There. I said it.
And I felt disgusted just typing it.
We read a short story in class today and the fictional father was harassing his fictional son about the qualities of being a real man. Instead of the father affirming his son’s value, he spent his time tearing him down. Humiliating him. Stealing his manhood. Though the story was fictional, it sickened me, because often times fiction is torn from the pages of reality. We write what we know.
So you’re not a real man.
The truth is, you’ve probably been told this before. By the media. You’re not tall enough. You don’t have the same sense of style. You haven’t earned the same sociology-economic status. Perhaps, worse yet, your manhood was questioned by someone you cared about or respected. They said you didn’t measure up. They compared you to someone else, and found you to be lacking in some area. If you’ve lived any number of years as an adult male on this earth, you’ve had someone threaten to pull your man card.
But when did manhood become standardized and sanitized? Who decided just what criteria one needs to fulfill to get his man card? Who has the right to revoke it?
The real truth is that manhood is more dynamic than static. We are a differentiated bunch. Just as there is no single definition of being “white”, or being “black” or being “attractive”, there is also no set standard for being a “real woman” or a “real man”. Does a real man have to like sports? Does a real man have to be over 6′ tall? Does a real man have to have a bass voice and know how to wield a socket wrench? Obviously, there are preposterous standards. It seems to me that the creator of men decided what they should be like, and he seemed to create quite a continuum of manhood.
May our boys grow up to be cherished and affirmed just as they are, with role models who bless them with words, actions and relentless affection, rather than tearing them down. Give them their man card early on, stamp it often with examples of strength, humility, and compassion, and let them construct their own sense of manhood. That seems to be our purpose and role as fathers.
Then watch in awe, as they each grow to be a real man that you can be proud of.