'I'm afraid of men not because of any singular encouter with a man. I'm afraid of men because of the cumulative damage caused by the everyday experience I've recounted here, and by those untold, and by those I continue to face'.
Vivek Shraya is a Canadian musician and author. His lengthy essay I'm Afraid of Men is inspired by We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I personally think it reveals in a dramatic yet gentle way the challenges of gender-based dynamics nowadays. Before coming out as a trans woman, Shraya tried to correctly play the masculinity role assigned by the society. As a woman she was the target of undeserved masculine aggressivity. In a relationship with a man, she had the experience of masculine entitlement. Regardless of your choice, masculinity -as it is seen and projected and taught in the society - is a matter of internalizing automatically a certain mindset.
Hence, Shraya pledged for a completely switch of perspective, which encourages gender creativity: 'What if you were to challenge youself every time you feel afraid of me - and of all of us who are pushing against gendered expectations and restrictions? What if you cherished us as archetypes of realized potential? What if you were to surrended to sublimne possibility - yours and mine? Might you then free me at last of my fear, and of your own?'.
Regardless of our gender choice or not, there are aspects of masculinity which need a second thoughts if not a complete reconsideration - or as Vivek wrote re-'imagination'. 'If we want masculinity to be different, we must confront and tackle the baseline instead of longing for exceptions. Loving your mother, holding a door open for a woman, being a good listener, or even being a feminist doesn't makes a man an exception. Experiencing oppression - including racism, homophobia and transphobia - doesn't make a man an exception. If we are interested in perpetuating and confronting the myth of the ''good man'', we are also complicit in overlooking, if not permitting the reprehensible behavior of the ''typical man'''.
I'm Afraid of Men is a short but rich in ideas and inspirational essay. After reading it, you need time to think and reconsider many of the common approaches regading gender roles and masculinity in general. It raises questions and challenges the reader to doubt. Regardless of the reader's final conclusion, it inspires to think and only this is a tremendous change for the critical mind.
Rating: 4 stars