In this little corner of cybersapace, where I began putting some of my thoughts, feelings, concerns and questions up, I quickly found myself in the minority.
Being male in this part of the blogosphere means that, more than once, I've gotten loads of feedback from the female perspective, with little or no support or understanding of where I stand or come from as a man. In many ways, I value getting that perspective and the feedback has been invaluable. I don't always expect support, nor do I feel I need it to choose my own way as a man.
I grew up with messages that communicated I should be ashamed of my masculinity and those who share my gender. In the American culture that I was raised, I watched time and time again as men were stereotyped as incompetent, shallow, pig-like, irresponsible and generally devalued as a gender and as humans. I was taught and quickly learned "to be nice" in attempting to "make up" for the "sins" of my gender.
So, as the story goes, I learned to bend backwards in being empathetic and understanding. I was taught to value those things over strong leadership, and personal strength. It was all about catering to women, and being the man that women wanted me to be. I was even told -over and over -to throw my own dignity and integrity out the window (under the guise of masculine ego and pride). Unfortunate, I believe, that I'd been taught to neglect my own masculinity and essentially act, think and feel -in short, relate -to the world and others as women do.
I grew up learning how to understand the world as women see it, learning to relate to women as they relate to the world. Of course, there's more to learn, there always is. But I've had a few recent conversations that have me asking - how many women work to see the world as I experience it as a man? Are there women who want to relate to me as I relate to the world? Who work hard to understand where I come from, how I think, how I experience?
I wonder how many women actually think about that. For a guy like me, it's kind of important. I've realized how much I internalize the feedback I get here, and because most of my interaction here is with women, I often (though not always) put significant effort and care in relating to y'all the way I learned to -on your terms.
Over the past several years, I've reclaimed much of the masculinity I had neglected and was taught to feel shame for. As much work as I put into understanding women, I value a woman who works hard to understand and relate to me as a man.
So for all y'all who care about any of that, I'm going to start putting down some of my masculine experience, perspective and understanding. I'll talk about the things that make me proud of my manhood, things that make me really feel great about being a man, things that women can do or say to build a great relationship with me as a man. I'm only one, but I'm feeling that someone's got to give voice to Man.
For those of you who don't much care, or disagree, or just want to get things your own way... I'll discuss, I'll explain or show more about my awareness and motivations and understanding but I won't argue or defend. I am Man, and that's the way I am.