Heya folks. I guess this is a lifestyle/personal philosophy-type question. How many of you have embraced what you consider to be “alternative” models of manhood? In other words, how many of you don’t really consider yourself to be typical men, both in outlook and behavior? Here’s why I ask: I love T-Mag and the T-mag forum, and I’m eternally grateful for all the fantastic training information I’ve gotten from them, but I am, and have been since day one, dismayed to see in the T-mag community a lot of what I consider to be very harmful, “typical,” macho male behavior. There seems to a consensus among T-mag readers and staffers alike that there are certain “normal”, acceptable male behaviors that include chauvinism and heterosexism (if not outright homophobia). People excuse such behaviors as “manly,” “natural,” and the like. Personally, I am of the opinion that “manliness” is a social construct, a completely learned (and therefore meaningless) set of behaviors; and that those who appeal to “manly” behavior as natural are really hiding their own insecurities or ignorance behind the en-vogue PC-backlash movement. The notion of “manliness” in American society today prohibits men from opening up in so many ways.
How many of you have marched in a gay pride parade (you don’t have to be gay to do it!), taken a feminist political theory course in college, or made peace with a belligerent stranger instead of getting into a fight with one? It just makes me so sad that our society forces men into very narrow patterns of behavior, and fear of being labeled “queer” or “girly” keeps men from embracing the world holistically. To the external world I’m a “T-man,” (shaved head, buff weightlifter guy who listens to metal, wrestled, played football, etc.) but I’m also an intellectual, a pacifist, a gay rights activist, a staunch feminist (Yes, men can be feminists too. I was almost a women’s studies minor in college. I cringe every time I read one of TC’s sexist Atomic Dog articles), and a high school teacher. I helped found an organization at my college that attempted to address problems with eating disorders, and I’ve started a club at the school where I currently teach to try to help foster positive body image among female students.
In our society, all this makes make me a set of walking contradictions, “manly” and “unmanly” at the same time. I get the sense I’m a rare bird in this respect. Are there men out there who live their lives similarly? The reason I bring all this up is that I do feel a sense of camraderie with T-maggers because of their intellectual approach to weightlifting, so it pains me to feel so intellectually isolated from them otherwise. I’d love to find out that I’m wrong. Take care, all.