HELL IF I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAN

BOXER

If you’ve read my blog for awhile you know I have to be both mother and father to my 10 year old boy. Often, I have expressed frustration over being at a total loss when it comes to teaching him how to be a man. But there’s no one else around to do the job, so that leaves me. I don’t claim to understand men; if I did, I’d probably be in a healthy relationship right now. Even though I write from my male character’s POV in my romances, who knows whether it’s really accurate? It may be, it may not be—ultimately, it’s a male mindset from a woman’s point of view.

Women are always complaining about how they want their men to be more emotional, more expressive and sensitive. I don’t want that. I’m already that. I sure as hell don’t need two of me blubbering over a romantic comedy. I need a man to be strong mentally, esp. in stressful or dangerous situations, and strong physically, as in they’re able to kick the ass of another man if needed.

I happen to be one of the least warm and fuzzy women on the planet. I don’t like talking about my feelings, and I sure as hell don’t want to discuss my feelings with a man. That’s what I have girlfriends for when I’m so inclined. I don’t need to know how you feel about me or where our relationship (if we have one) is going, because as far as I’m concerned actions speak louder than words. I’ve had boyfriends tell me they loved me while at the same time were screwing other women, so words don’t mean much to me.

Weakness in men makes me emotionally uncomfortable and frustrated. I know that comes across as harsh, but if you have a toothache and you’re writhing about in bed, asking for last rites to be delivered, well, in my eyes, your penis has just gotten smaller by about 3 inches. I’m pretty sure that unapologetic attitude comes from having gone through 16 hours of unanesthetized back labor, getting a cavity filled without Novocaine, and growing up with a mean, nasty father.

How does this all translate to my son? From the time he was little I was the kind of mom who, when he fell down and hurt himself, would coddle him for a few seconds, then send him on his way. (Suck it up, you’re a boy.) I don’t have a hellava lot of sympathy for him when he’s whiny with a head cold, but I’ll happily administer the Motrin and vitamin C. I don’t force him to talk when he doesn’t want to, or demand he give me a proper kiss (he gives me the top of his head to kiss). And from what I’ve seen, most people tend to act the same way with their boys, esp. dads. After all, we gotta teach our boys to be tough, right?

My son is extremely attached to me, definitely a mama’s boy, not real aggressive, slight in body, shy, anxious. These are not traits that bode well for a man, imo. Men should be confident, self-assured, outgoing, bold, shouldn’t they? In the words of my father, my son is “a weenie,” made worse by the fact that I’m a single mom.

I am embarrassed to admit I agreed with my father for a time, if only because I couldn’t get the kid out of my bed until he turned 10. He wasn’t tackling the crap out of others in football, hanging out with a pack of boys on the corner, setting off fireworks, or able to watch scary movies without becoming frightened. How in the world would he ever be able to assimilate into a society where the majority of boys are like this?

I’m reading a book called The Strong Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff, and I realize now that my son isn’t a weenie, he’s sensitive, and trying to force him to be something he’s not will result in more harm than good. Example: I took my son to see a concert when he was 8. The Black Eyed Peas (who he loved at the time) opened for U2. He wanted to leave after the second U2 song because they were “too loud.” I was so disappointed in him. (It was U2, for God’s sake!) What I didn’t understand at the time was that he’s extremely sensitive to loud noises and I’ll never be able to change that.

It’s a shame that boys growing up in North America have a harder time of it when they’re sensitive, creative introverts—that is, until they grow up to become a famous musician or actor and the world worships them. Telling sensitive boys not to cry or forcing them to do activities they don’t feel comfortable doing will undoubtedly saddle them with huge intensive therapy bills later on in life.

Our western society thinks Bruce Willis in the Die Hard films or James Bond when they think of “real men,” or (shudder) Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don’t know about you, but I think I need to reevaluate my definition of masculinity. After all, I had to reevaluate my definition of a “real dog.” I wanted a Lab—strong, steady, reliable, but the weight limit in our complex dictated we set our sights more on little runt dogs. Well, that and my son insisting on a Chihuahua after seeing the movie, Beverly Hill Chihuahua. While the Chihuahua we ended up getting is certainly a miserable diva to the tenth degree, I’ve learned to be thankful for what we have, even if I have to grit my teeth the entire time

What’s your definition of masculinity? Do you think perceptions of men are changing?

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