Men & Other Generalizations
I have long been fascinated by men. Sure, as a woman, aren’t we all? They’re are from Mars, right? A whole other type of human being. Biologically speaking, of course we know there are those different parts but it’s more than that. The Y chromosome has its function. Make a male… male. But the aftermath? There’s my fascination. Men,now. What was once black and white is now a milky grey. With the once-bolded borders of gender roles dissipated, how is masculinity evolving in a culture that has degraded and simplified it (Thank you, mass media outlets) while empowering women with more choice, utility, and adaptability. What will happen to the man?
As a teacher, I see it in the classroom. Resilient, precocious young ladies code-shifting with ease; communicating effectively; taking information, interpreting it, and applying it with flexibility. And isn’t this what life becomes in the end? Fundamentally, our life is a progression of applying knowledge (gained in any number of ways but most potently through direct experience) to new situations and communicating purposefully. Speaking in generalities, most if not all tasks in life can be broken down to this process. Of course new situations multiply in complexity as we grow older, as do the millions of other peripheral variables, in-born and environmental, that either help or hinder growth of or access to knowledge. So knowledge, or knowing, is the raw material–our utilization of it–or lack thereof in some cases, is behind all we do.
But the knowing has to be allowed to move through us openly so it may allow us to feel. Romantic idealism aside, our lives, really, exist inside our brains–our ability to translate stimuli into something our brain can use personally. Life is feeling… And feeling is something that women have always been more comfortable with. How this came to be may be within the distinct power of the male throughout history–his action–or, conversely, the historical inward existence of women who’ve only found free expression in more modern times with the popular feminist movement. (We’ve endured different battles, and for different durations.) Or maybe it’s within the very strands of DNA, our chromosomes, that which give us our outward sexual characteristics determining a host of related traits. Some of these traits have evolved as more adaptable than others. Or more adapted to the times, I should say. Ironically, they say the Y chromosome is losing genes, degenerating–deteriorating even. I can’t help but compare this to men’s existence in modern day. Where the kill is in the grocery store, institutional monogamy curbs their instincts, and they are flooded with feelings for which they’ve not yet found a use. A man’s function, which is his forte, fogs in the years of shifting gender dynamics. So where will they end up, our beloved men?
If they’re lucky they end up matched with one in need of their kind of strength, their unique abilities, in tacit celebration of finding their most perfect use. If they’re unlucky, they’ll be in limbo, finding superficial identity in a variety of host bodies, victims of suggestion. Media, marketing, women, different men: each pressure the man to find an identity that makes sense for the times and to assimilate appropriately and neatly. Such crash courses in identity are manufacturing a fickle breed of men, impatient and unstable–lost within a world of emotions they’ve just now been allowed to pronounce as their own. I mean this in the most unpatronizing way: poor men.
“Men are such jerks.” Well, yes, it seems that way sometimes. But not everyone responds to adversity in a dignified way. Women are jerks too, in different ways. But often what these jerks validate in each other, together, is the perpetuation of a culture that celebrates “jerkness.” Is it their fault though? Or is it these times wreaking havoc? Times that simplify, package and exploit what it is to be a man/a woman in order to make a profit, dissolving the human experience by mass marketing it, turning life into a series of Cliff Notes study guides. Gosh, this all sounds very dismal but, well, isn’t it?
There is a light at the tunnel though. Women are beginning to miss men, real men–or fictionalized, nostalgic views of men at least. Maybe they’ll make a comeback. “Men are back.” What a tagline. I think I heard that in a car commercial. Let’s hope ridiculous advertising dictates life this one time.
Author’s note: I was happy to learn that there is such thing as the Masculist movement… but than disappointed to learn it seems more of a direct response to feminism, like Al Bundy and Jefferson Darcy’s No Ma’am. Oh boy.