I’m alive! I finally moved away from Little Havana after an incident in which I was shot at by some obnoxious hoodlums for looking weird in the wrong side of town; that day I learned that cheap rent does not merit the risk of getting killed while walking home on a typical weeknight. When will the day come when insecure gun slinging macho dopes don’t feel the need to compensate by shooting at “queers” for walking down the street?

In all honesty I cannot cast the first stone. I am also guilty of machismo, and while it is not as blatant as it is with your typical Marlboro man, it is by no means less destructive. I catch myself often trying to play up my masculine traits when in certain situations: e.g. if I am around girls whom I want to impress, guys whom I want to intimidate, or peacocks who invade my turf. This compulsion is so primal and conflictive with my own gender identity and intellect; yet till now I have blinded myself to it enough to not do much to eliminate it. So why does Machismo exist? What is it and what purpose does it serve?

You may be thinking “How can an androgyne claim to be macho?” Well in my case the answer is quite simple; all of my young life I was raised to be a “normal” boy and that includes being instilled with all the chauvinistic values that our society believes normal boys should have (aggressiveness, dominance, double standards, misogyny, stupidity?). While I’ve come to surpass many of those artificial values intellectually, there are still moments in which certain emotions cloud my rationality thereby compelling me to reduce myself to a stereotype. Shame and guilt factor heavily in bringing out the macho in anyone; I find that when I feel the need to swallow my pride it is usually in a situation where I feel insecure for showing a lack of appropriate masculine traits; this however has slowly been changing the more I’ve conquered said insecurities.

To quote from a song by Madonna entitled “What it feels like for a girl”, she says “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots cause its ok to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading…” The pop queen may be no Dalai Llama, but she’s definitely onto something with that song. The lyrics reflect the idea that boys are engrained with the mindset that displaying feminine traits make them somehow inferior and that such things must be avoided; this is a terrible reality which we must change at all costs. Boys are raised to feel that having feelings or displaying “feminine” behaviour makes them somehow inferior, and it’s that kind of backwards education that scars people for life and prevents them from being able to enjoy healthy and happy lives in the future.

Ardhanārīśvara is a little known Hindu deity who represents the essence of androgyny; this deity is the avatar of both the god Shiva and his lover Parvati. It embodies both masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Parvati) traits thereby making it superior to its individual counterparts. The beauty behind Ardhanārīśvara is that it comes to symbolize the wholeness of both genders as one; in this way we also see how human beings are more complete when they renounce the restrictive chains imposed by society’s gender binary; hetero-normative type castes reduce human beings into mere stereotypes incapable of being true to themselves due to societal pressure to be otherwise.

My inability to feel comfortable enough to not feign certain artificial masculine traits is an example of socially enforced restraints combined with personal insecurity; I have found myself emotionally bound and incapable of being true to myself because I live with the shame that my conservative upbringing has instilled in me. However, admitting this has helped me remove the vestments of machismo and double standards that have cost me from having healthy relationships in the past; acceptance is the first step after all, but by no means the last.

True security in oneself cannot be found unless one comes to embrace oneself wholly, thereby allowing one to feel free to be oneself regardless of the situation.

Till next time…

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