insideMAN recently posed the question why is it difficult to celebrate being a man? I find the question very interesting because there is no specific answer. Any answer is subjective and relative to one’s perception. I don't have any problem these days celebrating being a man in this modern era of equality. Also the same question can and should be put to women because I hear many a woman intimate the same about themselves in discussions.
I was born a man, I had no choice, option or involvement. Nature gave me the qualities of a man, the personality that goes with it. It’s nature that decrees as humans if we are a man or woman. Men are given a penis, women not, but they are given two breasts and a womb and this difference is simply for reproduction, the survival of the human race. After that men and women are the same, with feelings, emotions, laughter, sadness, two arms, two legs and thankfully one head! Apart from subtle differences like average body size and strength although there are quite a few women out in the world who can match any man in these two respects, we are basically the same.
What is it then that really muddies the waters with these two groups of humans and can make some not want to celebrate being a man, or being a woman? The answer is a very simple one. We live by labels, stereotypes, traditions expectations. We have a need to categorise everybody and everything to a specific, humans, or the majority of, cannot cope otherwise. Humans are not made in factories, specific to the millimetre nut and bolt. We are all different, all individuals in every aspect of human life. Society, its attitudes/behaviours/pressure put me under a counsellor in 2011/2012. She showed me how to be proud of myself, me, an individual, a man, look at what I have, I am, rather than what I don’t have or what others expect. Why try and get the world to look at you? We are simply many worlds within one, concentrate on your own world.
I. Am. A. Man
Life does and will offer challenges to all regardless of gender, both good and not good. It is how we deal with them positively that allows you to celebrate yourself. It helps if you can create a focus, an aim or target, not dwell what isn't or cannot be. I/we do not have children and cannot. It is a hole in my/our life. Individuals insisting their ethos, beliefs and expectations upon me simply because they do not agree, understand, or even try to, can bring negativity about myself as well. That I must adhere to their expectations of a man which are rarely applied to women does not help. The fact that discrimination towards men in many aspects of life are ignored in comparison to society’s persistence in talking only about women’s discrimination, when so often both overlap each other, is another reason. Since 2012 I have spoken out, verbally and on social media as me, for me and on behalf of men generally -- and yes I also support issues that do not affect me. I am me whether you like it or not, but I celebrate being me. Why shouldn't I? Who in the outside world is so perfect they can make me feel that I should not celebrate me, a man!
Many humans associate masculinity as being a real man. Noting Karen’s observations in her article about men and boys being the predecessors of making the world turn, and now losing their lineage due to women taking over these roles, I applied masculinity to me as a man. I celebrated because I must be a man. I can do all aspects of building work. I can plumb, do electrics. I can do work on the car but choose not, but I could. I have established a successful self-employment, I have my wife’s well-being at the forefront. I have looked after her in sickness, I have supported her when a few years back a certain section of society dealt her a crushing blow. My wife prefers me to lead even though it is a role I would share and do so at times. I can climb hills and mountains faster than my wife and carry heavier backpacks. I could go on. These are all traits of a man’s masculinity, the gatherer, the provider, the carer all things that apparently are these days taken away from men due to women moving into men’s roles and thereby not allowing some men to celebrate being a man.
But then I stopped. I thought about the whole perspective. Yes I can celebrate being a man but so too can my wife as being a woman, just like any woman can and for their own justified reasons and perspective. Women can actually do all what I do including my DIY activities -- including my self-employment and climbing hills/mountains as fast and at times faster than me. I've seen women with huge backpacks. My wife has looked after me in sickness and supported me when society temporarily crushed me. Yet even though they can and do all of this and more in other aspects of life they still hold the label femininity. But surely its masculinity, the role of the man isn't it?
I do not disrespect or un-recognise all the world’s achievements of the past, mostly by men, or the lives laid down by men. It is the past, it is history, and this modern era and the future I acknowledge women will play a vital role, and yes men too, if they continue to celebrate themselves, believe in themselves and work as a man. You are still men alongside women. The future never dwells on the past and so too for men. You cannot celebrate if you do.
It is labels and stereotypes placed upon society as expectations on gender and it is these constraints that I think stop allowing people to celebrate being themselves. Traditional and expected masculine roles that men and boys claim to be devalued by women really are not masculine at all. They are just labels and stereotypes placed within society for men by society. Nature decrees man or woman -- humans decree roles and expectations.
Be yourself, and do what you want. If you have the intellect, strength and ability go for it. My life was dictated to by society because of its expectations upon me because I am a man. It ground me down during school years, in my early working life and again in 2011. You will be far more content and happy with yourself if you are your true self not what others dictate to you due to labels, stereotypes and expectations. You can be anything you want if you try and work at it.
I am a man, an individual, who embraces freedom of choice, expression and respect and true equality for all, not selective respect/equality but above all I believe in myself, as a man.
I am a man, one of many men, who wears skirts or clothing that society still labels as women’s wear with regards men but any-wear when it comes to women. Yes, like those other men and yes the many women who now adopt male style clothing, even actual male-style clothing, as their wardrobe, I am not ashamed or embarrassed.
To you it may question my masculinity or what being a man is, to me it doesn't, just like it doesn't for the women in male-style clothing these days. I am a celebrating man, secure with myself. Are you? If yes, why not celebrate being a man and the need to answer “why is it difficult to celebrate being a man?”
By Jeremy Hutchinson
You can read more of Jeremy's writing on his blog here
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