People are such fascinating creatures.
It so often seems that we see ourselves as this lone species, completely unrelated to all other living things on this planet, separate beings that are unbounded by the laws of nature and free to move, live and explore without the restrictions that limit regular animals.
Normally it takes something as extreme as a natural disaster to tear away the thin veneer of this facade. A tsunami or hurricane of unimaginable force pulling us back to earth with a crash, down from the lofty heights of heaven we have elevated ourselves to; a reminder that we are at the mercy and whims of nature like all other life on earth.
Personally, I think you only need to go to a party or bar to see how we are completely a part of nature, as opposed to apart from it.
All the hair gels, perfumed smells, extra lashes looking for a pash, his groomed stubble hoping for a double-take as each furtive glance or sly smile gets the heart racing just for a while. I can’t help but draw parallels between this and when I see a documentary featuring a bird’s mating dance or two stags locking horns, generally narrated by the melodic voice of Sir David Attenborough.
We can dress up our reasoning as much as we dress up our bodies, but in the end, we are all beautifying ourselves for the same reason: to be seen, to be noticed, to be attractive and to be loved.
Yes, you may say you are doing it for yourself, but you are most likely doing it for yourself in reference to other people.
The question I so often ask people, boys, and girls, when it comes to why we spend so much time making ourselves up is,
‘If you were the last human alive, would you put this effort into how you look?”
If the answer is no, you are doing it for other people as much as you are doing it for yourself. This is not a bad thing, but it is important to recognise what is driving these decisions. I was recently listening to one of Russell Brand’s podcasts (‘Under the Skin’, highly recommend) and he was explaining that part of the reason he no longer looks at porn or objectifies women is that he understands how the biological drivers of sex and reproduction are possibly the most powerful energies on this planet.
They can start wars, end empires and dissolve revolutions. When it comes to these forces, so much of our focus tends to be on the feminine, on girls and women. But as a guy, I would like to talk about our role in this dance, this balance. I grew up going to an all-boys school, playing a lot of sport in all-male teams and am the oldest of four, three of which are boys. More recently, I spent four years working in spaces that were predominantly female whilst still playing soccer in a men’s team, allowing me a great insight into the difference between the two sexes and our approach to work and life.
In my experience, there is undoubtedly a difference, which is wonderful.
In all honesty, I think I internally rejected men, or masculinity, for a while.
I learned a lot very quickly about feminism and the toxic role men have played in so many facets of life, both historically and today, and it made me angry, ashamed and intent on distancing myself from this apparently dangerous half of the population. Of course, I failed, as I am a guy and I soon realised this binary, polarising approach was beneficial to no one and indeed part of the problem.
Over time, I softened and began to notice the love, pain, and fear so many boys and men live with every day. They are gentle, beautiful, kind people often lost between who they are and who they are told to be.
We live in a world that tells boys they must fuck girls in order to be men, the more the better, and if you don’t, you are a failure. We live in a culture that has refined the concept of copulation to a cheap comment you receive either adulation or speculation in equal parts during the Sunday afternoon recall of Saturday night’s antics. Is this cultural situation worse for women than men? Yes. Is it part of the roots of the tree which sprouts so many poisonous social problems? Yes. Does this mean men are not also affected by the same problem? No. Most guys I know seem to not only not care about sleeping with multiple girls, but actually don’t really want to, only doing so as some form of tribal or social obligation. Most enjoy, if not revel, in being in a relationship and most, in my experience, only join in sexist behavior for fear of being excommunicated from some imaginary league of men.
This is not an excuse, nor even a reason, simply an observation. But what’s the point? And why is this important?
The point is that we guys need to take more responsibility, more power and more autonomy over our own lives. If the situation isn’t helping anyone – and it isn’t, the data around male depression and suicide is clear on this – then those who are proliferating it the most must be the ones to make the grandest stand.
No one is benefiting from the way the world is at the moment, not men or women of any orientation or definition.
We, as men, need to take a more active role in changing it.
The drive to procreate and find approval in a paramour is strong, but it shouldn’t be stronger than our control over ourselves. Think about the implication for the way you speak about and to women, the way you ‘want’ women to look and the approach to them in general. We are direct reflections of each other and we are still animals, driven by biological drivers exacerbated and refracted by a stress-inducing culture obsessed with the physical; the material. Until we begin to transcend this current approach to each other, as resources for pleasure opposed to people to be of resource to, we will continue this trend of treading the tightrope between despair and desperation.
Guys, next time you speak about a girl, imagine you are speaking about your mum, sister, partner or best friend.
Think about how you would feel if you heard someone speaking that way about them and if it makes you angry, don’t do it; otherwise you are simply a hypocrite.
If you don’t want to do something, don’t. Do not let group situations overpower you. No is a powerful, empowering word but you have to use it in order to understand that. You are in charge of your life: act like it.
Girls, don’t lose faith. So many of us guys are lost, confused and hurt in ways we refuse to explain.
Be patient and continue to be the guiding lights of compassion and kindness you so often are. We are all in this together and the hope for a brighter future will only continue to burn as long as you keep the light on in the darkness as the winds of change sweep across the planet.
I think every decision can be boiled down to whether or not you are being ruled by love or fear.
If you are being moved by love, it is the right choice. If you are being pushed and pulled by the strong arms of fear, you are no longer in control of your life. Fear is powerful, but love is even more so. Trust love and trust that it will carry you towards a brighter tomorrow because it inevitably will.
I am in no way exempt from this and only am able to talk about it because I continue to battle with all of these issues on almost a daily basis. We all want a fairer world and it will take a great deal of effort, trust, patience, and love in order to create it. But we will, we are a mirror of nature, reflecting the world and the universe back on itself in a way no other creature can.
All we need to do is clean the glass a little because, damn, it’s a fucking beautiful view.Return to issues