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel helpless. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel like I was a failure who couldn’t protect her. Maybe someone out there would know that someone was ready to take the punch for this girl.

It took me a long time to be at peace with it– I’m still not sure if peace is the right word for it. But I guess I found a spot to be comfortable in, where I can be a man (challenging this society’s definition of a man) and I can be a brother, a lover and friend at the same time.


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