Below is the poem "Men" by Dr. Maya Angelou.
When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them. Men are always
They knew I was there. Fifteen
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pauses,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world. Then
They tighten up. Just a little. The
First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness. A little
More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear. When the
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut. Forever.
No keys exist.
Then the window draws full upon
Your mind. There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.
A man today is different than any time before. We are expected to be as masculine and have that same bravado as generations past but with compassion and understanding that none before have displayed. We must be as accomplished, if not more, than our predecessors while being much fairer in terms of how we do things.
That boisterous energy we had so much of as little boys must be scaled down and sharpened to be used in certain situations. The rest of the time we must have our emotions in check and appear calm, and confident, even when that is not the case. There are times where we feel we are looked at to know what exactly should be done and how and we do not have the faintest clue.
In this time where we all judge each other through filters, whether it be those of Instagram or those of the mind, a man must live up to the expectations of a woman who is scrolling through a timeline and compare us to men that use social media as a highlight reel of their own achievement whether it all be lies or true indeed. Even knowing this, you should feel no pity for us in this case as we make the mistake of comparing our counterparts to exaggerated examples of what society has told us a beautiful woman should look like. Truth be told, we scrutinize women too much, and praise them too little. We let our egos and insecurities get in the way too often and pay the price for it countless times throughout our lives.
Truth be told, we make too many mistakes. So many that in the end we long for just one of our more benevolent, and forgiving counterparts to accept us for who we are. But, when we have an idea of who this person may be, we need an entire game plan on how on we are going to go about courting her. The entire time, the goal being that we will be someone she can brag about amongst her fellow women.
These shoulders at times feel like they carry the weight of the world. A cold world, where the sweatshirt is barely ours. There are times where even we ourselves want to get away from all of this and take the armor off.
Then the woman who has been watching comes along and offers her help. Then suddenly, the pressure is lifted and everything becomes so much easier.
R.I.P to the Late Great Dr. Maya Angelou.