Monday, 17 June 2013

Allowing masculinity

I want to preface the following comments with a fairly obvious statement.  I am not an expert.  I am just a woman who lives with a man and a boy and observes life around me.

My husband, the Big Fella, is very much into your "standard" masculine pursuits.  He likes fishing and hunting.  He knows a fair bit about cars and loves motorbikes.  He loves football (pretty much all codes) and most sports.  He likes beer.  He loves fires.

In short, he is a manly man.

My son, the Little Big Fella, is shaping up to be similar.  He loves toy guns and knives, he loves to dress up as superheroes, he loves to play ball games. He asks to have a fire pretty much every day in winter.

Living here in the semi-outback of Australia really suits them both.  There's lots of open spaces for them to run around and explore and be male.  They can ride their motorbikes, shoot their guns (obviously the Little Big Fella is a bit young just yet, but he'll get to do it when he's a bit bigger), play footy or cricket or whatever sports they like.  We can light a fire in our fire drum and cook dinner and sit around and our neighbours won't be distressed by it.

They get to be male.

And why shouldn't they?  The are male!

But it seems to me that there are a lot of ways that our society seems to emasculate our men.

Little boys aren't allowed to play with toy guns or knives or swords.  And play-fighting is definitely not allowed.  Hunting, even ethical hunting, is abhorred by many.  Even fishing is being restricted in many areas.

When I lived in a major city, there was much discussion over how wood fires were causing environmental issues through loss of forests and the emissions caused by the fires themselves.

We still "allow" men to like cars and motorbikes, and sports, but women seem to be resentful when men want to take time for those interests.

It just makes me wonder what kind unbalance we're bringing into the world by reducing the opportunity for men to be masculine.

There has been a trend where girls are out-performing boys academically.  As the mother of a boy, that disturbs me.

However, I recently heard about a boy's school where the principal is actively trying to allow masculinity.  The learning is taken outside wherever possible, concepts are taught in physical formats whenever they can, the boys are allowed to climb and roughhouse during recess.  Boys are encouraged to take risks!  That's definitely not a stereotypically feminine trait!

Obviously, as a parent, I see it as part of my role to ensure that my son grows up to be a whole, well-developed man.  I want him to be whole emotionally, academically, mentally, physically and spiritually.  And, for me that includes allowing him to develop his masculinity.

The world needs the riskiness, skills and thought-processes of males.  We need to let men be men.  Because ultimately we'll all lose out if we don't.

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