Life as a man...
edited: Saturday, August 04, 2012
By Robert J Dowell
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, August 04, 2012
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I was asked by a friend to write an article about "Life as a man". This is what I came up with.
‘How should we start…’, I hear myself ask.
‘With some thought…’, came the answer…so here goes.
It is always a strange concept to try and portray something as divisive as gender without resorting to the stereotypes, but I guess you have to find something to latch onto, otherwise the whole exercise could be reduced to a slow ramble through idle thoughts that have little direction and even less relevance to the original question. Further, without a common frame of reference it could also be difficult to say nowadays whether we are male, female or simply androgynous.
If I was to sum up being a man 40 years ago, and ironically when I was born, I would have to say that it was as a leader, but then that stereotype has largely been set aside after the rather strange and somewhat failed experiment that was ‘New Man’, brought into existence during the 80’s.
In today’s world or weak leaders, corruption and greed constantly played out by the media, directionless religions and very few role models that aren’t ethically bankrupt, it’s increasingly difficult I believe for either men or women to figure out their gender role within society. I am also firmly of the belief that it would be disingenuous to consider that this is all just a symptom of the society we live in, meaning that if we somehow found the cure it would all just go away.
Recently I read that our current society has yet to accept the adolescent in us all. It proposed, and rightly so, that if we all accept the part of us that needs to be adolescent, then we can start to understand how we are to progress towards adulthood. But due to the controlling actions of those that least wish to relinquish their hold on the adolescent desires, greed and emotions, we will fail to fully realise our potential for human wholeness. As with so much in our lives, the one thing that has been overlooked is that nature abhors stagnation almost as much as it does a vacuum; so in the end I feel that we as the human race have two options, accept the coming change or become a side note in the history of the planet or the universe.
For me the question, ‘What is life like as a man?’, is something I have never been asked. It is an interesting question in itself, by virtue that, not only was I asked by an enlightened woman, but also by the fact that I don’t think I have ever asked myself this very question. I have from time to time thought about people, women, children or other men, but never about the very personal ‘self’.
This is not to say I haven’t discussed the question, or looked at the more comical side of the argument, that plays on the general stereotypical failures of either gender. But for me I guess I should start at what I feel it is to be a woman, only then will I have an understanding of the void that is left.
By definition, ‘Art Nouveau’ was considered feminine, due to its curves, natural references and graceful flowing lines, whilst ‘Art Deco’ was considered masculine because it had harder lines and a functional mechanical form. Neither were considered bad, but people had their preference for one or the other. What can be said without a shadow of doubt is that it conjures up the very essence of the 1920’s and 30’s. In much the same way I guess we are all looking for our Art Nouveau’s and Art Deco’s, that elusive characteristic that gives us a starting point to our identity, somewhere to make our foundation and help us grow.
From my perspective, and speaking as a person first and a man second, I would have to say that the feminine qualities, and by definition, women’s core personality drivers are, grace, beauty, intelligence, caring…I could go on, but you get my point. Now before some of you out there say, ‘Well if that isn’t a stereotype, then what is?’, I would like to point out that these are my qualifiers for what I believe make a woman unique, but not something that applies uniquely to all women. Additionally I would say that factually most women are graceful and beautiful, just by their very physical virtue and nature.
It is equally correct to say that in general men do not sit around admiring other men, but they will often, crudely or otherwise, admire women for all sorts of reasons. Conversely, it could also be accurate to say that all those previous qualifiers could be seen as outward personality traits.
Beauty is often quoted as being only skin deep, but even here it is not something that is a given. You can be beautiful on the outside, but thoroughly hideous on the inside and vice versa, but that still does not attempt to understand why or how I find something beautiful. It could just as easily be said that I find a personality beautiful, because it is both interesting to me and also because it compliments both the mental and spiritual aspects of my personality.
In some cases women, demonstrate a lamentable feminine personality, not through any deliberate reason, but because their personality sides with the more masculine preference and traits. This would explain why I believe that in most cases these are the common elements of personality that you can find in a woman, they are by no means completely exclusive; Which, conveniently does not preclude the fact that some men demonstrate many of the more feminine traits.
With such a convoluted personality process, and the conflict of stereotypes that try to pigeon hole what is hard to pin down, is it any wonder why books such as ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ should cause so much angst with modern day people. In many ways social drivers are probably more to blame for the divisions between men and women than any other reason. Additionally it could also be said that social drivers are not static, and, from time to time they change.
Take the fact that 100 years ago, women had very little political rights, they could not vote and job opportunities outside of maternally based professions were all but laughable. But through the actions of a few focused women, the social drivers for that bygone era where changed to start the long haul to a more balanced society. Yes, there is still a long way to go, but it has to start somewhere. In Middle Eastern cultures it is still considered highly unacceptable for women to talk to men they do not know. More and more as I look into this question I am of the opinion that we as a people are contained and moulded by the society that drives us.
With all this in mind I am of the opinion that one of the reasons I have never asked myself this question is because I am foremost a person, a human being, who happens to think in a certain way. The fact that I have my reproductive organs on the outside does not preclude this fact, it just gives some people the right to be highly critical of some of the decisions I make.
So to answer the question as a man, is something that I in many ways feel is hard to do. I believe it is like trying to describe the colour red to a person who has been blind from birth. I often get angry when I hear the arguments about ‘men are better than women’, or vice versa. It somehow seems all to reminiscent of the playground arguments about ‘My dad’s bigger than your dad’ or some adolescent pissing contest.
As if to ram this point home with examples, I recently chatted with several women whilst on and online dating network. All said that most men only wanted one thing, and that to my considerable shock was a one-night stand. But bizarrely I also met a few women who took the dim view that I was far too serious and that they only wanted some fun, i.e. a one-night stand. Are we really all that different, when you get past the gender issues that seem to be at the heart of all our problems.
Biologically, it has been proven to show that women are wired differently to men, but this still does not explain away the alarming level of similarities between each gender. It is like two halves of the same brain, things come together to form the whole person.
As we move away from the world of hard divisions and materialistic bounds and gaze towards the spiritual future, I feel that more and more people will start to think of themselves as just that – ‘people’. With religion floundering in the theological mud and science unable to answer the really interesting questions, it is only a matter or time before people wake up to the whole sale truth; People first, spirit second, gender, belief and any other baggage last.
Welcome to the Human condition…