I ain’t seen something so eager to shatter
Since the last concrete corner my phone took a bounce on.
Glass kaleidoscoping through flat contours of carnage,
It didn’t bounce well.
Gotta cope somehow.
Keep on getting harder,
withstand and stay rough-
only to find a corner and
Explode into thousands of pieces of unmanaged, confused emotion.
It’s a peculiar spectacle like adolescent coffins.
Masculinity is killing us like the unchecked addictions flooding our tv screens,
Silent but deadly, convincing us what we want to want.
Insecurity and pain are being marketed to our boys of all at-birth sexes,
Who jade themselves into unpleasant age.
We cling to roots of ownership at the self-proclaimed center of our universes,
With an obsession on love and a delusion that to love is to own.
Single-faceted, hellbent desire to call them “my boo”
Cascading through Esquire magazine,
Capitalist shacklers fueling masculine frailty for the quick buck it turns,
Calling reinforced dependency to prove your manliness like a broken record player
Forever skipping on the groove of last night’s stupid stunt,
Each desperate endeavor to convince yourself,
Marketed as “Supply and Demand.”
We’re afraid our boo won’t call us boo back.
Even if we have the man cave.
Even if we have a mustang.
Even if we have a ripped body or a full beard or “game”,
(simply defined as the means of subjugating the people we want call “my boo”
Creating damage you won’t see heal to cheat “your boo” out of a healthy, loving relationship because they have dreams and aspirations beyond being mounted on your trophy wall,
and you damn better let them chase it.)
It won’t free us from the restraints handcrafted to own our psyches from the inside out.If it did, we wouldn’t be here.
We wouldn’t be here if rage didn’t taste so sanguine.
Stoke both fires of my burning emotional wick with pedestal propaganda.
Set expectations you wouldn’t put on yourself,
Head in demanding stormclouds and you’ll be confused and disappointed every damn time you see water fall.
Justify the tears I cry when I fall short of these expectations with
Righteous, manly anger.
Cause if I’m just crying, I’ll get called a girl’s name and want to kill myself.
That’s our nature in this moment. Make it gory. Violent. A masculine spectacle.
The potent fear of femininity
And the willingness to respond to it with so much violence inside and out
Is keeping us enslaved in conflict and fear to monstrous shadows of
Things so much smaller than what we make out.
The correlation between good men and good owners
Has kept inhuman habits alive since slavery, dowries and holy wars.
Within this connection, we lost sight of our lives and the beauty they contain.
We stopped being able to distinguish those outside white manhood from an inferior other,
To instead be commodified as ways to compare each other’s phallic control.
Everything always escalates, it’s the core of competition between the boys.
We invalidate each other as salutations, and never stop escalating.
Nobody likes to be one-upped, so we started right off the bat with
Something they wouldn’t get up from.
I used to fantasize the actions you couldn’t outdo.
It felt so good to imagine my friends’ blood on my knuckles,
Even if the fight was over middle school cafeteria food.
It’d be a mental arms race, escalating until the other person was completely immolated. Victory.
It was always “compete with the boys to get what you want from the girls.”
These roles, assigned to each gender like contradicting holy scripture
Got us all forgetting what it felt like to treat a thinking, feeling human being as such.
It’s so violent, and so vulnerable.
Like having your jugular in your chest hair, playing razorblade dodgeball.
We killed each other for the sport of it because it was our fix.
It’s the giant, hideous power gem that everybody keeps trying to shoot at with arrows.
WE choose to keep wearing it like traditional garb of a cult long since dead.
The shackles—forever living in the mirror image of “your boo”, stuck in the vortex of constantly reaffirming manliness in the middle of a cutthroat game you can’t escape.
It’s the fear to show emotion to decade-old friends without qualifier.
“No homo.” Translated to
“I promise I’m not sexualizing you the way I do every woman I befriend.”
Not for morality, but because of literal homophobia. We were afraid.
Justifying stifled emotions and inner weakness with a scapegoat, completely unrelated.
There’s a reason men commit suicide at three and a half times the rate women do. Shackles.
Combine them with race and you’re waging war
To be held to the same esteem whites get from the start.
Combine them with sexuality and by default,
You’ve become the most crippling insult men have for each other.
Combine them with class, and the rich have already won the popularity contest
And left you in the dust.
Combine them with health, and you’re fighting disease and handicap as well as yourself.
Combine them with religion, and we’re fighting perverse crusades,
Meeting our God for all the wrong reasons.
These shackles keep us restrained through more ways than we can imagine,
So we’ve gotta respond to them with a toolbox as big as our imaginations,
And hearts full of unwavering love.
Fight these shackles with the strongest cultural weapons there are.
Kindness, listening and understanding are going to
Break people faster than a fist ever could.
So let your boo be Ashley, Marcus, Mustafa—whoever it is they want to be.
Find your favorite things about yourself,
Love yourself for the reason that you-
A body of trillions of cells are all working together- and somehow living.
You’re human; you’re a miracle of creation and we still don’t understand how you do it.
Greet your friends with the intent to make them grateful to know you.
Greet everyone with that intent.
Use your eyes to cut through the things that don’t make sense, and ask why till it’s ingrained like isms are in American History.
Start fighting the shackles with us, we’ll be grateful we met you.
(Photograph Credit goes to Maud Fernhout Photography, please look them up and check out some of the other incredible photography Maud has done!)