Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Who's the man?

I've been wanting to write this for awhile now. I've been dreading writing this for awhile now.

What makes a man a "man"? Is manhood decided by a type of job, hobby, or by the toys that we possess?

I've been wanting to write this because it needs to be said. I've been dreading it because of the feeling of insecurity that comes with questioning my own "manliness".

Where I work we have training sessions that happen every so often. These are installation technicians learning how to drill, climb ladders, crawl under houses, and about a dozen other manly things. For some reason the level of testosterone is directly related to the level of immaturity at any given time.

Direct challenges of "manness" were all around me. Who could install the quickest? One guy calls another guy a wuss. He later makes comments about some other guy's wife. Grunts and various bodily "noises" are heard in the surrounding areas. All I can picture are a bunch of rams smashing heads with each other to prove who is the biggest and the best.

It got me thinking. I have an office job. I sit at a desk working with a computer. The other members of my team are women. My supervisor is a woman. My supervisor's boss is a woman. I see all of the men as technicians - not one of them is a woman. What does this say about me? Does a job define a man? I don't think so; at least I hope it does not. I believe that the fact that an able bodied man HAS a job helps define him. He is the provider for his family. No matter what type of job, he is providing.

Then I wonder about strength. I'm not what one might call "buff", nor am I "strong", or even "toned". I'm out of shape and far from muscular. Is physical strength what defines a man? Thankfully, I don't think that is it either. It is the inner strength that helps define a man. It is the ability to comfort and be a rock in tough times. It is the ability to choose to do right; even when doing the wrong thing is easier.

Women often think they are the only ones held to unrealistic standards. This is as close to the truth as I am to becoming a Democrat. Men on tv and in magazines are the tough type - ranchers, firemen, construction workers. Watch five minutes of a soap opera and you will get an unbelievably inaccurate portrayal of a man. I will say that women have it worse, but it is no picnic for guys either.

Both women and men need to drop the stereotypes. When three or four men are together they don't need to beat their chests and attempt to prove who is the toughest. When women gather they do not need to attempt to outdo each other through manipulation.

I'll finish it by saying this. If I run into you one day and you start talking about hammers, car stereos, towing capacity, tractors, or torque you will lose me. I do not know anything about any of those subjects, nor will I attempt to learn them just to compete.

I am a man. I don't need to prove it to anyone.

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