Recently, while I was sitting on a bus, Mr. Macho Man came to sit next to me in the middle seat (between me and another guy). As soon as he sat, he exaggeratedly spread his legs to force as to close ours. Instinctively, this behavior annoyed the crap out of me and I could have reacted by spreading my legs even wider but I just locked them in place and kept reading while I had my earphones on. Now, by doing that it looked like he was trying to rub on me. Within seconds, my behavior changed from annoyance to satisfaction because now the guy had to “prove” to himself that he’s not gay and retracted his leg.
There were a couple of guys in front of me who noticed and understood the dynamics and I could see that they were amused. This guy was much bigger than me and I could tell that he’s used to “taking space” but only because he needed to validate his masculinity. Me, personally I didn’t care if people thought I was gay or not. For one, personal space is cultural and closeness doesn’t bother me, but I also wasn’t going to modify my posture for a bully.
You know, if you ask me if I feel like the manliest man ever, I’ll tell you “hell yes!” in a second. Am I the most masculine man on earth? Who defines masculinity and how do they define it? Is it about body language, caring about your appearance, or being the strongest guy in the room?
I do care about my appearance and can be meticulous about certain things like my favorite cologne and such. Some days I’d rather be home and read a book instead of out with the guys, but I can certainly defend myself physically if my life depended on it. Would I pick a fight or get in one to prove my masculinity? Certainly not.
When I’m expected not to smile “too hard” just because “men don’t do that”, I laugh uncontrollably. Mainly because I’m very stubborn and hate to be told what to do, but mostly because, well… that’s a funny and silly thing to believe. Being restricted to certain behaviors for the fear of being shunned out of some invisible masculine club is just ridiculous.
I usually spot a fragile man in 3 ways:
1. His masculinity revolves around the fact that he can shoot a gun or do some other “manly” activities.
2. He feels the need to devalue others to feel important.
3. He seeks other people’s approval for his behavior by constantly needing to prove his worth (or to prove that he’s not gay.)
Here’s how I define MY masculinity:
- The ability to take and own my space with no excuse, need for validation or approval WITHOUT impeding on another person’s space by making them feel smaller/weaker or shutting them down.
- The ability to recognize my emotions, to CHOOSE to express them and still have a logical behavior.
- The ability to recognize what I want and go for it, destroying all obstacles, doing it in a healthy way.
I know I’ve made the right decision when it not only feels right (emotion) but also makes sense (logic) while using the “Ecology Principle” in NLP (Good for self, good for others, good for community.)
Thoughts? What do you think men need to get over this big “fragile masculinity hump?” I have some theories, but would like to hear other people’s thoughts.