In the next 25 seconds, think of at least 10 things that are feminine, and thus, real men don’t do. Now, which quality can you say for sure exist within women but don’t in men? It’s pretty hard isn’t it? Society tells us that masculinity is the antithesis of femininity. As Cameron reminds us, not only does femininity and masculinity go hand-in-hand and exist within every man, but, as a result, the presence of femininity does not negate a man’s masculinity.
Growing up, there was a very specific picture of what a real man was. He was tall and muscular with a deep voice. He smelled woody and/or musky. Nothing light or floral. Nothing whimsical. He was of a slightly bigger stature, so he wasn’t thin. Chances are he might have had a man belly, facial and body hair, and wasn’t really into keeping himself overly groomed.
A real man got a haircut, but that’s it. He smoked cigarettes, watched sports, drank beer (not wine), and ate the most out of the family. He was the one that always got the big piece of chicken, to carve the turkey (or whatever meat). And when it came to driving, he was never the passenger. He was the handyman, the fixer-upper, and the absolute last resort when it came to crying on someone’s shoulder or asking for help with homework. And the only emotion that he was ever allowed to really show was anger.
Obviously, I didn’t feel like felt that standard. And I got made fun of because of it by being called a faggot, gay, and a sissy. And that was before I knew anything about my sexual preference. When that happened, I never said anything; I was too scared to. I’d never got into a fight with anyone physically in my entire life. But the words hurt, and they made me feel less than. I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, I just felt really inadequate.
Hell, even as an adult, I always think, what would ever happen if someone flat-out on the street called me a faggot? I don’t know if I would bark back. I would probably ignore them or act like I didn’t hear them. Knowing that makes me feel uneasy. Again, being seen as not being manly enough to stand up for yourself makes you a bitch by every definition. That makes you scared, weak.
When [I was called a faggot], I never said anything; I was too scared to…. But the words hurt, and they made me feel less than. I knew I couldn’t do anything about it, I just felt really inadequate.
I’m afraid of being seen as those things from other people who would witness that, specifically black people or males because we’ve been taught that we have to stand up for ourselves. I’m terrified of that. I don’t want to hurt myself or get into a situation where I can’t reverse. So, ignoring it is the best way I’ve tried to solve it in the past. I’ve justified it as “not giving that person the energy.” But then I’d always ask myself, “What am I sacrificing by not responding?”
When I think about my perception of masculinity over the years, I realize it’s changed drastically. I thought it was only one thing. After experiencing different sexualities, I’ve realized it comes in all forms. We may try to fashion ourselves to be like one another to make us more similar, but every man is different.
There’s so much femininity in masculinity just as there is a degree of masculinity in femininity. Whether we want to admit it or not, everything is fluid, so much that I know my masculine side and my feminine sides very well. I know how to play up both ends in the event that I need to play up one over the other. But most importantly, I know that my femininity doesn’t negate my masculinity.
After experiencing different sexualities, I’ve realized it comes in all forms. We may try to fashion ourselves to be like one another…but every man is different… most importantly, I know that my femininity doesn’t negate my masculinity.