This quote by music legend Kurt Cobain resonated with me on such a deep level, providing the inspiration behind this post. I sit here feeling somewhat sad that we will never learn the true essence behind his words, but I will do my best to articulate my stance on this poignant statement and what it means to me.
Ever since I can remember I have found it easier to connect with girls. From school, through to university and now in my adult life. I never really understood why until quite recently (and no this is not a ‘coming out’ post, I am very much attracted to the fairer sex but we will get to that later).
Thanks to Cobain and my new outlook on life, I now realise that it is because I have never been able to comprehend ‘bro culture’. I don’t like to stereotype but I am going to for the sake of emphasizing my point:
Surface level conversations, tallying up the number of girls they’ve bedded, obnoxious behaviour and never showing sensitivity out of fear of being ostracised. An unfit bro. This is what I mean by bro culture.
I am a sensitive guy. Not very sporty, a music and culture enthusiast who enjoys getting right into the deep shit past the walls we put up around ourselves. Naturally intuitive and a bit of a sharer (sometimes an oversharer).
Growing up this was seen as abnormal. Of course it was, right? It was the total opposite to almost every guy I went to school with.
“A guy that allows himself to be vulnerable? That is sensitive? That would rather talk about stuff that matters instead of rating the girls in class on a scale of one to ten? This guy must be gay…He is way too in touch with his feminine side. I mean he doesn’t even have a girlfriend. Definitely not one of us.”
This was the narrative I was surrounded with all the way through school. It is, what I believe, the reason I wasn’t able to get a girlfriend – because I was deemed too sensitive and ‘unmanly’. A total oddball. Probably gay. This only really came to an end when university came around.
For the record I have nothing against homosexuality. I believe everyone should be able to live their authentic self. I have just never been attracted to men.
The point I am trying to make is that I wish I could say that none of this bothered me. Of course it made me question why the hell I just could not mesh with the guys at school on a real level. Why did I feel I was gaining more from the female relationships in my life? Was I weird?
I don’t want ANY other guy to have to go through that. At its core it is bullying. It took me leaving school to realize that there are in fact dudes out there that have depth, empathy, emotional intelligence, that are worth befriending.
But regardless, this belief that all guys should conform to the stereotypical ‘boys don’t cry’ narrative needs to change. Even though the stigma is slowly lifting, it is still very embedded in our society.
Guys – it is okay to cry. It is okay to be vulnerable. It’s normal to struggle and it’s admirable to admit if you are. You can talk about more than just boobs and legs. You can share a beer over conversations about life, dreams, spirituality. You can prefer a night at the theatre over a night at the football. Your best friend can be a girl.
None of this makes you a less of a man. None of this makes you weird. It makes you authentic. It makes you human.