Thursday, May 17, 2012

Little boys in the grown-up world

Earlier, my brother (whose blog you should all read, if you don't already) made two blog posts (here and here, if you'd like to read them, which I would recommend) about the state of being a man. Like many young men transitioning into the thirties, we just don't know where we fit in the "grown up" world.

He was sort of hard on himself, and so I'd like to make a short rebuttal to him.

On Masculinity- a rebuttal
17 May 2012

As a nearly-30 living in the modern digital age, I feel uniquely equipped to comment on the matter of masculinity in the context of your blog post, not least of all because you and I share many, many commonalities when it comes to preference in media and entertainment.

Also, you’re my brother. I can’t stand to see you be quite this hard on yourself.

I think the major flaw in your argument on adulthood (specifically on manhood, the state of being simultaneously masculine and adult) is that the measuring stick you’re using is so subjective.

Consider the qualities that you provide as evidence to your manhood. You run, you enjoy sports, you like meat. But if someone were unable to run, or not a sports fan, or a vegetarian, would that make him less of a man? Similarly, consider the qualities about yourself that you list as un-manly. You like cartoons, hate reality television, don’t care much for the evening news, have a high-ish pitched voice sometimes.

It looks like most of the things listed are simply preferential. What is it about these qualities that make one more or less masculine than another? An even better question to ask would be, ‘why do I consider any of these qualities innately masculine or feminine?’

Make no mistake about it; your impression of what it is to be a “man” has been fabricated for you by years of media development and advertising. The people who are telling you “in order to be a man, you need to drive a truck” are trying to sell you a truck. Likewise, all the companies that dangle their image of masculinity in front of your face are doing so because they want to convince you, ‘this is what you need to be masculine. Buy it from us.’

 You’re not unmanly because of the things you like or don’t like, eat or don’t eat, what you watch on television or how high your voice is. If that was the case, then all it would take to be called a man would be to check off all the things on the masculine list and forget all the rest. But we both know better than that.

In my opinion, being a man is about being able to handle responsibility. A man is someone who, when trusted with responsibility, takes care of what needs taken care of. It’s about being able to care for yourself if you are able, determining when you’re unable and being able to ask for help, and being able to offer help if someone asks it of you. It’s about putting others before yourself, acknowledging when you’re wrong and taking steps to correct yourself when you make a mistake.

All the sports watching, bench pressing and meat eating in the world doesn’t mean squat, in the long run.
But you know this already, right? I just had to remind you that you knew it. 

1 comment:

  1. Aaron and Graham: In the category of "manliness", you two might not be stereotypical, and that is more than ok. What makes a man is his character. Is he loving? does he care for his family? Does he give of himself? Is he someone that I know if I am in need of ANYTHING within his power to do to help, is he there, ready, and willing to give his help? These are some of the things that make a man IMO...and all describe the two of you to a "T"...and I didn't know Graham fished! Why didn't I know this??!! I love to fish but rarely get to....