by The Writer
We now pause for station identification
Due to the vast number of air signals available, F.C.C. regulations state radio stations must use call letters every hour of operation to identify themselves. This need was established so that anyone listening to a particular station would know what station was being heard and where the signal was originating from. With the vast number of blogs within the internet, I feel it’s time to do just that. If you haven’t checked out my about page I’ve given a very brief summary of ‘who I am’. So let’s peel back the layers of ‘who’ and look at ‘what’ I am. I’m a man. Already, I’m sure there are names, stereotypes, and assumptions that come up.
Men are many things but to identify myself from another I have to use labels like; writer, funny, ethnic, tall, ridiculously good-looking (I had to throw that in there). As I stated in an earlier posting, the cardinal rule of masculinity is not to appear feminine. Not only does breaking this rule condemn a man to a life of ridicule from some other men, it also has the potential to deny a man as a viable candidate for most heterosexual romantic relationships. Indeed we live in a masculine-aggressive world of double-standards and oppression, but does it need to be so? During a recent conversation I had with my dad, a very manly man, he stated that I am too sensitive. I was going to respond with a ‘I love you too, dad’, but I didn’t think he’d see the humour in it. I began to wonder what the acceptable measure of sensitivity is for a man?
To set up a baseline let’s say, for sake of argument, a man to crying in public is the greatest sign of weakness. Let’s label that a 1. And let’s label a man who thinks rationally, remains in emotional control and deals with the same situation without showing a hint of emotion is a 10. My father would be a 12 because I’m pretty sure he invented this scale, so he gets 2 extra points. This being our scale, the average man would strive to be a 10, but may fall somewhere between 6-7. Men who fall in the 8-10 might seem like highly functional robots who fix everything except the real problem. But what about the men that fall below 5? They’re not average, they’re not functional robots, so what are they? I believe constantly crying in public can be very problematic whether you’re a man or woman, but it’s not weakness.
Now let’s look at some societal roles most men occupy. As a world leader, most would want a hard 10; they represent a country as a whole, and what country wants to be perceived as weak? As a sports figure, most expect at least an 8 if they’re competing professionally. It’s essential to be at least a 9 as a member of any military group that participates in war. While I have met some emotionally engaged police officers, in my experience most men in authoritative positions of various law enforcement, right down to bouncers, are between a 7 and 8. Most expect politicians and lawyers to be average, but seem disappointed when they realize their numbers are above the norm. Perhaps my assessment is bias and men are really more emotionally engaged than I am giving them credit for, and I’m just being ‘too sensitive’. Perhaps… A FEMALE friend explained to me that a man is only allowed to cry in public on 2 occasions:
1) At a funeral for his wife.
2) Losing a championship sports game.
Of course this measure of male emotion was exaggerated, but it’s frighteningly accurate. Men are conditioned from an early age not to show emotion. Little boys are told many things to keep them on track to becoming strong men, “Don’t cry like a little girl”, “You throw/kick like a girl”, “That’s gay”. How is a boy supposed to perceive femininity? It doesn’t stop in childhood. I’ve been guilty of using expressions like, “Stop being a bitch”, “Grow a pair”, “Keep your panties on” and all it’s adult variations. In my opinion as men, we believe that femininity is weak in order to define and identify our masculinity as strong; it’s like night and day, black and white, up and down. Why? When someone is weaker, you can dominate and overpower them. We want our men to be tough because they’ve got to get into the ring of life and fight for their survival, bring home the kill and support the family. Yet, only when we realize that the fight is not with everyone else, but with ourselves, we begin to get confused. Confusion is bad, but asking for help, even worse: it could be considered a sign of weakness. The spectrum of emotions men are allowed to display are small.
So the question is not ‘who’ or ‘what’ am I, it’s ‘why’ I am. I didn’t choose to be a man, nor did I choose the society in which I was raised. But I can choose to redefine my masculinity the way I see fit because I don’t believe a standard definition is relevant anymore. It is my belief that a lot of the worlds problems can be solved through a revolution of the unspoken ‘men’s issues’. That is also a taboo because men aren’t supposed to have any issues, but guess what, they have just as many, if not more. Furthermore, I believe if men and women took time to examine these issues, there would be a lot more peace in the world. To make an extreme case for my point, rape is 100% a man’s issue: it’s a defined as a weapon to assert power and dominance over someone.
Understanding the ‘why’ is infinitely more important than understand the ‘what’, or ‘who’. If you understand and believe the ‘why’, you can accept the ‘what’. This goes for just about anything, such as ‘why am I a writer’? For me, writing is the best way to communicate, express emotions and understand the world around me.