The player persona is all a façade. Many men play this role because they are afraid they may not be accepted for who they really are. Of course, they would never tell you this. It’s easier to create a persona that exudes confidence, masculinity and all those things popular culture has taught men to fake. His experiences also reinforce the decision to play this role. After awhile, some manage to convince themselves this assumed identity is really true—or at least they do a great job at pretending they believe their own hype.
In a recent interview, I became keenly aware of something I had honestly seen before but was not sensitive enough to see beyond the surface. During the interview, I noticed the male host (there were two hosts: a male and female.) kept blatantly interjecting comments that were brutish, chauvinistic and misogynistic.
Initially, I began to challenge his insertions. As with most statements that have no foundation in truth or honor, they begin to crumble under the weight of their own foolishness and absurdity. The point here is not to disparage another brother even if I find him dishonorable but to try to understand the cause of his dishonor/disrespect for women in order to help him. Helping him will, in turn, help the women he would otherwise damage in his current state of confusion.
I began to pull back and give place to understanding. An opportunity to win a brother is more beneficial than an opportunity to win an argument. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment when outlandish points are argued. I made sure to verbalize my agreement with him on the points he made which were true and honest. Ironically, those were points made where he revealed pain from his own relationship experiences. I’m sure it was those experiences, which customized the “player” mask he wears to hide behind and protect himself from further pain.
(Some) Men use their sexual conquests, exploitation, money, etc. as masks to present an image that portrays strength. These men are arguably just as vulnerable as the women who use their bodies to show their worth. They’re afraid to be themselves for fear they won’t be accepted. Popular culture has not taught these men or allowed them to try to show any sensitivity. When they try, often it feels just as awkward for them as it is for the women they attempt to share these feelings with.
Understand I am not building a case for any woman to choose to date any man in this dysfunctional mental state. This would be a huge mistake. Nor am I making excuses for this behavior from any man. I am identifying a segment of men who should be avoided. They are unfit for healthy relationships. We love our brothers, but they are not prepared for the work that love requires of men.
These men need to be held accountable by other men if they are to be saved. Men respond differently to men. They need to see examples of authentic men who honor and protect women. They need a paradigm shift in their understanding of their role as men in the lives of women.
The culture portrays men, particularly black men, as being primarily hyper-sexual and hyper-aggressive. This is indoctrinated in men via film/television, music, print, etc. The lessons begin very early in boyhood when they’re too young to even question the messages of their influencers. Some have not had fathers present in their lives to lead them into any rites of passage into manhood. For too many, sex is the corridor that led them into their (faulty) understanding of manhood. They have only been taught how to play a role that is, at best, a caricature of manhood.
There is hope. There are plenty of authentic men, men who are responsible, honorable, and are in no need of salvation from you or rehabilitation by you. They only need a chance—the same chance that is too often extended to the men who are unfit to occupy space in your life.