Monday, 24 June 2019

THE MALE IDENTITY CRISIS


Man staring intently.
Image: Pexels
Most of us have probably heard that a woman's identity is tied to a couple of things; her beauty, skin tone, demeanor, chastity or purity, and ultimately, her ability to use these qualities to square herself a husband and bear 'his' children. This can be further expanded into the duties she is supposed to play in these roles of wife and mother; roles defined as the epitome of her womanhood. And we all know that those duties are many, unreasonable and often times, downright wicked. But these roles are so firmly woven into the fabric of society that choosing a different path almost always results in backlash, shaming and in some cases, physical and sexual abuse. Very few people expect a woman’s identity to be tied to her intellect, career, goals and aspirations, or achievements. It why women are constantly asked about their husbands or children; regardless of what other achievements they have outside of that.

So…yeah. Everyone has an opinion about what a woman’s identity should be to be considered ‘complete’. But…have you wondered what a man’s identity is connected to?

I believe that men’s identity is tied to two things; the size of their account balances…and the size of their penises.

Yes; I said that! And…I will say it again! So, let us really get into it, shall we?

I was having a conversation with a ‘friend’ when he told me he was interested in a girl. Looking at him, and looking at the girl, I didn’t think he could get with her. It was not that he wasn’t good looking – because I genuinely believe everyone is good looking – but, this girl was a stunner. She seemed like the kind of girl who spent at least two hours every morning putting on her face. She smelled of class, money, and exotic fragrances. She carried ‘designer’ bags that were so good, they almost looked real and she generally had this air of you-can’t-get-me-even-if-you-tried thing about her. Honestly, I didn’t think my ‘friend’ had a chance; and I said so.

He laughed in that overly confident way that men do when you present them with a challenge.

‘Forget all her paparazzi. She hasn’t seen life like that. I have set up a budget of N100,000 for her. I will take her to a really expensive restaurant, so she can have a taste of my kind of cuisine. When she sees how much I am willing to spend to give her a good time, there is no way I will not knack.’

Yes; desperately sexist and misogynistic.

Anyway, I called him out and told him spending money wouldn’t get him the girl. Again, he laughed and went, ‘Ramat, there is no girl that will see my car, see my house, go out with me and not be impressed. When she knows I can spend that money, she has no choice but to trip.’

I wanted to rile him up, so I asked if he was okay with knowing that a girl would only be interested in him because he was flashing money. This time, the laughter was snarky; I had hit a nerve. ‘See ehn Ramat, girls only like two things: money and big dick. And I have both. So, after I spend on her and knack her, she will definitely fall in love.’

I know you are probably as turned off by his crudeness as I was, but I remember laughing at him and telling him to keep wishing. I was so sure he wouldn’t get the girl.

But…he did. Turns out his budget impressed her, and she became interested in him.

While it wasn't the first time I had heard a man make that statement and follow it through, it was the first time I has seen that level of brashness displayed by a guy whom I would never have considered a 'catch'. There were aspects of him that were great, as with most people, but he wasn’t the oozing-with-Idris-Elba-sexiness kind of guy. But all that didn’t seem to matter. Soon enough, I was introduced to his many girlfriends, with each seemingly hotter than the last. One day, a girl came to see him with meals prepared for his week. I smelled her before I saw her and by God, I was mesmerized. This lady was so gloriously beautiful! Her look was the arresting kind; perfectly done hair, makeup, and nails, shoes, clothes and bag to the nines, and an entire aura of sexiness about her. If I thought the girl he budgeted N100,000 for was sexy, this one defined the term! I am even going to go as far as saying that I felt like a dull glow in the presence of that much aura of sexiness. He quickly introduced her as his girlfriend and being his 'wingman', I acted like she was the only one in his life. Yes, I know I used to be disgusting too. But as soon as she left, I couldn't hide my awe: how in the world did he get a girl like that?! He laughed as he told me his money made him all the more appealing.

The opening line of Mayorkun's 'Bobo' quickly came to my head. I was beginning to see that truly, 'na money be fine bobo'. And judging by how big a hit the song became, it wasn't hard to see why men totally connected to it.

Still talking about that same 'friend', a time came when he made some poor investments. He lost a lot of money and was, for the first time in his life, really and truly broke. At about the same time, he got into an accident that totaled his car. He was lucky to have come out of the situation unscathed.

