Whether its film, television or any form of mass media we all get the same messages about men:Men are emotionally lacking and one dimensional.
This thinking prevents any one committed to male growth and love the opportunity to support or further develop healthy relationships with anyone of the male gender.
We have been conditioned to believe that if we assign a group of characteristics to one segment of our population and then punish them when they dare to change the game everyone will feel better. No one will suffer.
If you are a boy who does not fit into a neatly and constraining view of masculinity then what?
I wrote about this topic years ago in a solo play.
Secret keeping is for boys who want manhood. Secrets are what many sons do…. So many sons are good sons. A good son does what he is told.
A good son gets married.
A good son spends holidays with his family.
A good son is violent. A good son likes to drink.
A good son watches sports.
A good son denies having problems
A good son doesn’t cry until he can’t speak.
A good son does not have addictions.
A good son is not in times square at three in the morning hoping for sex and a violent end to his misery.
A good son does not have sex with several men in one day.
A good son knows when to stop.
Now my version of a good son is my own
I will not lie.
I will not hide.
I will not suck it up.
I laugh uproariously.
I dance. All the time.
I am a good son. Some sons are hated not because of what they are but because of what they are not.
If you are a boy who protests the societal punishment for not holding up his end of the bargain what’s next?
There really is no place in this society for men who resist patriarchy’s call.
There is no place where men’s vulnerability is expected or celebrated.
As a young boy and now fully grown male, I have often caused a stir when I’ve admitted I was unsure about a fact, popular opinion or widely held belief.
The real crime has been when expressing a divergent viewpoint and not immediately having something to fill that void.
Sitting in the place of confusion, doubt and struggle upsets anyone who derives their power from the compliance with society’s rules about men.
I have experienced many lovers and a few male friends who become visibly and audibly upset when I voice confusion or an oppositional view point and have nothing(to shove into the void that I have now created).
Once (after suggesting that my partner stop interacting with an ex and inviting this person into our home and life) I was told that what I felt was ridiculous and that I needed to provide examples of why this had been or would be a problem.
When I deigned to leave my hometown of Detroit to move to NYC and live out my dream of being a successful performance artist, I was grilled on how I would do this with my favorite phrase : What was my plan?
When my answers didn’t suffice because not only did I not have a plan but nobody I’d known had purposely and unabashedly ever gone after a dream so powerfully, I was called a dreamer and told to wake up and get my head out of the clouds.
I was not holding up my end of and promise to be a man: I lacked answers and a concrete step by step plan that could be easily understood and explained.
Men in movies always have answers and a plan at the ready no matter who it affects or how. Men on television always have more wisdom than any one person can possibly obtain in several lifetimes.
It is time that we show men growing in knowledge and doing the slow, methodical work of becoming brilliant.
How about a group of scientists or social justice seekers who don’t have all the answers and once they’ve admitted as much, move forward with a group plan gained by consensus.