One of the Guys
Bruce Emond, Weekender | Fri, 12/16/2011 12:54 PM |
In a recent obituary of a female public official, another leading figure said, with all sincerity, that “she was a woman, but she had the resilience of a man”. The speaker saw his comment as a compliment and probably did not perceive any sexism in the statement – in his understanding, men are naturally meant to be strong, forthright, the leaders of the pack.
For some of us, those traditionally prescribed roles of being a man have been too confining and difficult to live up to. We are not the strong and silent type, the tough guy or the main man. We just want to be ourselves.
Today, the old roles have relaxed somewhat, as we discuss in this edition devoted to men. There has been a “revenge of the nerds” in popular culture, with a place today for awkward and addled screen heroes, even as the bar of physical perfection has been raised with the rise of K-pop beauty and the buff body obsession. Our sportsmen can get emotional in public and are not judged as any lesser for their show of tears.
It’s been said that when men are free to be themselves, without being weighed down by pressures to conform, the lives of women become better, too. Men become more secure in themselves, without feeling a need to dominate others. For me, it’s the difference between the Indonesian word “gentle” – signifying machismo – and the courtesy embedded in one of the main definitions of “gentleman” in English.
And once we reach that stage of contentment, then we will have no problem with saying, “He was a man, but he had the strength and tolerance of a woman.”