Recently, BuzzFeed captured the reaction of Arkell Graves as he found out he will be a father after years of failed attempts.
I will work to unpack this and build up to it in later posts but I'm confident you all won't hold it against me that I'm just cutting to the chase.
"A Man Lost It" | "A Virginia man breaking down" | "Unable to contain his emotion, Arkell Graves breaks down."
These are quotes pulled from only the original BuzzFeed article but many sources picked this up and have similar language to describe this moment. If you haven't seen the video, you should probably watch it before reading any more so here is the YouTube link.
Now that you've seen it, let's explore what actually happened: Arkell was stunned into a huge grin for most of the video. He cried for less than 10 seconds and his face was covered the moment he stopped smiling.
Here is my interpretation: Arkell seemed in complete control, in fact, even in a state of hyper-control of his emotions and hyper-awareness that he was being filmed so much so that he did cover his face, entirely - with his shirt, once he stopped smiling. Ironically, even with all of these attempts to save himself from the comments about his lack of control, he got just that.
So what is wrong with showing emotion? Why did he try so hard and what is the media actually doing in creating these narratives about him? You probably know where I'm headed.
There is nothing wrong with showing emotion at all as we see there are a ton of supporters who are commenting saying that it is okay to cry, etc. What is happening though is we are seeing an attempt to emasculate Arkell through showing that he actually does have emotions, something that we equate to being less than a man.
The real problem here is that we are being told by the media outlets to reject the feminine in everything we do as men or pay the consequences of being painted as some loose canon. That is just plain old inhumane though! If we continue to reject the femininity that balances out our masculine realities, we aren't being human. These days, I am not sure I'm comfortable with the logic I'm presenting as I'm trying to figure out how I feel about feminine/masculine dichotomous thinking because it seems to eliminate nuance. Some will talk about masculinity and femininity as a spectrum and I think that is right but it still reinforces the dichotomy, right?
This entry is to say that if we are to advance our understandings of masculinity, it is our responsibility to support Arkell (& those like him) and reinforce the ways that he has not compromised his manhood by expressing his emotion, even if he was really trying to mask it as much as possible due to all of the social pressures. In fact, being emotional makes you more of a man and dare I say, more masculine.