Monday, February 12, 2007

The Mind of the American Male

I have been thinking a lot about men lately. I have been reading books about raising boys. It’s been pretty eye opening. I never realized boys were so cruel to one another.

Then the other night I was driving home from my AA meeting when an NPR show came on about the “Mind of the American Male”. Even a couple of years ago, I would have thought, “Men own everything, and now we have to know what they think too?!” However, a little American male is now the center of my existence, and I was rather interested to know what men had to say for themselves. I drove around Boston listening to the program even though I had a sweet wife and ice cream at home waiting for me. (100% aside- Boston is not a fun city to just drive around in. Even at night. When I was young and living in Arizona, I would drive for miles. Those generous open highways! There was the beautiful desert and the dark sky that went on for days. A girl could really get her head together driving around Black Canyon Highway).

What really interested me about the program was that men seemed really anxious to join the discussion, and there were a lot of strong feelings expressed. However, the complaints struck me as kind of vague. There was the standard complaint that feminism has redefined the sex roles and now men don’t know what their role is. This is undoubtedly true. But wasn’t the height of the feminist movement in the 70’s. Like thirty years ago. You would have thought men would have figured something out by now. I think there has been some foot dragging.

There were discussion of girlfriends who had left them, and how hard it is to make a living. But nowhere in the discussion did anyone say something so insightful that I thought, “This is the heart of the matter.”

Now, I have dated men and women. In my judgment, there is little difference between them. And what is different gets exaggerated, my guess is for political purposes. I do think boys are raised in a manner that forces them to pigeon hole themselves into acceptable masculine personas. Just this year, I have observed boys being acutely discourage from expressing feelings and interests that would be considered unmasculine. I think some men take these lessons to heart more than others. Some men do this so thoroughly that they become dulled and completely cut off from parts of themselves. In some cases, the most interesting parts.

Comments left on my blog have been mostly from women, however, if a boy should happen to pass this way, I would be really interested to know your thoughts are on any of this. So please, consider this a written invitation to comment. Don’t worry if you are not a boy, I still would love to hear from you.


Rosie said...

I think it is just as hard being a boy as being a girl. Society places so many expectations on both sexes. When you add gender contructs to the mix it does get complicated. It's just hard being human.

I'm so so sorry I didn't have you on my blogroll...I thought I did. Things have just been so nuts with the goats and the cold and the lupus that I've dropped a few balls. I do love you and your precious little boy!

D! said...
Back "in the day" when I was a kid,
even in a small college town during
the liberated and androgynous 70s
it was fascinating seeing gender
policing going on.

I recall female friends,being told
not by peers,but typically MALE
parents "thats not very ladylike".

And I saw more gender policing taking place between boys
than adult to boy. "Barbi?,ooh
thats sissy" (not girly, sissy)

I think since that time there has
on average been a lot more freedom
for girls to be expansive in gender
expression and boys to be repressive? in it. But ,in my
life its always been much more cool
to be a tomboy than a sissy.

Apparently even among gay men,
there is a dislike of the feminine
and eveybody wants a masculine partner.

Personally, I feel it is another
example of the devaluing of characteristics deemed feminine
and a re-valuing higher of masculine stuff.

Even among adult women ,especially older adult women, femininity is demeaned.

Yet, there is the youth worship
culture aspect too, so "girl"
is cool yet "lady" "woman", "dame"
"madam" are just too weird to use.