Vietnamese men defined by toxic masculinity

By Thuy Linh   October 19, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
Modern society strips away the rights of men to be vulnerable. They are not "allowed" to cry, to moan, or to have small, sentimental enjoyments.

The loss of feeling is a constant of human society, and of course, men are not excluded from it.

However, when it comes to loneliness, I want to talk more about men, like my father, of whom I saw a constant loneliness that was not recognized by society.

My father is a common public officer, living with an extended family of seven, including his parents, his wife, and three children.

His life can be said to be peaceful and calm, according to the social standards. But if we frame his life so, I feel like it undervalues the personal and internal struggles of him and many men out there.

My father loves plants, our house is always filled with lush greenery. He also loves music, and the tunes of his favourite songs are played every day.

He plays with old gadgets, with birds, and with all sorts of small hobbies. On the surface, it looks like he has a joyful life.

He drinks a lot. Part of the drinking is due to work, but another part, I believe, is the lack of direction in his uneventful life.

I feel sorry for him, and for other men, who were stripped away of their rights to be small and vulnerable, not only to cry for their sorrows but also to find glee in small daily moments of happiness.

Society has constructed the image of a man as the pillar of the family, which needs to be strong and durable, to carry the whole family on his shoulders.

There are men who are romantic, and potentially even selfish in their indulgences, but not every man has that luxury.

My father is sensitive, and he enjoys small bits of happiness from his hobbies, but he has nobody to share that love with.

People around him, apart from our family, often tease him for such hobbies. My mother, his partner, understands and respects my father’s hobbies, but does not really understand. The same goes for my grandparents.

There were occasions when my father took a few friends home to test a new sound system, but that has not happened in a while. Those were times, when people discussed the vibrancy and the clarity of the music, when people invested in the hobbies wholeheartedly. Nowadays, life has taken them away from their hobbies.

I had a wish for modern men to be more like my father. I hope that they will not be framed by modern norms of what society thinks a man should be.

We hope they will find a place where their souls find peace, not just in a bar or a pub where alcohol is their only friend.

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