For almost 6 months, he was in the dumps. He had to use public transport and learn all the inglorious aspects to it. I watched him shrivel into a shell of himself; ‘my guy’ was struggling. He had that humility that only comes from not having money. And not unexpectedly, almost all his girlfriends broke up with him. Oh! They made sure to mention all sorts of excuses except the fact that he didn't have money. I know...cliché. Almost every movie or book or song where a man loses money shows this. (Which, definitely meaning to, proves my point.) What showed me just how broken he was however, was when one day, he came to me with a lot of excitement. He had met a girl in the taxi home. According to him, she was beautiful and sexy. And beyond that, they had had a conversation that piqued his mind; his words. He couldn't remember the last time he connected with anyone like that. I asked if he got her number and he said no.

I was shocked!

Here was a girl who fit his wants, whom he connected to and whom he obviously liked, and he didn't make a move on her? I didn't need to ask why; my expression did.

'If I had my car now, I would have asked her out, taken her to dinner, invited her to my house. But I didn’t have my car. Now I look like a poor guy. The only thing that would have shown that I had money was my iPhone, but she didn't get to see that it was the latest one. Abeg, poor guys always finish last. She would never have said yes to me.'

I couldn't hide my disappointment. I told him that his entire identity was tied to his money and it was sad! He tried to hit back at me by saying it was because I didn't have any, but he quickly checked himself. Being my ‘friend’, he knew that I had shown – time and again – that I wasn't the type to be swayed by a man's money. We laughed about it and he ended by saying, 'Forget Ramat. I know you keep saying you don’t care about money but…there is the kind of money that a man will show you that will make you immediately fall in love with him. I wish I get to see it though. You know just how much I would laugh at you.’

I laughed about it…but it got me thinking.

Every time I turn a guy down, they always ask if it is because they don't have ‘the kind of money that can take care of you’. As annoying as that question is, it is too common a trend to not be a sore point for men.

Let me backtrack a bit.

***

I especially hate it when a man tries to get me by showing his money. I turn down dates unless I can afford to pay for my own meals and other logistics leading to and from the date. I was out recently with a friend and after having a taste of the grill, ordered another one to go. I told the waiter to ensure the bills were separate since this friend had insisted on paying for ours. He asked why I wanted to pick the bill for the extra and I told him it wasn't right to let him when I was the one who wanted the extra. As soon as the bill came, mine was almost as much as our total bill combined. I went, 'Woah! That is a big bill!' and he started to laugh. It wasn't until much later that I thought, ‘Maybe he thought I wasn't going to be able to pick it...and I would need to ask him to’. So when I took my card and paid, his surprise was palpable.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't act this way because I had money; because at that point, I was really struggling. I barely had any money left over from my salary after paying rent, feeding and transportation. What I didn't want was to ever be dependent on anyone, especially any man, for the things I wanted. I specifically didn't want to feel like I owed any man anything. And if you know how entitled men are to women's bodies, especially when they have spent money on said women, you can understand why I didn't want any man to think he had a 'right' to my body. As a result, I wanted little and only those things I could afford. In fact, it used to be a sore spot with someone I was dating at a point. (More like a couple of people I had dated.)

***

Back to my discussion.

It would be naive not to see the connection between men's identity and the money they have. Guys constantly tell me I wouldn't be able to say no to Dangote (for example); that I was idealistic because I hadn't seen the luxury that could only come from having lots of money; that I maintained my stance on things because no one has given me the baby girl life. In fact, very recently, a man who was all over me kept showing me his wealth in a bid to get me interested. When he saw I wasn’t moved to want to be with him like that, he literally told me he could offer me money to be with him. I told him there was nothing he had that I wanted. I may have said this one too many times already, but his expression was one of shock; he didn’t think I could turn him down. In reality, I liked his person; he was tall, witty, interesting, very good looking. I didn’t want to be with him because he held views about women that didn’t work with me, and especially because he was married. His utterance about his money was the final nail to the coffin of the relationship that never was.

So… this is one of the reasons why men work as hard as they do. Working hard means earning more money so they can spend on women and show how much of a ‘man’ they are. Which is why, from the onset, men didn’t want women to work. (This is still true in many communities by the way.) If a woman worked and made her own money such that she could take care of herself, what then could they offer her? Why would she be interested in him? And have you seen these conversations raging every day about the man being the ‘head of the house’ and ‘breadwinner’ and especially how emasculated they feel when the women in their lives earn more than they do? For many men, the higher the amount of money you have, the ‘manlier’ they feel.  

But even more important than money to a man is the size of his penis.

One of the most consistent triggers I have seen men lose their heads over is their sexual prowess viz, the size of their penises. The ego trip for most men is about that; literally and figuratively.

The moment a man’s penis becomes the topic of conversation, men begin to carry out measurement contest. Take for example the moment an innocent picture of Serge Ibaka showed his girth. You KNOW I am not putting that up here! While women were drooling – naturally – men couldn’t hide the jealousy. Oh! There was some adulation and respect, but for the most part, it was jealousy.

