“LET A MAN BE A MAN”
“Let a man be a man.”
Would you believe me if I said that the aforementioned line was one of the most dangerous statements in the English language? You would probably think I was crazy if I tried to convince you that a seemingly harmless statement like, “Let a man be a man,” was in fact one of the most dangerous, problematic, and troubling statements in the English language, and given the way our society is organized I can understand why.
When I think of all the women and men who have been seduced by the lies of patriarchy the statement “Let a man be a man” comes to encapsulate so many of the problems with gender bias and bigotry in this country and the world.
The notion that anyone has to let a man be a man is dangerous. I and many other minds strongly believe that manhood is a state of being. It is not an act, it is not a performance, and it is not a show.
Many men and women falsely believe that a man should be allowed to say certain things, and do certain things. The notion that a man should be allowed to be a man is always a thinly veiled acceptance of the man as ranking at the top of the power structure.
Women all over the world excuse the reckless, violent, and abusive behaviors of their men, they couch their submission behind the notion that a man should be allowed to be a man. A father who is not nurturing to his children, a husband who who never considers his wifes opinion, a son who respects no one are all allowed to be this way, their behaviors explained with the age ole and very troubling adage, “Let a man be a man.” So many women put up with all kinds of horrible behavior from their men simply because they feel they need to let a man be a man. His cheating, his lying, his deception, his lack of commitment, his lack of concern, his lack of sound judgment, etc. All become excused in the name of letting a man be a man.
This has to stop.
This poisonous statement doesn’t just affect the heterosexual community and relationships between men and women. The power and problem of the statement, “Let a man be a man,” can be seen as one of the primary components in the prominence of homophobia.
It is assumed that all men are heterosexual and that any man worth his weight wants to be with a woman sexually. Oftentimes you hear many straight men pass of homosexuality by declaring, “How could any man wanna be with another man when there is so much pussy in the world.” The notion being that the opportunity to sexually conquer women is just to alluring to ever consider being with another man.
So when we think of letting a man be a man we do not associate this with allowing a man to be gay. For a man to be gay is to not be a man, but instead to be something different, less than, perverse.
“Let a man be a man” is not particularly favorable to gay men in that sense. And it informs much of the effemiphobia so prevalent in the gay community.
We have the ability and the power to reject the notion that a man should be allowed to be a man. Women and gay men have a unique position to challenge and change this notion. We need to give up this notion that when it comes to certain things, a man should just be allowed to be a man. Excusing violence and abuse in the name of allowing a man to be a man only creates and continues suffering. Being a man should not center around constantly having your behavior excused and forgiven. Being a man should not center around having a free pass to act any kind of way.
Instead of “Letting a man be a man” how about we hold men accountable for their actions and don’t give them a pass simply because they are men. I know the idea seems radical but trust me the lives of men, women, and children will be better because of it.