the manhood series Archives - The Jose Vilson

the manhood series

Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa, On a Horse

It’s no secret that this manhood series that been intensely personal for me. After reading the latest Esquire issue from cover to cover (June  July 2010 featuring Tom Cruise), I decided to engage in an exercise entitled “What I’ve Learned: Jon Farveau.” I can’t say I’ve had the same life experience or years as the famous actor and director. I do want to end this asynchronous series with a bit of reflection on what I’ve learned about manhood, navigating my way towards an august version of myself.

  • I’m still conflicted as to whether having my father “present” full-time would have done me good or not. When I was younger, I wished desperately for his presence, but as a man, I see that sometimes, things just don’t work out. Even with both parents around.
  • Men try too hard to unlock the mystery of “woman,” and hope somehow that one key works for all. Trust me: it doesn’t.
  • All the cartoons and commercials of yesteryear were wrong: cleanliness for men is extremely important.
  • I still remember my first “crush” but the affinity for her wore off after my first kiss. Mainly because it wasn’t the same girl.
  • I think we desperately need more male teachers, but if they’re only going to be used as people in power, then it’s a waste.
  • I’ve always hated fights, but there isn’t a more furious fight than the one against myself to better myself. That’ll never end.
  • Too many men crack their necks trying to check women out. Yes, it’s warm outside and clothes are more scarce. Yet, I don’t see the need to get wound up like that anymore. My brother, my cousin, and I used to have secret hand codes for that sort of thing. Kept us on our toes. Nowadays, I’m old enough to realize that there’ll be “another one.” Usually.
  • There’s something incredibly alluring about dating an older woman. It’s not just the danger and breaking of social norms as it is that, when you teach her something, she’s got a bigger reaction than if she taught you. Plus, they’re more natural and within themselves. And no, I’m not dating Betty White.
  • I don’t like movies that just blow up stuff and kill people anymore. It’s gotta come at me with a realistic plot, and a lingering message, even if I can’t quite write about that feeling later.
  • Porn is overrated.
  • Ladies, when accompanied by men, should still be on the safer side of the sidewalk. Not even if you’re trying to sell her (jokes!).
  • Nowadays, looking like you’re not trying hard to look good is the best look of all. The right t-shirt and jeans combination goes a long way.
  • Back when I first started on Compuserve (who even uses that anymore?), I wanted to run with the nickname “Iconoclast.” It’s not that I want to break down idols; I just don’t believe in idol worship. I love Martin, Malcolm, Che, et. al., but at some point, men have to find themselves in their rendition of previous men.
  • The first man to ever teach me that it was OK to cry was Mark Jackson (current NBA on TNT commentator and former Knicks / Pacers guard). I remember how passionately he discussed his father’s passing in the playoffs, and it spoke to me. I still carry those lessons on to this day.
  • It’s OK to critique so long as you’re helping to build. If you’re just hating to hate, then you have no business doing it to begin with.
  • Men are dumb. We use whatever intelligence we have to make up for these egregious faults, but we neither have the blood or mental capacity to sustain this Earth, much less a relationship. We make tons of mistakes, and most men probably agree that there’s at least one woman in their life who they don’t feel they deserve.
  • I don’t have children, but if the children from my class were any indication, I should be alright as a father.
  • “There is usually nothing wrong with compromise in a situation, but compromising yourself in a situation is another story completely.” – Immortal Technique

Jose, who’ll start something new manaña.




So, what you’re saying is that you don’t think it’s right that Benzino and the Source are calling Eminem Elvis?”

“No, it’s like they’re using the pro-Black agenda superficially to garner the respect of the hip-hop community, and it’s gonna backfire because everyone knows it’s not true. It’s just personal BS from the Source ownership.”

Since the battle between Ja Rule / Murder Inc. / Source vs. 50 Cent / Aftermath / XXL boiled, I’ve had plenty of discussions about Eminem as a pivotal figure in hip-hop history. Almost every one of my friends agrees that they were on 50 Cent’s side, and that’s evident from the rise of the latter contingent and the precipitous fall of the former. For many, the attacks on Eminem were the last draw since, for many, bringing up the race issue when Em fought so hard to be included within the pantheon of furious rhymers were unjustified. Even after the tape with a younger Eminem rapping about the “nigger”tude of his ex-girlfriend, rap audiences forgave him and supported his records, no matter how drug-induced.

