There’s an invisible poison we unconsciously support in society. It’s rarely spoken about and rarely is it purposeful, yet in all its intention it creates a wedge in human logic.
As men we grow up believing in certain constructs: manliness, machismo, masculinity—I call it “the three M’s” for obvious reasons. As boys we’re brainwashed into thinking these are qualities we need to be a successful man. Anyone different is at risk of becoming a target.
The need to keep the three M’s visible stays with us throughout high school and sometimes into college. By the time we’re young adults we’ve convinced ourselves these qualities represent our value and worth—at least how valued we think we are by society.
The three M’s build an image and status; men try to compete for it, whether they’re gay or straight. It creates an infrastructure that ultimately builds the way we view ourselves.
In the gay community there has always been a fear of not letting go of the three M’s. We’ve convinced ourselves that a man isn’t a man without manliness, machismo or masculinity—every person has a different interpretation of what that means. But the need to hold onto social value holds us back from self-discovery.
We want men to like us, for the world to take us seriously; the three M’s are needed in order to achieve that, or so we tell ourselves. This is the seed that grows into constant self-doubt and a never-ending habit of comparing ourselves to others.
We see the consequences. Men use masculinity as an accessory. We use it to attract other guys, we use it as a tool to judge a man’s worth—we see it on hookup apps, billboards, porn, and in daily rhetoric.
As someone who doesn’t define himself as either masculine or feminine, it’s hard for me to see the meaning of it all. Can masculinity make someone a better boyfriend? Does it give me a better personality? Will it make me feel safer? Can it make me truly satisfied? Does it make me fearless?
The only way to know yourself is to rid your head of outside voices. The three M’s are tied to a their perception on you, not yours. Because our culture trains us to view ourselves from the outside-in rather than inside-out, we’ve become accustomed to viewing our value as a person by how we’re viewed as a man
As gay men it’s time to stop placing value on masculinity. Masculinity by its very nature is innate within all of us—the masculinity we use to accessorize ourselves is pretend. It’s not real; so the more we judge ourselves based on a fantasy the more inauthentic we become.
True power is a valuable commodity, and it comes from owning everything you are from the inside/out. The last thing anyone should do is form themselves around an idea—and a bad one at that.