Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ingredients for "Real Men" part 2

The ability to see into the inner workings of the male
psyche and figure what makes it work is complicated.
Men don't like to talk about feelings, share their personal
problems, or show interest in other guys as a rule.

There is so much fear of being considered to be a
'lesser' man, which for all intents and purposes is the
same as to be perceived as homosexual...it is truly the
'worst' thing that can happen in most men's minds.
That's sad on so many levels.

One of the reasons guys talk so much shit is to cover up
true emotions. If you watch, playful derogatory talk is
almost a shorthand for affection. It's the male equivalent
of a supportive hand on the shoulder and an expression of
concern. It is far more comfortable than the real thing.

Some things like this I fully understand. I even understand
the whole homophobia thing, since I too participated in
cruelty against gay people when I was closeted and feared
anyone knowing. I am ashamed to say that I was so worried
about protecting myself from such prejudice that I engaged
in it myself. So I do understand how those who don't want to
be persecuted could be tempted to find a target.

But men generally fear any action, attribute, wording, look,
or fill-in-the-blank that will create a question of their 'real'

For my purposes I'll confine masculinity as to
the ideal of being tough, capable, powerful, and stoic. So any
showing of dependence, emotion, 'failure,' difficulties, shame,
being shown up, or lacking knowledge is trouble.

This breeds a common male bonding pattern that can be either
healthy or risky, depending on the healthiness of the people
involved; competitiveness.

Healthy competition between true friends can be a motivator
as both parties try and rival one another in accomplishments
and standing, both propping each other up and spurring on
simultaneously. But feeling the need to 'keep up with the Jones'
is a dangerous drive for many men.

Men are surprisingly like women in their desire and need to be
valued and noticed. We strive for attention and strokes, though
we would never admit it or outwardly show it. But men get their
validation and identity (for ill or good) through the envy, fear,
respect, love, and finances that are bestowed upon them. This is
how we tend to evaluate our worth and purpose. Take any of
these things away, and...

A man's reputation and name used to mean something. Still does
in some corners, for some folks. But men, with all the pressures
to perform and provide (usually for more than just themselves)
are also very capable of taking shortcuts to coming out on top, and
justifying the means with the end.

Since the idea of emotion, vulnerability, pain, etc are equated
with weakness, there is then the demand to keep such real
feelings under wraps. Since 'everybody else' id doing it, the next
guy mimics them to fit in and not wear his heart on his sleeve,
and the pattern continues.

If no one is willing to take down their mask, how do we know
what each other look like underneath? How will we know that
the fears and insecurities we suffer from--and think are so
unique or crazy--are actually common?

So many ills of this world could be alleviated by simple
improvements in communication.

Are we to learn how to act as men by osmosis?
Are we supposed to use the analytical method;
Observe, Discern, and then Implement...hoping we figured
correctly and can hash it out?

Whatever happened to mentors and community leaders?
To ask for help now seems the quickest way to be
ridiculed and flogged. And it's a tricky mess; some of us are
in a bad way, but a handout isn't the answer. I may not
make it without help, but I'm not sure I want to make it if
'help' is someone else doing it for me or swooping in to save
the day. People have to survive pride intact.

What's the parable about teaching a man to fish rather
than just giving it to him?

I have turned to many men to ask for help in getting
a perspective on this. Asked for time to talk and ask
questions and share ideas. Only rarely has the request been
met; typically it seems to be an unsettling request and they
stammer and make excuses, never looking at me the same

I do have 2 people I can occasionally get to share ideas or
exchange info with me, but the times they are up to doing it
are few and far between, and it happens according to their
emotional timing, generally not my need. It feels like "We've
met the unspoken quota until next time!" and there's a
threshold met.

It is better than nothing, but it's limited, confusing,
guarded, infrequent, and doesn't carry over into our other
dealings; like a secret pact that is ignored as soon as it is
through being discussed.

I 'get' that most people don't like talking directly about
emotions, life, and other intense topics. I don't understand it,
but I have figured it out. And we wonder why folks sit and
fume and bottle up their craziness until it ends up exploding
from the pressure of not being relieved.

I wish I could count one person that I could call to share
honestly with who would not react by excusing themselves from
the call, judging me, laughing at me, interrupting me, or
avoiding me after the revelation.

Maybe I ask too much. Overly demanding and having unrealistic
expectations are 2 of my issues, to be sure. Others say these
are matters for a spiritual/personal pursuit. But after 25 years
of searching and attempting everything under the sun, I don't
feel any closer to an answer of any kind.

Maybe that's an answer of its own.

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