The way I relate to men comes from some toxic experiences I’ve had with men I cared about. It has been hard to see past those traumas & rise above the gaslighting of being a ‘man-hater’ just for having a strong sense of my own identity.

There is some notion that being a ‘strong woman’ means you don’t need people (especially men). So any show of female strength is attacked by those who feel it makes them irrelevant. And also, any show of vulnerability sees no empathy “because you are strong, you should take it”.

This means the only men who remain in a life like this are predators, sociopaths & other exploitative types. It only compounds the belief that men are untrustworthy & lack any kind of empathy for women. Because misogyny & hate are the most visible kinds of masculinity.

This is why my feminist interests include masculinity. Because men matter to me. They influence the world I live in & my life. How they see themselves with respect to the world, shows in how they treat women & so me. It seeps into the nature & quality of all relationships I have with men. How masculinity is defined, is a vital part of the framework that I’m judged by. This means men & masculinity impact my identity.

I’ve been working on the idea that to see more of one kind of behaviour in your life, one can start by embodying it. Gentleness & vulnerability don’t come easily to me. There I have something in common with most men. I’m starting the year exploring how I can be more (and so have more) of these. As I open to this idea, I find myself intrigued by the challenges faced by those who express masculinity.

#AltMasculine was my opening theme for the first week of 2021 in the form of blogposts, conversations & the Wednesday night Instagram Live. What masculinity means, where & how it incorporates vulnerability & how the world receives it. If you’d like to watch the culminating Instagram Live discussion with Jackie Thakkar, click here.

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