Talon

Reconstructing the man

To feel or not to feel: a new definition

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From the aesthetic dripping on car windows to the humid air curling my hair and droplets painting the ground like an empty canvas, rain is amazing to me — an unpopular opinion.

In fact, a majority of my friends, family and acquaintances speak only of negative attributes associated with rain. I mean, they aren’t necessarily wrong. Everything does get wet and cold and the traffic is genuinely horrid. But I’d argue against the general doom and gloom perception of rain.

I choose to see it in a new light — as much sunlight as the clouds will permit, at least. You see, rain in Southern California is rare. Therefore, when we get it, we must cherish it.

However, the most important concept to grasp from this idea is that it is OK to diverge from a preconceived path. Though rain may increase traffic, a rainbow can form when seen from the right angle. The same philosophy can be seen in the positive side of sharing emotion and being vulnerable.

I hope I didn’t scare you with that strong claim. If so, I’m here if you want to talk about it.

Among the general male population, a new outlook on the concept of masculinity arises. With archaic preconceptions that boys, teens and men should shove their emotions back down their throats comes a lack of expression and neglect of one’s humanity.

I mean, if a man isn’t able to express his emotion in a full and vulnerable manner, he won’t be able to thrive as his true self. Instead, he’ll sit back and scream at the Patriot’s game with a beer in hand (a root beer, that is), wrestling his 40 pound pit bull.

Due to falsely-defined masculinity being an element of our society that seems to be automatically inherited from father to son, grandfather to grandchild or movie star to impressionable teen, we have essentially been conditioned to believe that we must cover up our emotions and store them for a more convenient hour. But we don’t need to do this.

In fact, I’m going to be blunt and let you know from this moment on, I prefer that you don’t hide from your emotions, nor should you hide your emotions from others.

It seems as though there is an expectation that females are given more of an opportunity to express emotion as often as they’d like or need. However, when males are given the chance, they either won’t take it or aren’t even offered this ‘opportunity’ in the first place. Two factors feed this illusion: first that society has normalized and stigmatized men’s lack of sharing emotion and second that due to this outside pressure, they are discouraged from expressing themselves through emotion.

Even as kids, it seems as though “act like a man,” or “just move on” are automatic responses given to a boy or teen in hopes that he will distance himself from emotions. Especially the negative ones — the rain of the soul, if you will.

Look, songs like “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” from Disney’s “Mulan,” doesn’t seem like the right message to send to any young person.

I think we need to reconstruct what “acting like a man” means.

It may seem easier to simply let the problem be. Some may argue that this ‘male mindset’ gives men a certain camaraderie amongst one another: A sense of comfort and a break from a world of competitive individuality. However, this attacks the importance of individuality.

To me, the pros of reconstructing ‘the man’ outweigh the cons. Finally obtaining complete emotionally intelligent societies is a mission I can be on board with.

Freedom of expression and freedom of self don’t have to be a burden for the male population. The first step begins with a message to all men and boys. Yes, I am in fact calling you men because I am about to hand you a significant amount of responsibility: shatter the facade.

Share your feelings. Be vulnerable. Bridge the gap of emotional distance.

Everyone else can tune in now, too: avoid “act like a man,” “move on” or any expressions like these. Encourage your fellow males to speak up. If you see that they are upset, excited or even on just a normal day, ask them how they’re doing, sincerely! Let them know you are there for them to talk. Not being able to tell the difference between raindrops and tears is OK.

Be open to the men in your life being open.

Embrace the rain.

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About the Writer
Sam Barney-Gibbs, Ombudsman

Sam Barney-Gibbs is a junior at Oak Park High School. He is currently the 2018-19 Ombudsman.

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