Alright, I’m outside on the porch of my cousin’s spot, and as usual the neighborhood children are all about. One of the young boys that we tutor gives me what I assume was supposed to be a handshake. Now, I’m from an era when a grown man grabs your hand, and grips it tightly for about ten minutes while pretending to hold a conversation with you as they look dead in your eyes. You are not allowed to wince, and you are not allowed to take your eyes off of their pupils. At least, that is how I was raised. So, this young fellow gives me this half-assed limp reaction to a hand in his face. My instincts immediately kicked in, and somehow the voice of Bernie Mac became mine as I stated,”Oh no, youngster, let me see your hand…”
Now, I don’t do the vice grip like I was forced to endure growing up, but I do want the young boys to understand they need to show a certain degree of physical force among men. This is not that hypermasculine extreme fighting type grip, but I feel the need to keep the young men sturdy in their upbringing. I gripped his small palm, looked him dead center, smiled and began to ask him questions about school. He responded, tightened his grip, and learned his introductory lessons in male bonding. I felt like a champ for my small portion of social responsibility, and returned to the lab.
As I sat down contemplating thoughts of institutionalizing the culture I was helping to develop, I thought of a Khairi Akili update from Twitter. In the update, he makes a statement regarding men with hands softer than their women. Now, when I read it, I immediately went into security mentality: I know I haven’t been on top of my workouts like I should given the situations I find my Self in, so I dropped to the floor and did 25 diamond push ups. I retweeted(resend on Twitter) the update for others to consider, and went about my business of retweeting other updates I found worthy of my “#FuckTwitter” campaign. Shortly after, someone else resent the original update with a statement about patriarchy alarm being set off. Although I didn’t respond, I felt it was difficult to argue points regarding male socialization in what I define as warlike conditions. I don’t want soft males. I don’t want overly aggressive females. I don’t dismiss the ideas of dominate male adjectives, but the reality that I face doesn’t permit me the leisure to avoid being prepared for a world of conflict.
There is a young girl in the neighborhood, one of the relatives of a family I work with, and I often show her how to throw a complete jab and uppercut. I don’t do this as a means of redirecting the notions of how a girl should behave, I show her this because she gets bullied a lot. It is a more practical approach in an environment where theories of feminism don’t often meet actuality. And no, I’m not going to teach her how to grip my hand. Why? I simply don’t like little girls being swamped by the pressures of male acceptance, and tom boys tend to find them Selves locked into that paradigm from my observations.
We’ve dealt pretty comprehensively with the concepts of male privilege and socialization here in Asylum. In practice, I’ve found my Self literally laughing at the degree of contradictions posed by more vocal representatives of the feminist thought online. The same women that scream about male privilege and male socialization, also don’t want men that aren’t conditioned by the same system they say they are against. On a field work type of discussion, this gets annoying. I’m tasked with assisting single mothers and the development of their children. It is very difficult to pull away from my own conservative notions. Now, I will probably never be mistaken as an absolutist in my thinking. Every situation, and every individual that finds them Self in certain situations has to rise to the occasion in the best manner they can. To me this means the development of diverse abilities no matter the gender, race, ethnicity, or what may have you. However, when it comes to my ideals, and sure, I’m in a position that most don’t ever find them Self in, I still have my own concepts of what a woman should be like. I don’t want to help raise less than feminine women. I don’t want to be accused of aiding in the development of less than masculine males. And yes, there are social parameters here that I am consistently reflecting and balancing my training by.
I’m far removed from most of my thoughts on the notions of “real” men, or “real” anything given the flexibility of the human mind. Yet, I do find it necessary to act according to conservative ideas about how children should be reared. There has to be a baseline in my world. I see teenage mothers everyday. I see young men without a set understanding of gender actualization everyday. In my thinking, in order to create a particular reality, some person has to act out of a script. Even if that means me writing the script for them. You can’t have a set model for the concept “man” if nobody is willing to act out the principles that we are using to define “man” by. You can’t expect to have a world of women with guidance, if they don’t have a set standard by which to operate from. Any deviation is allowable given that at least you understand that this is a deviation. I’m a professional rule breaker, I understand this well.
This is not me saying women or girls shouldn’t do one particular thing or the other. It is me saying that I’m not going to be the one to teach a girl lessons I deem more suitable for boys in a context where I find it unnecessary. I take issue with women that think they can think like men in the same manner that I pause when White people claim to think like Blacks. I can’t be asked to perform tasks suitable to my nature when compelled by popular political propriety to do the opposite. I didn’t slide out of my mother with the ability to write at this level. Manhood is similar;there are acts that have to be done in order for me to hold on to the title of “man.” And understanding that every human with a vagina above the age of 18 is not going to met my standard of “woman” in every instance, I want to be able to raise girls with that appreciation for the office of “woman.”
And with that said, I feel my athletic side brimming with joy as the young soldiers have found pigskin…