Man Up, Hercules by Nikita Gill
When I was a child,
my worst nightmare was to see my father cry.
Until I was older, I never really thought nor asked why.
It occurs to me now that the world around me
doesn't want men to feel.
It emphasizes stoicism till they bottle up their feelings,
only one part of them is allowed to be real.
And if ever one of them falters, 'man up'
becomes the dark magic to charm them back into line.
'Man up' is that villain who shows up with lackeys
'grow a pair' and 'boys don't cry' uninvited to parties.
We tell our sons stories about heroes like Hercules,
but forget to mention how Hercules' rage
caused him to murder his entire family.
And by telling them stories where anger becomes
the only acceptable way they can express themselves,
we are teaching them shouting, punching, yelling
is all they can ever do to release themselves from hell.
And this is how cursed phrases
like 'man up' contribute
to the greatest killer of men under 45.
Repression leads to depression,
depression leads to trying to find ways to be alive
and after years of being told not to feel,
the only way to truly feel it all becomes suicide.
We have created nooses with words
and watch passively as our sons tighten them
around each other's necks.
So I will tell my son, I will say, Cry,
let the dam burst, and let the rivers you are holding back run free.
It will release everything that hurts you
and finally you will be able to breathe.
The definition of who you are as a man is too powerful
to be swayed by a phrase,
it doesn't have to be proven through self-hate.
When they tell you to 'man up'
look them in the eyes and just say, 'I will not, no.'
Become the earth, the rebellion your heart
needs for your love of yourself to grow.