Saturday, January 26, 2013

Masculinity - Pt I

Masculinity is a controversial topic—not only in cavernous depths of the internet, but across the world.  As some cling desperately to past conceptions of what it means to be man, others strive to create what they believe to be a less constrictive environment.  At the same time, the media continues to operate on a wildly maco-to-micro basis—one day speculating about complex global disease patterns, the next to travel to a place an enormous magnifying glass above some American high school.

Might have to change my mind about Crossfit…

And as with many issues, people seem to have been pushed to the extremes; or at least the polar individuals seem to more effectively have their voices heard. One extreme basically posits that boys will be boys, and that their true nature is essentially being emotionally uncomplicated, physically rough, and keen on destruction. The other extreme says that masculinity is purely a construct of the society we live in.

No one is, or can be, raised in a vacuum. Who we are as people is the product of exactly two things: our genes and our environments. The latter part includes every experience or interaction you've ever had. Regardless of the balance between these two factors, it seems unlikely that either extreme is correct.

Personally, I was a sensitive kid, but far from feminine. I sought out sports, and rough activities, but never because I was interested in hurting other people; I enjoyed the physicality and the competition. My genes also helped: I was athletic, tall, and handsome—all the things that I "ought to be". Again, I didn't realize all this as a kid. I wasn't "trying" to mold myself into some image or anything. My parents were for the most part quite laissez-faire, and definitely didn't try to push me towards one activity over another. But there was one issue: I wasn't interested in the pretty girls in the way that I was supposed to be.

Based on what I've read, I didn't wrestle comparatively too much with my non-heterosexuality. I had the common epiphany that, "holy shit I'm not like everyone else." My reaction was not horror or self-loathing; I actually thought it was kind of cool. It was another thing that I thought made me unique. I'll delve more deeply into that later, but basically I have always felt that anything that separates me from the billions of other people on the planet is a good thing; I have never wanted to live an ordinary life.

The period of time and the sequence of events that followed this realization can be very important component of personality development. If at this point, a young man decides to internalize this as his identity, he may take steps to align himself with other non-heterosexuals, seek friends that might be more receptive to this, etc. If he goes down that path, he will likely push himself, and/or be pushed by others, toward a crowd of females and less-conformist people. Once in that circle, this environment will likely strengthen certain habits and mannerisms.

Or if, like I did, he decides to not place so much importance on this aspect of his person, he can proceed with his life more or less normally. Sure, as an attractive guy I had to kind of fend off some females without giving myself away, but I liked girls, and I liked kissing girls. I just didn't want to get into a relationship under false pretenses—and I never did. I also had many other things to juggle in my mind: school, sports, family, and friends to name a few.

I didn't want to repress my sexuality, but I also didn't feel like it defined me as a person. I have perhaps too many interests for my own good, so the idea of becoming "a gay" just didn't appeal to me. In general, I don't think it's psychologically healthy to over-identify with any one thing.

I'm not "a" anything, besides a human.

1 comment:

  1. Dude, I completely agree with your idea of internalizing the whole gay identity.

    I've always believed being gay is a sexuality and nothing more. The fact so many people have turned 'gay' into a whole social identity with a certain culture and lifestyle with its own behavior and mannerisms is a completely separate issue.