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The Ash Lad, another way of being a man

The Ash Lad (male Cinderella), the one who stirs the ashes, the one in charge of the warmth and light of the home, the undervalued one who faces his fears with wit and intelligence, embodied in trolls and giants, always with a lot of patience, stopping time and again to reflect, using the objects that surround him, simple things, such as troughs, nails, candles... some of which he has inherited. He gives value to what he has inherited, to the old, to the past in order to face the present and the future, eliminating at a stroke the immaturity inherent in today's society where adults, mainly, men, tend not to assume the ethics of care, not to take responsibility. The mature person assumes the conflict and faces it, that is the way of the Ash Lad. He renounces giving so much importance to immediate enjoyment, the so revered "here and now" that leads you to want to live eternal youth—young men who wanted to look like adults, adults who want to look like young men.

The provocative part that most appeals to me in the Ash Lad is patience, stopping to think over and over again to overcome the obstacles he encounters, and he wants to do it collectively, even if his brothers do not support him. Because subversive thinking proposes alternatives and makes blush those who say, "I'll solve your problems, don't think for yourself, uncertainty kills, I have the solution". Moreover, the space of silence, of appeasement, of stopping to reflect on where we are going, is to resist neoliberalism, which gives priority to the immediate and puts production and money above the dignity of people.

He is the humble, the anti-hero, the one who does not play the hero, the one who assumes responsibilities, which are nothing more and nothing less than the obstacles we encounter along the way. He does not compete with his brothers, he understands them and does not resent them, even if they do not take him into account, envy him and conspire against him. He banishes revenge, something so deeply rooted in the male symbolic universe, so closely related to manly honour.

Fairy tales almost always have an optimal ending, with rewards, so as not to lose hope. The Ash Lad is this, hope for many men who see in him a model to learn from in the search for another way of relating to women and other men, to the environment and to our daughters and sons, which offers us an opportunity to get out of the immaturity in which we are immersed, naturalising, and sometimes violently claiming, that we have the right, because we are men, to have other people, generally, women, make life easy for us. What is immaturity if not demanding rights and privileges without assuming responsibilities, without taking into account others and the environment?

Julio Rodríguez Ortega

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