“Do you like songs by Backstreet Boys?” “Do you enjoy practicing yoga?” These are the two questions that females anywhere will have no difficulty answering. If they were posed to North American men, the reaction might be different. Although they may enjoy Backstreet boys songs and practice yoga as much as their women do; however, most men in North America will feel slightly embarrassed admitting to the truth. It is not that they don’t want to be honest. The embarrassment that men feel has to do with their desire to fit in to the traditional and social expectation of what constitutes masculinity in the North American context.
Canada and US pride themselves on their freedom of expression. Having been living in North American culture for more than a decade, I find that it is very restricting being a man in this context. There are so many unspoken gender protocols that a man needs to follow so as not to be perceived as less than in the North American masculinity discourse. Contrarily, it is much freer being a man in countries that are not traditionally praised for their freedom of expression, like China. Men in that country will not have to worry about having their manhood questioned should they be interested in listening to backstreet boys or practicing yoga.
A song is a song. Yoga is a form of wellness practice. If we understand and experience firsthand the benefits from both of these things, why should we be worried about others’ opinions? Why should we put a gender label on it? We can never please everyone and be liked by all. Whether you are a man or woman, we should do our best to not let the gender binary culture that has existed for decades prevent us from living our lives to the fullest. At the end of the day, who cares about others’ thoughts on what constitutes a man or woman thing to do? A clever man will never reject the benefits of a practice just because it may be considered as something feminine in the traditional sense.