Thursday, September 23, 2010

Manly Men!

Newsweek recently featured an article on masculinity and how it hurts men by forcing them to think it's imperative they work in the auto industry when the jobs are in nursing. This, along with paternity leave, would redefine masculinity. Cool. Whatever.
Now for my rebuttal: fuck "masculine," "feminine" and any other moniker you want to hang on people. Wanna know why? Here's why. Let's set up a few facts.
  1. Fact: No one is pleased with how things are. You know, in general.
  2. Fact: If you think the way you've always thought, you'll do the things you've always done and you'll get what you've always gotten.
  3. Fact: The world has always used labels to confine the human being.
  4. And we're fluid.
Einstein said insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I think Bob Dylan said my #2 up there, more or less. Jesus compared this to putting new wine in old wineskins, and in His metaphor, the wineskins broke; the problem gets worse.
I was reading Y: The Last Man recently (and if you aren't/haven't FOR SHAME). In it, there's a scene in which Yorick (our hero) is having a water gun fight with his girlfriend Beth. In this scene, while Beth is using a run-of-the-mill multicolored toy, Yorick's pistols looks like a freakin' pistol. Yorick says some bravado garbage and Beth calls him: his gun's empty. He claims he's refilled it with his piss.

I thought long and hard about this. Masculinity, as I understand society to understand it, demands anyone with a penis (that's me) act as though we have the capacity for deadly violence. It calls for bravado and the infantile. Just think about the last comedy you saw. Chances are it was about a grown man acting like a child and a woman teaching him to act his fucking age already. The reward is often true love--or at least empty sex, which, as far as empty experiences go, is one of the best.

This sort of thinking has really screwed men. Last night, Allie and I were biking and, long and short of it, a guy in a taxi called me a faggot and told me to suck his cock. He also spat at me. I told him to fuck off (of which I'm not proud).

Looking back on it, I realized how hard it must be for that bro. Brah? Whatever. Dude felt the need to show off in front of his buddies by hurting someone else, to assert a masculinity in which he had no confidence. This masculinity plants the seed of "do, not be," which is to say one must do something to be a man, not that you can just be a man. This manliness is the peg on which so many hang their self-worth. How terrible.

How difficult it must be to affront someone's sexuality to glorify your own, to demand a homosexual act while calling someone a faggot. I say it's difficult in the sense of how scared a person is from masculinity's compulsion. Really, it's the easy way.

The hard way is to be happy with the masculinity you create for yourself (you women, too! Everyone's welcome!). I cook and clean. I lift weights. I play violent video games. I enjoy Audrey Hepburn movies. I make movies. I write poetry. Comic books. Dungeons and Dragons. Have a wife, but try to think of her as "spouse." None of these things are inherently masculine or feminine. To contextualize, there are gay men in the military killing people. There are gay men singing showtunes. There are straight men baking pastries, building a house with their own hands. That's the masculinity we need: not a paradigm, but a personality. We don't need to "do" to be valid, and "being" does not validate either. Rather, everyone needs to find the place between the two where self-love and love for others is best realized. One can only occur with the other, you know.

So I encourage all of you to consider how you view yourselves and others, because it's not just the examined life worth living, but the properly examined life. Help me to do the same.

And you know what else? That guy wasn't even my type. I wonder if I'm his?