Myself included.

With Eminem, I’ve always appreciated his rhyme skills, his comical, zany, and vicious approach to lyricism, technically adept, and accurately syncopated rhythms. I’ve bought almost all of his albums, each with its own flavor of ingredients specific to Eminem. And yet, I have a sneaky feeling every time I hear him murdering his wife or vowing to tear some woman’s insides out. It’s the same nagging feeling I get every time somebody decides to make an anti-gay speech when they see a lesbian couple, or when a teacher calls one of our students animals. And it’s the feeling that I have a hard time shaking.

I contemplate it overnight, and try to understand the feeling in my gut. Is it because I know Eminem, who has explicitly said kids shouldn’t be listening to his stuff because it’s so graphic, still has a presence with impressionable youngsters all over, like many of his contemporaries do? Is it because, unlike many rappers, his off-the-mic life is a rather accurate reflection of his mental state on the mic? \

Or is it because, as a consumer of his product, I’m implicitly supporting the message on the record?

Can I make it clear that I don’t support the misogyny on his album but support the artistry when I’m buying the record? Can I see him as just like any other fiction writer in other art forms? Or is it because I’m a male that I am not as horrified by it all the way a woman might be? My honest answer is “I don’t know.” I feel as many others in the hip-hop community do that we do stand for consciousness and better opportunities for our communities but the province of our headphones, speakers, and dance floor is governed mainly by us.

That’s where I stand. Maybe when I’ll have kids, I’ll have to cut down on most of this as to set a better example for my child, but right now, I may indulge in more murder and mayhem. At least until I’m mature enough to have my music coincide with my beliefs.

Jose, who hopes God forgives him for what his pen do …


Lady GaGa, "Telephone" Video

For more from my Manhood Series, please check this tag. Have a great read!

If the first words that come out of my mouth are “He didn’t really say that!”, chances are I’m talking to a friend of mine about a some guy who threw her terrible lines. My face either looks like someone’s head just exploded or someone laid the worst gas possible and the room lit up. I’m somewhere between astonished, embarrassed, and mocking. When men are young (less than 24) , there’s some excuse for some of the behaviors I’m about to discuss here, but after 25, “you” are the trending answer to the question “Why can’t I get any?” I’ve heard so many stories in fact that I decided to let this unrevealed post out of the chambers, hoping people can crack up as much as I have.

*** for the record, I’m putting a hetero bias on this, but flip this how you will as I’ve seen this in LGBT relationships, too ***

8 Reasons (In No Particular Order) Why She’s Not Calling Back

8. You dedicated your social media status to her.

I’ve found that more women don’t want their dating business on Front Street and Highlight Boulevard. Sexy pictures? Sure. Farmville status? OK. Mayor of some obsure store / restaurant on 4Square? Certainly. But the whole world knowing that some random guy likes her and people commenting in that timeline? Unprofessional. As a matter of fact, if you’re unfollowing / defriending / reporting other men on the basis that they’re also trying to speak to the same person you’re trying to talk to and you haven’t done anything about your own situation, you’re foolish. Speaking of which …

7. You wrote a 10-page letter to her that had little relevance to … her.

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of romantic letters anymore. Then again, when I was, posts like these were dedicated to me. Letters aren’t for people who you’re simply flirting with. They’re for people you’ve taken to the next level, whether it’s friendship or “seeing.” If you must insist, make it concise, well-thought-out and … unintimidating. With some cologne. It’s probably appropriate it be on some paper, not a receipt from the faux-Chinese restaurant across the street. And if it comes down to that, spray a little scent of yours … and make sure it’s not just chicken and fries. And that reminds me …

6. You do things for her when she looks uncomfortable while you’re doing it.

Face it: every guy’s done something that they thought might attract his suitor only to find out she thought he was a chauvinist pig / overindulgent loser. I once tried to date a young lady who I found simply awesome. After dinner, I thought I’d pay for dinner, a gentlemanly thing to do on normal occasions. However, I ran into two issues: she didn’t want me to pay for the whole meal and she said she didn’t want me to pay for the whole meal. I was so sure I was doing right by re-insisting that I’d pay that I couldn’t hear that I could be saving money by not paying. Needless to say, I failed. If she’s saying it, take her at her word. (And of course, hold her to it.)

