This is an excerpt of a text conversation (monologue) between Moose and I. As you can see, my partner is a tad long-winded. My contribution to the “conversation” is in italics. In this, he touches on male identity, the masculine side of feminism, the Mankind Project, and a solitary man’s place in our society. With his permission, here is his mental vomitage of the day, with minimal syntactical corrections:
As a straight man who was raised by a woman to be sensitive and progressive, I am better than all other men – in my mind, all guys are the bad guys. But as a male, I am still treated better than most women in reality – feminism is an overreaction to patriarchy, but patriarchy is still very much alive.
So in my mind, I’m inferior to women because women have a superior moral status to men (feminism). But being an attractive, straight, white, male-bodied creature, I am still treated better than most other people (the still-strong realities of patriarchy and superficiality).
And I’ve noticed that this problem is common. There’s a whole Men’s Movement dedicated to it. The Mankind Project (MKP) – a men’s movement organization from the 80’s – has 20 or so chapters in the Portland, OR area alone full of semi-feminized men just like me. It’s fascinating being in such an isolating and yet numerous demographic. I’ve always been fascinated by gay culture, but I’m not gay. I have less homophobia than most males, but I still worry.
And the trick is not feeling sorry for yourself for what you immutably are.
The trick is not to feel sorry for ourselves for what we are. And maybe to break the isolation – which is greater than normal Tough Guys feel behind their tough guise. I’ve been “initiated” by the MEN of the mankind project – which in some ways just sounds (and makes me feel) even more gay. They have a New Warrior Training Seminar. It’s $1000. And seemed adorably powerfully effective for the men who were far more desperate even than me. I’d rather be together in the I-am-male-and-I-have-feelings cancer ward than be like that chimp I read about in college: Next of Kin by Roger Fouts describes how it was raised by a human family in the states in the 60’s. Raised AS a human. It had seen other chimps, but didn’t know it was one of those inferior creatures. Then it grew bigger and stronger ’til they had to donate it to science. Fouts saved it and took it to his Chimp Island rescue. It had an identity crisis and went catatonic when reality sunk in.
I’ve just never been able to earn the respect of the regular guys – let alone be a Man’s. And now that it’s been a few years and I’ve done a few more things and settled a bit more and some phobias have faded, I’ve started attending the meetings. And the emotional work is powerful. And it’s just about the only social thing these days I’m actually any good at. But meetings? Seriously? “Men’s meetings” like being aware and “male” is like having a disease? “Hi, my name is Bill and I’m a sensitive male.” “HI BILL!” Haha… At least I’m doing what I can.
And all the other sensitive guys just seem gay. But f**k it. All those “other” guys are my kin. I may still be treated quite a bit better than many (or most, depending) of the world’s women. But at least I’m not still off all alone in my head, too busy being better to bother to relate to all other men.