The closet sissy’s guide to manhood

When I was twelve, P.E. class was a highlight of the school day. After half an hour of drills and exercises, the teacher would announce it was ‘free sports’ time. All the boys in my class, and some girls, would race outdoors and organise themselves with astonishing efficiency into a loud game of football. I loathed football. Maybe the only reason was its popularity among all the other boys—although, in hindsight, I’m sure the fact that my parents weren’t football fans helped. If I was lucky, two or three boys would peel away from the group and ask for a basketball instead. That game I liked. More often I would have to join the remaining girls, playing badminton, or dodge-ball. The shame.

What I really wanted to play, though, was even more subversive. My favourite playground pastime was skipping the Double Dutch jump ropes. Since I was very young I greatly enjoyed skipping and jump ropes. I was also very good at both. In fact, the only reason I got away with taking a skipping rope to class every day without being called a sissy was my proficiency. I could jump at speed, backwards, and do tricks that even the girls weren’t capable of. This went a long way to deflect derision into respect (or at least quiet puzzlement) from my male peers. It wasn’t enough, however, to fit in. For that I would have had to play football, and play it well. Since I lacked the drive and the brain-to-foot coordination to do those, respectively, the best I could hope for was to quietly join in the other sports. I could not, however, ask the splinter group to play Double Dutch with me. If the suggestion to ask our teacher for the ropes didn’t come from the girls then I would suck it up and play something else. I didn’t realise it then, but what I was doing was subconsciously protecting the brittle shell of masculinity that all adolescent boys and most adult men feel they need when in the company of others.

Cracking open a cold one with the boys

I am a man. Well, a small and young man, maybe a boy? Male, at any rate. He/him. I did not chose any of those labels, but I also found no reason to complain about them. It makes sense: I am cis-gender and men have it better. Of course, I would later in life become aware of feminism, and support the notion that a stronger polarisation of the genders harms and limits women. It is only recently, however, that I have started to think of the ways in which gender harms men. Looking back, I’m surprised that the penny didn’t drop earlier—my whole life has been a subtle but constant struggle with traditional (Western) masculinity.

Small disclaimer: I am no gender scholar. My interest and knowledge of gender comes from personal experience, conversations with friends, popular books and the dark crevices of the Internet. This blog post is heavily inspired by Grayson Perry’s The Descent of Man, which I have just finished to a great deal of introspection. He says it best: “What if half the victims of masculinity are men?” (The other half are women, but you know that.) Continue reading “The closet sissy’s guide to manhood”

The obscurity of homophobia

There is a quote doing the rounds on the Web, wrongly attributed to Morgan Freeman, which goes: “I hate the word homophobia. It’s not a phobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole.” Rather than paste the quote unadulterated on tumblr, I thought I would expand on this fascinating topic.

Homophobia is, to me, like to so many others, a mystery. It is one of those inexplicable accounts of idiocy that now and again crop up in human history, like racism and witch-burning. Actually, no: people probably burnt ‘witches’ because they were afraid. But gays?

One Internet user put it admirably: Imagine you are queuing at McDonald’s, and you are really excited for the McNuggets you are about to order. And then the guy in front of you orders a Big Mac and suddenly you explode, enraged at the thought of him not ordering McNuggets. Such is the unfathomable irrationality of homophobia to everyone but homophobes.

To this date, I have never heard an objective argument in favour of homophobia. It is a concept impossible to defend, even by those whose life is possessed by it. The closest some come to an answer is, perhaps, in religion. However, sin is but a moral code which cannot (and should not) be made universal; therefore, if not irrational, it is at least subjective. On the other side of the spectrum, some biologists argue that homosexuality is not “natural”. Except it is. We are all the products of nature. And the goal of Life is not to reproduce. Because Life has no goals, nor does evolution.

Please write back to me if you believe some light can be shed on the obscurity of this ailment. I just want to know why? Oh, and another interesting question: why are all the World’s great homophobes male?