They teach us from an early age that real men do not cry. In the same way, even before we are born, they paint our room blue, they buy blue dummies, prams and towels. And rompers, bodysuits and baby walkers. Once we learn how to talk, we must know which sports club we support. As soon as we learn how to walk, they put football boots on us, wrap white, yellow and black belts around us. Here, in the Balkans, if you are not a stereotypical man who is 6’7’’ tall and who weighs 15 stone 10 lbs, if you do not have sports medals, a wife and a mistress, you are not a man. This is why children are raised according to stereotypes. In order for them to adjust more easily, and to boost their parents’ low self-esteem.
If you are a child born so that your mother could save the already failed marriage, most likely, besides your role of her son, you will have to learn, as soon as possible, how to act as your mother’s bodyguard, her protector and spokesman, as is expected of a male child. It is expected that you will defend her from that stereotypical Balkan man with a wife and a mistress, who she willingly chose for her husband, and who you did not willingly choose to be your father. If you are a child of an unaccomplished sportsman, and since we happen to be a nation that God created as exceptionally gifted in sports, and since all of them, as kids, juniors, seniors, veterans or at least recreational sportsmen experienced a golden era in their careers at the bottom of the league, you are to kick the ball until your feet are sore only to make the unsuccessful daddy proud of his son, a successful sportsman. Because this is what a male child is expected to do.
From nappies into football boots, from football boots to sitting at a school desk. Girls are tidier, more diligent, while the male child seems to be genetically predetermined to be wild and disobedient. Then your parents, just because you are a male, adopt the “may he be safe and sound” way of upbringing. They just want you to finish school, not to fail, to acquire some skill, because a man has to be capable, not necessarily smart. By this logic a clever man is not considered successful, so you can remain stupid because you are a man.
From school into crotches. You hardly learn how to put on your own pants and then, just a couple of years later, you are expected to know immediately how to take off someone else’s. Your hormones go haywire, messing up with both your head and your body, spots come out even on the soles of your feet, hair begins to sprout from every inch of your body. You get horny but there’s no one to have it off with. In the moments of narrowed consciousness in your brain, and enlarged blood vessels between your legs, you resign yourself to the paranoid belief that you will die a virgin. You hear everywhere that size matters. Then, it is technique that matters. No way, size it is. Size doesn’t matter at all, technique is everything. You have a certain factual situation between your legs, you can stand on your head, but it is not going to grow any bigger, even when it gets as big as it can get. And somehow it always seems to you it wouldn’t be bad at all if it was still a bit bigger. Thus, full of doubt, although you know that everybody likes the confident, you spend all your youth an inch away from happiness.
Then, there comes a time when your eligibility for marriage is assessed. If you have a good car, then you’re probably a daddy’s son, if you don’t, you are skint. If you do not pull out a chair for a woman, you are bad-mannered, if you give her a flower, you are pathetic. If you do not use creams, you are untidy, if you use them, you are too well groomed. If you are occupying the optimum position between the two negative extremes, then you are either too normal and uninteresting or you belong to the “I’m sorry, but I only like you as a friend’’ type of man.
The definition of a true Serb and a man from the Balkans does not comprise those who, for example, like chess, acting, literature, who’d rather play the guitar than sit in betting shops, who know the difference between an alkane and alkyne, but do not know how much horsepower the Golf V boasts under the hood. It does not refer to those showing emotions, who laugh when they feel like it and cry when they feel like it. It is not so awful when you expect a man to do certain things, but when you expect him not to do some things. It is sad that sometimes emphasizing manliness means denying humanity, despite them being two different things. But when it happens, that signifies the end. There is no hope for those men. From that perspective everything is grey, only money is gold, from that point of view nothing matters apart from female genitals, from that angle all women are the same and bad, with the exception of your mother and sister, there is no self-criticism there, just self-justification, he is the only smart one there and all the others are stupid. Darkness prevails there.
There are characteristics and emotions universally ingrained in us regardless of our gender. They are humanity, respect, sincerity, love and good intentions. So, guys, feel free to cry in front of anyone when you feel like it because that is not a sign of weakness – but of being Human. And nowadays, this world needs more people who are brave enough to show what they feel than those who think hiding emotions is bravery.
P.S. If size was unimportant, there would not be a discussion whether Pluto is a planet or not.
Translated from the Serbian by Svetlana Milivojević-Petrović
Ovaj post je dostupan i na: Serbian