Beyonce’s song comes to mind when I think about International Men’s Day. It evokes lots of emotions especially because it was one of my favorite songs during my adolescent years. Those years when you actually realize that there are boys, and girls and your physique clearly brings out the distinction between male and female. That age when you start feeling awkward about some annoying boy who unknown to you is your first crush or something. That age comes and goes so fast, one minute you playing bano with boys and exchanging clothes during hide-and-seek, and then another you start avoiding them because life has started showing you that you are different from each other. Momma starts telling you that girls do not do this or that or the other. For me adolescence was a rather awkward age, I do not know of anyone’s that was different.
He was a Borana young boy who traced his roots from Ethiopia, we were buddies in class five, purely. I was a bright kid, he was a bit slow and I wouldn’t mind doing homework for him. He had a killer smile, it still comes to mind as am writing about him. The third term was gone and everything changed the next year when we got to class six; he had gotten more masculine, according to my small brains in class six. He was a little taller, and lighter and had smiley eyes (don’t ask me how that looks like, I just know them when I see them). Let’s just say that this Borana young boy ended up making me become so familiar with every song in RnB. Those were the times that I felt every song had been custom-made for me. I would sing Tony Braxton’s “Am a Woman” and actually cry about it, I would get to school early just to help him with his homework in case he hadn’t completed his. He was even slower in realizing my crush for him, I still do not understand that; According to him, we were just platonic while in my head, I was already in Addis Ababa getting a proper family introduction; am a runner, I have come to realize over time. So Happy International Men’s Day to that young man that gave me the first hint of never getting to understand the gender; I have no idea if he got deported to Ethiopia though.
So back to Beyonce’s song, “If I Were a Boy.” The song has been ringing in my head for a whole day. Like what would make some girl want to actually be a boy just for a day? Have you ever wished you just switched for a day to have a glimpse of what runs in the minds of our male counterparts, like what makes them tick? For one I know I would never be male on this side of heaven, I would actually never understand what it feels like to be one, I will never get to know how much beards and a hoarse voice means to them; all I can do is speculate and marvel at how distinct we are from each other.
I will never understand how crying is translated as some form of weakness. From my side, society allows us to cry; in the open. Girlfriends circle you and give you a safe space to let it all out. I will never understand how it feels when a man wants to tear just a little but all he can get from his friends is “suck it up bro.” I will never understand what it is like not to be vulnerable.
I will never understand what it feels like to carry the burden of being the decision-maker for someone who is almost as old as you are. The fact that if things go wrong I will be the one to carry the blame. That takes courage, bravery, and some faith. Telling someone that this is the way as if you’ve walked in it yourself.
I will never understand pursuit from the man’s perspective, the guts it takes to ask a girl out for the first time. I will never understand the fear of being rejected; the strength it takes to pick up the pieces of yourself when she says it’s not mutual. The courage it takes to go ask again for clarity or for confirmation that she’s actually not playing hard to get. I will never understand the bravery it takes to ask another, and another, and another until you finally get the one that would say yes. I would never understand the confidence it takes to convince a girl that you are the one and the future is brighter for you if only she gives you a chance. I would never understand what it takes to kneel down and ask for someone’s hand. I will never understand the tension experienced when a guy has that talk with the girl’s father and uncles. I will never understand the secret behind you wanting to do a wedding just because that is what makes her happy.
I will never understand the depth of the words that come out of you. I will never understand how someone says “I love you” once and that’s it. From my side, the more the words, the more depth it has. So forgive us when we do not take you seriously at times. I will never understand what it feels like to escort a girl home, with the only reward being a thank you or a warm hug. I will never understand the chivalry of giving her your coat and opting to freeze instead.
I will never understand what it feels like to put another person’s needs above yours, their interest becoming more important than your own; their happiness and comfort being the only reward you want. I will never understand the reason behind working so hard only for you to give it all to those people that you love. I would never understand the joy that comes from buying a house only for another to choose the color and design, and yet that gives you satisfaction.
I will never understand how much each day you wake up wanting to do more, do better in whatever area. I will never understand your daily secret battles. I will never understand your fears and insecurities. I will never understand how you spell out love as RESPECT instead. That RESPECT is the greatest form of love in your dictionary.
In essence, I will never be a boy or a man for that matter. I will never understand what it is like to be a man. Sometimes we run away from things we do not understand, other times we try to change them to something more familiar, more feminine if I must say. But as ladies, it’s high time we stopped invalidating masculinity in the way that it was meant to be and start respecting it for what it is. We might never understand manhood but we can respect it for what God had made it to be.
To all Men that will take time to read up to hear. Happy Belated International Men’s Day. Much respect for being you.