Saturday, July 14, 2012

On Manhood

About two weeks ago, I had had enough.

It may seem like an immature outlet, but it was mine and I seized the opportunity to do the grown up thing....

....And wrote a Facebook status. Now, let me just point out that the art of the Facebook status is something that is not to be taken unadvisedly or lightly, but rather reverently and in the fear of God. They're a perfect outlet for the snarky individual, but can also serve purposes for the irritated, the annoyed, and the just royally cheesed off. This frequently leads to vaguebooking, an act which Don't do it. But in this case, all I really wanted to do was get a point across in a direct, forceful, yet not preachy way. And so I sat down and wrote.

“I get really tired of girls informing guys how they need to "be a man". Seriously. The fact that someone doesn't fit into your macho box of manhood and fish, hunt, and watch football doesn't necessarily detract from their masculinity. The fact that a man is into music or art doesn't make him inferior to others. Different people prefer different things and not all girls want that kind of guy. You're not superior or better because that's what you do or like. Now shhhh.”

A few days ago, I got on my feminist high horse and talked about how the church society tells women that they can be who they are, whilst delivering pointed messages about what is really expected of them. However, it would be incredibly unfair to call out the abuse of gender roles against one group without including the other.

First of all, it needs to be established that I grew up with a dad that was a nurse and has been taking me to musicals since I was seven years old. He likes to tell me that even though I got unorthodox views of what manhood was from him, the mold was broken. It also needs to be noted that I live in Hicktown, USA where in a neighboring town, school is dismissed for the holiday that is the first day of deer season. Men are frequently (but, as is the usual disclaimer, not always) expected to be manly men, enjoying working with their hands, be that through hunting, fishing, or a building trade. You get the idea. Most of the girls I grew up around liked guys with calloused hands who wore flannel and boots.

When I got to Gateway, that expectation didn’t completely change. One of my close friends remarked how she liked a man whose hands were dirty at the end of the day. Another mentioned that she always looked for stained hands, the kind from mechanical work. And I have nothing against that. Everyone has their type, and while that’s not my cup of tea, if a man in overalls sends you swooning, then may the good Lord bless you. If it wasn’t this kind of guy, it was typically a preacher. A hardcore, fiery, evangelistic preacher. Again, this isn’t really something I’ve ever specifically wanted.

Want to know my weakness? The piano. Those girls liked the look of a man’s hands after a day of work? In my eyes, that has nothing over the look of hands quickly moving across those black and white keys. I honestly can’t think of the last time I had any sincere interest in a man that didn’t play piano. It thoroughly intrigues me and has for as long as I remember. I like boys in skinny jeans and Toms. I LOVE boys in vests. I like boys that are activists, that are artistic, and that can make me laugh.  

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed. The boy I just described would be dismissed by so many girls that I know. They wouldn’t approve. Their parents wouldn’t approve. Their friends might not approve. Why? Because he doesn’t fit the mold of what they think manhood should be. Let’s shake it up more. What if this boy shared some of my life ideas? What if he was a vegetarian or hated guns? I can think of a lot of people that would call him a pansy and tell him that he needed to “man-up”. (A side note: the comment that spurred the aforementioned status involved the latter.)

As angry as it makes me to see girls pressured into roles, I feel like overall, we are more comfortable with a girl not fitting the stereotypes than a guy. If a girl goes outside of the norms, maybe we’re not huge fans of it, but we’ll come up with excuses or names for her personality. She’s a tomboy or a free spirit. If a boy steps out of his stereotypes, he stands a high risk of his very sexuality being questioned.

I can understand the appeal of a man that is able to provide for you. For the most part, women are wired with a desire for some sense of security. At least I am. Should I be lucky enough to find someone in the future, I would want him to be capable of, for lack of a better term, holding things together when I’m falling apart. I would want to know that any children I might have would be taken care of, both emotionally and financially. Biblically, THESE are the things that make a man. He’s to provide for his family and love his wife, as Christ loves the church. He’s respectful and shows love. But ultimately, provision has a different definition for everyone. Maybe you do need financial provision. For some people, they’re more interested in emotional provision; someone that will uplift them when their world is falling apart. What works for one relationship or family won’t necessarily work for everyone. Maybe your husband does work out in the fields and physically labors hard to provide. Maybe he’s an artist, a teacher, a musician. These things are all awesome. Maybe he takes care of your kids while you follow your career or ambitions. That’s fantastic too.

Much like what I said about ladyhood, being a man is made up of much more than dress or interests. Ladies, if you’re into the rough manly men, that’s so wonderful for you and I hope that you find what you’re looking for. But some of us dream of  sitting and watching a boy serenade us on the piano.

And I have to believe that my dream is just as okay as yours.  

1 comment:

MotherT said...

Your dream is perfect for you!

Of course, every now and then a dream-breaker comes along like a certain tall, dark associate pastor we know who can play just about any instrument he puts his mind to, including piano, can preach the Word, talk sports, talk literature, wire a house, and charm people from 2-102.

I'm praying that your dream-breaker shows up at the right time for you!