Reframing Masculinity For The Male With Sickle Cell
Masculinity is a construct that has long been defined by the hyper and toxically-masculine men that often ostracizes those whose view of what it means to be “masculine,” may not align. The type of rhetoric that often follows this line of thought are descriptions of men as being emotionally unwavering, always tough, and never showing any type of weakness or vulnerability. This completely erases the male as human and has the potential to incite a slew of mental and emotional issues as a result of that. Men with sickle cell should be aware of the following tips to ensure their holistic wellbeing.
One of our commentators on the Blood Brothers Podcast mentioned something that has been quite prevalent within the traditional, American household dynamic; nurture. The term “nurture” is most often discussed and defined as a trait that is crucial, or even natural, to a mother’s identity. While this is most often the case, a lot of father’s have neglected the demonstration of any type of nurture towards their sons. Traditionally, the father would exhibit what our blood brother says is a “stone cold” relational approach to their son’s development and it has done no good. If you are a father to a son who has sickle cell, be intentional about nurturing him because it will make all the difference.
Additionally, it’s possible that those who aren’t exposed to the vast range of what masculinity can look like, will attempt at diminishing those who possess unconventional constructions of it. This type of disparagement is called emasculation. Oxford Languages describes emasculation as an instance in which a man is “deprived of his male role or identity.” As discussed, in a previous post, a man is not a function of what he does or does not do. Moreover, his utility is not limited to someone else’s narrow perspective of how they should identify. If someone tries to do this, encourage them to educate themselves.
Vulnerability Is A Superpower
I get it, sometimes being vulnerable really sucks! Okay, most times it sucks but our brains and nervous system simply aren’t equipped to healthily maintain all of the data that we consume on a daily basis (hence why journaling is important.) One way to best manage this information is by sharing it, all of it, the good, the bad and the uncomfortable. Being vulnerable is a rarity for men and is oftentimes discouraged because it can require demonstrating a moment of “weakness,” but if you’re selective with whom you’re vulnerable with, it can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal for the wellbeing of yourself and your surroundings.
The Subjectivity of Masculinity
Lastly, masculinity is a subjective term. No one gets to define what masculinity is for you and there’s much power in that. One of the best things that you can do for your mental health is being your most authentic self. I’ll even go as far as to say that your most authentic self is your most masculine self. Changing because of society or anything else takes up far too much mental and emotional real estate. Being you is the best decision you can make for you!