As an temporary Boy Scout, a would be karate champion, a sometime basketball player, and a failed baseball player I’m well versed in the myriad of ways people try to teach their children how to grow up to be men and women. As the spawn of a man who suffers from patriarchy as much as he does addiction, I am also privy to the fact that if you push a person too much one way or the other he or she will ultimately reject much of the values you try to instill in them. Much of that has to do with the fact that once you see these roles in their most extreme form you realize what a crock of shit they are.
The end result is me absolutely hating to hear people go on about what a real man and woman is and how they behave. I’m a man because I was born one. Some men are what most consider to be masculine, others effeminate, a few are confusing as all hell. I don’t mind the variety so long as people are doing what’s true to them. That to me is a greater problem than anything else.
That said, while I clearly don’t care for any of these rigid rules for how we should all behave, I do know that more times than not, people generally have good intentions when they talk about how a lady or a gentleman ought to act. ‘Tis why when I read that Boris Kodjoe was ranting about “How to be a man” I didn’t immediately wince.
Oh, but don’t get me wrong, I still did.
Boris seems like a nice guy, but just the idea of yet another celebrity trying to instill their point of view on the gullible masses annoys me a bit. We’ve already got Steve Harvey telling women to “act like a lady and think like a man” and Tyrese and his dictionary damning self is writing a book called Manology. I guess Boris had to join in, too. Will it ever end or do I have to wait on Mo’Nique’s etiquette book: Hairy Legs, Happy Man first? Don’t answer that. I’m afraid of the answer.
I will say to Boris that his list isn’t exactly awful:
– Embrace your imperfections
– Laugh at yourself. A woman likes a man who doesn’t take himself too serious.
– Fix or build something with your hands. It’ll show her that you are capable of taking care of a home.
– Know how to cook and clean. It’ll show her that you don’t need her but that you WANT her.
– Get your passport and travel. A man needs to see the world.
– In bed, take care of your woman first. When she’s satisfied you are DA MAN!!!
– Stay in shape. It’ll show her that you care about yourself and therefore are able to care about her.
– Take care of your responsibilities. Anything less is unacceptable. A boy is irresponsible, not a man.
– Open her her door and pull out her chair. It shows her that you honor traditional values. Trust me, she will do the same.
– Be present! Take her in with your eyes and ears. Your attention will make her feel loved and she won’t ever nag you.
– Read a f—ing book! (Sorry, violation of ‘no cursing’ rule) But seriously, ignorance is a major turn-off. Book on tape will do.
– Have an ambition. You don’t need to be rich but you need to show direction and motivation. Keep a job!
– Last one for today: Treat a woman the way you would want your daughter to be treated. Anything less is unacceptable.”
However, much of this can apply to any person regardless of how they have to urinate, which proves my point. Boris is essentially saying don’t be a filthy, uncultured, uneducated, dimwitted jackass. Translation: Become a well rounded adult.
Now there was one thing on his little list that threw me off:
– Communicate without cursing. You don’t need to curse to make a point. Cursing shows lack of substance.
I really find this this point of view to be shallow. The same goes for the idea that people who curse have a limited vocabulary. As a writer and a proud purveyor of profanity, I find that to be complete and utter pseudo pious bullshit. I can curse all damn day and still carry as much substance as a bunch of entertainers who mouth off recycled cookie cutter wisdom to a public waiting to be patronized to.
I know when to turn off my potty mouth and I don’t walk around yelling “motherfucker” at random people so I never got the big deal about cursing. I guess that is one trait I picked up from my dad and the environment I was raised in. Yet, I can read, I can write about multiple topics knowledgeably, I have a college degree from a celebrated university, and while I’m not where I want to be yet (coming, coming, coming) exactly, I’ve done pretty well over the years.
And I’ve cursed the entire way.
I cursed on the playground.
I cursed out the kids who snitched on me about cursing on the playground (the teacher didn’t believe those scheming bastards ’cause I was a good one).
I’ve cursed out people in high school cafeteria.
I’ve continued the tradition of cursing people out who have it coming as an adult. You know, after I like pray for them and stuff.
Hell, after I hit publish on this post I may just start cursing just because since Mr. Kodjoe thinks it’s so unrefined. I’m all for manners, but I can’t take much of these arbitrary rules celebrities have randomly (and transparently) decided to adopt and rehash to the world. I really do believe he had all the good intentions in the world. I also understand and acknowledge a lot of young black men need to be told to conduct themselves better.
Still, enough. I’m tired of divorced comedians telling women how to act, sexist ass men defending polygamy, and others like Boris instilling useless conservatism in people. Say, “Don’t curse everywhere you go” or “don’t curse until X age.” Whatever, but don’t argue one is automatically some moron because they like the word motherfucker. Skip down to Sesame Street with that. I’ll keep saying the world and I encourage others to do the same if they feel it in their spirit. You will not magically lose whatever substance or lack thereof you had if you choose to do so. It’s actually dense as hell to suggest otherwise.
P.S. A book on tape will not do. Fuck all that. Read the shit.