Monday, July 6, 2015

Get Real

Links on Real Man:

8 items listing the desirable traits of of what makes a man real, a “man’s man.”
There have been many changes in the roles of the sexes over the past 60 years. As a result, the expectation of men and the standard we are held to has morphed a little. But one thing is for sure: There are certain traits that define masculinity that most men and women would still agree upon.
This isn't a question of backwards thinking or outdated sensibilities. This is the type of stuff that points to the fundamental characteristics that most men still hold dear. Strength, reliability and action are all still core parts of what makes a man's man. This doesn't mean that you're failing if you aren't achieving some of these aspects, but rather, they're goals to keep in mind as you forge through your quest to become better.
Any way you slice it, men are still going to compete in all aspects of life -- and you need to be ready for what gets thrown your way.  [introduction page, emphasis added.]
I find it interesting that this list is in the dating section (see the directory in the link address). The whole site kind of blew me away, and I am pretty certain it will end up generating a lot of conversation in the class and at home.

I really like that the traits and explanations seem to highlight being a responsible adult. There has been a lot of talk in my personal world about how so many quasi-adults seem to be extending adolescence into their thirties, and mourning the pressures of real life, real family issues or career politics to grow up.

When it comes to women, the message is to be real as opposed to an imposter -- when I was younger this was part and parcel of the women’s movement, tied up with no-fault divorce and another run at the Equal Rights Amendment. Anyone remember that Enjoli perfume ad from the 80s? The lyrics went “I can bring home the bacon/ Fry it up in a pan / and never let you forget you’re a man/” This was an impossible image and standard, but one many of us internalized at the time as what it meant to be “real.” Lots of Hollywood stuff intervened in the 80s, a tragic time in the US culture IMHO, and women’s roles experienced a backlash from the sexual revolution of the late 60s and 70s. 

Latch key kids and juvenile delinquency were buzz words of the day, their existence blamed on broken homes (never on the failure of a post war economy), and the mother was more often than not seen as the one who was supposed to repair all wrongs, to set her children on the path to healing, without being That Bitch Who Wants Child Support.

So when I found this poem on what makes a woman a real woman, I really loved it. But then, I would. Finding meaning for ourselves is harder than ever. I am grateful that the hippies tore down so many of the structures of society, but I also swim in unchartered waters as a result. Woman have had a particularly rough time of it, breaking free of the ties that bind and define us as members of society while also trying to help glue our homes together under a cripplingly broken financial system that no longer provides for even the basics. Our sense of self, of family, of community have all suffered blows. So when Eastman writes that real women get to decide what makes them real, not anyone else, I cheered a bit inside. This is hard, because it requires unflinching introspection and self-knowledge, something that many of us simply don’t have the capacity for, even if we are so inclined. It can lead to more self-doubt and self-loathing than should seem possible, and once completed, it can leave us feeling deeply alone in the world, for all that we embrace our unique definition of ourselves and take pride in the work we did to get there. Radical honesty, with ourselves and others, only works in a relationship (friends, family, community -- it doesn’t have to be huge, but it does have to be present) of radical acceptance (not the same as permission or blessing, but stone cold acceptance). To have acceptance without honesty is to sport delusion; to have honesty without acceptance is just mean.

This speaks to the critical climate women are creating for other women, and I applaud Eastman and others who are debunking this method of relating to ourselves and to each other. Huzzah.