It is easy being me. I am a man and am generally readily, often ardently, accepted as such by people I interact with. This comes in a couple of packages I am sure, but at it’s fundamental level I fit many visual and behavioural stereotypes for how a man is expected to look and act in the cultures I spend time within. I am burly and muscular, I dress casually in clothing designed for function rather than fashion, and I work with tools on recreational machines.
So. Clearly I will get other men, after all, I am one too, so I practically already know them. Right? This comes with aggravations, albeit minor: No I don’t like hockey or other fighting sports, Cars are a tool I grudgingly use, Meat is something I can easily leave out of my diet. I could go on, but that would give the wrong impression, it really is easy being me. This is why: I am in a position where the men I know both want to be around me and want me to want them around; when you are part of the audience your approval is sought.
This lends latitude in doing the things I want to do, which is nice, but more importantly offers me opportunity at little or no social cost to subvert the social scripts that many men use in performing for one another.
Some examples of how this has worked for me, (paraphrased, I am not one of those people who remembers conversations word for word.)
Scene: I am sitting on a poolside porch with my brother, feet bare and showing my purple toenails which catch his attention.
Him: “What are you teaching your son there?”
Me: “That painted toe nails are cool.”
Result: acceptance. No contradiction, no outrage, just quiet reflection on my response. One would need to know our relationship to note how remarkable that response is from him.
Scene: My bosses are arguing about a family function one of them has that the other is attending.
Boss who isn’t in the family: I am bringing Jenn. (Not her name, you know how this works.)
Boss who is: No, you aren’t. You barely know her.
Boss who isn’t: How will I get to know her if I don’t do things with her.
Boss who is: You are not bringing some random whore to my mother’s birthday party.
Me: Dude, I don’t much care who you say can’t come to your family’s party, but that isn’t okay.
Boss who isn’t: Thanks.
Boss who is: continued ranting, no derogatory terms.
Result: I have not again heard that sort of shit come out of Boss who is’ mouth.
Scene: Coworker regaling me with tales of his sexual exploits on the weekend.
Him: Brief graphic description of what he did to his partner (I don’t know as details make any difference, nothing noteworthy save the focus on him and the absence of her response.)
Me: So, did she cum?
Him: That’s none of your damn business.
Result: Subsequent conversation about privacy and an absence of future interactions where he discussed what he did with his partner.
Scene: Coworker is discussing the idea of later finding a partner and settling down. (Whatever that means.)
Him: I want a nice girl.
Me: I don’t know what you mean.
Him: Well, you know, I don’t want someone who has had a lot of experience.
Me: So that makes a woman nice?
Him: Yeah, you know, because I don’t want to run into one of her former partners.
Me: But you have sex a lot. Why is it different for you than for her?
Him: Because I am a guy and guys are expected to do that.
Me: How would you do so were there not women who like having sex with more than one partner?
Result: The next day he told me that what I said had made for a lot of thinking over night and that he was going to concentrate on who he was with, not what she might have done prior.
This isn’t a huge number of interactions, but neither is it every opportunity I have had, instead it’s just a cross section of what can happen for those of us in the audience. These sorts of conversations happen to me often, sometimes I get an opportunity daily to challenge the men I know. The thing that is remarkable is how often I am met, not with outrage, but with reflection and acceptance. I am quite sure this would not be the case were I not how I am. Being me is easy; I will use that as I can.
Dhorvath is easily spotted in his natural habitat perched on bikes.