In the last post, I tried to work out why masculinity is so difficult to talk about.
Maybe it’s no revelation at all to straight couples. It’s kind of chilling when female strangers try to use their sexuality to get something from me. I probably feel as much attraction to them as they do towards me when they say things like, “You look like a strong man, can you help me carry my suitcase up these stairs?” I don’t feel seduced, I only feel the pure manipulation of it. The concept of caring about one’s masculinity was probably as alien to her as it was to me. But, to have understood that it was important to men, and to then cynically game it like that—it’s creepy.
Moments like these that I’ve collected are the evidence I have that heterosexual couples are more aware of the masculine competition than I am. And maybe you guys are all discussing it at length behind closed doors, whereas in my house, we don’t even think about it.
To generalize, admittedly, it’s my impression that women and gay men share a depth of curiosity about how other people’s minds work.
I recently listened to a interesting episode of LBGTQ&A with Alexander Chee, where the interviewer (he’s really good!) said, “Gay people develop empathy early on because we’re not represented in most of the stories we consume. We have to constantly relate to “the other.”’
I’d never thought of it like that, but it makes perfect sense. Most times that any art explores the differences between men and women, I’ve been like, “I’m out.” (Literally lol.) It’s somehow implicit that the differences or interactions between men and women have something to do with them being attracted to one another and forming lives together. And that’s fine, and I can still take something from it, and I don’t even need a gay guy jumping around in the background saying “I’m here also!” I probably just need something else to supplement that artistic diet.
Some people are inclined to think of the mysterious motivations and desires of other people as an interesting topic of conversation. Others, like poker players, see this information as something to hoard rather than to share, so that it can be used against others as a way of getting what you want.
I’m not interested in playing games with others. I want all cards face up on the table. And if anyone starts a game, I’ve always held the belief that the easiest way to win it is not to play it at all. Sometimes you talk to people who are irritated with coworkers or friends and such, and they say things like, “She only said that because she wanted me to think she thinks…” etc, Their faces screw up like their minds already have. They’re trying to learn the shape of the board and where all the pieces are so they can make their next best move. Whereas if they just got up from the table and lived their damn life, the game inventor would be like, “This game sucks, people don’t want it, defo don’t Kickstarter this one, back to the drawing board.”
I want to know what masculinity means to men for whom it is important, and why it is so important to them. Not so I can use it against them (I can carry my own damn suitcase up the stairs!) I just want to help, or at least stop accidentally threatening it. Again: that’s never my aim, because I personally don’t care!