Series, The Apprentice

The Apprentice: Grow a pair already!

By Kizzy Katawonga

“A pair of breasts I mean. Be a woman. Be vulnerable. Show your emotions. Woman up!”

These are phrases I can't say I've ever heard being told to any woman I know. Ironically you will hear men being chastised almost every day of their lives;

Grow a pair of balls. Be bold. Don't take that lying down. Stand up and fight. Be a man. Man up!

Yes that sounds much more normal right? But I've been pondering this for some time now. Why is it normal to tell a male to man up but outright ridiculous to tell a female to woman up?

Why is there such a wealth of debate as to what a real man is and how to be one and yet hardly anything about what a woman is let alone how to be one?

Is it because womanly traits are more tied to physical and emotional nature of females while manly traits are character based that must be consciously attained?

How come a boy has to earn the title of being a man and yet a girl simply becomes a woman just by growing up?

Men have always had to go through rites of passage to be recognized as such. Kill a lion, be ritualistically circumcised in front of your peers, get stung for a whole night by Amazonian fire ants, build a major cooperation…

Becoming a man in most societies usually involves some form of achievement or proof.

This isn't the case with women. Girls are generally considered women when they grow breasts and start their monthly cycle.

I find this fascinating. A boy can go all his life and never be given the respect of a man simply because he hasn't fulfilled his particular culture's claims to manhood and yet a girl will never experience the same.

But why is this so? Did God make it such that men, need to earn their manhood and learn what it means to be a man? Is it really supposed to be this way or is it a construct that our different cultures have created? If so, how do we explain that every culture known to man has methods for boys to prove them-selves men?

I don't have any answers to this but I do find comfort in knowing that men can be made and are not necessarily born. As a corollary if a girl fails to grow breasts or is unable to give birth to children, society would suggest she is less of a woman somehow. While I don't agree necessarily, women who have battled with infertility will tell you how they are perceived less by their contemporaries and society.

I love the fact that I can at any time choose to grow into a man. I can learn the traits of character and strive towards them. I can learn to be courageous, bold, kind, assertive, honest, hardworking and spiritual. I don't have to depend on some physical change to be recognized as a man. I can work at it and achieve it. I'm already a man by recognizing that I have a lot to learn and it's my responsibility to do so.

So yes, I can grow a pair and man up.

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