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Toxic masculinity is counterproductive, it’s okay for men to express their feelings

My cousin Abel and I have gone through most stages of our youthful life together. Sad times, good times, ongoing broke times, and I know our rich times are coming. I could tell him almost anything, and he would always be willing to help, be it with advice or with material things. For this, I consider Abel more than a brother.

You know those people who are not part of your nuclear family but you are open and free with them and you could tell them things you wouldn’t even tell your nuclear family? Yes, Abel is one of those. Abel though does not express feelings, as you would expect from someone you are close to.

For instance, he would travel to a distant city but would not later tell you if he arrived safely. So you would call him the next day to know about his whereabouts. “Bro vipi, ulifika poa?”

“Yeah, nilifika poa bro.” He would say.

“Ukifika unasema bro, unajua hizi barabara zina mambo mengi.” You say knowing very well that would never happen.

“Bro nikikufa, mtajua tu; through the news, gazeti ama social media.” He would reply defensively, as you expected.  Boy child would never show the vulnerable side of him, as if that would deduct his ‘man points.’ I disagree with this impassive character from him and other men who portray this macho image.

A more recent discussion on toxic masculinity went viral online, as some brave men admitted the extent to which their masculinity held them back from living a fuller life. And honestly, the idea of toxic masculinity is more a multi-layered social debate, requiring more than just a viral tweet and a single article.

It is okay for men to show emotions. I understand that men are different, and go through many of their own issues and showing emotions may not feature anywhere on their to-do list. What is a world without the ability to let your feelings out though? Fellow men, if we have something reasonable that we need to let out our chest, be it to our wives, lovers, families, or even landlords, let’s feel free to express how we feel. You lose nothing if you tell your girlfriend that you love her for always being there for you. Isn’t she the same girl that forgave and forgot about the incriminating messages she stumbled upon on your WhatsApp? Or saying sorry to your family for spewing hurtful words towards them during an argument, or saying sorry to your landlord for always paying rent way past the due date. They may seem as empty words when we say them, but the recipients perceive us differently after showing our sensitive sides.

Being a conduit for positivity is good for one’s psychological well-being and could be a game-changer. It opens new angles for handling challenges. We live in a society where men feel ashamed to admit that we are not doing well financially or emotionally. Stuffing all our problems within ourselves, never admitting we were wrong, never admitting we failed, and never showing our vulnerable sides for fear of castigation from the society.

Let’s show more emotion towards little things that would be important to ourselves or other people. Let us show remorse for the failures and mistakes that we were accountable for. Let us free ourselves from the shackles of stoicism. It might not make a big difference in our lives, but it would make us better people.

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