Men are expected to be masculine. Black men are expected to be extremely masculine. So masculine to the point where even the slightest hint of "femininity" (ex. emotions, expression, etc.) could cause physical and mental discomfort. This hypermasculinity is an inhibitor to the behavior of a Black man, resulting in involuntary (or voluntary) homophobia, misogyny and/or sexism. The forced masculinity of Black men is barely recognized as a problem, so you, the reader, may be wondering why.
Why is this a problem? Because the stereotype of a "strong Black man" is only harming our men.
1. Express Yourself
A stereotypical Black man is raised to have a lack of expression because any emotions besides aggression, ecstasy, and pride show fragility in one's personality. This was a standard created by white slave owners, but it is now kept alive by the Black Community. Because a Black man is "masculine" through his lack of expression, a Black man who is expressive is looked down upon.
Tyler the Creator is a successful Black male rapper who recently told that he was seen as less than by his black peers because he was "emotional" growing up.
The black community is very fixated on that hard masculinity, they always gotta be hard and f****** tough. - Tyler the Creator
Not only can this lack of expression lead to becoming a dull person, but a Black man who doesn't know how to truly love himself. NBA player Dwayne Wade recently shocked thousands of people by speaking of his body image issues for a nude photo shoot.
I had a fear of being naked in front of others and a fear of being judged. -Dwayne Wade
After the pictures were released from Wade's photo shoot, he was preparing himself for the negative and rude comments from everyone- especially, Black men. He was ready to hear, "Shut up. We don't worry about things like that." or "Stop talking too much like that.", but instead, he received this heartbreaking comment from other Black men.
"You feel like that, too?"
2. WARNING: Can lead to sexism and homophobia
Homophobia and sexism/misogyny are extremely sensitive topics for the Black Community, among both Black men AND women. Because this article is focusing on Black men, I'll address how Black hypermasculinity is intertwined with homophobia and sexism.
Again, hypermasculinity is birthed by the lack of expression. "Sensitive" emotions such as empathy, loneliness, and compassion are supposedly only felt when one is in love. In a sexist notion, men only release these emotions unto women. This goes in hand with the stereotype that women are vessels to hold a man's emotions. Many hypermasculine Black men are raised into this thinking, resulting in them never being able to grasp a man expressing himself to another man. This results in the phrase "no homo".
The meaning behind "no homo" is so much more than just "I'm not gay".
"No homo" = "Please don't think me saying I liked your outfit is me saying I like you."
"No homo" = "I don't like you like a woman, I just want to make sure my friend is okay."
"No homo" = "Please don't think I'm weak for truly expressing my self."
"No homo" is a phrase that signifies a hypermasculine man always has to put up a wall to not express himself.
So when there are two gay men (especially Black) that love each other and confide in each other's emotions, it's extremely backwards living to hypermasculine Black men. This commonly results in homophobia to the point where a Black man cannot understand for one second why another Black man would let go of his hypermasculinity to love and express to another Black man.
The stereotype that a woman is the vessel of a man's emotions is both sexist and traditional. Because hypermasculinity is traditional in the Black Community, hypermasculine men are raised to think that these two ideas go hand in hand. This involuntarily creates a sexist mindset for an overly masculine Black man. Because these men are taught to see women as something to bestow your feelings upon, problems can arise. A problem that feeds into sexism is "curving," an indirect rejection.
The idea of a man's emotions being fragile is taught to everyone of every gender, especially women. So when a woman "rejects" a man, their instinct is to be gentle.
"I'm sorry. I just don't see us like that."
"Sorry, I have someone serious already."
"It's not exactlty a yes..."
Hypermasculine men are not taught "no", and women are taught not to say "no".
A problem on the same level of "curving" is the aftermath of the action. When a woman rejects a man who was never told about rejection and emotional weakness, an overly masculine man can brew a hate towards women because they were never taught on how to truly confront emotions of weakness or vulnerability.
It is not unusual for a man nowadays to say "you ugly anyways" or call a woman hideous slurs simply because his feelings weren't returned. This isn't proof that women are "heartless", but that men were never taught how to properly deal with rejection and defeat.
The unbelievable standards society, media, and the Black Community have held Black men to are slowly being addressed. A growing and beautiful movement called the #CarefreeBlackBoy movement has caught millions' attention. Black men are finally beginning to express their true feelings. Black men are starting to show their love for fashion, women, men, confidence and more while showing their fragility.
I ask for everyone to support this movement. The world, especially the Black Community, needs to support a Black man in any way he comes. Whether he be a gay Black man with a male lover who wears flowers in his hair or a heterosexual, bold, masculine Black man who is afraid to cry, or somewhere in between. We, the Black Community, need to recognize that we are all human and that our emotions are natural. We need to show all Black people, especially the Black men, that it is okay for Black men to be masculine, to be feminine, to be bold, to be sensitive, and to be so much more.
It is okay for black men to be.
Leading Image Credit: Twitter, @DarianDBrooks