5. You’re still trying to find Cinderella when she’s a cartoon.

Yes, women want to feel special, but no, she often doesn’t want to be the main character in this movie, because movies can be great, but they can also be horrors. Men who overdo the gentleman thing have a greater chance of losing all credibility out there. I also find men who believe in too many movies set their standards very high … usually because they fear actually getting into a relationship with someone or setting some false power structure where they’re the rejectors instead of the rejected. Words of advice here: stick to the script.

4. You tell your friends to tell your friends to tell your friends to tell her you like her.

There comes a time in our lives when we have to leave the childish things far behind us. This is one of those things. Women like their partners to be thoughtful and decisive. When you as the guy say, “I like her,” you’re free to consult with a few friends, but don’t tell her through an associate or one of her friends. Make it happen yourself or don’t do it at all. I’ve told my boys in 8th grade this, and they’re better for it now. If you’re a free agent, you’re asked to get out there and do your own recruiting. You’re not LeBron James, and you’ll have as many rings as he does if you keep that up.

3. You think it’s concentrated communication; she thinks it’s stalking.

Nowadays, I’m skeptical about the tag “stalking” since that term is far overused. I know people who use the word “stalking” when the guy calls the lady 2 times in a 24 hour span. The definition of stalking is a funky thing for people not named Cameron Diaz or Salma Hayek, but for the average woman, the rubric is rather simple. E-mailing more than thrice in a 3 hour span? Stalking. Calling 10 times straight and leaving a voicemail each time when she hasn’t responded? Stalking. Sending stuff to her apartment / office building when she never told you exactly where she lives / works? Time to keep 100 yards or more from her. Some of this has to be clear. Balance is key.

2. You’re too nice.

Genuinely nice guys get girls, and many of them have led great relationships. However, the normal “nice guy” falls into the other category: the guy who’s got no game and has a sexist point of view that if he treats the woman like crap like “those other guys” did, then he’ll get some as well. I mean it. And it’s wrong. Don’t go there. I can tell you from far too many experiences I’d rather not share here various sources that it’s not the way to go. Acquire some game, reintroduce yourself, and downgrade the nice.

1. You’re not a challenge.

The other, and larger, side effect of being too nice is that you’re not a challenge. Neil Strauss can tell you that it’s not that you smelled funky or that you still wear fake jewels to the “club;” it’s that you’re not a challenge. After introducing yourself, express your interest … to a point. Women have mechanisms encoded in them to disaggregate the real suitors from the fake ones, and one of those tests is the nice guy test. Fail this one and you’re too deep in the friend zone, and few men have ventured back out. If you’re a challenge, you’re making a statement saying that you like the lady and you’d like to continue the conversation, but you’re going to make her earn your trust, too. Women hate pushovers, even as they tolerate them hanging on.

If you see yourself in any of these people, I beg you to either go to Neil Strauss or The Fly Guy. They’ll take you from there. As for me, I’m not a fan of recalling my (lack of) romantic past, though I swear to everyone reading this I’m a bit better at this as a full-grown adult. It’s wonderful.

Am I missing something here? Any stories you’d like to share regarding guys who can’t get it together?

Jose, who hopes this counts towards community service hours …


The Manhood Series: The Other Denzel Principle

July 5, 2010 Jose
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences

Manhood is one of those topics in the Black community that’s often discussed but rarely put in context. Consider the following: Denzel Washington, whose street credibility and Hollywood status is never questioned, has evolved into an actor whose mentioned in the same sentence as Al Pacino and Robert Deniro, and without the word “not” in […]

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