Dear Men

I am writing this for my hypothetical son so that when he grows up, and someone asks him, “Are you man enough?”, he can get over it. He does not have to answer on “what it takes to be a man.” There is no effort to be a man. There is no effort to be a woman. It should always be effortless to be who you are.

Dear Men,

You must have heard this for most of your life. “Man up”, “Are you man enough?” Courage by all means has no gender and everyone has the capacity to be vulnerable. Yes, vulnerability is a capacity. If you take away the person’s need to express fear, sorrow or dismay, you are taking away what is innate in human.

Many women complain that most of their sufferings have to do with men. menstruation, menopause, or “men oppose” but believe me you are our comrades.

It doesn’t not matter if you were created first nor how you were created. Whether you are products of evolution or family planning, it does not increase or decrease your value in this world. It does not matter if you are made of steel, bronze or metal. It does matter if you come from the ground or from left over of star dust. You are too intricate, and too complicated, to determine which elements you are made of. I will simply describe you in the way that it is written in Genesis, in the likeness of His image.

If you think you are authorized, entitled, I’d simply say: You have the power. There are many kinds of power but not all kinds of power are meant to lead or control. Choose your power wisely.

Most of our lives, we imprison ourselves with brand names but brand names do not indicate our purpose in life. Let us refrain from using our gender as an excuse or privilege. “Because I am a man” and “because I am woman” cannot explain the talents we have, the principles we keep, and the sacrifices we make.

In this lifetime, it doesn’t matter who wins and loses. It doesn’t matter who leads or submits. It doesn’t matter who has more or who has less. It doesn’t matter who is stronger or who is weaker. Love is the greatest equalizer. For when we love, we based our actions not on our roles, on our strengths, but for the welfare of others.

Keep this in mind that you are not limited or defined by your testosterone.

And let’s face it. You are not complete without women. Your genetic makeup speaks so much about it. For your XY chromosome, you owe it to your mother. The mere fact that all men have X chromosome is a tribute to women. Hence treat every woman as your sister, daughter and mother. No son would want to see his mom objectified. No father would want to see his daughter get hurt.

Your role is not to save a damsel in distress. Your role is to save the world from bondage, to save it from greed and oppression. Be an agent of change. Your role in the lives of women is to uplift them. Let it be known that they do not need heroes. They are heroes too.

Read more about women, but not on how to date a woman, or how to take her out. Read on their contributions in history, culture, literature, revolution and others. We need to hear more of them because for the longest time, we left women out of the pages of our books. Let us dream together for a better place to live. And maybe someday there will be no history, herstory but only “our story.”

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Define Woman

“You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses. ” – Sarah Kay

Sarah Kay, known for spoken word poetry, wrote a beautiful piece about women. Her poem, The Type, gives a new insight on how women should see themselves.  She wrote in Huffington Post: “Media attention has been paid to what it means to ‘be a woman,’ but often the conversation focuses on what it means to be a woman in relation to others…I believe these relationships are important. I also think it is possible to define ourselves solely as individuals, without comparisons or relationships.”

True enough, women are often defined and valued based on their relationships. This explains how we make labels, ”The Good Wife,” “The Mistress,” “The Other Woman”. For every stage in a woman’s life, her identity is always associated with her relationships. When a woman reaches her mid 20s, people wonder why she does not have a boyfriend. When a woman is at her 40s, people think she is missing a large chunk of her life if she is not married (even if she has a house, career, business, nieces, parties, and friends). When a woman is married, people expect her to have children. Ask a beauty queen, a husband, and a wife on what is the essence of being a woman? They will answer: “It is childbearing or child-rearing ” But how about a woman who cannot bear a child or a woman who remains single by choice or by act of nature?

I have high regard for women who strive to be the best daughter, best girlfriend, best wife, and best mother.  All these roles should be part of our aspiration in life. Our relationships shape our lives and build our character but there is something more than what a relationship has to offer. Yet culture tells us that it should define us.

Society depicts that women should naturally maintain relationship. Hence, when a relationship fails, a woman needs to justify herself. When a married woman is caught having an affair with another man, she is immediately guilty of adultery. But when a married man is caught having an affair with another woman, he is not yet guilty of any extramarital crime. Philippine law states that he is only guilty of concubinage if his affair is under scandalous circumstances. I said to my friend: “So what do we do then? Should we protest? Protest  that we can also have  extramarital affair and not have an automatic crime of adultery like men do, unless we do something scandalous?

woman vir

Define Woman

But how do you define a woman? Is it by length of time she spent on the bathroom? If she knows how to use an eyeliner, then maybe she can call herself a real woman. Two straight men told me that I should know how to apply makeup. It’s an unexpected irony to think that girls are more vocal about grooming and style. My inner self tells me that I shouldn’t groom myself because I am only pleasing the eyes of men (more than my eyes….you don’t get to see yourself as much as the people around you) And when I aim to please the eyes of men, I allow my relationship with others to define me. I allow culture to define me.  I allow society to define me. That for me is a form of oppression.

We all have a shared picture of an ideal woman while we don’t have a concrete picture of what an ideal man should be. Yes, he should be a provider but we can disagree that he does not have to know how to drive,  how to fix electric wires, how to repair a faucet, and how to play basketball. He can be tough yet he can be soft spoken.

