I’m 33 years old. I’ve always been male, done fairly typical male things, plus I’ve got the body parts to prove it! Biologically, I’m male. However, every time someone calls me a man, or refers to me as a man, something doesn’t click. It doesn’t feel right. I couldn’t work out what it was and consistently felt as though I had not earned the right to be called a man.
Several years, and one important University essay later, the light has been switched on. I’ve finally figured out what’s going on.
I’ve come to realise that I’m not actually a man.
Let me rewind.
This blog represents a good portion of my life. Not all of it, but most. This is the place where I can let my positivity, simplicity and creativity burst into life and roam free. The other portion that you certainly don’t see is where I delve into the deepest, darkest, depravities of humanity. Crime. Serial killers and rapists. Child abuse and domestic violence. Prisons and murderers. When the sun goes down, I wade through the minds of criminals who evoke fear and terror into every day citizens and I try to work out why they do what they do. As you might imagine, studying Criminology and Criminal Justice at University is not often a pleasant path to walk down.
A few weeks ago I was tasked with writing an essay about hegemonic masculinity and how it can be linked to domestic violence. Hegemonic masculinity in its simplest form is about how society positions males to continually dominate females (and other subordinate groups), and the traits males exhibit to reinforce the image of being a real man. Physicality, aggressiveness, heterosexuality, being able to provide financial security for the family, competitiveness, sexually driven, in control, dominant, and someone who treats all other groups as subordinate. It’s an ideal that most men will never reach, but subconsciously try to (why do so many men insist on building themselves up at the gym when there’s no practical reason to do so?)
I’m not going to discuss domestic violence on this blog. Instead I’m focusing on the idea of hegemonic masculinity and what it means to be a man. Obviously, going into a discussion on gender could go on forever; how gender is what we ‘do’, not what we ‘are’ and so on. But I don’t want this to become version 2.0 of my essay so I’m keeping it brief.
So, back to my original point; I’ve come to realise that I’m not actually a man, and finding out why has been incredibly refreshing, which is why I’ve decided to share this on here.
I love sport, but skillful sport, not sport that only promotes physical aggression and violence. I have a secure job, but my fiancée is in no way dependent on me. We make decisions equally and we like it that way. I also have no plan on becoming a father – another trait that is often aligned nicely with ‘manhood’. I don’t feel the need to act superior over any other groups; females, homosexuals, males of other races or class. I’m totally content with my place in this world and don’t feel the need to compete in order to get above or ahead of others. As it stands, I don’t fit into the realm of the ideal man, and I never plan to.
Not only am I not disappointed about my newfound realisation, but I’m even more proud of who I’ve become despite a lifetime of never quite fitting in. By not fitting in with the stereotypes that continually try to reinforce how I’m supposed to act as a man, I’ve instead created my own place in the world, and it’s a place that I can develop and grow into exactly who I want, and I think that’s awesome.
For the sake of tying this post up into a neat little bundle, the moral is to be proud of who you are and embrace it. Don’t ever change what you do, or how you think just because how you do you doesn’t quite fit in with society.