I had two very interesting conversations this past week. I was “interviewed” by a friend for her an assignment (probably anthropology or gender studies. I was not paying attention). The topic was masculinities.
She asked me about my own definition and my identity with regards to masculinity and my being a man. I said, to paraphrase, that it seems almost genderless, yet still pertinent in present-day society. I have come far, as have certain individuals (and not the majority of society, unfortunately) in that I don’t think of myself as this John Wayne/Captain America (or Shaka Zulu, maybe?) figure of manly virility in which the fairer sex is the immediate and obvious “other”. I am the fairer sex, and I am also Captain John Zulu. Because that is who we choose to be. The definition of it should be personal and the standards set by the individual. Unfortunately most people choose to be confined by these concepts of pink and blue in which they ignore the nuances which could exist in defining one’s self, which should be a continual process, according to me.
Well, what a woopsie mouthful!
So also this past weekend I helped a friend move house. I met his flatmate and we were speaking between packing boxes and moving things. Later she asks me “Are you gay?”
I said yes and her friend said something along the lines of “Are you blind?” (but not really, but you know what I mean) although I had a similar thought. I was surprised that she asked that, but did not wear it with a badge of pride like most gay men would. To many the fact that the homosexuality would not be immediately obvious is seen as a token, a prize which makes them better than others. I do not see it in this way. This brought to mind the interview I had, mentioned earlier and notions of masculinities.
In the gay community, there is a term known as “straight acting” which I’m sure I have mentioned somewhere on this blog. Why boys, why?
The very word “acting” just makes me shudder. I have never been accused of this because I think it’s ridiculous. Firstly, I don’t subscribe to any one idea of masculinity, or gayness. I am what I am (cue music) I dress how I want and what I feel is appropriate. I won’t walk into a club in takkies the same way I wouldn’t show up to move house in formal shoes.
So then is this really even an issue, or is it a case of bitter gays hating on each other? When a guy dances like a stripper in a club, but calls his “manlier” friends ‘bro’/’bra’ (like I do at times), is this acting too, or just adapting to the situation?
Why do we, in a community where it is ok (or at least should be) to embrace femininities, decide to instead go to either extreme where we completely shun that side or embrace it so fully that we forget the masculine?
Is this even worth discussing? Like I said earlier, gender and identity should (in a perfect world) be self-determined and not imposed upon the individual.
Phew! This is exhausting, right? Well, it’s all our faults.
We are way too conditioned to need a male/female situation. Where there is strength, there must be a weakling. Where there is provider, there must be a nurturer, and so on.
To flip the coin, in a hypothetical situation, if a tribe of women had to form, like an entire country of just women, I think that the same divisions would arise. Our brains and beings are so wired to have to live with these dualisms that we would immediately need tops/builders/security guards and other traditional male (or masculine) roles.
Solution: leave everyone alone and run your own race. How others choose to live their lives is their own problem. Often the problems we have with others are the problems we have with ourselves. Yes, that’s right, I said it!
<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>