Roles are meant to be broken.

Sojourner Truth. (Image via History.com)
Sojourner Truth. (Image via History.com)

“Well, you can tell everybody,

Yeah, you can tell everybody,

Go ahead and tell everybody,

I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man,

Yes I am, yes I am, yes I am,

I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man…”

I adopted musician Aloe Blacc‘s proclamation as my own last year while navigating the twists and turns of making my traveling and writing dreams come true. Although I don’t recall the destination, I do recall the part of my journey where I sat in an airport terminal, belting out Blacc’s manly melody as it thundered in my headphones.

Did she just say that she’s the man? the puzzled faces of neighboring passengers asked.

“I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man,” I answered, singing the line again for clarity.

However, what I’ve since realized is that the clarity that I initially meant for them was meant for me as well.

Clearly, I’m a woman who embraces the duality of the word. I was acting like a lady and thinking like a man long before Steve Harvey wrote a book. Of course, I’m referring to the societal – thus, stereotypical – definitions of femininity and masculinity; nonetheless, I find it all equally fascinating…now. Admittedly, it did take me awhile to come around.

When I was a baby, I was often mistaken for a boy. So to clear up the confusion, my mother got my ears pierced. Then my mother was mistaken for avant-garde for getting her baby boy’s ears pierced. Ugh.

When I was in middle school, it seemed that my size 12 feet had outgrown women’s shoe designers’ capabilities – and brains – and I began wearing men’s shoes, much to my pre-teen and teenage chagrin. (((rolls eyes)))

Then, when I was in high school, I can remember being referred to as “Son” and “Sir” when donning a hood or a skully. AAAARRRRRGGGG!!!!!!

There was almost nothing I hated more than being thought of as masculine. At one point, I considered going Sojourner Truth on mofos and spouting snippets of “Ain’t I a Woman” while marching through hallways, baring my snippets to the masses. Ain’t I a girl, at least?

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that if I couldn’t beat masculinity, then I may as well join it. Chuck Taylors, Timberland and fitted caps became my go-to companions. Eventually, I replaced my love for my caps – and my dreddlocks – with my love for my barely bald head and the barbershop. Oh, how I loved the barbershop! I felt like the belle of the ball, a spy and a talk show audience member all in one. When men weren’t trying to get my attention, they were giving me their opinions. It was all very enjoyable. (Aha! Now I see where my love for “Guy Code” comes from.)

Although I don’t abide by the guy dress code as much as I used to, I do address life from a stereotypical guy’s point of view. My constant refrain nowadays to people is, “I’m not a mind-reader. Tell me specifically what you want from me.” I despise any and all drama. I’m okay with having body hair and a leisurely approach to cleanliness. Also, I’m pretty sure I could live off of beef – and water – alone, and I’d strongly prefer for that beef to be cooked by someone other than me.

These surface male matters aside, there’s also a sense of fierce independence that I have – to think how I want, do what I want, live how I want, etc… – which I’ve been told is more readily identifiable among men than women. I don’t know if I believe that. Perhaps, the density of patriarchy has made it appear as such, but I think know there are way more fiercely independent women in this world besides me.

But if it makes you feel better, you can tell everybody that I’m the man.

Copyright © 2014-2016 Stephanie Rochelle Redd. All rights reserved.

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