First off, I want to give a quick disclaimer: I am by no means an expert when it comes to the mind of a man.
But here’s some reassurance: For as long as I’ve been alive, all the books, movies, real-life experiences, and rants read on Twitter, I do know a little something about the female counterpart. They thoroughly express how women are so confusing and I, somehow, agree. However, I think I speak for my ladies out there when I say: “Men are just as confusing!” So the pressure is expressed both ways, all thanks to this predetermined idea of what make men, men and women, women. It’s not entirely our fault! These ideas have been passed down, forced into action, and “accepted.”
Here’s a set of qualities / expectations of a man (expressed by many, but not entirely by me):
- A man is supposed to be the breadwinner of the family. He’s the money-maker. The guy who does all the heavy lifting when it comes to providing food and income to the household.
- He wears the pants in the relationship. What he says goes and there should be no questions asked. Since he is the provider, he is also the law. A man is trusted to make the best decision for his family and for the overall well-being of others.
- A man should remain faithful. This is in regards to everything: family, job, religion, etc.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If he isn’t singing that song, then you better go on and hit next. A man is expected to respect others, especially his better half: his spouse. He must hear you out, defend you, and learn when his ideas are not always rational. He might have the final say, but he should also value opinion.
- He is drama-free. Maturity is what separates a boy from a man. He knows what he wants and goes for it. This goal-oriented mentality is so important because that drive pushes him through all the over-analysis, whining, and contemplation. He goes straight for the finish line. Once he is there, he holds on to that idea and protects it for dear life.
Now all of the above has been argued for and against, both by women and men. Men are pressured to be the stone hard figure with a loving heart, and when they fall even slightly out of the square box we label “Man,” they are ridiculed. I mean, I’ve heard so many complaints about guys and how men will never change… it’s insane! I get it, trust me I do. I’ve had my share of badmouthing men, but I’ve grown up and surpassed the whole “I’m blaming all of them because my little heart was broken by a tool” phase. Not everyone is like that. We have to be more open about gender roles and expectancies because times have changed.
In Harriet Wilson E. Wilson’s Our nig or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, In A Two-Story White House, North the expectations of man is manifested in James. Go down that list and you’ll find how he can fit in each one. He’s a family man and stays true to his beliefs and moral values. Reading past novels and observing the master-servant relationship, male figures were always the brutal force. Remember when I said they are the law? Well, these “men” took that idea to an extreme. They over-worked, beat and mentally abused their slaves as if they weren’t human. Men were feared, and because of this many had to respect them. However, James was the exception. He took what was mentioned on the list and used it for the good. He cared for the well-being of Frado and didn’t look at her as a mere servant. James protected, cared for, and respected her despite his mother’s indifference towards the girl. James was a man because he stood loyal to what was right.
I think the expectation of man then, is not so different now. Many still expect them to fall into this kind of ideal. To be honest, I think they kind of work. Now before I get shunned out of existence let me explain. Tie all of the qualities you want in a man and expect him to be, then tell me what it all means. What should men be? Come on, give me one sentence. Hm, maybe answering what they shouldn’t be would help?
We make up these guidelines because we want to prevent something from being what we don’t want. Like, if you follow all these steps, everything would be as they should. So, what do these guidelines prevent men from being? JERKS. A-HOLES. DEADBEATS. LAZY. Whatever doesn’t make them useless.
This list can easily work for women. Actually, this whole argument can be viewed as a female’s issue as well. We go through just as much as men do, in fact, a lot more. However, I want men to know that not every female in this universe expects them to be perfect. We invest time, love, and hope in you guys because we know your capabilities. We want you in our lives. But we don’t want to have just anybody, we want you to be the best YOU that you can be. So we push, push, push you guys to the limit, and I am sorry if it gets a little crazy. A man is expected to be whatever he wants to be, with a little less Jerk involved. If you have even the slightest bit of compassion James expresses in Wilson’s novel, consider yourself in the winners’ circle. You’re already doing better than those who have yet to learn what manhood is about.