What does it mean to be a man? I ponder this as I slouch over with my breakfast croissant. Moreover what does it mean for me to be a man? I cannot put it into words as elegantly or comprehensively as Thomas McBee in his Amateur. I identify with this book, and I’m going to be honest; I didn’t want to at first. It was a book about things that scared me: fighting, being feminine despite being a man, and the standards of being male. The more I read, the more I realized many of the character’s problems were mine growing up –and maybe that’s the point; that all men face these issues.
I am a feminine man, and my parents often told me I shouldn’t be so sensitive or emotional. They often told me that I wasn’t being a boy. McBee makes a good point in his book. He says that boys often go crazy because they were told their feelings of tenderness and empathy were wrong, and those are just human feelings.
So growing up, I learned feelings were wrong (and maybe this also comes from the Asian community and culture). It became binary, and it was the same for my sister. She was praised for driving like a man. She was praised for being aggressive, whereas my aggression was shunned. Perhaps wanting their approval, she began to develop more masculine traits. And perhaps in rebellion, I rejected my masculinity for a long time. But now I’m realizing I need to incorporate my masculinity. Because that’s inside me, and it’s not to say that people are binary. That’s the whole point. Neither gender is better. They’re just labels. It’s the connotations that are bad. And each person has elements of both gender. Ying and Yang.
There’s something I need to confront in myself; and I think I can only channel it outwards through physical activities. There’s something monstrous in me. For whatever reason, I build muscle quicker than most people. For whatever reason, I can be very aggressive. For whatever reason, I have a lot of energy compared to other people. What I’m trying to say is, I have to exercise the evil out of me. After a 6 mile run, I felt that peace of mind I achieved from writing out an epiphany and from meditating.
The greatest evil of masculinity is the propensity of physical violence. That’s in me… And I need to channel that. That’s why I will learn boxing, which honestly scares the shit out of me… I have to tame that in me. The man I want to become is tender, honest, empathetic, strong, openly vulnerable, and can protect my partner not harm her. I want to be the best I can be for myself, but truthfully it’s ultimately for you… I’m sorry for the pain I’ve put you through. You have every right to be scared because it scares me too… But I’m learning those forms of aggression only come out from repressed men, their shadows basically. Only weak men hurt others because they hurt themselves to the point of breaking. I was a weak man. I need to become stronger.