Then, remember when Safaree released photos of his penis? I know…he said the picture leaked but we all know he did that. I mean, Safaree is one of those guys that many people do not really respect. Then his penis picture dropped and all of a sudden, it was a praise fest. As soon as he was interviewed, specifically on The Breakfast Club, you could tell the awe with which DJ Envy and Charlemagne Da God addressed him. Angela Yee too, but we are talking about men! It was like Safaree was a new man. I guess this opened up some of Charlemagne’s insecurities again because he couldn’t wait to talk about his own penis.

To give this some context, Charlemagne has been open about feeling some type of way about the size of his penis. He admitted to doing something to enlarge his phallus because he felt like ‘less than a man’ when his former partner told him she had been with someone bigger. I want to say I was surprised by how much it seemed to affect him, but I see men constantly talking about their size. So, I know it is an issue. Which is probably why many of them think their size is all the technique they need sexually. But we are not there yet.

So…what does a man’s penis have to do with his identity?

Hmmm…I think that men believe that the bigger they are, the more satisfied they can make a woman, and furthermore, the more control they can have over women. This translates to also thinking that a woman would stay with them if they are big(ger). Women would gladly tell you that this is fallacy, but there is an aspect of misogyny that doesn’t expect women to be openly sexual; to know what she wants; to understand what makes her body tingle and throb; or what can get her in the throes of unbridled passion. In truth, women help men propagate the ideology that a huge penis is all he needs for her sexual satisfaction. And because many men with big penises easily get women, it is like the money thing all over again.

This one is however even more personal to men.

Let me go back to Charlemagne from The Breakfast Club. The full story was that, during an argument with a love interest of his who decided to see someone else, he asked about the other guy and she insinuated that his (Charlemagne’s) penis was subpar in comparison to what the other guy was packing. He felt so insecure that he had to go get pills to improve his size. What is interesting about the story is that Charlemagne admitted to having cheated on the girl multiple times. So when she stepped out on what they had, he got into the dumps only because the man was bigger than he could ever be. Which brings me to the next point I want to talk about.

When a woman cheats on her man, it isn’t the fact that she stepped out that hurts the man. I genuinely believe that it is the size contest that does: Is his penis bigger? Does he have more money? What does he have that made him an option? What does that say about me?

I also think men don’t worry about the character flaws that make women cheat on them or leave them. All they imagine is how it affects their penises and their wallets. It is why they are usually shocked when a woman leaves them for a ‘poorer’ man for example. They believe he has to have a bigger penis as opposed to maybe, their own flaws and misdemeanours. It is why Charlemagne couldn’t see that his cheating was a problem. Instead, he fixated on his penis, becoming so insecure that he had to take drugs to enlarge it. Nowhere did he mention that he stopped cheating, became a better person, or refused to go into relationships until he wanted to be committed. Nowhere did he show that he understood his girlfriend’s cheating and subsequent exit from his life wasn’t centered on his penis. Oh he learned not cheat anymore, what with his song with Lil Duval called ‘Black Men Don’t Cheat’, but it wasn’t because of any woman. I am pretty sure that getting to his midlife, he understands he no longer has the stamina of a much younger man. But what do I know?

Like Charlemagne, the reaction is about the same with many men. They can hardly imagine women cheating for anything outside these two reasons. It is however important to note that, like men, women can have sex with other people for the thrill of it. Women are sexual beings as men are and it is about time that we dropped this outdated belief that women can only cheat when they are emotionally connected to someone. If nothing else, biology denies that premise.

The problem however is not just about cheating though. Have you seen rich or endowed men react to women who refuse them? They genuinely act like it is an affront on their existence. It is like, ‘Do you understand that I have money?’ ‘Do you not understand that I have a big penis?’ ‘Something must be wrong with you if you cannot see what I am offering.’ In many instances, it is funny that men think so highly of their bank balances and their penises. On the other hand, it is scary because women who dare refuse them are often attacked; physically and sexually.

Let me take you to a series I watched recently and the concept of secondary impotence.

The name of the TV show is Masters of Sex. It is one of the most well-thought out shows about sex and it can answer almost all questions that you may have about sex; the physiology of it anyway. The lead scientists whose lives we follow are Dr. Williams Masters and Virginia Johnson. In the course of their work, they begin an affair that would define their roles as researchers and people. Virginia had sexual relationships with various men until she began to fall in love with Williams. However, because he was married, she knew they could not be together. One day, after a big fight, she decides to marry someone else whom Bill finds out about when he goes to her house. (PS: Why is Bill a short form of Williams? It makes no sense!) Anyway, seeing her move on set him off on a bad trajectory where he was no longer able to have an erection. This happened for the longest time until one of their therapy methods worked and he was ‘cured’.

