I will never forget waking up for Christmas when I was 6 years old and getting the Easy Bake Oven I begged my mother for.
My parents both loved to cook, and I thought my parents were the coolest, so that led me to want to cook. As a 90s kid, my first option was the Easy Bake Oven. I thought that thing was the bee’s knees.
When I went to school and bragged about how many things I had cooked in my brand new Easy Bake Oven, my friends didn’t react how I thought they would.
They began mocking me and told me how “gay” I was and that I was a “sissy” for asking for an Easy Bake Oven. That was the first time I noticed I was going to be in for a hard run.
We are in an age where chasing the shade of masculinity is beginning to cripple young males, not physically, but mentally.
Current education and upbringing from parents where things that are socially considered “masculine” are being pushed onto these developing minds and is creating a narrow- minded generation of males who learn to hide their creativity, imaginations and emotions.
Males, from a young age, are taught that anything that is not “masculine” is considered feminine. Why is that?
The biggest reason this expectation is crippling a generation of males is because creativity, imagination and emotion are all things that society does not consider masculine.
So that makes these things feminine, right? Wrong, these characteristics are what make us human.
Males growing up have a hard enough time with puberty, sexual identity and finding out who they really are.
Once you add in the factor that if they don’t conform to the social norms of what is considered to be masculine, they are automatically considered feminine and ridiculed for being that way.
Let’s think back to the Victorian Age. Back then, a jack-of-all-trades was the most desirable thing a woman could find. A man who could sing, write poetry and play instruments made every tavern maid swoon.
This is something we see less and less of every day. Men who are told it’s “gay” and “sissy” to sing and be creative begin to hide their true colors.
Think of how many male artists this world has missed out on because they had a wrench shoved into their hand as they reached for a paintbrush, or how many chefs who turn food into art had their destiny taken from them when someone shoved a football or a baseball in their hand.
If singing is what makes them happy, why would you alter this behavior? Why not let them sing?
This isn’t a one-time thing, though. Unless corrected, this trend will continue as these young males have sons and begin to force masculinity on them the same way their fathers did.
We can’t blame this solely on the parents. A large part of this trend is found in school yards and the current education environment.
As young men begin to understand and adapt to social norms, they will notice that boys doing “sissy stuff” (i.e. singing, drawing, dancing and writing) is frowned upon, so they begin to frown upon it also.
As a straight male who quit his varsity football team to play the trumpet in the marching band, was an all-state tenor in my high school choir and starred in six theater productions, I got my fair share of this every day.
Where these young men should have their creativity and imagination praised instead have this flame smothered out by the other males in their grade who might berate them for simply doing what they enjoy doing.
While women grow up idolizing models and TV actresses, men are taught to idolize sports figures because that is the “manly” thing to do.
What about the young boy who idolizes how Ernest Hemingway can spend three pages describing a bumblebee so well you can see it in your mind? Or the other young man who thinks Mario Batali is just as much an artist as he is a chef?
Pfft. Those guys are sissies. At least, that’s what you’re teaching these young males to think of themselves.
These kids deserve to be praised for being creative. Instead of ridiculing them for playing with Pokemon cards, praise them for using their imaginations.
Instead of calling them a sissy because they like to draw dragons and mythical creatures, applaud them for their creativity.
When they cry because Old Yeller died, hand them a copy of “Where the Red Fern Grows” and cry with them.
The day my son asks me if dragons are real, I will sit him down with a copy of “The Hobbit” and tell him that anything on these pages can be real.
Anything you can read, draw, sing, or imagine is real and you made it come to life in your imagination and you made it exciting with your creativity.
Personally, I think that’s way cooler than learning to change an air filter.
Masculinity is overrated. How about we teach these kids to be themselves and embrace the things that make them unique? That’s a much better plan.
Column by Zac Garrison, junior from Franklin, Ky.