MANHOOD: Welcome, Men (and Women!): An Introduction
My name is Justin Williams. There is such power, grace, and risk in being a man with a voice.
At minimum, the exigencies of the societal concept of manhood demand the particular physical appearance of some type of hyper-masculinity, and at most, call for internal reflections sensitive and receptive strictly to the conservative status quo of the male gender.
That's just a really sexy way of saying as American males, we are raised to either need to look, or behave, like “men”, Some times for positively healthy reasons, and other times merely for nothing more than differentiating ourselves from the opposite (and by nature, lesser) sex. Sociologists would call this standard hegemonic masculinity-- a sort of script, if you will, by which all men ought to play out as in everyday life as the dominating demographic in a macro-sociological context. It is the standard to pursue, attain, and maintain, no matter the lack of realism the image presents in reality. I remember in grade school, my friends and I would talk about something we disliked and refer to it as "gay", or jokingly refer to one another as "fags" when one of us guys acted out a behavior or expressed a thought outside of the normality of "being a dude". Of course I wouldn't really understand until I went to college some ten years later what we were unknowingly doing back then, and still sometimes unfortunately do today--policing one another as males to keep our behaviors locked in the invisible box of social acceptance as we'd been conditioned to from childhood. Obviously, it had nothing to do with being homosexual. It had everything to do with what our notion of masculinity, boyhood, and eventually manhood, was and is.
Sex is rigidly biological; really no getting around that! And the psychology of sex is dangerous, true, but the sociology of gender is probably even more dangerous! Like race, it is often deemed a social construction designed to reinforce class, hierarchy, and disproportion. This means half of us literally can't see the problems. Like trusting in an invisible God, it takes faith to see that there is a problem with sex and gender in America. And right now, this very second, there are a lot of issues we simply cannot fix. I decided to include this particular topic on the SuperTangent project because I figured well, if there is one issue we can fix, it's how to be the best man we can ever possibly be. And I never want to let these thoughts of mine flee my mind as long as I have a platform to share my voice, when I know that ability denotes responsibility. Consider how dangerous that is, to utilize and manipulate technology in your favor no less than a hacker breaks in uninvited into a supposedly secure system of digital data and takes control, and to have your opinion out there for people to either co-sign on, or completely tear apart. There is such power, grace, and risk in being a man with a voice. We forget about how beautifully dangerous we can be in non-manipulative and healthy ways. We often forget that being a man has almost nothing to do with our genitalia, our hipster-beard selfies, domination of the gym in mentality or physique, or even the numbers of women we've brought to bed.
“Being a man has nothing to do with age/ you can be a boy til the day you lay in your grave”—Andy Mineo.
Of course, if you just to happen to have male genitalia, take hipster-beard selfies, dominate the gym, and have taken numbers of women to bed, this blog is not here to tell you to stop or cast judgement for what you've done, or what you do. This blog is not here to emasculate you, or mold you into the imagine of what I think a man is. Come on. More than anything I want this blog to be a safe platform for both men and woman to be able to speak on what healthy dimensions and best practices men like myself should be engaging in daily to better ourselves for our women, our children, our businesses, our hobbies, and anything else in our personal lives. My qualifications to speak on the matter go no further than the simple desire to want to get other folks engaged in a positive dialog where we can learn to empower one another and grow with one another. Just like the world of entertainment and entrepreneurship that I and this blog are so deeply immersed in, the social standards of manhood are something that bring a cohesiveness, a sense of community and companionship, to the battleground we fight on. Great standards we should uphold; not-so-great standards, we need to be reminded we do have the power to change them.
And We don’t necessarily need to have woodpecker arguments about nature vs. nurture or wang-measuring contests about how much more of a “man” I am than you or your husband. I’d rather learn from ya’ll and build ya’ll up, and keep an open-mind so that pride can be swallowed on sight. I’m twenty-seven homie, I simply don’t have time to pretend I’m something that I’m not.
That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with it weekly! I most certainly do. Ask my wife.
I want to provide fellowship and friendship so that you, as a man, can have success in your personal and professional relationships and whatever workplace you claim employment in, and get real with people. And I personally have no interest in what you look like. Are you overweight? Are you stick-skinny? You’re still a man, and I’m not here to tell you to change, let alone preach on what a man should be.
What I do want to achieve by posting a ton of blogs and articles written by leaders, men and women alike, that can all help us swallow pride, work harder, and become the role models we were born to be for our sons and daughters, is to discover a better definition of manhood than what the gym, the schoolyard, the bedroom and the television demands that we accept. What I love about sociology is that it calls into question everything about society. And it's that point, where we are finally no longer scared to simply ask questions, at which we can proceed with self-betterment. So get those mental gears and knobs turning, because there’s going to be a lot of effort, blood, sweat, laughter, reflection, and balls poured into this bad boy. We’ll never come close to understanding who we are or what we need to be if we don’t get together and talk about it, so I’m hoping you’re willing to grow with me on this journey. Let’s get to work and take the hardest step on this journey: talking.
This is SuperTangent.