This was my first introduction to secondary impotence. It was basically Bill’s physiological response to being rejected. For other men, it could be a result of body image issues, anxiety about sex and other such emotions. What is interesting to note here is that, Virginia didn’t reject his love. At this point, he had never told her he was in love with her. In fact, he saw her as just his colleague whom he did research with. Bill was actually livid that she dared go to another man when what they shared was great sexual pleasure and their research. Bill began to treat her curtly until things got to an expected head when their work was compromised.

Many men are exactly like that. The biggest question for them is, ‘How does she DARE let another man touch her?’ Oh! They mask it by saying they are ‘territorial’, but we know that is a lot of hogwash because, women are territorial too and we don’t see the level of craziness men display with women who have been cheated on. But they have used it as an excuse for centuries. It is why many of these men are quick to rape women when they reject their advances; or batter their partners for perceived instances of infidelity; or trash talk a woman they have never been with. It is this over-attachment to their penises that makes many men such dicks; all pun intended.

Then there is the last reason men are heavily invested in their penises; their ability perform… which could mean being able to father children. In this regard, men and women are the same; no one wants to be unable to have children. But with men, it is so much worse. Because their egos are intrinsically tied to their penises, the thought that they may not be able to ‘father children’ nearly drives men crazy with fear. Nothing shows that fear more than when contraceptives are brought up. While women have been using them since their inception, men have been loath to… unless they are the lesser of the very limited ‘evils’ available to them, or in simpler terms, condoms. (And even at that, women have to insist they use one before they do.) Bring up vasectomy and most men balk. The general myth is that vasectomy prevents men from performing and even though this has been dispelled time and again, men rarely ever go for that option. In fact, new research on contraceptive pills for men has met with great resistance from…guess who? The response is always, ‘What if something goes wrong with my penis?’ And these days, my response to that question is, ‘What if something goes wrong with our wombs?’

I think there is a male identity crisis, and things have to change. Feminism was that change for women. It made women look beyond the accepted norm to find identity in themselves, their work, their careers, their ideals and their lives; basically, whatever works for them. This is not to say that women who want to find their identities in marriage and motherhood are wrong. We are saying, ‘You are whomever you bloody think you are’ and if that means going against the grain, it is fine.  

What would be the change for men?

I would also say, as much as they would hate to hear this, feminism.

Men need to understand that the patriarchal system that seeks to harness women, is the same shackles making them think the size of their penises and wallets is what gives them their identity. An understanding of equality would permit men to make money because they want to, and not because they think that is the only way they can be desirable to women. It would allow men to understand that the size of their penises is fine, regardless of what part of the measurement spectrum it is on. Men can then seek relationships with women who share their ideals and not those who only care about their money. Men can choose partners knowing that they contribute equally to the relationship and spending money is an expression of love, as opposed to an obligation. Even better than that, men and women can have sex for the sole purposes for which it is for; mutual release, pleasure and/or procreation. And finally, when women break up with men, cheat on them, or reject them, men wouldn’t take it as a personal affront on their masculine nature, thereby prompting the desire to be physically or sexually abusive.

PS: I genuinely think that every man is different and general statements like I have made in the article are stereotypical. But I hope it riles enough men up, so they realize that it isn’t funny when women are lumped into monolithic stereotypes that negate our humanity and diversity.

My identity is mine and should be defined as I see fit.

The same is true for you!

2 comments:

  1. I read every single word. Mixed emotions this time. The underlying issue is what has become the norm. You see I have been thinking of how concepts/behaviors which are repeated over and over again gradually become infused into the fabric of society. Take for instance homosexuality. In the 13th century, culprits were probably stoned to death. Today, we have Gay Bishops. Same thing with 'Men Cheat'.... It has been repeated over and over and over again that sadly, it is almost the 'norm'..... After all 'men cheat'....the size of a man's wallet and his penis, only held sway because society has propagated that notation repeatedly, that it is 'almost the norm' nowadays....albeit disgusting and inappropriate as you have pointed out.... I like the ending that preaches equality and freedom and breaking away for stereotype. Lengthy but interesting. Well done.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!

      And yes, a lot of behavior is reinforced by the repeated tolerance (and acceptance) of society. It is why the threads that hold the society together need to be gradually unraveled. That way, we can build again and start to reinforce new ideals and cultural practices.

      Again, thank you.

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