Bolade Ogunfuye: The Nigerian millennial and this masculinism business [NEW VOICES]

A thought piece on the status of the African man; and how you are all sleeping on who he is.

First off, who is a true man? What does it even mean to be a man? Frankly, I doubt anyone truly knows what it means anymore. So often has the notion of masculinism been diluted, that we now have an unrecognizable, convoluted mess of male fetishism, accreditation, and worship in various quarts that we no longer understand what the blob stands for, how we are supposed to regulate it, or even if we are meant to.

I don’t believe there has been this much interest in the affairs of men, not since the height of bra-burning feminism of the 60s when we took our cue from the first-world acceptance of feminism vis-à-vis masculinity did we need to reevaluate our thought process on the African man in developing countries like Nigeria. Our current thought process points to the change in the way men and women see themselves in relation to the society and the how they are shattering the yokes of norm. This significant cultural shift permeates all, regardless of social status and income.

Being a man is complex, and the very definition of that is a constantly moving target. In 2017, masculinism will be about embracing the complexities and contradictions that define our manhood and doing away with tired stereotypes and outdated societal norms. Being a man is about being confident in our life choices, and not just accepting to be shoe-horned into roles and expectations, but accepting and celebrating the complex traits that make us men.

Here are three ways to embrace the new masculinity and celebrate men in 2017:
Help build our esteem
Feedback, praise, criticism and review; done properly, they can go a long way towards building up a man. The trick is to do it with insight, with good intentions, and without nagging; ensuring it isn’t superficial and that it speaks to and connects with the intended recipient to deliver the intended effect. We fight through a lot of battles daily at work, at play, in life; seeking appreciation, seeking a foothold in our business and our workplace, so we don’t need another battle to fight through.

Celebrate our uniqueness and diversity
Nigerians are incredibly diverse and various factors shape our uniqueness: education, ethnicity, social background, world-view, financial stability; assuming stereotypical behavior across men is grossly unacceptable. Please feel free to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of men in all communities. Know two things now: 1. all men want to be celebrated, 2. All men aren’t the same.

Appreciate contradictions
Please, right now, drop all over-used male stereotypes. Please stop the prevalent trend and change how you view us men. A successful man is no longer the stereotypical suit-wearing man of yore. These days, a man can be any adult male from an upwardly-mobile CEO always clad in jeans, to a super-smart freelancer working from his bedroom, even drone-workers catching the 6am staff-bus. Above all, we men desire to be authentic and are shedding old skins that once defined what we had to be to be considered successful in our careers, in our families, in order to be a man.

Build, Celebrate, Appreciate

These are just a few ways to promote the modern man, across cultures, and speak to him in a way that is authentic, inspiring and celebrate masculinity. Speak to the men in your life, speak the right message to the men in your life.

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