I’m afraid I am mistakenly placed in a woman’s body. Apparently, I don’t cook and I’m not domesticated. I am not caring and even if ants love to bite me, I don’t think I’m sweet. I honestly feel I am less of  a woman. But I’m hoping someday I will raise my own family and epitomize a conventional woman. At the same time, it is within my understanding that life has many possibilities. I’m afraid to disappoint but I’m more afraid of losing myself in the course of finding and keeping people who can make me happy.

Before this post exceeds more than 1000 word count as this might lead to random ramblings on  being a woman, in a gist what I like to say to women:

It is probably a mistake to fall in love with the wrong person, to get pregnant without marriage and preparation, to have a sex video and find out later it is publicized, to raise a child who turns out to be a black sheep, to provide and serve less for a family who needs your commitment. But you can forgive yourself.

It is okay to submit  to the people you love and care for but it can be very devastating to build yourself based on your relationships with them. For when a relationship is broken, you question your worth as a woman. We need affirmation from the ties we bind. But even without them, we can find happiness and be complete.

i am no bird

As much as I like skirts and flowers, I don’t like to identify myself as a woman. The word ‘woman’ itself is in relation to a man, wo- “man.” I’m not a woman, not a girl, not a lady. I’m just a plain human being who happens to have menstrual period and who happens to like the boys. I am independent from the many variables that make a woman.

“Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.

You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.”

-Sarah Kay

Girls are like Magazines and Novels

There is no debate which is better, a novel or a magazine. Both have different target readers. The two are read for different purposes in different times. A novel is read during a quiet time in bedroom. A magazine is read during heavy traffic or while waiting one’s turn in the doctor’s clinic. A magazine is meant to entertain and to update readers. A novel is also meant to entertain but not to update readers. Magazines are for people on the rush while novels are for people who take time.

This leads me to compare girls with novels and magazines. A man who chooses a girl he will date is like a man who chooses what to buy in a bookstore. The one he chooses depends on what his needs and interests are. The man who likes to buy a novel is like a man who wants to spend a long time with his girl. The man who picks a magazine wants something that is easy and requires little time for reading like a girl who does not demand much time. If he has short attention span, he will prefer to buy a magazine. If he is a conscientious reader and pays attentions to small details, he will buy a novel.

Girls are like novels and magazines. Some are easy on the eyes and easy to love while some cannot catch a man’s attention in a swift glance. He will learn to like her with additional details. And if a novel takes a lot of time, hence he will never forget. But a magazine with its thin pages, he can neglect.

Between the two, a novel is expensive while a magazine depreciates in value over time. When a man reads a novel all over again, he will always discover something new. But when a man reads a magazine again, there is obviously nothing new. There are a lot of things that can be said about a novel and he can make a book review. But a magazine, what else can he say? Maybe he can give a brief description but not as rich as he would describe how an author writes a novel.

Magazines are available everywhere. He can find them in bus stop, airport, parlor, and grocery store. But a novel is not accessible all the time. Like novels, some girls are hard to reach while magazines are always within his reach. But if a man wants to brag his taste and intellect, he will display novels in his living room.

A novel is personal and intimate. A man who enjoys reading a novel, is eager to touch a new page. He smells it, sleeps with it, protects it. When a man is done reading a magazine, he leaves the magazine to others and say, “You can have it.”

A novel is something he can pass to the next generation but a magazine serves its own generation for when the trends are gone, it is lost. Some girls are like novels worth keeping for a lifetime while some are fleeting, lovely in their own time.

Men in Pain

“When I see you cry, it makes me smile” – Lily Allen

I am not a man-hater but am I a sadist if I like to see men in pain? I’m not talking about relationships. I am referring to males in general including baby boys, grandpas and macho guys. I have a soft spot for men who show some vulnerability. I like to see men begging, bleeding, pleading, weeping. I like to hear wailing and sobbing sounds from men. I sometimes find gratification in repetitively listening to music of a man truthfully singing a sad love song. And when I see a man who is on the verge of crying, I sigh and say ‘ahhhh…. (I’m touched.)’  I like to read letters written with so much pain by men. I also like stories whose male leads fall in desperation.

They say men like women who are weak and vulnerable because they want to take the role of knight in shining armor.  By instinct man will want to have a girl he can defend. It is one way of displaying his masculinity. But on my part, it’s the other way around. Though I don’t want a man who is weak and insecure, I like to see men in their most delicate moments. It feels like I want to tap their shoulders, comfort them, cry with them, give them a big warm hug.

Precious Moments

Am I cruel to say these things? I will never want to inflict pain to anybody. Never! Men in pain are just rare to find. Some will choose to hide tears and some are naturally expressionless. Between an action star who will promise me he can kill monsters and bring me to the moon and a simple guy on bended knees with Precious Moments eyes,   I choose the latter. It’s not the sorrow that counts. It’s the intensity of emotions. I believe men with intense emotions have so much depth and has much passion to fuel life.

I remember my dad was talking about my cousin’s wedding. And all of a sudden, he was on tears as he described how the groom cried when the bride was marching. Honestly, that made me laugh. It shows how sentimental he is and that for me is a lovable trait.

Odyssey, one of the classics of world literature, centers on a Greek hero Odysseus.  Interesting to note, the protagonist Odysseus and other men in the epic had a lot of crying scenes. Perhaps, I am no sadist at all.  I am just from 8th century BC. I like to see strong mighty men at their weakest.

Nah, I just like men to know  how it feels to have dysmenorrhea.

P.S. I can’t hurt a male specimen

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