One of the men. These are other men who are ones of the men:
I struggle with this. I prefer to ignore it, telling myself and other people that I’m a person, not a man. Pure. Uncompromised. Even in the female-dominated worlds I’ve chosen to inhabit, I’ve never felt like (or been required to feel like) I’ve transgressed or am unusual. And rarely have I felt any bond or connection with other men who choose to work in caring professions. Because I’m not like them. I’m not like anyone else. I’m not a man like they are.
Then last night I picked up this book called ‘Leaning‘, by Ronald Pelias and came to this passage:
“My tears might come when I’m watching a film, a stage performance, or even a television commercial. Often such tears seem less about the object of my attention and more about some emotional build-up from some other aspects of my life. These tears might best be described as a poignant bowel movement. They serve as a needed release”
This struck a chord. It [in a phrase I loathe but has become a part of my vocabulary thanks to woolly old counselling] resonated. Partly because of masterchef, but more generally it was the first piece of writing about being a man that I’ve not been dismissive of or felt unable to match up to. The first real connection with a man writing about (or singing, painting, dancing about) being a man.
As a man, I’ve been encouraged and allowed to see myself as pure and without comparisons. I’ve been permitted to define myself as connected or unconnected; to adopt or reject a wide variety of scripts with little fear of policing. This neutrality allows a great deal of freedom. But in that freedom you lose… No, not you – I.
I lose, I’ve lost some of the ability to feel solidarity. I’ve been so in love with the forward movement that freedom and purity permit that I’ve rejecting the albatross weight of solidarity.
The dissertation I’m writing at the moment is aiming to reconnect, to be dragged down and up and outwards by men, and by people who aren’t men. People to whom I’ve always been connected, but have preferred to ignore. I’ll be writing more about this over the summer, but for now here’s a man I’ve not felt the need to drop and cut off:
I recommend ‘Leaning’ to anyone who wants to hear a man talk poetically and clearly about what it’s like to be the man that he is. I like him.