As I said yesterday I suspect that this is a bit of a taboo topic and maybe even to talk about it is a threat to masculinity in some way and for some. The wife reckoned that it would be interesting to ask men and women what they each thought masculinity was. Her hunch was that there would be differences in opinion. I suggested that what people might find masculine would be age dependent, those who have lived a little longer might see things differently from those entering into the whole relationship thing. Things might shift from the carnal and form based, towards something else. She thought that it could have mileage as a subject for a book.
What stimulated this topic was a TV programme SAS-Who Dares Wins in which one candidate for selection recounted his experiences of listening to his wife’s murder on the ‘phone. The two training staff listened shocked and were full of empathy. I guess for a tough SAS type the sheer powerlessness of the situation was unpleasant, rather face a hail of bullets than something like this. They shook his hand as he departed, head held high.
I don’t think that masculinity and heterosexuality are irrevocably linked. I have known some gay men who are very masculine in the sense of masculinity and some heterosexual ones who are not. Being butch isn’t the same as masculine. In my limited experience of the gay scene, there is much more discussion about things like masculinity and roles, than in the hetero-world. Because I had a gay flatmate I used to go to quite a few gay parties, where I often received attention. I did not find this threatening. I even used to accompany him, when he was coming out, to gay bars, so that he could pull. I am ~90% heterosexual.
Masculinity isn’t all about what you do with your cock. It is something else. Shag ‘em and leave ‘em isn’t a very masculine thing, perhaps a numbers game and for bragging purposes only. It does not speak of responsibility, it may comment on insecurity and having something imagined to prove. As a rule of thumb when one gets older, there is reduced lust, it dominates the thinking less. The expression of masculinity therefore changes, with age. It has less carnality. It cannot be about the body perfect, though some still try. We might get better consensus about what a masculine form looks like than about what masculinity is. What is attractive to some is unattractive to others, and “beauty” is subject to trends. Right now, there is a lot of inking, some like it others don’t.
Perhaps masculinity has a “the buck stops here” orientation, in which one takes responsibility insofar as is possible, for one’s actions. It is not about trying to duck responsibility or pass the blame. It is about facing up to consequences. And if one makes a mess then at least attempting to clean it up. I don’t think it is about being cunning, sly and clever. Nor is it about asking “mummy” to help you out, to wipe your nose and put your toys back in the cot. It is about standing up and not cowering. It is also about limiting the destruction one causes. I don’t think masculinity is about manipulation, it might be about canvassing opinion and views, collecting them together and deciding. It is not about wheedling and moaning. I’ll speculate that an underdeveloped masculine quality is listening, the power of which is underestimated. Whilst there may be a place for strutting and posing, that perhaps belongs to the earlier years. I don’t know how women feel about bragging and bulshitting, perhaps they are long suffering in this respect. The test is always in the actions and not the words. Talking a good game is one thing, delivering is another.
Not being afraid to show feelings and emotions, is also underdeveloped. Sure, we might climb Everest, but can we cry at the poignancy of a butterfly? Masculine tears are powerful things, they touch. Being warm, is masculine. And nothing beats a really good warm, non-sexual, hug. To feel another being sobbing in your arms, is profound. Masculinity is partly about being an anchor in the storms of life, a rock perhaps. It can be about absorbing the emotions of another, whilst they have a much-needed vent. It can be the offering of a box of tissues to the tearful. It can be about fixing things around the house, chopping wood and even cooking and cleaning.
There is no one size fits all. I guess it is for each man to find his own expression of his masculinity, to come to terms with it and not be afraid of it. Maybe to provide a lead in talking about the things inside, and not shy away. Perhaps I am doing a little of that now.
Masculinity is perhaps equally as mysterious as femininity.
Hmnn….a big topic methinks.