No offense intended to my female friends, and you’re more than welcome to read this post and chime in on this discussion, but this post is about being a man. I’m all for women’s rights and believe we’re all equal, but this post is about what it means to be a man in 2012, at least from my perspective. Part of this is my attempt to rediscover myself after a rocky ending to a once beautiful relationship; part is my venting over what I feel are blatant disrespects to my manhood; and part is my anger over the castration we face on a daily basis. Again, I respect women and realize you have your own set of obstacles, but this entry will contain moderate to high levels of testosterone, so consider that fair warning.
First and foremost, being a man in this age is maddening. We’re expected to temper and control millions of years of evolutionary hard-wiring in order to fit the contemporary mold of civilized behavior. Well, that’s not easy. For thousands of years our species has thrived in part because of this wiring, but now, we’re barbarians if we exhibit any signs of temper or anger. A thousand years ago, hell two hundred years ago, if someone cut a man off in traffic the way they do today, that man could’ve ripped out their fucking throat and left them for he vultures to pick apart. Genetically, I’m identical to the men of those times, but today, all I can do is give that asshole the finger and lay on my horn. The frustration of having to bridle back those old impulses is hard to describe. I hope other men know what I’m talking about and can weigh in on this because I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this frustration.
Also, you know what? I like meat, especially steak. It tastes really good. Do I like factory farming? No. Do I think all farms should allow free-range grazing and avoid pumping their animals full of hormones? Yes. But I like to eat meat because it’s delicious. I also happen to like salad because it tastes good to me, too. There’s not much better than a fresh salad with basil, olive oil, and vinegar. My point here is that often I’m made to feel like a Neanderthal for eating meat or a wimp for eating salad, but the simple fact is that it’s my body and my choice. I’ll eat what I want. End of discussion.
Then, there’s this whole thing about being sensitive and in touch with our feelings. I’m here to tell you that I’m about as sensitive, compassionate, and in touch with my emotions as a man can be, and do you know where it’s gotten me? The best I can tell, only heartbroken. The women I’ve mistakenly given my heart to haven’t taken good care of it. They’ve either played on my compassion and drained me dry or criticized me for what I’m not, instead of cherishing me for what I am. I don’t want to change my kindness or lose that connection to my own emotions, but I know that it will be hard to trust sharing those parts of myself intimately with anyone again because so far, that’s only gotten me hurt.
And what really pisses me off is this whole bullshit notion of romance. I’m sorry, but cards and flowers and little gifts are a ridiculous waste of money. I’d rather show my love by helping with the dishes or doing a load of laundry or cooking a nice supper. I know that’s not very romantic, but you know what? I work pretty fucking hard and don’t earn a whole lot of money in my profession, so I try to spend my money wisely. My idea of romance is sitting together on the sofa on Friday night and listening to good music. That’s about as romantic as I can get. Anything beyond that feels corny and cheesy to me. I’m a terrible dancer and don’t like crowds, so going out is more of a drain than anything. That’s just who I am, and if that’s not good enough, then I guess I’m not the right man for you.
I was raised in a time and place where parents and grandparents used real threats of physical violence to keep their children in line. My grandfather never actually hit me, but by god, he sure as hell made me believe he would if I crossed the line, so I never dared try him. My father only had to spank me a handful of times, and each one I deserved and I never misbehaved in that manner again. Today, if a man raises his voice, he’s got “anger issues.” Well, despite the do-gooders best intentions, the removal of the threat of violence has left us with where we are: a generation out of control with no respect for authority or other people’s rights. I’m not advocating for abuse, but corporal punishment, even if just as a threat, does work.
I’ve never once raised a hand to a woman. Well, not since I was 13 and got in the last fist-fight with my sister. Even when my ex-wife came to me on Christmas morning to tell me she wanted to leave and I was so angry I wanted to strangle her, I didn’t even threaten to lay a hand on her. Even when I’ve been pushed beyond my limit of patience and tolerance, I’ve never even considered striking a woman because I am a man, and to me real men don’t physically hurt women. The one caveat to that is if a woman tries to harm my kids. Then, I’ll kick her ass as if she were a man, but other than that one exception, there’s no place in this world for a man to even slap a woman.
This post has gone way off the rails from what I had originally intended, but those are some of my thoughts on what it means to be a man today and how complicated and confusing all of it has become. What do you think? Am I just completely off my rocker, or do I make some legitimate points? I want to know your thoughts on this subject.