The limiting myths of manhood

I appreciated Charles Blow’s column in the New York Times today about masculinity and manhood in reaction to commentator Roland Martin‘s tweets about men in pink suits and more. It’s debatable whether Martin was being homophobic, as GLAAD has charged, but he certainly underscored the fact that society defines men in the narrowest of terms.

Writes Blow: “The man that we mythologize in the backs of our minds is a cultural concoction, an unattainable ideal, a perfect specimen of muscles and fearlessness and daring. Square-jawed and well-rounded. Potent and passionate. Sensitive but not sentimental. And, above all else, unwaveringly heterosexual and without even a hint of softness. ”

Society is softening its view of transgender people, but still female-to-males, I think, are deemed much more acceptable than the reverse. And that’s because it’s OK for a woman to show male qualities or to even transition to become male. But for a man to show female qualities, or, god forbid, to BECOME female? The idea is so threatening to the aura of masculinity that it is condemned all around.

If only Blow’s assertion was the standard bearer: “Start with this fact: The truest measure of a man, indeed of a person, is not whom he lies down with but what he stands up for. If we must be judged, let it be in this way. And when we fall short, as we sometimes will, because humanity is fallible, let us greet each other with compassion and encouragement rather than ridicule and resentment.”

Compassion and encouragement. Can you imagine? I have to remind myself of this daily. Compassion and encouragement for all. Not only for our chosen allies.

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